Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 – Sizzling shooter ?

Yet another mid 90’s compact from Japan (aka Kyocera Lynx 70) but oddly the first I’ve come across with a professional period review. Popular Photography thought this and its Zoom 90 sibling sizzled and favourably made comparisons to the still legendary and elite Yashica T4. But 2 decades on how does it measure up ?

Toned Heart
Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 with Expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN. 2016

Yashica has an interesting history. It was legendary as a manufacturer from  classic TLRs right through its classic compact rangefinders like the Lynx right up to the Contax SLR collaboration. The company was taken over in 1983 by Kyocera and initially little changed but the company stumbled in the AF age and failed to make a success with its AF SLR against intense competition. Kyocera pulled back to the compact market but managed to produce some highly regarded models including the notable T series. Still it wasn’t enough to stem the collapse and Kyocera pulled out of both the film and digital camera market in 2005.

Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 Specs ¹

  • Lens: 35-70mm 1:4.5-8.3
    • 8 elements in 7 Groups
  • Focus: Active IR AF
  • Metering: Programmed
  • Shutter: 2-1/333 +B*
  • Film: DX 50-3200 ISO
  • Battery: 1X CR123A 3V
  • Flash: Built in-  GN 8½-12ft

¹As detailed in Popular Photography May 1995 pg28-29 & camera-wik
*Auto-activated Bulb in low light

But does this consumer cam sizzle or was the ’95 review overdone. The review is one of the best sources of info on these cams as I’ve yet to see a manual in the wild. Camera-wiki notes actually 3 Microtec Zooms (70, 90 & 120) and a fixed focus camera with the Microtec moniker (the Kyocera title of P.mini 3 suggests no real link)

Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 Top and Rear
Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 (aka Kyocera Lynx 70) Top and Rear

The camera has a logical layout with top plate shutter and zoom toggle switch. Also on the Top is the LCD screen on/off, timer and flash mode. The timer has only one purpose to turn on and off the 10 sec electronic timer. The flash mode is a bit more interesting. It cycles between auto (default), auto red eye, flash on, flash on red eye, flash off and infinity modest as popular photography describe. This sounds entry level compared to the Pentax Espio AF Zoom but actual is better than the Mighty Olympus mju-1. What’s a tad more interesting is that outwith the 2 auto flash modes, dependant on light levels,  one of 2 icons may appear (one of moon and star another is B). Whether the camera does anything different or if they are simple to warn you to consider a tripod I dunno and the magazine article sadly doesn’t mention.

Test Shot on Yashica Microtec Zoom 70
Test Shot on Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 with AVP200. River Nith, Dumfries 2016

Stylewise the camera resembles rivals like some of the smaller Pentax Espio series and is typical late 90’s black plastic. The gold band around lens barrel is a nice stylistic point. The controls make ergonomic sense and this is a nicely weighted camera with rage centre of balance just off towards the control side. Shame it’s let down by the viewfinder. This itself is quite clear and bright with clear lines and little distortion. It also had no impact if used with left or right eye – it’s just you’ll end up struggling as it catches the nose badly whatever eye you use.

In use quite good. A tad noisy but quick to turn on, zoom and focus lock. The usual focus and flash LED sit beside viewfinder. Camera can get down to 2ft according to Popular Photography. The upper shutter speed is low compared to some rivals but not a critical issue

Longshot comparison for Yashica Microtec Zoom 70
Longshot comparison for Yashica Microtec Zoom 70. Top was taken at wide lens 35mm and bottom on Tele of 70mm. Not bad but sharper cam exist. On Expired Kodak BW400CN.

Exposure was accurate and central focus was pretty sharp  at close to mid range (given this is only a 38 focus step camera not bad) – IMHO  better at the 70mm end than 35mm but even there things are pleasing. Like many consumer AF compacts it did seem to struggle a bit at distance but the infinity setting helps.. There is some pincushion distortion at the 35mm end but I couldn’t spot the very slight barrel distortion at the 70mm end described in the ’95 review. Flash is okay for causal relatively close shots but quite low guide number rating. The Kyocera Lynx version had a panorama setting and a databack version exists – Yashica MicroElite Zoom 70.

Don't look back in anger
Dumfries Oct 2016. Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 with Expired (’14) Kodak BW400CN.

Although quite low spec compared to rivals this camera’s optics are better than many rivals although not as good as the T4. There are also better  AF Zoom compacts optically  and options-wise  (like my gold standard Pentax  Espio AF Zoom)  but that said it is a reasonable, simple to use AF compact if you chance upon one at a cheap price.

What I paid & What it sells at

  • £3.99 + P&P on eBay camew with case and neck strap
  • £1-10 range + P&P on eBay.

Why buy ?

  • Good optics close up and median range
  • Pocketable
  • Intuitive to use

Why Not ?

  • Average distance performance
  • Viewfinder issues
  • Overpriced versus rivals
  • Weak Flash

Alternatives

Helpful links

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Yashica Microtec Zoom 70 – Sizzling shooter ?”

  1. I’m not a fan of zooms, but this one seems to deliver, especially that lovely door handle shot above. You couldn’t really ask for more.

    I do like Yashica though, and have a Minitec that’s great fun with its 32mm f/3.5 lens, and just picked up one of the original Yashica T AF compacts with 35/3.5 Carl Zeiss T* lens, so it’ll be interesting to see how this compares with the Minitec.

    Yashica are a largely overlooked and underrated brand, and there are some very interesting and capable lenses and cameras out there.

    1. It’s not bad Dan as these things go but not without its faults. It has the common issue with compact AF zooms of being just a tad soft at distance but is good close up. The Espio AF Zoom is better overall but this is not bad. Oddly they are more expensive than Espios, I suspect as atad rarer and the Yashica Cachet. I’d disagree with the underrated status – their non interchangeable rangefinders are legendary (i still regret selling my Minister III) and command reasonable coin as do their TLRs – the Contax tie in SLR series has a good reputation but perhaps overlooked and outsold by other Great Japanese SLR makers so not as flexible option as Nikon or Pentax these days

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *