Kodak Retina IIIC Experience

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by wuyeah, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Hello, I just recently saw a old camera Kodak Retina IIIC. I love oldi camera, they just look so cool. I hold
    it in hand, it seems very well made. I did a search, knowing it is build by Germans after Kodak bought the

    I don't own the camera, so few qustion to ask here. I found a good condtion one fully function with price
    of $250. Which i think is not bad. But most important. How is the quality? How is the handle? Can you tell
    me a bit of your experience with it?

    What is the difference to go for IIIC (big c) instead of going after IIIc (small c).

    Is this one of situation: Nah......it's not good, don't waste your $250.00, even its $50 I won't even buy it .
    or $250.00 for isn't expansive a well made camera. IIIC quality is good enough. I would buy it and pass on
    the passion for my kids.
  2. Retinas are excellent cameras, $250 is Ok if the camera is in perfect mint condition. The IIIC has a selenium lightmeter and interchangeable lens, in my opinion there is no difference between a IIIC and a IIIc excepted the lightmeter in the IIIC, but I might be wrong. Personally I bought a IIc for less than a hundred dollars a year ago and it's excellent, I had a Ia before but didn't like the absence of rangefinder. And yes you may pass it to your kids, it's German made. Great quality, it's a little jewel, actually one of the most beautiful camera ever made in my opinion.
  3. William, I second Yann's comments. I have a IIc and a IIIC. I rarely use the selenium cell meter, which makes the IIIC bulkier and heavier than the IIc. Theay are an exceptionally well made camera, solid metal. They can come with either Rodenstock or Schneider lenses - I think the Schneider xenon 2.8 is one of the best lenses ever made (six elements I think) - I carry the IIc with me loaded with b&w for everyday photos (using the sunny f16 rule). Problems? There are a couple to be aware of: first, part of the winder mechanism can wear - replacements are available. Second, the front element is detachable (to allow for fitting a wide angle and a short telephoto), so can often get mismatched. You'll find a serial number on the front element which should match that on the rear element. Third, like all shutters, they need occasional servicing. The first speeds to go are the slow, below 1/25, which slow up as the lubricant gets sticky. And finally, the selenium cell will eventually die, if it hasn't already, and anyway, probably shouldn't be trusted for colour transparency. There are asome good sites to look at, just do a google on retina, and there's a copy of the manual on butkus' manual page, I think.

    But a gun sharp lens, great bokeh, and easily pocketable.

    Arthur McCulloch
  4. Good ones are great. To my taste -- I've had and used a IIIc, helped out my mother-in-law's executor by selling her IIIC after having it made 100% right by the late George Mrus -- the C has a better finder than the c. I sold the C on eBay, didn't make the estate an offer on it, and still regret that. But it went for around $350 and I didn't fancy it that much.

    But and however, the IIIs have f/2 lenses, not f/2.8. Most have Schneider Xenons but some have Rodenstock Heligons. Both are fine lenses.

    There's just one thing wrong with them. They're heavy.

    And they induce can induce panic in users who haven't read the manual. The frame counter counts down -- it is set to the number of shots on the roll while loading -- and locks a zero. If not expected, this is an unpleasant surprise.

    $250 isn't a bad price for a really good one.
  5. The IIIC has a larger viewfinder than the IIIc and the IIIC VF has a bright frame.
  6. Don't buy a IIIC unless you plan being a collector as the price is much higher since fewer of them were made (the main difference being that you can set the ASA # higher) Both the IIIc and IIIC have selenium meters, but for $250 it had better work fairly accurately and, as mentioned above, be in mint condition. The average going price for a good user is more in the $150 range. They are built like tanks and have almost (90+%) Leica quality lenses for 10% of the price. The Schneider lenses are more common than the Rodenstocks as they were imported to America, but the Rodenstocks are suppose to be a little sharper peaking out at f4 vs. f5.6 for the Schneiders, but both are good enough to be shot wide open. The Rodenstocks, due to their rarity and higher quality optics, also tend to be more expensive, so if the Retina being offered to you for $250 was a Rodenstock then that would justify it's higher price and be priced about right. Another aspect to consider is that for less money the IIc version, which uses a f2.8 lens, is a little sharper and higher in contrast, but due to a slower lens and no light meter, is not in as high of a demand.
  7. $250.00 is on the high side. I would say that somewhere around $100.00 for the unit is already pushing it. True, its a well-made camera, but also true is that its an OLD camera that was well made many decades ago. You have to factor repair and cleaning costs into the price of the camera.
  8. The IIIc and IIIC have the same ability to make excellent photos, the difference being that the IIIC has a better viewfinder with bright lines for 35, 50 and 80 mm lenses. The IIIC had been much sought after by collectors. Film camera prices seem to be dropping rapidly, but a couple of years ago, good quality IIIc's were foing for about $200 and IIIC's for about $350-400. The IIa and IIc have the same are also capable of excellent images but lack the selenium meter (which are still working fine on my cameras). It is commonly thought that f2.8 lense on the IIc is the same as the f2.0 xenon, but has been mechanically limited to f2.8 on the IIc. On all, one must have the tangefinder set to infinity in order to close the case. The lockup when zero is reached is a pain, so one should always set the counter to the film capacity plus 2. They are well made cameras. Again the big advantage of the IIIC is non-squinty viewfinder.
  9. " It is commonly thought that f2.8 lense on the IIc is the same as the f2.0 xenon, but has been mechanically limited to f2.8 on the IIc."

    The lenses are identical, the shutter and the aperture mechanism have the same size, but the aperture mechanism has a stop on the f/2.8 variety. I think Rick Oleson has written some notes to convert a f/2.8 lens to a f/2 lens by removing this stop.
  10. I agree with the general view that the price is on the high side. I paid 55 GBPounds for mine a few years ago - probably on the low side. In use I prefer the I (f/3.5 Xenar) or the II (with the excellent f/2 Xenon) to the III as these are quite a bit lighter/ There is a tendency at this age for the the meter to be inaccurate. But a beatifully made camera. Most of them seem to be in very good condition having seen little use. This compares with the I and II which are often found in a heavily used condition. This is probably because the III went out of fashion quickly as it was replaced by solid body cameras.
  11. The f2 and f2,8 Xenons are not identical. I have seen schematic drawings of both, and there's a slight difference.

    And the pre-war Xenons aren't the same as the post-war lenses.

    William Wu: Find a IIc in nice condition instead of the IIIC/c.

    I've owned a IIIc and a IIc with Heligon, and the 2,8 Heligon on the IIc was the sharpest, and didn't cost as much as the IIIc.
  12. According to the 1965 Retina Guide on my website the difference between the "c" and "C" is Model IIIc has a bright line frame for the standard lens only, while the Retina IIIC has three frame lines for the standard, wide-angle and tele lenses inside an enlarged viewfinder.

    There may be more but for a manual and overview of the Retina System, just read the guide, it's very informative.

    When time permits, I'll put a Leica System Guide online as well, but it's been on my list for a while now. When enough people ask, maybe the task gets pushed to the top of the list :eek:)

    USD 250 seems a little on the high side but when you think it's worth it, don't let someone else keep you from buying the camera. I know I paid to much for some of the cameras in my colection but the price is easily forgotten when you enjoy having something, holiding and fondling, taking pictures and these cameras are indeed very well made. I own a IIc and a IIC myself and they're great little rangefinders. Enjoy!
  13. I've had a IIa since 1960, my favorite camera. All film cameras should have count down counters. When mine wears out I'll upgrade to a IIc.
  14. $250 is high, even if the camera is in perfect working order.

    Selenium meters actually wear out with age (actually, exposure to light), and the sensor has to be replaced.

    I'd suggest a Retina II or IIa, simply because that is what I have and use. The IIa is known for winding mechanism problems, although I have not had any problems with it. I like the Retina II better. Either of these cameras with an f/2.0 Xenon lens will cost you much less than $250, even if you find the camera needs a bit of service.

    Shop for a month or two, they are very available.
  15. Hi,
    $250 seems a bit pricey! I just saw one site here in England with a few starting at about ?45 ($80?). That is the camera centre in Hailsham, Sussex.
    Good Luck though with whatever you buy!
  16. Hi again-check out the for sale section!! $75

  17. Hi William,
    If you are able to acquire a IIIC and want to do so to add to a camera collection, then by all means do so. It would be a nice camera to have, and while that price seems a bit high, I've seen them go for more. If you are just looking for a good camera in the folding retina family, I agree that the IIc is an excellent choice. I have a IIIc, a couple of IIa's, and some even older retinas, but I like using the IIc the most. The pictures it makes are simply superb with great color, sharpness, and contrast.I got mine on ebay in excellent condition (8.5 out of 10) for $35.00. I would like to have a IIIC for the collector value of owning one, but picture-wise I believe the others will deliver the same excellent image quality. One never knows how long a 50+ year old meter will continue to work--the one on my IIIc quit after I had the camera for about six months, so it's no different from using my IIc now. Good luck with your choice; it'll be fun whatever you decide.

  18. Count-down counters are great until you forget to set it when you load the film. Then you are completely lost. And there is no way for those old cameras know how many exposures a roll has.
  19. Hi. It is a wonderfully well made camera that at one time could have commanded a price well above $250.00 because of collector interest. These days I would think a realistic price would be close to $100.00 if it is in nice condition.

    It would make a very nice addition to a collection. The Retina cameras (including the little I's) are a delight to hold and work the controls on. As a camera to make pictures with it is as others mentioned a bit on the heavy and bulky side. There are other Retina cameras I would select to shoot with.
  20. As others have mentioned, a reasonable price for a clean IIIc would be in the $100 to $150 range.

    With any camera of this age, it would be a good idea to have a CLA before using it for any photographs that matter to you. This is especially true of the Retinas as you can strip the teeth off of the rack gear trying to cock the shutter if the lubricants gum up. Happily, new rack gears are still available.

    I can recommend Steve Serota for CLA of Retinas and Contessa folders. He offers a flat $99.95 charge for a quite extensive overhaul of these cameras and did a fine job for me on a Contessa. He has a website at:


    and often offers the service on EBay.
  21. Hello all,
    I am resurrecting this thread. I just came into a bunch of IIIc and IIIC Retina Camera's along with some a and b models, with a bunch of lenses. Can anyone tell me today what the IIIc and IIIC units are worth. I have a couple IIIc units that are mint in the box with the manuals.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

Share This Page