THE ORIGINAL FIRST VERSION, 1934 Black Kodak (Nagel) Retina, model 117, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is the original first version Retina It was only produced at the Nagel factory in Stuttgart Germany between 1934-35 and intended for the European market. This was the very first Kodak Retina and it introduced 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 still are still using this film… because of this and other reasons the earliest black Retinas are historically very significant.
This 86 year old Retina is in excellent condition and works very well. 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. And just like the early Leicas, this model features a lovely black lacquer finish with nickel plated trim.
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. 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 has been well protected and there are no scratches, no cleaning marks. There are no separated elements, fungus or other problems. The lens is clean and clear and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
Here are sample photos taken with an original first edition black Retina:
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 have fun shooting your favorite haunts with this 86 year old veteran.