View Full Version : Which Kodak Retina?

07-15-2004, 11:14
Hi everyone. I read some very good things about the Kodak Retina camera's and their legendary Schneider-Kreuznach lenses. I have never used one myself but my father has used many over the years and swears by the performance of the lens. He currently has a Kodak Retina IIS which he will let me borrow to try it out for myself.

I have been reading up on these Retina's and i have decided i want to add one to my growing(slowly unfortunately) rangefinder collection. The one's that seem to get the praise and the value are these two:
Kodak Retina IIIS - Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 50/f2.8 lens
Kodak Retina IIIC(big C) - Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 50/f2.0 lens

Which of these two is the best in your opinion?

The other thing is that i would not be that interested in lens swapping as i like one lens to do it all. So i would look for these camera's with the 50mm lens only. Would you think it better for me to lean away from these two entirely and go for the Retina IIS which would be cheaper to buy one for myself(unless i can persuade my dad to loan his indefinately - On second thoughts forget it, he loves it too much!!!). The other thing obvious is that the Retina IIS is a fixed lens while the others have the option of other focal lengths through additonal lenses(if i decided i wanted that option).

Is the image quality frome the f2.0 lens superier to the image quality of the f2.8 lens?

Any comments, experience, advice is much appreciated.


07-15-2004, 11:50
The IIIC and the IIIc (BiC vs little c) have the same lens, a 50/2.0 Xenon. It is a excellent lens. The main difference between the two is the exposure meter. The IIIc usually costs less because it is less sought after by collectors.

There is also a IIc which is a IIIc w/o an exposure meter and with a 50/2.8 Xenon. I read somewhere that this lens is really a 2.0 lens with a Waterhouse stop inserted to permanently reduce it its speed by one stop. Anyone know if this is true?


Brian Sweeney
07-15-2004, 14:53
I have The IIIS, IIIc, and Auto 3 with the 50mm Xenon F1.9, Xenon 50mm F2.0, and 45mm F2.8 Xenar respectively. Of all of them, the Xenon 50mm F1.9 on the IIIS is the sharpest; the IIIc with its F2.0 second, and the Xenar is 3rd. Of course, sharper lenses do not always yield a more pleasing photo.

Review of the Retina Auto III, same lens as the IIS (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=388)

Brian Sweeney
07-15-2004, 14:54
The above shot is with the 50mm f1.9 Xenon. This lens works on both the Retina Reflex S and IIIS, with proper coupling.

Brian Sweeney
07-15-2004, 16:51
The IIc has an F2.8 Xenon which really has less glass in it than the IIIc. What is true is that the two cameras have identical shutter and Aperture. To COnvert a IIc to an F2.0 lens you need to replace the rear module, EV-ring, and Front module. It is not hard. All three items are marked with the Serial Number. Some believe that the front and rear lend module must match to deliver sharp performance. I did not find that to be true in the one case I tried. What is true is that all three must either be F2.0 elements OR F2.8 elements; front, rear, and aperture ring.

07-16-2004, 06:21
Some Leitz lenses had their components matched in batches, 3 or 4 I think. One does not need an exact match, just components from the same batch number.


07-16-2004, 21:38
In general the "Big C" models hold the edge, because the viewfinders are both larger and brighter, and the rangefinder patch is easier to see. Of course, that assumes the camera has undergone a proper CLA.

For portability, the IIC/IIIC are hard to beat. Both have great lenses.

If you're interested in using wide-angles or telephotos, then the IIIS is the way to go. There are auxiliary lenses (replacements for the front element) for the folders, but they aren't always easy to use and require the auxiliary viewfinder. The wide-angle f/5.6 Curtagon for the IIc-C/IIIc-C is a nice lens, though somewhat slow. And shooting at f/8 or smaller will help compensate for focusing errors or forgetting to readjust the focus.

The IIIS is a much larger camera, and if the cord that connects the meter to the aperture/shutter speed rings happens to break, you'll have a difficult time finding sometime to replace it.

So, my thoughts: If you want portability, the folder. If you want to switch lenses often, get the IIIS

07-06-2005, 08:31
The Retina-Xenon C f:2.0/50mm lens on the Retina IIIc/IIIC has the exact same lens formula as the Retina-Xenon C f:2,8/50mm lens on the Retina IIc/IIC. There is simply a different ring on the front and on the rear of the lens. This is why the interchangeable f4/80mm, f/5.6/35mm and f4/35mm
front elements work on all four cameras.

David L Jentz
Historical Society for Retina Cameras

07-06-2005, 08:44
The weak link on the Retina IIIc is the cocking rack. I've replaced mine twice since I bought it back in the late 70's. You can frequently get a good price on a broken one simply because some people think it is unrepairable.

That failure is so common that that one replacement part is still available.


07-06-2005, 10:49
I believe that Micro-Tools sells the Retina cocking rack.