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SUPERB! Kodak Retina II, German made prewar 35mm Coupled rangefinder with Fast 2.0/50mm lens, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!


SUPERB! Kodak Retina II, German made prewar 35mm Coupled rangefinder with Fast 2.0/50mm lens, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!

$ 375.00 USD

Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!

There’s a real charm to owning and using a vintage camera that’s difficult to put into words. Part of it has to do with a sense of history and heritage as well as the simple pleasure of manually setting the dials. Personally I like the simple purity of it and the outstanding results when you get it right, results that always amaze friends and family. It’s a bit like fly fishing I suppose, where the feel of the rod, the rush of the line between your fingertips and the fresh mountain air, cool against your face, is just as important as the fish themselves. After all, if you just want fish… it’s quicker to buy them at the local supermarket.


If you like the feel of a fine mechanical camera then you’ll love this one. This is the first successful Kodak Retina with a coupled rangefinder. It was produced between 1937 - 1939 in the Nagel factory in Germany which at the time Kodak had recently acquired in order to produce cameras for the European market. As many fine Nagel products, this Retina II features old world craftmanship, chrome plated brass components, real leather covering and silky-smooth controls. This model was not sold in the US and as a result it’s quite difficult to find there.


When it comes to early prewar 35mm rangefinder cameras, this model is one of the very best and it’s performance is on par with the best of its era. It’s also historically important in having helped popularize a brand-new Kodak 35mm film, which was cleverly designed to fit Retina, Leica and Contax cameras. (Prior to this introduction, photographers had to use dark rooms to load bulk film onto special spools and holders…) This new 35mm film had a profound impact on camera design and it quickly became a standard. Nearly ninety years later, all modern 35mm cameras are still using this film… because of this and various other reasons the early Retinas produced at the German Nagel factory are historically very significant.


This camera is in superb condition with only very light signs of very careful use. It’s hard to believe that it managed to survive the rigors of WWII here in Europe and look this nice. Like other high-end cameras of its day, this camera features a coupled rangefinder never leaves you guessing about focus or distance. It’s bright, accurate and smooth and a real pleasure to use. 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 fast, sharp 2.0/50mm Schneider-Xenon. This lens has an outstanding reputation for sharpness and the lovely rendition it produces. It was the most expensive option for this camera and it was definitely in the same league as the 2.0/50mm Zeiss Sonnar and 2.0/50mm Leitz Summar. (Many collectors including myself, feel this lens outperforms the Summar.)


The lens is mounted in a top-of-the-line Compur-Rapid shutter, which was the best shutter available. Together with the lens it formed the perfect combination for low light photography in a quiet environment. Folded it slid into a pocket much more easily than any of its competition. Unfolded it became a design Icon that also became the perfect photographic companion for many photographers.


This Retina II has been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. All controls move smoothly and accurately. The coupled rangefinder array has been cleaned. The image is easy to see and focus has been checked at the film gate. The Compur-Rapid shutter works well and all speeds (B & 1 sec.-1/500th) are appropriate. The Scheider lens is clean and clear with just some light cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing lovely photos on modern color and b&w films.


All in all, a lovely and somewhat hard to find vintage rangefinder camera ready for immediate use.

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