This camera came along with a second Kodak Retina IIc from the estate of a local owner for approx $10 each. Both share the same Retina C interchangeable front lens element, and a single extra lens, the 35mm f/3.5 along with a nifty storage case. This extra lens can be used with either camera. The Retinas apparently were released with two similar but not interchangeable Retina C mounts; luckily both of mine as well as the spare lens are all the same.
This is an extremely heavy and sturdy feeling camera. Everything seems to work, although the iris shutter is sometimes slow to snap back closed. I might have to figure out how to self service it at some point. The camera came to me particularly dirty; like most vintage metal cameras it cleaned up very nicely. It has that wonderful industrial 1950s feel… which also means no matter how much cleaning I do there always seems to be another nook and cranny or crevice which I missed. I did end up having to reglue part of the leather like covering, which is separating and brittle in some spots. The camera was also missing a lens cap, which is a strange size. Luckily there are available replacement caps on eBay.
This camera has an uncoupled exposure meter which uses a permanent selenium cell, so there is no batter to use or change. When I first received the camera the exposure meter was not responding to light at all. After a thorough cleaning it has started to be responsive and the match needle bounces up and down as the camera is pointed to and away from light. Selenium meters are not known for accuracy over time; I’m not sure how much I can really trust a 60 year old meter which has not been tuned. That said, I spot checked it and it seems to be fairly consistent with my Sekonic. The meter uses the separate window to the left of the lens – this is long before TTL metering.
The mechanism for metering is actually quite interesting. Aim the camera at your scene so that the selenium cell gets a good look at your lighting situation. Turn the exposure dial on the top right of the camera until the arrow lines up with the needle. This will give you an integer exposure value (EV) number. Set this number on the right side of the lens barrel by pushing down on the ridged release button until the desired EV value lines up with the red dot. Now the aperture and shutter dials are both locked together and every pairing available equates to the same EV value. Its actually an ingenious solution which allows the user to prioritize the mix of shutter and aperture settings by simply turning the paired dials together. Its unlike any other camera in my collection at the time of this writing.
What’s So Special?
This is a fairly common Type 025 Kodak Retina Reflex. Sometime in the 1950s Kodak started moving away from the compact folders and rangefinders and invested in a separate line of Retina’s which became amongst the earliest true SLRs.
- Sturdy early 35mm SLR cameras
- Does not need batteries
- Inventive system for pairing aperture/shutter settings
- insanely heavy – almost 2lbs without film
- can’t trust a 60+ year old selenium cell
- the leathers will probably need to be replaced at some point; notably modern laser cuts options exist
- Manufacturer: Kodak
- Country of Origin: Germany
- Made in: Germany
- Introduced: 1957-1958
- Camera Type: SLR
- Lens Mount: Retina C (front element only)
- Format: 35mm
- How to access film: swivel marked release on bottom of film chamber to expose button to open rear door
- Battery: none (selenium cell used for exposure
- Dimensions (cm):
- Weight: 854g (1lb, 14.1ox) (no film, no battery, with lens cap)
- Serial: EK 93447 (body) / 3108199(lens)
- Eyecup: na
- Strap: kodak
- Suggested Flashes: cold shoe: any manual flash using xsync socket
- Other: retina c-series lenses
- Retina Reflex on Butkus