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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kodak Retina I (Type 010)

The original Retina, introduced in 1934, was the first camera to use the modern 35mm film cartridge. The Retina I appeared in 1936 and the line continued on for two decades with a series of model changes. My camera is a Type 010, built in Kodak's Stuttgart plant between 1946 and 1949; it is distinguished from the pre-war Type 148 by the presence of a barrel-shaped focus knob rather than the small conical one on the earlier camera. The lens mount is a unit focus design in which the entire lens and shutter assembly moves in and out when the focus ring is rotated. The Retina I cameras had Compur or Compur Rapid shutters and were equipped with either Xenar or Ektar lenses. Without a rangefinder, focusing was by estimation. A circular depth of field calculator on the base of the camera could be consulted to determine depth of focus at different apertures.

My Retina I was originally equipped with the Schneider Kreuznach Retina-Xenar lens, but it was badly fogged. I bought a junker of the same model but with the Anastigmat Ektar lens and used it to replace the damaged lens on the camera. That turned out to be something of an ordeal as the whole lens and shutter assembly has to come out in order to fine-tune the infinity focus. The only way to check the accuracy of the infinity adjustment is to reassemble the camera, so I felt fortunate to only have to go through procedure twice before getting it right. I probably would not have tackled the job at all were it not for the availability of some excellent instructions provided on the web site of the Retina expert, Chris Sherlock.

I have several models of the Retina line; the Retina I is the oldest and simplest, and it is a bit slower to shoot than the others because of the manual shutter cocking and the knob film advance. The basic simplicity of the Retina I is part of its charm, however, and the high-quality design and construction makes it a pleasure to handle. The Retina I is similar in regard to features and quality to the Zeiss Ikonta 35 and the Voigtländer Vito II from the same post-war era. I would find it impossible to distinguish photos shot by one from the others, or to pick a favorite among them.

 Some photos from the Retina I:






2 comments:

JR Smith said...

I have my Dad's Retina IIc which I need to run a few rolls of film through. It was the camera I used as a teenager in the 1970s and it got me hooked on photography. The Retinas were wonderful cameras.

Mike said...

The lenses on all the Retinas are super.
I'll have a post on my own IIc coming up shortly.