View Full Version : Retina lens question

01-17-2007, 10:27
I'm new to classic rangefinders, and I'm definitely hooked. I've been working with a Retina IIa that I have to return under 60-day warranty (cocking lever and rewind release button problems) but I'm not cured. I'm looking for another.

I'm trying to decide between the IIa and the IIc. My question has to do with the switch from the f2/50 Xenon lens on the IIa to the f2.8/50 Xenar lens on the IIc.

I _love_ the results from the Xenon, but I'm drawn to the build of the IIc. What I'm concerned about is that the optics were compromised in some way in the switch to the interchangable Xenar configuration on the IIc/IIIc models, and may have lost some of the quality of the fixed lens Xenon.

Anyone had enough experience with both lenses to comment? Or is it too fine a distinction to care? Example photos to compare?

[MOVED 01/18 -- Sorry, new here, I think this should have been on the "35mm,other" forum from the start.]

01-17-2007, 11:08

Retinas with a Xenar are using a classic Tessar design which gives up a little in edge sharpness for a characteristic plastic look. Later Retinas, IIIc etc , used limited aperture Xenons at f2.8. It is perhaps a matter of taste rather than quality in choosing between the two.


01-17-2007, 11:35
I inherited a IIIc which has a 50mm Xenon f2. The camera is beautifully designed, and it seems more robust and reliable than the II's I've handled. Mine is still going strong, and while it could use a cleaning, still functions perfectly, except for the selenium meter which died maybe five years ago. Maybe you can find one of these, and not have to give up the faster Xenon lens at all?

Edit: I forgot to mention that my IIIc has the interchangable lenses, and I've alwats been quite pleased with the performance of all the front cells. I have a 35mm and an 85mm, as well as the 50mm. All three perform very well, althoguh I have never performed serious careful tests. Under regular shooting, I have been very pleased with all the lenses, especially the 50mm and 85mm, even wide open. The 35mm wide open is a touch soft at the edges, but not unpleasantly so, and closing down one stop helps this. I have never compared my results to any of the older Retinas, however.

01-17-2007, 11:47
Sorry about the Xenar reference in my original post. I should have said Xenon C (red C), which is indicated on the interchangable lenses on the IIc and IIIc. Told you I was new!

01-17-2007, 11:50
Sorry about the Xenar reference in my original post. I should have said Xenon C (red C), which is indicated on the interchangable lenses on the IIc and IIIc. Told you I was new!

Ok...I feel better. I was looking for Xenar info on the IIC and could not find it.

That said, I have nothing solid to add because I've never shot the IIC.
Ok, I'll add something anyway.

Get another IIa. It's sweet and the size is perfect (heavy though it is).
I haven't heard much good about the wide and tele interchangeable lenses for the C series cameras. Perhaps someone here can contradict me on that one.

leica M2 fan
01-20-2007, 09:41
I own both and enjoy them equally. The lla feels smaller and the lens is absolutely great. It is a great shooter. The llc has a bottom film advance which doesn't slow me down at all. I kinda like it. Also, the llc has the EV system that a lot of people don't like, but there is a workaround on it to uncouple it. I don't mind using the EV at all. The llc is a nicer looking camera in my opinion. The f2 is a wonderful lens and the f2.8 is also. Personally I prefer the 2.8. Mind you, I have never shot either one wide open, I'm usually at 5.6, 8 or 11. Hope this helps. Either one is a great choice. The llc is probably more robust as far as the winding and cocking mechanism.

01-20-2007, 12:56
I have both and it is difficult to chose between them. The IIc usually gets taken out because it's easier to hold and the lens is less likely to flare. My IIc is a user condition camera I bought as a parts/repair camera. The pictures are from a couple of days ago, when the temperature was low enough to freeze the old grease on the rewind shaft and tear the film. All of the pictures have been cropped, resized and compressed using Irfanview.

01-20-2007, 16:51
Thanks for the insights, everyone. I'll get another IIa to replace the previous one, and wait while my father and I work on getting his IIIc in good repair. (He picked it up in Stuttgart during the service and used it for 20 years until the cocking rack stripped, then he stored it.) With both cameras in the family, we can do our own comparisons as well. I'll try to post the results in future.

01-20-2007, 18:39
I'll just add that my first rangefinder was a IIc -- I was truly startled at the quality of the pictures when I developed my first roll. It's quite a robust camera and I like the film advance position on the base though it was a bit odd at first.

Notice that I said "first" rangefinder -- now I own an M3 and just picked up a Canonet QL17 G-III. So beware-- it seems that it is difficult to only own one.


01-25-2007, 08:33
I have been using rangefinders for many years but I was very impressed when discovered Retina. I just have an IIa and an IIIc recently. Only got one roll through the IIa. It's a wonderful camera and lens. As a camera, I like the IIa better than IIIc because the top winding level and the compactness. I will find out if the IIIc with color correction lens give me better result. Definitely, I like to have both. I thought about an IIc too, but I prefer the 2.0 lens on IIIc.