SUPERB! 1935 Black Kodak Retina I, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is the Retina I, type 118, which Eastman Kodak produced in prewar Germany for a very short period between 1935-36. This camera coincided with the introduction of a new Kodak film, which was cleverly designed to fit the Retina, as well as Leica and Contax 35mm cameras. This new film had a profound impact on camera design and all modern 35mm cameras still use this same film. For this reason alone the original black Retinas are very significant cameras.
This hard to find, early Retina is in exceptionally fine condition with only light signs of careful use. I especially like the black lacquer finish, the warm nickel plated knobs and leather covering. (Please see photos.) This fine condition of this camera is somewhat surprising because these cameras were very compact, highly regarded and often used intensively in Europe during WWII. They were used by both sides of the conflict when a Leica or Contax camera was deemed too heavy or bulky. The Retina was a good choice if you had to carry it for weeks or months at a time, over long distances and rough terrain. It also had the advantage of an extremely quiet & reliable shutter which made it an excellent choice for covert use. (Many collectors here in Europe believe that these early black Retina’s are at least as important as the first Leica or Contax cameras because without the Kodak Retina and its universal film cassette, 35mm photography might not have developed into the major photographic format of the post-war years.)
This 83 year old Retina has been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. Everything works and it uses normal 35mm film. The quality Compur shutter works very well. All speeds (T, B & 1 sec.-1/300th) fire smoothly and appropriately. It’s worth mentioning that the shutter is complete with its original extra-long shutter release button. (It screws into the shutter at the point where you would normally mount a cable release.) This extra button makes it even easier to use the camera and it is often missing.
The camera has a nice technical detail in that focusing is achieved by moving the entire lens/shutter combination back and forth. This provides better lens performance (especially up close) than the more common “front cell focus” in which only the front element is turned in or out.
The lens is a sharp Schneider Xenar 3.5/50mm, a four element lens very similar in design and performance as a Zeiss Tessar. This lens is well respected for its excellent performance and lovely rendition. (I enjoy using classic cameras and I’ve found that the 3.5/50mm Xenar produces photos that are nearly identical to the 3.5/50mm Leitz Elmar on the Leica II.) The lens is clean and clear. There are no scratches, no separated elements, crystallization or other problems and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all, a significant, enjoyable classic camera. Perfect for photographers with a historical interest or WWII reenactors. If you’ve been looking for an exceptionally fine, very early 35mm camera, then you’ve just found it…