1939 Kodak Retina I, (type 149), German production, Nagel factory for European market, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is an early prewar Kodak Retina type 149 in exceptionally fine condition. It was produced at the Nagel factory in Stuttgart Germany in 1939 and intended for the European market. It was never released in the USA and as a result it’s nearly impossible to find one there.
The early ‘Retina I’ cameras introduced the world to 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. Eighty years later, all modern 35mm cameras are still using this film… because of this and many other reasons, the early German made Retinas are historically significant. So if you like using vintage cameras, rest assured that you can still get film for this camera.
This 79 year old Retina is in beautiful condition and works very well. It’s condition is considerably better than the ones I usually see. These cameras were used quite intensively in Europe during WWII because of their compact size and excellent performance. 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 Compur shutter which made it an excellent choice for covert use. Many collectors in Europe believe that these early Nagel Retina’s are at 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 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.
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 has been well protected and is clean and clear. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks. There are no separated elements, fungus or other problems and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
It comes complete with a used brown leather case.
All in all, a significant, enjoyable classic camera. Perfect for photographers with a historical interest or WWII reenactors. Load it with your favorite film and enjoy using it.