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View Full Version : Retina IIIC vs FED5 & Electro 35


dmitrizzle
02-02-2018, 18:06
This is pretty much it. Considering dishing out on Retina IIIC (because of the apparently better viewfinder & 𝑓2.0) to replace my daily Electro 35 (which I love but is too big and is limited to aperture priority) and FED5.

I'd like to know if anyone can compare their folding Retina experiences to the Electro 35's and FEDs for me. Your advice is very much appreciated 👍

Swift1
02-02-2018, 18:22
I haven't used those particular cameras, but I have a IIIc and a FED 3. There really is no comparison in quality and feel of the Retina. The Retina is a gorgeous piece of engineering. My FED 3 is pretty smooth as far as FEDs go, but the Retina is on another level.

madNbad
02-02-2018, 18:47
When I had a IIIc, I loved it but they all need service at this point. Often the cocking rack is stripped or the shutter is frozen. If you check out the Retina Rescue site there is a ton of information and someone who has the experience to repair one. Once it's in usable condition, it will last for years with regular exercise. Slip it in your pocket, love the diamond shape of the rangefinder patch and that 2.0 Schneider lens is just great. If you are happy with a 50 and don't feel you need a wider lens and are willing to spend some money on bringing a IIIc up to usable standards, you can't go wrong and will have one of the best travel cameras ever. I feel the IIc is even better. Only 2.8 but no meter flap to worry about, fits in the pocket better and a meter app for your smart phone works way better than the sixty year old selenium meter bulit into the IIIc.

Tim Murphy
02-02-2018, 18:59
Dear dmitrizzle,

What are you looking for in a camera?

I own or have owned all of the cameras you mention. I traded my FED 5b in perfect working condition for a gift to be named later. I got a nice fly rod so I got a good deal.

If you want a metered camera that may or may not work properly, then go for the Retina IIIc. If you want a manual 35mm rangefinder without a meter a Retina IIa that is all the IIIc is but without a meter. If you can work with that look for a IIa.

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Harrisburg, PA :-)

farlymac
02-02-2018, 19:20
I've two of the three (Fed 2C instead of the 5), and even though the Retina IIIC is a lovely bit of kit, I have too many problems with how it handles. That short deck on the right side gets me all fumble fingered.

Yes, the Electro-35 is Aperture Priority only, but you get a lot of bang for the buck in image quality. It also handles much easier than the Retina.

As for the FED, I prefer the 2C model for its long rangefinder base. I also shoot a Zorki-6, which is similar to the FED 5 in size and layout, and is one of my favorite rangefinders. And both have diopter adjustment of the viewfinder so I can shoot without my glasses getting scratched up by the metal viewfinder ports. Last but not least, lens interchangeability should out rank the Retina and Electro, which have to make do with big interchangeable front elements for the Kodak, and bulky add-on ones for the Yashica.

The Retina and Electro do get bonus points for a wider shutter speed range, with the Electro able to do 8 seconds. It's just that you never know what speed the Yashica is doing.

PF

Ko.Fe.
02-03-2018, 04:24
VF and f2? Get Leica 50mm viewfinder. And Jupiter-3 lens.
I sold M3 without single refgret in terms of technicalities. This VF is the best and true 1:1 VF I ever used.
And I"m thinking of selling Cron v4 because Jupiter-3 is this good on film.

dmitrizzle
02-03-2018, 06:42
Dear dmitrizzle,

What are you looking for in a camera?

Harrisburg, PA :-)

I'd like it to have a useable viewfinder with good rangefinder patch and frame lines (no parallax is OK) for someone who wears glasses.

I'd like it to look good. I would also like it to be engineered fairly well. My FED is an excellent camera, but little things do annoy me (like why wouldn't the numbers on shutter dial align with the needle?)

I would also like it be fairly compact (not as concerned about weight). More compact than Electro 35 and FED5 at least.

I would like it to have a decent way of shooting manually, would be nice to have a meter that's not coupled in-fact. With that in mind a meter is quite desirable since I don't want to fiddle with one in my hand and camera in the other, plus I shoot a considerable amount indoors and I love slide film so I wouldn't trust my guesses.

Finally, I'd like to have a lens that's 2.0 or faster.

.
Thank you all for your help so far!!

Tim Murphy
02-03-2018, 08:31
Dear dmitrizzle,

Here are a couple of comparison shots of my Retina 11a alongside a Canon S90 and my Retina 111c.

Both Retinas feature a 50mm/f2.0 lens. I hope can tell from the photos that the 11a is roughly 75% the size of the 111c? The S90 is much smaller than the 11a but the the 11a is rather small for a full featured 35mm rangefinder. With some minor control differences it is essentially a meter-less version of the 111c. Both Retinas are very well made cameras in my opinion and I imagine you'd share that opinion if you handled one up close.

Good luck with your search!

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Harrisburg, PA :)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4626/26189359468_e80b11ff7b_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FUgj9u)P2030190 (https://flic.kr/p/FUgj9u) by Tim Murphy (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4717/39163813135_6660e5cdf7_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22ELMcv)P2030192 (https://flic.kr/p/22ELMcv) by Tim Murphy (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

retinax
02-03-2018, 08:56
The Kodak Retina IIa has a pretty bad finder, tiny and no frame lines. No offense Tim, but OP clearly stated he considered a IIIC mainly because of the finder.

IMHO, the big C finder is a little better than most of the later Japanese compact rangefinders, but not much. I've never looked through a small c finder, but a IIa I have. No comparison.

I really like my IIIC. Lens is excellent, finder works very well with glasses. But, OP, the meters on Retinas, even when they still work, are certainly not to be trusted for slide film. The ergonomics are questionable - bottom wind, little to grip on the right side means that one-handed shooting is impossible. The hood cannot stay on when folding it. They all need a service today.
It's very tall, not that much smaller than your Yashica. If that is reliable and you get along with it, I recommend you stick with that. I'd also prefer the slightly wider lens for my only camera. Somewhere in the depth of this forum there's an old thread with Electro 35 pictures from western China which really impressed me. The lens appears to be excellent.
If manual exposure is a priority, there are many alternatives, some of which have been named in the other thread you opened, like Minoltas, Konicas, Canonets, Olympus. I'd go for more modern ergonomics.

Capt. Apparatus
02-03-2018, 09:18
I've got a retina IIC which I love, no meter to worry about and it has the nice big VF which is great since I wear eyeglasses, cleaned it up myself and swapped the rack when it went bad from a parts camera I had (an automatic III I think)

I also have the often forgotten (by retina standards) IIIS with a full set of lenses. It's a real dream to use and feels as solid as a art deco brick. :)
While it's true most of the lenses are F/2.8 or f/4 there is the wonderful f/1.9 50mm xenon and honestly with the leaf shutter you can get pretty slow handheld shots just fine in my opinion. The VF is pretty big and the automatic frame line switching is nice, although you'll need an accessory finder for the 28mm lens (took me months to find the kodak one made for the IIIS) or just eyeball it with the area outside of the 35mm frame.

shawn
02-03-2018, 09:57
I had the Electro 35 and have a bunch of the Retina's. The IIIC does have the nicest finder of the folding Retina's but it is kind of cluttered with the 35/50/80 framelines. I have 3 IIIC and none of them work quite right. I've serviced the shutters in them but the winding is finicky and often needs the unlock button pressed to advance the film. Plan to have the camera overhauled if you go that route. The IIIC also has the LV system with the shutter speed and aperture interlock which is annoying.

Lever wind IIa is a nice camera but the finder isn't as good (still usable). Its weak point is the frame counter spring can break easily. Camera will still work fine though. Of the Retina's all the lever wind models seem a bit finicky and a little less reliable than the dial wind models. I tend to prefer the zone focus cameras, simpler and smaller. The Ib has a nice finder with framelines, there is a IB model that has brightline finder and a built in meter. The dial wind IIa is a nice camera too and has the Ektar 50mm 3.5 lens which is good. My favorite might be the Retina I type 013 which is a very simple little camera with the Luminized Ektar lens. It has a cold shoe so you could easily add a viewfinder to it for times you don't want to deal with the tiny viewfinder. Scale focus only of course.

Other alternatives included in the picture... The Konica I is basically the same size as the IIIC. Finder isn't as nice and it is a little slower in operation. The S3 is smaller but thicker with a better finder than the IIIC and a great lens. Shutter priority only. Konica IIIa has the best finder of them all (1:1) with a body about the size of the IIIC but it is of course deeper than the IIIC folded up. The 35CC is like a shrunk down Electro 35 with a wider lens, a nice little camera that is aperture priority only. Rollei 35S is scale focus and a quirky camera that some either love or hate. I love it. Finder is nicer than the IIIC. The Contax T has a fantastic lens and a very good finder again nicer than the IIIC, aperture priority only and finding a working one can be tricky. I have 3 parts cameras and one working one.

The Tower 45 is wider than the IIIC but not as tall. With a collapsible lens it is about the same depth. I much prefer it to the IIIC and I shoot it, the Contax T and the Rollei more than any of the others.

Shawn

Tim Murphy
02-03-2018, 11:03
The Kodak Retina IIa has a pretty bad finder, tiny and no frame lines. No offense Tim, but OP clearly stated he considered a IIIC mainly because of the finder.

IMHO, the big C finder is a little better than most of the later Japanese compact rangefinders, but not much. I've never looked through a small c finder, but a IIa I have. No comparison.

I really like my IIIC. Lens is excellent, finder works very well with glasses. But, OP, the meters on Retinas, even when they still work, are certainly not to be trusted for slide film. The ergonomics are questionable - bottom wind, little to grip on the right side means that one-handed shooting is impossible. The hood cannot stay on when folding it. They all need a service today.
It's very tall, not that much smaller than your Yashica. If that is reliable and you get along with it, I recommend you stick with that. I'd also prefer the slightly wider lens for my only camera. Somewhere in the depth of this forum there's an old thread with Electro 35 pictures from western China which really impressed me. The lens appears to be excellent.
If manual exposure is a priority, there are many alternatives, some of which have been named in the other thread you opened, like Minoltas, Konicas, Canonets, Olympus. I'd go for more modern ergonomics.

Dear retinax,

In this case you and I have differing opinions. However, neither one of us is wrong. I'm not offended by what you wrote, but I want to make certain that it is understood by the OP that by making a decision without handling the cameras the OP is placing a lot of faith in the opinions of others.

I use both the IIa and 111c and I wear glasses. I have no issue with either finder but I absolutely do recognize that you, or other people may have issues.

I hope the OP gets the opportunity to try before he buys. If he lived anywhere close to me I'd offer up the opportunity for him to see and try my Retinas. Maybe some one else who lives closer will offer him the same?

If the OP is seriously considering a Yashica GSN I'd like to suggest an alternative, the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. Owning both, the Minolta feels like a much more solid and well built camera to me. The specifications of both cameras are pretty much identical. In my use I find results from both are similar, but the Minolta also offers the advantage of full manual operation as well.

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Harrisburg, PA :)

dmitrizzle
02-04-2018, 00:18
I had the Electro 35 and have a bunch of the Retina's. The IIIC does have the nicest finder of the folding Retina's but it is kind of cluttered with the 35/50/80 framelines. I have 3 IIIC and none of them work quite right. I've serviced the shutters in them but the winding is finicky and often needs the unlock button pressed to advance the film. Plan to have the camera overhauled if you go that route. The IIIC also has the LV system with the shutter speed and aperture interlock which is annoying.

Lever wind IIa is a nice camera but the finder isn't as good (still usable). Its weak point is the frame counter spring can break easily. Camera will still work fine though. Of the Retina's all the lever wind models seem a bit finicky and a little less reliable than the dial wind models. I tend to prefer the zone focus cameras, simpler and smaller. The Ib has a nice finder with framelines, there is a IB model that has brightline finder and a built in meter. The dial wind IIa is a nice camera too and has the Ektar 50mm 3.5 lens which is good. My favorite might be the Retina I type 013 which is a very simple little camera with the Luminized Ektar lens. It has a cold shoe so you could easily add a viewfinder to it for times you don't want to deal with the tiny viewfinder. Scale focus only of course.

Other alternatives included in the picture... The Konica I is basically the same size as the IIIC. Finder isn't as nice and it is a little slower in operation. The S3 is smaller but thicker with a better finder than the IIIC and a great lens. Shutter priority only. Konica IIIa has the best finder of them all (1:1) with a body about the size of the IIIC but it is of course deeper than the IIIC folded up. The 35CC is like a shrunk down Electro 35 with a wider lens, a nice little camera that is aperture priority only. Rollei 35S is scale focus and a quirky camera that some either love or hate. I love it. Finder is nicer than the IIIC. The Contax T has a fantastic lens and a very good finder again nicer than the IIIC, aperture priority only and finding a working one can be tricky. I have 3 parts cameras and one working one.

The Tower 45 is wider than the IIIC but not as tall. With a collapsible lens it is about the same depth. I much prefer it to the IIIC and I shoot it, the Contax T and the Rollei more than any of the others.

Shawn

Thanks so much for this, Shawn!

Has anyone used Voightlander Vitessa and Agfa Karat cameras? Wonder how those compare as well.

rodt16s
02-04-2018, 02:34
Amazing what gets accumulated while searching for a travel camera
Must admit I really like the IIIC, but wouldn't recommend to go by the meter.
Don't have any issue with the multi frames showing in the vf.
The downsides are it's not a street shooter in operation, adjusting the speed and aperture is a faff.
The Olympus 35RC/D/SP is smaller and lighter than most.
The Vitessa has a great lens but terrible Vf and operation
Honestly for your criteria, I'd consider an OM SLR (OM4Ti for example)
Has a great meter, lenses are cheap and the overall package can be quite compact.

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=106951&stc=1&d=1517743256
106951

shawn
02-04-2018, 06:34
Thanks so much for this, Shawn!

Has anyone used Voightlander Vitessa and Agfa Karat cameras? Wonder how those compare as well.

Vitessa is a brick, it is surprisingly heavy. The Ultron is a great lens but the winding mechanism is a weak spot on them. I had one that overlapped frames so I returned it. I have another I am repairing, it needed a new rangefinder mirror so I have it apart at the moment. Not sure if the winder in that one works properly yet. If not I was planning on transplanting the Ultron onto a Retina body.

For a fast, small, quick every day carry I actually really like the XA2/3. Almost no exposure control and zone focus but they fit in a pocket and are cheap enough to not worry about it. Had the XA but the rangefinder in it is fiddly and mine was low contrast so I sold it. Others love them.

I haven't tried one but the Olympus RC might be what you want. Shutter priority or full meterless manual in a body quite a bit smaller than the Electro 35. Supposed to be a good lens and it has a shutter speed dial on top, not on the lens. Viewfinder has aperture and shutter speed info in it.

Shawn

Peter Jennings
02-04-2018, 17:40
As you can probably tell by now, there is no perfect camera out there that will satisfy all your desires. You could set one criteria as your top priority, like a nice vf, and get a Konica IIIA. Best vf in a 50s rangefinder, I think. Fabulous Hexanon lens, as well. I had one, but I found the camera too heavy and bulky and so I sold it. I found that the size of the viewfinder was not my top priority. For me, overall size and weight are more important - and of course a great lens with good speed.

I replaced the IIIA with a IIA which is lighter and smaller. The vf is not as good, but better than the early Retinas. It still has a nice f/2 Hexanon lens, but the shutter requires manual cocking. It's knob wind rather than lever. So, there are some trade-offs, but I'm happier with what many would call the lesser camera because it better fits my desires in a fixed-lens rangefinder.

Think hard about what your priorities are and try to handle as many different cameras as you can. This will probably mean buying a lot of cameras and selling most of them. You can read all the advice there is but you'll never be sure until you've tried them all yourself. And really, that part of the journey is a lot of fun.

Have fun!

dmitrizzle
02-04-2018, 19:31
Vitessa is a brick, it is surprisingly heavy. The Ultron is a great lens but the winding mechanism is a weak spot on them. I had one that overlapped frames so I returned it. I have another I am repairing, it needed a new rangefinder mirror so I have it apart at the moment. Not sure if the winder in that one works properly yet. If not I was planning on transplanting the Ultron onto a Retina body.

Shawn

As you can probably tell by now, there is no perfect camera out there that will satisfy all your desires.
Have fun!

So... I got the Vitessa L brick. Can't say it's a great deal, especially after hearing of all those lucky people getting dollar bargains (argh!) and living in Thailand is also no treat for shipping and import taxes.

But wth, the camera just looks so damn beautiful I couldn't resist. I'm definitely worried about potential repairs, especially for old mechanical cameras as most of the things I do aren't that complicated (like getting rid of lens fungus and fixing POD issues on Yashicas...)

Anyways, I know there's nothing out there that's "perfect" but I am sure enough hoping that this purchase will make me happy for the next few years and produce images as good as what I've seen. I'll run a roll through it as soon as I get it (if that's possible) and if it's as good as I imagine it could be I'll start downsizing my collection.


Thank you all very much for your help!
If you have any resources handy for Vitessa L's (perhaps some threads here or Facebook groups) that goes beyond first two pages on Google that would be very much appreciated.

Peter Jennings
02-05-2018, 00:58
The Ultron is a great lens. The Vitessa is a quirky and fun camera. I had an L and I have an earlier model now. If it’s all working properly, you’ll have no problems. If it needs work, you may have to fix it yourself as there likely isn’t anyone who will service it for you. Luckily, there is some great information in this forum that can help you out. Just do a search.

Good luck!