|Kodak Retina IIa, made in West Germany from 1951-1954|
By the mid-1950s, solid body cameras became the dominant design because the lens could be mounted more precisely and remain aligned over time.
Kodak made these superb little Retina cameras at their Nagel-werke subsidiary in Stuttgart, Germany. For reasons that I never understood, the mighty Eastman Kodak Company was unable to successfully make higher-end 35mm cameras in the USA. They made millions of snapshooter-level cameras for casual photographers, and their large-format lenses were well-respected, but precision 35mm cameras for enthusiasts eluded them.
Dr. August Nagel himself designed the original Retina in 1934. It held Kodak's 35mm metal film cassette, the same format that we still use today. Various Retinas of increasing sophistication followed for the next 35 years.
- I series. 1945-1960. Viewfinder folding cameras with ƒ/3.5 to ƒ/2 lenses.
- II series. 1946-1958. Nagel-werke added a rangefinder to improve focussing. My IIa is in this group and has a superb 50mm ƒ/2 Schneider Xenon lens.
- III series. 1954-1960. The most sophisticated models with both a selenium light meter and rangefinder. The last of these models allowed the front optical group to be exchanged with 35mm and 80mm groups. It was clumsy but worked. Most of the selenium meters have failed by now.
- S series. Rigid bodies, 1958 to 1966. The IIIS and other models used interchangeable lenses with the DKL (or Deckel) mount. Beautiful cameras but very complicated.
- Retina Reflex. 1957-1967. Totally different leaf shutter bodies. The Type 025 could use the same lens elements as the III series above, while the later Reflex S used the DKL lenses. These did not successfully compete with Japanese reflex cameras in the 1960s.
|Retina IIa with front panel closed. The lens and shutter are protected.|
|Coated Schneider-Kreuznach 50mm ƒ/2 Xenon lens (6 elements), approx. 1952-1953|
|Shutter with range 1 sec to 1/500 sec. The distance scale is in feet for the US market.|
|Film guide and spools - all precision machining|
Cameraquest states that the IIa is his favorite model.
Photography & Vintage Cameras also prefers the IIa to other Retina models.
Is this Retina camera any good?
|Port of Olympia (next to the Dancing Goats® Coffee Tasting Room!)|
|Swantown Marina, Port of Olympia|
|Thurston County Food Bank, 220 Thurston Ave., NE, Olympia|
|Frog Pond Grocery in the historic South Capitol area (1/250 ƒ/5.6)|
Olympia is a nice little city at the south end of Puget Sound. You will see more Olympia photographs in the future.
|I am in the Danger Zone, Rte. 101, Skokomish (1/250 f/8)|
|Fixer-upper hotel, 311 Main Street, Pe Ell, Washington (1/250 ƒ/11)|
|Room with a view, Park Avenue, Aberdeen (the building really is curved; 1/100 ƒ/5.6½)|
|Great blue heron, Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon|