Kodak Retinette 1b

Lens Rodenstock Reomar 45 mm f/2.8, Filter thread 30.5 mm.
Shutter Prontor 500 LK leaf shutter, 1/15 bis 1/500 und B. Self timer.
Light meter Coupled selenium cell meter by Gossen with match-needle in finder.
Focusing Meter and feet scale plus distance symbols. DOF scale. Close focus 1 m.
Viewfinder Brightframe with parallax marks.
Flash PC socket and hot shoe, X-sync.
Film transport Wind lever on camera bottom, rewind thumb wheel, hinged back.
Dimensions ca. 125 / 90 / 60 mm (with lens)
Battery ---

[German version]

My dad bought this camera new in the early 1960's. When he switched to an SLR set for some reason, I took it under my wing. In the good ol' days, when I didn't have more cameras than one person can use, this was my mechanical back-up camera for the times when I didn't trust the probably easily fooled electronics of the X-300, so for instance when sailing, or on my desert journey through Oman.

Kodak cameras were once assembled in Germany (Stuttgart), where Kodak had assimilated the firm Nagel into its Borg. Of the cameras produced at that plant, the Retinas are today best known. They were also available as rangefinder models and SLRs, sometimes with interchangeable optics.

The Retinas have a loyal fan base and are commonly thought to be good and reliable.

The Retinette is, so to speak, the popular model with basic features, particularly lacking a rangefinder and interchangeable optics. The features supplied (Prontor shutter, 45/2.8 lens, Selenium photocell) are fairly standard, only the hot shoe  could be considered "special", since it was then (and for years after) by no means the norm.

All this makes my camera an unproblematic travel companion. The depth-of-field of the lens is sufficient to take sharp pictures even without the help of the rangefinder, with only the symbols on the lens to guide you (take a look at the picture to the right; the depth-of-field scale seems somewhat optimistic for a 45mm lens), the light meter guards you from the gravest errors in exposure (amazingly still working after 40 years), and the hot shoe allows easy use of a flash.

Rigged with all this, the 1960's man felt prepared for any standard situation (while these days you seem to need Matrix metering, Multi-point autofocus and 35 program settings. Or at least a LCD and a 35-115mm f/4.6-13.8 zoom on a plastic point-and-shoot camera...).

The big advantage of the Retinette to me is the precise and apparently extremely solid construction (all the special switches are safely hidden from accidental operation). All mechanical parts (and there really only are mechanical parts) still function like new.

Not that you think I'm insane, but I think this camera makes, of all cameras I own, the sweetest sound. It purrs like a swiss clock!

A special detail is the rapid wind lever at the lower right of the camera. Especially those who use the viewfinder with their left eye will like this.

This camera's main disadvantage is of course the lack of a rangefinder. When you step over this, because you trake it as part of the concept, you still have to conclude that the viewfinder isn't the best in its kind. It has a clear pink hue (I even imagine seeing this in the top picture on this page) and is relatively dark. Especially the hue bothers me, it startles you when you think you see a good motif and you look through the viewfinder, and you need to recalibrate your view because the tone is so flatly rendered. If any, I'd preferred a blue hue... -----

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Last modified March 16, 2010

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