A Retina to Enjoy

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. While I've had the simple Retina 1a for some time, I'd never really used it much, though the 50mm Schneider Kreuznach Retina-Xenar f/3.5 is a great little lens. The squinty viewfinder lets the camera down, on my copy at least, and I had to remember to place subject matter to one side of the viewfinder to get it centered in the negative. So when I was offered a Retina IIa, with the added luxury of a built-in rangefinder, I took the plunge. However, the IIa (Type 011) seemed to be almost a retrograde step; the viewfinder was just as poor, the film wind had reverted back to a knob as opposed to the lever on the 1a that advanced the film and cocked the shutter, and the shutter had to be cocked on a lever adjacent to the lens. Despite the bright and accurate rangefinder and the lovely 50mm SK Retina-Xenon f/2 lens, I was disappointed. Then, as if by magic, in the space of a week I was offered two Retina IIc's (Type 020), both in excellent condition and very reasonably priced. "Right", I thought, "I'll give the Retinas another chance". Here's a pic of one of them, in it's almost pristine condition, complete with the little Metraphot meter that accompanied it.
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.
  2. The IIc is certainly a giant step up from the IIa. Manufactured in the period 1954-58, many Retina aficionados seem to consider the Type 020 to be the most stylish of the Retinas, still lean and light and uncluttered by the later additions of light meters and larger viewfinders. The film wind /shutter cocking lever is now in it's very convenient position on the base of the camera and the viewfinder, while still small, has a frameline which has proved to be accurate, providing one positions one's eye in precisely the right position so the entire frame is visible. The shutter release is very smooth and almost inaudible, and the whole camera exudes quality of design and construction. The Xenon lens has the removable front element cluster, enabling the addition of the wide angle and telephoto lens in the Retina series, very much after the style of the much bulkier Contaflex components. While officially an f/2.8 lens, it is apparently the f/2 Xenon with a restriction on the aperture diaphragm, and a close inspection of the construction seems to confirm this. Be that as it may, it's an excellent performer. So, I now have a small family of Retinas.
    marcantel and stephen_morris|3 like this.
  3. I loaded one of the IIc's with a length of Arista EDU Ultra 100, and took it out into the very harsh light of a New Zealand dawn, long fingers of light and deep shadow, a real challenge to lens, film and photographer. I was pleased with the results, the Xenon performing very consistently and the good old Arista 100 handling the situation with aplomb. And, what's more, I enjoyed using this Retina, and I'm going to take it out again soon. Here are some samples, the film having been developed in PMK Pyro and scanned on an Epson V700 Photo using Silverfast SE software.
  4. Nice try Rick
    I already have a Retina IIIc that is going to be heading to your country for a service.
    I hope mine will take as good a photos as yours, I already took a couple rolls and they came out ok
  5. Rick - the lens on the IIc is interchangeable, but the process of using the alternative front elements is an exercise in masochism - transferring the distance measurement to the correct scale on the lens, and lining up the shot with the accessory viewfinder.....I've played with the interchangeable lenses on mine, but never used them with film. Add to this the procedure for taking close ups, using the special rangefinder, and you can see why SLRs became popular.
  6. Rick, one thing I always look forward to at this site is seeing and reading about the various cameras you obtain. Thanks for your contributions !!
  7. Rick - Thanks for sharing these photos and giving us prospective buyers some good information on this series of cameras.
  8. Lovely work with the Retina, Rick, thanks for posting as always. I didn't have the benefit of sunshine when I took mine out a couple of years ago, only to break the camera half way through the shoot:
  9. Rick, my Retina IIa has a crank like the one in this -
    http://www.leitzmuseum.org/CameraMakes/RetinaII/RetinaIIa-016-1.html - illustration. The top plate is
    engraved Retina IIa and has the same small recess formed in the top plate for the small round end of the
    crank as shown in the picture.
  10. Ah, back on line with what looks to be a nice new format; I just hope they can restore the captions. Yes, Charles, you have the later version of the Retina IIa, (Type 016) circa 1951-4, as opposed to the earlier IIa I obtained, dating from 1939-41. I wrongly described mine as a Type 011 when it's actually a Type 150. Just why Kodak used these repetitive numbers, in light of the subsequent confusion they cause, is rather a mystery, to me at least. Yes, I recall the sad circumstances surrounding your Retina, John Seaman, and I hope you can repair or replace it. Yes, John Farrell, I'm not at all tempted to play with the accessory lenses... I'm sure Chris will return your Retina IIIc in excellent condition, Don; he's a very talented and knowledgeable guy. And thank you Keith and Marc for your encouraging responses.
  11. I have a IIA and a IIc, both produce exceptional images, the IIc is pristine but the IIA has a frame counter problem which I resolved by using dental floss to tie back the counter pawl so the camera can still wind on but doesnt lock up , like it would do normally when the counter reaches zero. You just have to remember to manually move the counter back one every time you wind on. I'm not sure about sending it off to New Zealand for a service whether it is worth the cost, shutter works perfectly and is whisper quiet. As said viewfinders are not perfect.

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