The Kodak Retina IIC

Kodak, Retina, IIC, 35mm, vintage, camera, antique, film

This is Dad’s Kodak Retina IIC, which he purchased used from his brother-in-law in the early 1960’s.  He handed it down to me when I was a in my late teens, and it was my first 35m camera.  That was a quite a step up from my trusty Instamatic.  Dad and I both recall that photos from this Retina were impressively crisp and the colors bright.

Kodak, Retina, IIC, 35mm, vintage, camera, antique, film

The Retina IIC was produced by Kodak from 1954 to 1958 although the original Retina was first introduced in 1936. All of the Retinas were manufactured in Germany and the IIC was equipped with either a Rodenstock or a Schneider interchangeable 50mm f/2.8 lens and had shutter speeds up to 1/500 second.  A true rangefinder, it sported a folding lens cover and a retractable lens, which created a very stylish but pocketable camera.

Kodak, Retina, IIC, 35mm, vintage, camera, antique, film

The IIC did not have a built-in meter so using an external light meter was recommended.  However, if you did not have a meter, all was not lost.  You could refer to the manual, where a handy 15×8 table gave you light values by film ASA, under four different light conditions, and for color vs. B&W films.

And accompanying that table was this advice:

The light value table is valid for the months from May to August between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Reduce the light value obtained by 1 during March, April, September and October, as well as between 9 a.m. And 11 a.m and between 4 and 6 p.m.  Reduce the light value by 2 during the winter months of November to February.

The things we take for granted.

Kodak, Retina, IIC, 35mm, vintage, camera, antique, film

As you can see, this old girl is showing her age, and it’s in need of a thorough cleaning and reconditioning.  That’s a project in itself, but I’ve been looking at some devoted Retina fans who offer that service.  I’d sure love to run a roll of film through it one more time.

Sony NEX 6, Lightroom 4

About Ed Spadoni "Thoughts and opinions, resources and experiences… for emerging photographers everywhere."
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12 Responses to The Kodak Retina IIC

  1. Rodney says:

    Oooh, if you ever do run a rolll thru it, I sure hope you share it! Is it really even possible? Somedays I wish I could travel back to the 50s and take photos to see how good I really am or am NOT :0)… Great photos of a classic Ed.

    • Ed Spadoni says:

      Thanks Rodney. I recommend you pick up a used 35mm film camera (you can get a decent Nikon or Canon for about $100), and see what you can do. I’ve done just that and I’ll tell you, it takes some time to adjust to NOT having the immediate feedback that we get from a digital camera. It really tests your knowledge of aperture and shutter speed, and carefully planning your shot. Go for it! 🙂 Ed


    Hi Ed, Thanks for the trip back in time. Good job, Dad


  3. Prentis says:

    Take a peak at the post of my vintage camera collection a while back. I have the first version without the rangefinder. At least mine isn’t rusty and is in working order. Want to borrow it? I can’t see going back to film…ever!

    • Ed Spadoni says:

      I recall that from you’re post Prentis. The compactness allowed by the collapsing lens was fantastic and I’ve wondered why that feature hasn’t persisted to present day.

      Regarding film, see my response to Rodney’s comment. Highly recommended if you’re up for a challenge. Thanks, Ed.

      • Prentis says:

        So does that say you don’t have to be as good a photographer to shoot digital than when shooting film? That is probably true based on how with film you have one chance to nail the exposure instead of being able to mess with exposure (not to mention a host of other parameters) after the fact in digital. OK. I’m guilty. Compared to film, shooting digital is a little like cheating.

        But ultimately it is all about the results, isn’t it? Digital cameras are just a tool…and a darned effective one at that. So I’m content to admire these beautiful relics on the shelf. But if you really want the experience of shooting film again you don’t have to clean up that Retina. Just take your digital camera, fix the ISO at 200, shoot full manual, and ignore the light meeter readings. See what you get. Oh, and put gaffers tape on the LCD and leave it on for 7 to 10 days before looking at the results.

        One more thing… if you are going for prints I’m pretty sure that at some point in today’s commercial print processing the film is digitized anyway. Of course a case can arguably be made for slide and large format film.

        All that said, the Retina is still a pretty cool piece of hardware.

  4. Ed Miller says:

    Wow! The Retina IIC was also the camera on which I learned to shoot (it belonged to my late aunt) and I have the very camera in near pristine condition sitting out in my garage. I even have the manual with the circular dial, which would be needed considering neither of the external meters function any longer. One can find iPhone apps that function as meters though. Thanks for the trip down memory lane; this is about the only reference to that camera I’ve seen on a photography blog and I’m glad to see someone else remembers it fondly.

  5. Pingback: Kodak Retina Cameras - Dave Cottrell

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