Kodak Retina IIc

“You Press the button, We do the rest”- that was the statement that set up Kodak as a household and brought photography to the masses. Fast forward 130 years and Kodak is one of the worlds most easily recognized photographic brands in the world.

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The camera were looking at today is a Kodak Retina IIc, more specifically a type 020. The serial number puts the production year of this camera between 1954-1958. The lens was produced after February 1957 as far as I can tell from the serial numbers, which leads me to believe it is the original lens that came with the camera. The entire retina line has such a rich history. The earliest retina cameras were in production before World War 2. When the war broke out, Kodak lost contact with their division in Germany. In the post-war period, they were manufactured under the allied occupation and sold to U.S. Armed forces under the US Military Post-Exchange System.

The camera came with the “020” 50mm f2.8 Schneider-Kreuznach lens. The angle of view that you get from a 50mm lens is actually quite nice; recently I’ve been working with a lot of wider angle lenses on cameras such as the Olympus XA and Nikonos IV-A which both have a 35mm lens. That difference between the wide angle view of a 35mm lens and the Structure of a 50mm lens can be a refreshing change if you’re looking to break up the monotony of shooting a single focal length!

Working with a tighter focal length means you can step back from the action a little without having to compromise on your involvement in the scene. This makes for an excellent portrait camera or even a good contender as a documentary-style camera due to it’s quick focusing rangefinder.

The camera suffers from slight ergonomic issues that take some time to get used to. I found it very similar to the Fujica 35-EE. Both cameras feature a film advance lever, located on the bottom of the camera as well as having a few other quirks when it comes to setting your exposure. The Retina has a clever system, which allows you to set the exposure according to your conditions. Should you need to alter the shutter-speed or aperture for an image, the rings are locked into each other and thus will turn as one, keeping your exposure the same.

There are a few more accessories for this camera, and I’m looking forward to tracking them down to really get a feel for what it can do. For now though I’ll just have to stick with my nifty fifty and just enjoy this pocket sized machine in its original setup!

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