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Kodak Retina and Ektra Rangefinders This forum is for 35mm Kodak Retinas and Ektras rangefinders. The Retinas are known for their German engineering, relatively modest price and superb lenses. The Ektras are known as by far the finest 35mm American made rangefinder ever made.

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Retina IIIc
Old 10-22-2011   #1
jett
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Retina IIIc

I want to try out a Retina IIIc because they look pretty and I've heard many great things. I'm worried that they aren't the greatest users, so I was wondering how they compare to the Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders in terms of viewfinder/rangefinder, build quality, and wide-open performance.

I have a KAS2 and a Canon P. After getting the Canon, the KAS2 feels a bit cheapish and clumsy so I'm thinking about grabbing a Retina IIIc as my compact rangefinder. I like the 50mm focal lengths, and solid metal construction, so I figured that my best bets for an relatively inexpensive small rangefinder is a Retinas or Leica Barnack.
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Old 10-22-2011   #2
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OK, it took me a while but I figured out that KAS2 is the Konica Auto S2. That's a very nice camera, great lens. Certainly they made a lot of those, but they were well made.

But you asked about the Retina. I think the hardest thing to get used to with them is the location of the wind lever, and you have to be careful to not let it snap back or you run the risk of messing up the cocking rack -- significant repair. But it has a great viewfinder (make sure it's not too hazy), a really quiet shutter, and the Xenon is an excellent lens, right up there with the best. It's really compact too.

The meters on these tend to still be accurate, even after all these years. They're made by Gossen, which is the best of them all as far as I'm concerned. Regarding the Synchro Compur, I've found the shutters on the Retinas remain quite accurate, more so than Synchro Compurs on other cameras of similar vintage. I don't know why this is, and this is only my experience, but this speaks to how well the camera is made and how well designed.

From an esthetic standpoint, just looking at it -- the precision of the controls and the neatness of the engravings -- is another demonstration of these cameras' quality.

Downsides: I mentioned the wind lever is awkward and requires care in use. Some people don't like the count-down frame counter, and the way it locks when you hit 0, but that's just a momentary delay. Fixed lens, of course. Rewinding can be tedious. And other than the cocking rack issue, I think these are complicated to repair, so not everybody wants to work on them. But there are a lot of them out there in really nice shape, for not too much money. See if you can find one of the later ones with the single range meter (no need to mess with the flap covering the meter cell).

(A tip -- if you don't want the meter, look for the unmetered version, the IIc. The lens is an f2.8, but some people think it's even sharper than the f2.0.)
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Old 10-22-2011   #3
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I think the IIIc is a superb user. Have just sold my KAS2 and there was no competition in my mind. The Retina is a darling. Mine has no frame lines anymore so I purchased a Leitz 50vf and the set up is the best looking rig I have seen. Think the winder underneath is a non issue. takes about 5 hots to get used to it. Cheap as well, bought mine mint for $70.
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Old 10-22-2011   #4
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I own them all ;-) the IIIc, the IIIC, the III s and some IIa. I cannot confirm that the finder of the IIIc is great. It is just a finder of the times when it was built. Not comparable to those of a Canon G3 or Konica S2. Nuch better is the finder of the IIIC which are however hard to find and quite expensive. The handling of the IIIc with its uncoupled exposure-meter and the 3 lenses (and the tricky rangefinding procedure of tele- and wideangle-lens and the separate finder for them) isn't comfortable at all. Nevertheless the built quality is great and so is the quality of the pictures. If you want to use only the 50 mm lens and if you are prepared to use an external exposure-meter I would recommend the much smaller IIa. If you want to have more possibilities and comfort I would look for a III S: 6 lenses (28, 35, 1,9/50, 2,8/50, 85 and 135 mm), coupled exposure meter and internal automatic frame-lines for any lens.

By the way the wind-lever isn't the best invention but after a while you'll arrange with it.
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Old 10-24-2011   #5
pinkarmy
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i think both Kodak and Konica are great cameras.

i love all my Konicas very much
but i would never say "a Konica is better than a Kodak", or vice versa.
it's like saying a cat is better than a dog, or a spoon is better than a fork.

i never have Auto S2 but an Auto S1.6 (i also have the Konica I, II and a IIIM) and i have a Kodak IIIc.

they each has their own characters, regarding the operations of the machine, or the images they made.

the image results of my Kodak IIIc looks rather "normal" to me,
but that is because Kodak set the standard of modern photography--...i am talking about family snapshots kind of photography.
we are more or less growing up looking at pictures made from a Kodak camera or Kodak films.


EDIT:
I MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE!!!!
the two pictures i posted before are actually taken with my VITESSA A (Ultron F2)!!!!...no wonder why the bokeh is so fab.
i messed up my scan CDs.
I apologize to everyone who has been misled.
i am so embarrassed.

however my impressions on the Retina IIIc remains.
i will post the IIIc results...when i find the CDs...really sorry

Last edited by pinkarmy : 10-30-2011 at 20:37. Reason: typo
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Old 10-24-2011   #6
Brian Sweeney
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The finder of the IIIc is not as good as those on the 1960s and 1970s fixed-lens rangefinders. Most of the viewfinders on the Retina's will clean up well, tend to have haze on them. The silvering is good, most has survived.

The Retina IIc and IIIc (small c) have brightlines that is implemented using a mask in the front section of the viewfinder. It is a "sandwich" of glass, frame, and flat spring. You have to break it out, take it apart, and clean it up. Then the hard part is aligning it all back up.

The later Retina IIC and IIIC (BIG C) have a much larger rangefinder that is the equal of the 1960s and 1970s fixed lens RF's. This is the same finder used in the Retina IIIS and higher-end non-folding Retina's, the Auto III. Cleaning that viewfinder is trivial compared with the IIIc and IIc.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 10-24-2011 at 01:46.
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Old 10-29-2011   #7
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Thank you pinkarmy, those pictures have very nice bokeh.

This camera sounds like one I have to try! I don't need a meter, or interchangeable lenses, so I might pursue a IIa instead.
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Old 10-29-2011   #8
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These are German made cameras. The build quality is very good, certainly better than any Japanese camera I ever owned. The IIIc is also a much bigger camera than, say, a IIa. The IIIc I owned was built better than my earlier Retinas, but I like the smaller ones, so I sold mine. I really regret it. Wonderful shooter w/ a superb lens, and Retinas are very undervalued right now.

Here's a shot from my IIa w/ Xenon lens. My Ia w/ a Kodak Ektar lens is even better. These cameras will equal or exceed any modern camera in terms of IQ.


Last edited by Steve M. : 10-29-2011 at 18:17.
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Old 10-29-2011   #9
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How does the camera/lens compare with the Voigtlander Vitessa L with it's 50/2 Ultron?
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Old 10-30-2011   #10
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The Retina is far more practical of a camera than the Vitessa. It is much easier to work on, and is likely not to jam.

The Vitessa is the most difficult camera to set the RF alignment on.

I do not have the Ultron, have the F3.5 Skopar on my Vitessa N and the F2.8 Skopar on the Vitessa T. I also have two 50/1.5 Noktons on the Prominent 1 and "1.5". The Xenon on my Retina is as good as the Nokton. I use the retina's much more than the Voigtlanders.
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Old 10-30-2011   #11
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I'm attracted to the IIa/IIc because of their size and simplicity. Are there any advantages of the IIIc vs the IIa for someone who does not care about a meter or other focal lengths. I believe that you can change the front element for the III series, but this feature is something I do not care about. Is that the only significant change?
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Old 10-30-2011   #12
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The viewfinder is "less squinty", the eyepiece of the IIIc is larger than the IIa. It offeres more eyerelief for glasses. The bellows is not exposed, has a metal clamshell that protects it.
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Old 10-30-2011   #13
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Thanks again. And one more question (I think). How do these lenses handle flare? And can you mount a lens shade?

Last edited by jett : 10-30-2011 at 16:16.
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Old 10-30-2011   #14
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I have a Canon 50 1.4 LTM and I'm not too thrilled about its performance wide-open. Too soft. I prefer the build of the Canon LTM body but the lens on the Konica Auto S2.

How would the Xenon lens compare wide-open? I don't care about bokeh. I value sharpness and contrast more. I was thinking of getting a more modern Japanese SLR (Olympus OM or Nikon FM) when I want to shoot at wide apertures.
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Old 10-30-2011   #15
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I second Brian Sweeney. The conceptof the Vitessa is so different that it becomes tricky to use and the combined shutter-transport-piston may be quite quick but not quicker than a usual lever-wind. And it is a constant source of mechanical trouble. The Ultron is very good but not better than the Xenon or the Heligon.
Regarding the IIIc and the IIa it's a matter of size. The IIIc is not pocketable except you wear Yeti-coats.
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Old 10-30-2011   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jett View Post
Thanks again. And one more question (I think). How do these lenses handle flare? And can you mount a lens shade?
The coatings are very good so flare isn't much of a problem. Yes you can use a lens shade. Either the original plastic Kodak lens shade, that has a bayonet mount that makes it very fast to mount and take off before closing the camera, or a 32mm slip-on shade or a screw-in 29,5 mm shade. With the original Kodak lens shade or a 32mm slip-on shade you can use the Retina filters inside them.

Retina filters are slim and can be left on the camera when you close it.

Enclosed is a picture of my Retina IB with the Kodak lens shade on. The IIc and IIIc use the same shade.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg retinashade.jpg (53.7 KB, 38 views)
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Old 10-30-2011   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murpograph View Post
Regarding the IIIc and the IIa it's a matter of size. The IIIc is not pocketable except you wear Yeti-coats.
Retinas people tend to forget about are the I and Ia models. They are smaller and lighter, and the Xenar is an excellent lens. They lack the rangefinder, but if you're good at estimating distances and don't mind the squinty finder, they are excellent cameras for little money.

http://www.kameramuseum.de/0-fotokam.../retina-1a.jpg

http://cn1.kaboodle.com/hi/img/b/0/0...AAAAARjgrg.jpg

Retina Ib has a bigger finder that's no problem to use if you wear glasses. It's the little brother to the IIc and IIIc. Cute camera and sturdy as a tank.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanvolpe/5214083279/
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Old 11-06-2011   #18
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IIIc love...

Last edited by Jack Conrad : 11-09-2011 at 04:38.
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Old 11-06-2011   #19
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Note: They actually are not fixed lens cameras. Kodak made three different front elements that mount and unmount as easy as most any other interchangeable lens camera lenses. The three are the normal lens found on most Retina IIIc you see for sale: a 50/2 Schneider or a Rodenstock 50/2. The wide-angle lens is the Schneider 35/4; the tele is the Schneider 80/4. I'm not sure, but maybe Rodenstock also made the wide and tele lenses. All the lenses give beautiful results.
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Old 11-06-2011   #20
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have you make your choice?
anyway, here are some recent shots...

">
">
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all pictures are without lens-shade.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 11-07-2011 at 14:42.
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Old 11-06-2011   #21
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Oh sorry for not keeping you all posted. Retina IIIc. I ordered one off keh.com and it should arrive tomorrow XP.
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Old 11-06-2011   #22
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yes there are interchangeable front-elements for the IIc, IIC, IIIc and IIIC. Rodenstock made them as well as Schneider-Kreuznach. The front-elements can be combined however only in their system, that means you can use the front-elements from Rodenstock only with a camera that bears the basis-lens from Rodenstock as well.
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Old 11-08-2011   #23
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I received my Retina. The build is superb! The ergonomics don't bother me so much; the finder definitely isn't the greatest, but it is still very useable. Makes me want to start my own Retina collection...

I haven't had a chance to load up some film, but before doing so, is there anything that i should be cautious about so that i don't accidentally break my camera? Besides not letting the wind lever snap back.

Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2011   #24
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UOTE=msbarnes;1748509]I received my Retina. The build is superb! The ergonomics don't bother me so much; the finder definitely isn't the greatest, but it is still very useable. Makes me want to start my own Retina collection...

I haven't had a chance to load up some film, but before doing so, is there anything that i should be cautious about so that i don't accidentally break my camera? Besides not letting the wind lever snap back.

Thanks![/quote]

Most Retinas allow film-transport only when the exposure-counter doesn't show the end of the film. Therefore you have to set the counter-mark on the rhombus. You have to press the small protected piston and shift the counter with the flat button on the back. Another thing which can confuse is the fact, that the camera can be closed only when the range-setting is on infinite. Only then you can press the two knobs on top and bottom of the spreading leverage and push the lens into the camera body. A matter of routine after few exposures.

Have fun.
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Old 11-09-2011   #25
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The counter interlock is a pain. Years ago, I would see "jammed cameras" listed on Ebay. Was always worth taking a risk when the film counter was at 0.
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Old 11-09-2011   #26
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I found a IIIc recently in excellent condition, as shown above.

But the one thing that annoys me to distraction is that the meter door pops up far too easily. As far as I know it's working as intended. No damage or anything. It just pops up too easily since it's directly in front of the shutter button my index finger lingers and "pop"... up comes the door. Very annoying.

Does anyone else find the meter door hinge to be too sensitive? And if so, do you have a fix?

I know, I'm whining... and it's a long shot... but I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.

Otherwise, I really like the ergonomics of this camera.
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Old 11-09-2011   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Conrad View Post
...the meter door pops up far too easily...
mine too.
i stick a thin strap of 3M elecrician tape inside the door to add friction, actually it was too loose i have to put double layer of tape.
it is good now--except my meter itself is highly doubtful.
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Old 11-09-2011   #28
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I was bending the lower edge of the plate very cautious with pliers. That fixed the problem.
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Old 11-09-2011   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murpograph View Post
I was bending the lower edge of the plate very cautious with pliers. That fixed the problem.
yes the keyword here is VERY CAUTIOUS...i tried this too and left a nick...
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Old 11-09-2011   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkarmy View Post
yes the keyword here is VERY CAUTIOUS...i tried this too and left a nick...
Lol... I actually had the pliers in my hand and was
deliberating,.... I'll try the tape...
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Old 11-11-2011   #31
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The Retina is an amazing camera! The meter door thing is annoying though, but besides that I'm incredibly happy.

I'm addicted to folders now. I love the compactness and quality. I might grab a IIa or IIc if I stumble upon a good deal.. Between the IIa and IIc are the finders and bodies the same size?

Last edited by jett : 11-11-2011 at 17:26.
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Old 11-12-2011   #32
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The Retina is an amazing camera!...
congrate!!
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Old 11-12-2011   #33
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i probably fixed the meter door on my retina IIIc when i first got it, over 10 years ago?

It's a simple mechanism with a catch in the metal. I remember bending it ever so slightly to increase friction when closed.
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Rewind lever
Old 11-18-2011   #34
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Rewind lever

I'm a bit confused about the indication that letting the rewind lever flip back somehow causes damage to the camera. I own 10 Retinas and have never had or heard of this perceived problem before. I quote from the IIIC manual page 10, "To tension the shutter, pull out the rapid winding lever in one movement as far as it will go, then let it shoot back to its original position. if it should not fly back, it ws not moved far enough". The camera(s) is (are) designed to operate this way, no damage is being caused. Sorry to disagree. Bob
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Retina IIIc
Old 11-23-2011   #35
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Retina IIIc

I've gotten a Retina IIIc, which was sold in America. It's in good condition, light-meter still works but not really accurate. The focus index is in feet system, hix hix, I rather meter one. The aperture index is in below the lens, not really convenience in fact. Anyway, with the Xenon 50/f2 lens, it still give you very good pictures. I am happy very much to have it. I'd appreciate it very much!

Here are some demos:









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Old 12-04-2011   #36
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They sure are pretty.


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Old 12-04-2011   #37
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Oh, and I was able to fix the meter door flap hinge issue by applying a tiny drop of JB Weld to build up the latch tooth. Then I dabbed it with a black permanent marker. Invisible and works just right now.
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Old 12-05-2011   #38
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Looks good- and a good tip for the meter door.

Thanks for that!
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Old 12-07-2011   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpjasin View Post
I'm a bit confused about the indication that letting the rewind lever flip back somehow causes damage to the camera. I own 10 Retinas and have never had or heard of this perceived problem before. I quote from the IIIC manual page 10, "To tension the shutter, pull out the rapid winding lever in one movement as far as it will go, then let it shoot back to its original position. if it should not fly back, it ws not moved far enough". The camera(s) is (are) designed to operate this way, no damage is being caused. Sorry to disagree. Bob
From what I remember, that was a problem mostly on the small 'c' models, fixed with a redesigned rack in the big 'C' models. The replacement racks that are sold today are of the newer design, and will last much longer.

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