View Full Version : Retina II (without a letter)

08-26-2011, 04:36
I've bought one of these recently, with the f2.0 Xenon, and it currently still has a film in which I haven''t finished... They seem to be quite uncommon, or possibly disregarded because of the knob wind, and I was wondering whether anyone here used one?

First impressions are that it's not too bad to use (though I have used Box Brownies and a Moskva, so "not too bad" is relative!), though the sloth with which the shutter release rises after you press it is slightly disconcerting. Shutter speeds look OK, certainly 1 second is spot on by my watch, and all the controls are smooth. Mind you, the veiwfinder is terrible!

The only issue so far is that the front element seems a bit hazy. Other than perhaps flaring more, is this anything to fuss about?


PS Do I need to cover the red dot if I stick one on it?:angel:

Steve M.
08-26-2011, 05:10
The Retinas are definitely overlooked cameras w/ good IQ. The II is known for offering the 47 2.0 Ektar as an option, so if you don't mind the knob wind it's a good shooter.

I've owned the IIIc, IIa, and have a Ia on it's way. These are neat cameras, but the IIa had issues w/ a dim viewfinder, and it's RF was way off. Sent it back to KEH. The IIIc is a jewel, w/ the same shutter and lens that you have. My pics look nice and sharp, but not Leica quality. Well, it costs a lot less than a Leica. I don't like the IIIc's bottom wind lever, and it's viewfinder is cloudy too. Viewfinders and rangefinders are an issue w/ these cameras, so my Ia should have the best of both worlds. It has a top wind lever and no RF, just a simple viewfinder. It also has a Kodak Ektar 50 3.5 lens that was made right here in the US, back when we made cameras. I expect it to outperform the Schneider by a good margin. We'll see.

08-26-2011, 05:17
I have a II (model 142) with a 50mm f/2 Xenon. Before I got my first real Leica it was my favorite compact 35.

Some images from the LPLG-weekend in 2007


08-26-2011, 05:25
I have the same (Retina II with f/2 Xenon) but mine is a very tired sample. RF is way off, and given the squinty finder and awkward shooting experience I figured it would be a waste to get it fixed.

I find Retinas wonderfully made, but an over-engineered pain to use. The later ones more so (that darn fumbly lock for the back comes to mind).

Still, every once in a while I should probably give that nice lens a workout.

08-26-2011, 06:12
Over-engineered? Suits me, I'm a masochist who likes Werras!

Like your pics, Mr Flibble - not too long ago I was talking to some ex-Glider Pilot Regiment gentlemen who had been at Arnhem and - humbling moment - they insisted on paying for my lunch. Gentlemen all!

Many years ago, I spoke to someone who said that you never filled the magazine of a Sten gun completely full because, if you did, it would go off if you dropped it. They were forcibly reminded when his Home Guard patrol were on lookout duties over the coast, someone dropped his Sten on its butt, and it discharged the entire magazine through the corrugated iron roof of their lookout post!

If the blessed weather would just let up enough to let me finish the roll, I could see how good the images are... Mine is a bit battered, but the important bits all look OK, so I'm hoping it lives up to expectations.


08-26-2011, 06:28
I've also heard many tales of the STEN-dance and the PPSH-dance when these guns were dropped on their butts. A veteran of the Politional Actions in Indonesia told me they'd drill a hole straight through the housing and the bolt and secure it with a nail!

I've replaced the halfmirror on my Retina II a year or so ago. And sometimes the frame lock / double exposure prevention is a little iffy. But I really should go out and shoot with it again one of these days.

Steve M.
08-26-2011, 08:13
I'm going to amend my low estimate of the Xenar lens on these Retinas. You might be in for some fun. After my post I realized that I had only shot one roll of film through my IIIc. The camera had simply been purchased on fleabay, and I never even checked it's rangefinder or shutter accuracy. The film was just C41 B&W with Walgreens scans. No hood, and shot in blazing 100 degree midday New Mexico sun (I found some shade where the cat was smart enough to move to).

Ideally the negs would be scanned w/ a good film scanner, but since I sold mine all I could do was go back to the files from the CD and make some adjustments on levels and whatnot. They look very good now. I like it. With a good scan, Tri-X and a hood, who knows?




08-26-2011, 20:05
Steve Love the shot of the lady. The pose and look can be anything from "What's that crazy dog doing now, to what'm I going to get up for supper to remembering a dusty childhood schoolyard. It's one of those pictures whose meaning is totally and unambiguously up to the mood of the viewer.

Jamie Pillers
08-26-2011, 22:06
I'd love to hear your impressions of the Kodak Ektar lens when you've had some time to use it.

08-28-2011, 06:14
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear oh dear!


Light leaks from Hades (it is light, as where I wound on with it open there's a smear between frames).

I think I need to drop Chris Sherlock a line!


09-03-2011, 12:39
Hello Adrian,

sorry to hear about the light leaks. If it's the bellows it should be easy to verify the source of the light leaks with a flashlight. The good news is that the Retina II with the Xenon lens is a very nice camera that is well worth repairing (or having repaired). I picked up mine (Retina II, model 014) a couple of weeks ago at a flea market dirt cheap. I could only check that the shutter was running and the lens was clear. At home I had to sort out some problems (stiff focussing helical, sticky aperture blades, dirty viewfinder, rangefinder adjustment), but with the help of Chris' website I got it working now and already took a couple of pics with it. I think the Retina II is a nice compromise between size/weight and features. It feels solid without being too heavy. I doesn't have the lever film wind of the IIa, so film winding is bit more clumsy, but this kind of eliminates one of the weak points of the IIa and gives the handling of the camera a nice retro touch ;) Apart from that the camera is easy to handle. You can use a accessory viewfinder (nothing beats the Leitz SBOOI!) if you don't like the small finder. The Schneider lens is excellent in IMO.

Good luck with the repair and keep us informed!

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6067/6110209386_b2a16d4fe1_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6110209386/)
RETINA004small (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6110209386/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6077/6109664441_2ed85e0744_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6109664441/)
RETINA002small (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6109664441/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6189/6110211458_cb3c88b3c6_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6110211458/)
RETINA001small (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6110211458/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

09-06-2011, 20:35
I had a similar problem with my Retina II. It turned out that the bellows was detached at the rear end. A bit of glue fixed the problem.

09-16-2011, 13:04
Yes, mine are detached at the rear as well. Chris Sherlock has given me some instructions for the job, but by the time I buy the lens wrench from the USA and pay VAT plus courier fee (for removing the packet from the postal service and putting it back again) it will cost me almost as sending it to Chris... which I really can't afford.

Is there an RFF-er in the UK with a wrench who could lend it to me, or am I going to have to try to work out how to fix it from the back (mconnealy - I might appreciate some tips if I can't get a wrench!).



Brian Legge
09-16-2011, 13:10
My IIIc developed some very sticky oiling shutter blades. I need to take the shutter out and get it cleaned up. I've done it with a few other cameras but those were beaters; I'm still working up the courage to tackle the Retina as it is in beautiful condition.

Steve M.
10-07-2011, 15:05
Thanks for the good vibes. I had asked Linda to look down for that shot so I could get her glasses to stop reflecting light.

I got my photos back on the Ektar lensed camera Jamie. My thinking now is it's one of the best lenses I'ver used in 35mm photography. Sharp as heck, and has a real 3D look. Amazing lens, but the 50 2.0 Xenon is no slouch either..

10-13-2011, 19:26
Ruth Orkin holding a Retina ii:

10-14-2011, 18:47
I've had a Retina II (011, Rodenstock Heligon f/2.0) in my kit for years. I usually take it backpacking -- tough as nails folded up in the pack and no chance of battery failure. Let's just say I'm not one of those ultra-lite 23-mile trail runners. I've also taken it traveling because it's easy to carry, no fuss to use with sunny-16, and takes very respectable shots, even in low light. This one is the market at Granville Island, Vancouver B.C.


10-30-2011, 15:22
Stopped down a bit the lens is really quite sharp, even in the close range.
I think most shots here were done around f4/f5.6
The biggest obstacle when going close is framing accurately with the tiny finder.
It does give some very basic parallax correction I think, but it is obviously not a Leica M. I will have to try out a good 50mm finder next time I take her for a walk.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6235/6296731692_5527a025a8_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296731692/)
image016 1024 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296731692/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6120/6296732476_168dcb3dfe_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296732476/)
image036 1024 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296732476/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6231/6296732082_141d3d4a2b_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296732082/)
image027 1024 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6296732082/) von eames68 (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/) auf Flickr

01-03-2012, 15:05
I love my Type 142 (Compur-Rapid Shutter with the f2 50mm Retina-Xenon)! It was my first Rangefinder and is the staple of all my Photography - until I get my Leica or Contax that is ;) .
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7035/6552225179_92d8c178cd.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chodg/6552225179/)
Ryan (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chodg/6552225179/) by Corey.W.Hodgson (http://www.flickr.com/people/chodg/), on Flickr
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7146/6514460903_7c6fbd900c.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chodg/6514460903/)
An Indian and an Iron Horse (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chodg/6514460903/) by Corey.W.Hodgson (http://www.flickr.com/people/chodg/), on Flickr

Bad Scans from work but that really worked out for the first picture.

Only problems I have ever had were a lot of sticky parts (Shutter, Shutter Speed ring, focus, Shutter Release) but a bit of penetrating oil and running cheap roll through it about four times fixed the non delicate parts. The More delicate parts got small amounts of white lithium grease (on the gears and such) and cured all the problems I had.

It's my baby and my first.

01-03-2012, 15:29
This image was taken with the Kodak Retina IIa with 50mm f/2 Xenon lens which is the same lens on the Retina II.

I have the II, IIa, and IIIc. All are outstanding performers..


04-07-2012, 16:53
Hi. I bought today a Retina II (type 014) with the Xenon f2 lens on it. But it has the white triangle, not the red one so it means it has a non coated version ? Grrr, I hate non coated lens as they flare a lot ...

04-07-2012, 23:49
Retina II (014) Xenon 50mm @ f2
TX400/Rodinal 1:100

04-08-2012, 14:03
Hi. I bought today a Retina II (type 014) with the Xenon f2 lens on it. But it has the white triangle, not the red one so it means it has a non coated version ? Grrr, I hate non coated lens as they flare a lot ...

The triangle always stands for "coated", so yours is. :)

04-10-2012, 05:06
The triangle always stands for "coated", so yours is. :)

Thanks for your help. I think this camera will be a favorite !
Today i will leave it to do a CLA and it will be like new. Maybe the guy wants to do a complete overhaul but he will decide when in his hands. Thanks again.

04-21-2012, 12:48
Some Fuji Superia 200 (with a little fogging as the rewind wasn't engaging, fixed that now)



11-25-2012, 08:41
Just bumping this thread - it seems that whoever was selling the wrenches no longer does so (certainly there's been none on ebay for over a year).

That currently leaves me stuck with an unusable camera - any bright suggestions for fixing it without? I guess that I could Pliobond the bellows from the back, but if I can't get the stuff into every part of the loose joint then I'm stuffed, because I can't get back in to find the gaps...



11-25-2012, 08:51
My Retina Ib has a Schneider 50mm lens. I fell on three occasions into a river while canoeing. It is still working well. Which Leica M camera can boast about such a thing?

11-26-2012, 19:36
I have a Retina II enroute to me. It's a fixer-upper with the Schneider-Kreutznach 50/2 lens. Can't wait for it to get here so I can start cleaning and restoring it. I have a bunch of Ilford Pan F+ 50 ISO film all ready to run through it.

01-15-2013, 06:50
I have a Retina II with a circle around the II I had to clean the rangefinder and wiewfinder ,are they a bit rare

01-15-2013, 07:11
How apt that this thread should resurface the very day I'm packing mine up for its trip to the land of the long white cloud (I'm very jealous of it!).

Never heard of a model with a circle round the II - they seem uncommon enough as it is. I guess anything is possible, though - I believe that if you go down to model number level there are all sorts of odd variations depending on the factory.


01-15-2013, 07:15
Very nice pics around here!
Maybe I sould search for a VF retina as an daily camera which just slides in a pocket :confused: