Retina IIa: the ultimate folder?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by connealy, Jun 27, 2004.

  1. Well, it turned out that I needed another 35mm rangefinder camera. Who would've guessed.

    This Retina IIa is not perfect. It has a few Zeiss bumps, and the focusing helicoid and viewfinder could use a good cleaning. However, the shutter, rangefinder, lens and film advance all seem to work perfectly; and, there's no light leaks.

    The IIa has the same nice 6-element Xenon lens as the II, but it is quite a bit easier and faster to operate because of the lever wind and automatic shutter cocking. The very compact folding design makes it the ideal take-along camera. I shot the first roll of tri-x in it under rather harsh lighting conditions on a walk through a near-by canyon the day after a flash flood. Also, I did kind of a poor job with the processing. I'm looking forward to putting some more film through this fine little folder, and I expect it will be doing a lot of travelling with me.
  2. Retina IIa, Tri-X
  3. Retina IIa, Tri-X, TMAX dev.
  4. I've had mine 42 years but keeping my fingers crossed that the bellows stay healthy. A friend of mine damaged his Retina by absentmindedly trying to fold it with filter on.
  5. I have a Ia with aux rangefinder on top and same lens. a very sweet little camera...purse friendly. 1951 and the shutter seems right on.
  6. I enjoy seeing photos taken with the wonderfully engineered and manufactured rangefinders of the 50s. I have and use retina IIa, IIc, IIIc, zeiss contessa 35, voigtlander vitessa, and vito III with working light meters on those so equipped. I haven't figured out what my favorite is yet. Each has its strong and weak points. The retina IIa brings back good memories of our trip to England in 1985. When we got to the airport, we discovered that my wife had left her electronic whoop-de-do behind so we had to rely on my afterthought IIa, with just the exposure guides printed in the film boxes for assistance (Kodacolor). The IIa did not let us down!
  7. You're preaching to the choir! The Xenon on mine gives up nothing to more modern lenses. I'm quite happy depending on my IIa for critical shots - I won't say that about too many of my old camera.
  8. The Retina IIa with an accessory 50mm viewfinder mounted in the accessory shoe is indeed a fine folder. &npsb; A self cocking shutter on a folder? What will they think of next?
    Once you clean/lube the helicoid for the focus and the cocking rack it's a wonderful 35mm. Here is my favorite Retina web site.
  9. My Retina IB has become my carry everywhere camera. The viewfinder is excellent and I'm finding I can actually manage to guess focus quite well these days. Off course, if I found one with a rangefinder I'd be awfully tempted........
  10. So now I need a Retina IIa ? Great shadow detail in the "mud flats" shots.
  11. Hi Mike, just got that very same camera, it's in really good shape/condition , only one big problem before i could go out and shoot with it,
    the shutter speed dial is missing. Now what do i do? any suggestions?

    TIA, paul c.
  12. Hey, Paul,<br>
    I've got a couple cameras like that which seemingly just need a single part to be functional. I suppose you could haunt eBay looking for another IIa in really bad shape from which you could cannibalize parts. Judging by my experience, though, if it is a good camera, even the trashed ones don't go cheap. Might be worth going to some place like Ritz Collectibles which has a good stock of Retinas to see what they could do for you.
  13. Andrew,<br>The accessory viewfinder sounds like a nice addition; I certainly like the one that goes with the Jupiter-12 on my Kiev. After a brief look-around on eBay, however, it looks like I would spend more for the 50mm finder than I spent on the camera. Any ideas?
  14. Mike's as well as Kerry's pictures are excellent. My IIc bought in 1960 is still going, and going! Sometimes, I worry about its bellows.

    The Xenon is fantastic as I have a lot of excellent pictures from my honeymoon in 1970. The Nikon FTn was too heavy to carry around.
  15. Hi Paul,
    After discovering this site, I picked up a couple of rough looking IIa's and ended up with one that works (except for the frame counter spring, of course!). What part of the shutter speed dial do you need? I can take it off my parts camera and send it to you for the cost of postage.
  16. Yeah ! Victor, it's the knurled ring itself,and the little lock that's supposed to be positioned under the lens,that's missing, i guess the last guy that tried to CLA this baby,forgot to put it back, so now the lens is kinda wobbly,and of course i couldn't change/switch shutter speeds.

    That's very kind of you,that'll be a great help,if you could post those 2 little parts to me . i'm in Hongkong tho, also i'm willing to pay for those if need be + postage.

    my complete address: Paul Candelaria
    83-87 Connaught Rd. West, 1/F Flat G, Seaview Mansion , Sheung Wan , Hongkong .
    I could send you cash thru Western Union, which will be really quick . and thank you so much . paul c.
  17. The ultimate folder? I can't really say, as I don't have a Retina, but I believe my Vitessa is a serious competitor.
  18. The ONLY problem I have with my Retina IIa (or Retina II, for that matter) is the metal eyepiece that constantly threatens to scratch my "scratch-proofed" plastic eyeglasses. I have used shrink tubing for a FED rangefinder eyepiece, and it works well, but I can't find the right rsize shrink tubing the the Retina IIa.

    Does anyone have any solutions for this?
  19. I wear bifocals, but I take them off when looking through viewfinders/rangefinders. There are universal viewfinders that will fit in the accessories bracket that will help, but you still have to look through the rangefinder.
  20. Jeff:
    Two solutions: Zeiss hardened glass lenses for your eyes or a small rubber o-ring on the Retina eyepiece. Plumbing dept. at Home Depot or someplace similar will have a good choice of sizes. Glue it on the eyepiece.
  21. "I have a Ia with aux rangefinder on top and same lens. a very sweet little camera...purse friendly. 1951 and the shutter seems right on."

    Old custard pie, are you sure? I ask because my Ib and IB have f/2.8 Xenars that are definitely tessar types. I can't find my copy of Lahue's Retina booklet, so can't be sure but I think that only IIs and IIIs had f/2 six element lenses, some Xenons, others Heligons. A Ia or 'b or 'B sure would be nice with a Xenon or Heligon.


  22. My Retina endured three times being thrown into the river while canoeing in Florida. Each time I would let the camera "drip" dry, while brownish stuff keeps dripping from it. I am not sure if it still works, but it did for several years after its "baptism" three times.
  23. I think that the II (the one with the combined finder - there is also one with separate
    finders, if I recall) is better - for one simple reason: maintenance. The knob wind and
    hand-cocking shutter lack the delicate cocking rack and counter spring that make fixing
    the IIa difficult and financially unrewarding. You can't dry-fire the II (it requires film rolling
    across the sprockets to shoot) but it's a lot better bet that you will be able to get one
    working without resort to Fargo's (expensive) spare parts.

    That said, the Xenar is a fantastic lens against anything made before about 1970, Leicas
    included. But it may be going a little overboard to say that it loses nothing in comparison
    to a modern 50mm lens.
  24. i gotta 1a, i'll post some pix with it soon...
  25. Most of the pictures from the first roll in my IIa were a little softer than I expected. I got better results when I screwed in the front and rear groups from a junker. However, I think the real problem may have been that the rear group was not screwed in tightly. My test roll looked nice, so I'll try to get out soon and do the camera justice.
  26. I have gotten some very nice pictures out of my II. The 1/100 is a bit sluggish in spite of having the shutter apart numerous times. Still a great old camera, though, and the lens is super.
  27. Scratched eyeglasses problem solved. At our local hardware store (one in which the emplyees know their stock), I brought in my Retina IIa and the Retina II. We sorted through various O-rings until we found the proper size for each camera. It drops around the outside of the eyepiece. A very small portion of Superglue and let it set overnight. Nice, and doesn't obstruct what there is of the viewfinder view.
  28. The Retina 11a was, at the time, like Barnack's Leica -- nearly perfect for what it was intended.

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