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Retina, Retinette, Ektar, Xenar, Reomar?
Old 08-21-2011   #1
Steve M.
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Retina, Retinette, Ektar, Xenar, Reomar?

I just dived into the world of Retinas, and wow, there's even more model variations than with the early Leicas! A person could spend a lot of time trying to figure out which one suits them best, so I thought I'd ask the experts here....which one should I get?

I first bought a IIa since SG likes them so much, and while I did like the camera and it's top wind lever I didn't like the cloudy, dim rangefinder (which showed infinity at about 10 feet), so back it went. Next up was a IIIc w/ a 50 2.0 Xenon. Nice, smooth camera, but now it's too big and heavy. Again the viewfinder is really dark, although the RF seems more accurate. Little jewel of a camera, but I don't like the bottom wind lever or the weight.

These cameras seem to have lots of issues w/ viewfinders and rangefinders, so I was thinking of an earlier Ia (to give me the top wind lever), but then I discovered the Retinettes. More models to decipher.

In order to avoid the dim finder and RF issues, one of those Ia's might work, and I'm thinking that since some of the Retinettes are later models they might have better finders. The Retina Ia has the 50 3.5 Ektar option, and the Retinettes seem to mostly have the lower quality Reomar (which may be a fine lens for all I know). I think the Retinettes have that bottom wind lever too.

Any suggestions? For the most bang for the buck, and to avoid complications, would a Ia w/ Ektar (not one of the rebadged Xenars) be a great camera, or what?
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Old 08-21-2011   #2
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Retinnete 1a are fine camera but scale focus. Reomars are just dandy too. I have one and use it. And they are very cheap!
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Old 08-21-2011   #3
Brian Legge
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I understand the size/weight issue with the IIIc but the bottom winding... well, it takes a bit of time to adapt to it but it really grew on me.

The IIIc finder is darkened intentionally to bump up the visibility of the rangefinder patch. I've used the camera in a dimly list restaurant without any problems. Personal preference and all, but it may be worth giving an IIa another shot if you liked the IIIc but not the size.
Shooting whatever I can get my hands on.
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Old 08-26-2011   #4
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Have a look at the wedding set on my Flickr (link below) - they were taken with a Retinette 1a. Not a stellar performer, perhaps, but more than good enough for most things. Somewhere in the set called "I have too many cameras" is a picture of the camera I used...

I love pretending that I know what I'm doing.... (Pete Herbert)

If http://www.flickr.com/photos/gray1720/ are the ones I let people see, what on earth are the rest like?
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Old 08-26-2011   #5
Brian Sweeney
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The brightest finders of the folding Retina's would be the IIIC and IIC. Rigid cameras, the IIIS with interchangeable lenses is good.

On the inexpensive end: The Retina Auto III shares the same finder with the IIIS. Even of the meter is dead, the camera works on Manual.

Roemars are three-element lenses, the Xenar is a Tessar formula lens. Xenon lenses are 6 element, the sharpest of the bunch.
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Old 08-28-2011   #6
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I love my IIA. The finder and patch are certainly not great but I find it very usable. The issue I had was I wondered if it was to small but then I used it solely in the case and made it so much more comfortable in my hands. Lens is awesome though.
Auckland, NZ

Far too many cameras & lenses!
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Old 08-30-2011   #7
Steve M.
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Thanks for the info on the finders Brian. I haven't shot with the 50 2.8 Xenar yet, but the Xenon 50 2.0 on my IIIc is a wonderful lens. The bottom wind is growing on me too, but I found my camera. It's a Retina Ia with an Ektar 50 3.5 lens, and I love it's top wind and tiny size. No rangefinder to worry about, as it's scale focus. This Ektar lens really is fantastic, and often exhibits a 3-D sort of sharpness. These came from the first 2 rolls.

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