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gnashings
01-10-2008, 12:51
Hi Folks,

I have never really considered buying a Retina, until the first time I held one in my hands. I was visiting a friend who is a bit of a collector and among his older cameras, there sat a IIa. I picked it up in the course of conversation and was immidiately smitten:) The heft, the quality feel, the beautiful mechanical parts, the tiny dimensions when it was folded up... It was a joy to look at if nothing else! Yep, I want one!
Of course with the internet on hand I had to do a little research and found a fair bit of good info on the Retinas. I decided that I would like a "c", either a II or a III, with a f2 lens. I am not a collector in the sense of a guy who wants a shelf of pretty cameras to look at - so collectability and value are not really a concern, this camera will be used and (I hope) used often.
This pretty much eliminated the "big C's" which are still fetching a little more than I am willing to pay (in some cases, a lot more) for what I find to be negligible improvements in performance (please correct me if I am mistaken in that observation).
What it really comes down to is this: how much is a 50 year old meter worth? How often do they work with any degree of accuracy? If the meter is pretty much decoration, I would much rather get a II and probably get a camera in better shape for the same money - but if the meters are not a completely lost cause, I would not hesitate to look for a III...
I don't think I would be using the auxiliary lens elements as this camera would earn a living the way it was meant to: as a pocketable carry-anywhere comapnion, so the main considerations would be with that in mind.
Sorry about the long winded essay - any thoughts or comments, experiences, would be appreciated. Thanks in advance,

Peter.

Gumby
01-10-2008, 13:16
The difference between the little-c and big-C isn't worth the money to me, as a user. I see why a collector would be interested because I believe the production numbers were quite a bit smaller.

There are both good deals and bad deals on Retinas. Shop carefully and you'll get a good deal.

The meter is really nice to have. I have several Retina IIIc's with working meters. In general, I find that they either work or don't. I haven't seen "degraded" meters that are just a bit off. There's a lot of talk of this, but I've never seen it.

gnashings
01-10-2008, 14:06
Thanks for your imput - its much appreciated.

The difference between the little-c and big-C isn't worth the money to me, as a user. I see why a collector would be interested because I believe the production numbers were quite a bit smaller....

That is kind of what I thought, and especially since I don't intend on changing lenses - which I believe is where the viewfinder improvement really helps - I think the small c is plenty good.

...
The meter is really nice to have. I have several Retina IIIc's with working meters. In general, I find that they either work or don't. I haven't seen "degraded" meters that are just a bit off. There's a lot of talk of this, but I've never seen it.

Thank you especially for that bit of info - the camera will mainly see B&W print film, so minute accuracy is not of the essence, but I was wondering about this issue exactly and you have she a lot of light on it, and I really appreciat the input.

Looks like a IIIc it will be, unless a ridiculous deal on a II comes up... and then I may have two Retinas, which would be just plain awful ;)

Thanks again,

Peter.

michaelging
01-10-2008, 14:54
As a person who has way too many Retina's, the meter is nice but you can use the "sunny 16 method" or a hand held meter. I have the 11a and a couple of 111a's both can use the 35mm and 85mm aux lenses. The viewfinder on the IIIC "big C" is bigger than the small c, and is a little easier to focus, but you will probably not be shooting sports action anyway. The Aux lenses are sharp ,but transfering the distance is kind of slow and a pain to do. The meters usually work or they do not. There is a fix that mike Elek had on his web site where you clean the contact to make a non-working meter work. There used to be a good site by a man in New Zealand , named Chris , here is his web site http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~Srawhiti/index.html

Brian Sweeney
01-10-2008, 15:46
The IIIc has the F2 lens, the IIc has an F2.8 lens. Both are 6-element designs, and are very sharp. The 1b has a 4-element F2.8 lens.

It is possible to take the meter off of a IIIc and put a IIc top plate on it. So sometimes you will see a IIc that is modified to have an F2 lens. It is also possible to replace several of the elements and click stops to give an F2 lens to a IIc. A bit more involved than it looked.

KoNickon
01-10-2008, 15:48
Go for the IIIc. There are two versions, one with a two-range meter (with a meter cover) and a later version with a single-range meter. Both work great. The wind crank on the bottom is a little odd, but you get used to it.

Gumby
01-10-2008, 16:21
is a fix that mike Elek had on his web site where you clean the contact to make a non-working meter work.

I haven't seen this site, but it sounds like the same technique I've used in the past to revive "dead" or "dying" Weston meters. It works most of the time!

michaelging
01-11-2008, 07:24
http://www.elekm.net/zeiss-ikon/repair/meter-repair/
here is the link , it work on most cameras, where the contacts are bad

Letien
01-11-2008, 09:32
I like IIa and IIIc. The IIa is better in look, feel and top winding level. The IIc and IIIc have frame line in VF, smoother shutter release but bottlom winder. My IIIc have working meter but I don't use it.

gnashings
01-11-2008, 12:24
Thanks a lot, guys - this is exactly the kind of thing that only experience could teach, and I am grateful to be able to draw on yours. I think at this time I am partial to a IIIc, as the IIIC is simply too pricy for a camera I don't really "need" (and I know that there is no such thing:) ), I just really want one. I do shoot a lot of available light, low light stuff, the camera would probably mostly see TriX destined for Acufine, so the f2 lens would be nice, even though I hear the f2.8 lenses are great performers.

As to the bottom wind, I have to say, I was really surprised at how much I liked it on the one camera I own that has it - a Bell&Howell Canonet 19 (with the big meter-cell ring around the lens). Once you get used to it, I find its actually superior to top wind in terms of allowing me to shoot without taking the camera away from my eye. Funny thing is, I also have the later, Canon badged 19, with a battery operated meter and a top mounted film advance, but I find I like the old Bell&Howell better. Mind you, I often favor cameras that are quirky and have character over what woul actually be "good for me".

Thanks again,

Peter.

hou baloo
01-11-2008, 15:37
KEH has one on offer on US ebay, Item number: 120208760636

gnashings
01-11-2008, 22:35
thanks for the heads up

rpjasin
01-12-2008, 13:15
I have both a IIC and a IIIC. I really like the large size finder compared to the small c versions, but if you aren't planning on changing lenses it probably isn't a big factor. Having said that, there is a cool supplemental veiwfinder used for the IIc and IIIc, should you change your mind and buy the wide angle and tele lens. I also have the Kodalux L clip on meter which works great, looks great, and is easy to use if you decide on a IIc. I find it is not hard to find working meter examples of any Retina if you spend a little bit of time looking. It's hard to beat epay to get an idea of what's available!

jmc56
01-12-2008, 21:29
I have a batch of Retinas from early to late, including a non-folder, a IIIC and two IIIcs. I lucked into a good but cheap IIIC, but it's otherwise not worth the differential.

Don't be too quick to dismiss the I and II series., made in a number of types for 25 years. Some late Is had a meter, but as far as I know, none of the IIs did. All IIs had RFs. The III series had meters and RF. DanteStella (www.dantestella.com/technical/retina.html) suggests the IIc was the peak of Retina design. I agree. The IIs come closer to Nagel's design concepts than the later ones which to some degree represented Kodak's tendency to tart good things up. Later coatings are superior.

It's not hard to find a II series in good shape for less than a III and it cuts out some of the fussiness.

There is no difference of consequence between the IIIc and IIIC. The big C's advantages are illusion.

All IIIs had interchangeable front elements for 35mm and 80mm. The big C had finder framelines. The small c needed finders. The late lower case III had the same meter and it was a great advance over the earlier one. No one in their right mind would actually use these lenses. This matters to hard core collectors.

There's a lot of information around on Retinas and a few books. You mostly want to be sure you're getting what you think you are. A good place to start is Chris Sherlock in NZ. http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~Srawhiti/index.html
Serial numbers can be matched without difficulty.

There's some confusion over lenses. The IIc type 20 does have a 2.8, but other types have f 2.0s or f 2.0s as an option with f 2.8s or f 3.5.

Other than the meter the IIIs don't offer a substantial advantage over the IIs. If the meters work, they're adequate but not very convenient.

But if you were looking for something easy to use, you probably wouldn't want to buy an old German engineered camera that feels like a jewel in your pocket. It's possible I crossed a fact somewhere above, but expertise in Retina lore requires more obsession than I can spare.

Spider67
01-24-2008, 03:37
Hi Peter!

If you liked the IIa at first touch why not stay with it?

This said I like the IIc as a user cam the most. The IIa mya be a retro design jewel but it's sometimes a bit small, the VF has no frmes and composition is guesswork.

There's another thing to beware: fogged VFs. I have 3 IIc#s and tow of them have slight to medium fog in their VFs. The same with my IIIc whose framelines sometimes are barely visible.

There's one dfinite advantage of the IIC/IIIC's: they are newer. Igot my IIC off the bay for a reasonable price (OK being a Retinite take that with a grain of salt)

Anyway the best would be if you can buy it in a shop or a yardsale as you surely have noticed that nearly everyone who answered has several Retinas. Very often due to the fact that it's a bit of a lottery to get them via the bay:
Enjoy whatever you buy!
Des

W Morgan
01-24-2008, 04:34
Hello, Peter -

Many years ago, I worked in a small shop and thus had the good fortune to regularly loot whatever goodies came in for trade, including a variety of Retinas, and the accessories, boxes, and gee-gaws for them.

The meter is a non-issue for me, since I use a cheapie hand-held.

That said, the IIa I got first remains my front-runner in actual use, and mostly because of what first attracted you: the design and feel. Truly lovely bits of industrial design. Meant to compete with Leicas of the same time at a lower price-point. "Fiddly", but that's part of the charm.

If your plans are for B&W print film, try some C41 process stuff like T400CN or the Ilford and rate it at ISO 200-something, rather than 320 or 400. Great shadow detail. Color slide film will blow you away.

Ooops! Didn't mean to climb onto the IIa band-box - can you tell I love mine?:D

cheers,
Bill

Spider67
01-24-2008, 05:56
Ad Retina IIa bandbox
My Retina IIa had also a story that came with it: It's owner Herr Vorneberger worked as an Assistant in a print shop and spend a whole month pay for his Retina IIa - 166 USD in German Marks - and his wife still rolls the eyes whenever it came to the camera...

Brian Sweeney
01-24-2008, 07:44
> There's another thing to beware: fogged VFs. I have 3 IIc#s and tow of
> them have slight to medium fog in their VFs. The same with my IIIc whose
> framelines sometimes are barely visible.

This is not too difficult to clean up. The top plate is easily removed by taking off the rewind knob, and three screws. You can clean the inside of the plate glass and outer portions of the optics easily.

If you are more bold, you can slide out the optics/frameline mask. This requires care to get back into place properly, and once in has to be positioned correctly to get the RF calibration correct.

-Don't touch the semi-silvered glass. -

oldgearhead
02-01-2008, 11:51
I like the IIa. Why? I think it's the smallest. It will fit in your jeans back pocket,
or in a coat pocket when folded.

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost/data/500/Cameras_1.jpg

saturnales
02-08-2008, 08:59
Take note that I have a near perfect III c one for sale in the classified section!

saturnales

mh2000
06-27-2008, 14:16
IIa, wonderful. With the latitude of BW400CN (which is what I shoot in mine) I am a guestimating genius... no need for meter :)