Kodak Retina IIc 35mm rangefinder camera

The Retina IIc 35mm rangefinder camera was one model of a long line of cameras which Kodak made from the mid 1930’s through to the late 1950’s. It was one of the later models, and was made in the mid to late 1950’s.


These pictures can also be viewed in full size here.

My Camera

I bought this camera to increase my somewhat limited Kodak Retina collection. Since I only had a Retina IIa prior to this purchase I doubled my collection with one purchase!

The camera was sold with the proviso that the shutter was jammed so I knew it would require a bit of work to get it fully operational again, but that was one of the attractions. I quite enjoy working on old cameras and the thought of being able to get the camera working again is quite appealing.

As it turned out, when the camera was delivered I could tell that the problem was with the slow speed escapement before I actually took the camera apart, because after a bit of playing around I could get the faster speeds working but the slow speeds (everything below 1/15sec) were problematic. In the pictures above you can see that the shutter is still slightly open when I took the pictures, and that is because the slow speed escapement is holding the shutter apart.

By the way, just to clarify what ‘a bit of playing around’ above means, one useful thing to try if the shutter seems jammed on a Retina IIc is to reset the frame counter. There is a lock which stops the film advance being wound once the counter has decremented to 0 so once that point is reached it’s easy to think the shutter is locked up.

It seems there is also a problem on my copy with fungus on some of the internal lens elements, so I guess I’ll also need to strip the lens unit down and try to clean the fungus off as well.

Other than those problems, the camera is in reasonable cosmetic condition, especially considering its age, but will need a good clean.

Kodak Retina IIc Description.

The Retina IIc is a 35mm rangefinder focus camera with a Compur shutter and a Schneider-Krauznach 50mm f/2.8 lens. The basic construction is of a folding camera with a pop out front element, which allows the camera to be small and light to carry around but quite quick to snap out and be ready for a picture taking opportunity.

In many ways it is similar to the model IIa which I’ve already covered so I’ll only give a brief description here.

One big difference with the model IIa is the EV system built into the exposure control of the camera. The EV system of exposure control was very popular in the 1950’s because it allowed the easy setting of exposure without having to fully understand f numbers and shutter speeds. Basically, the aperture and shutter speeds are locked together and once the correct exposure has been set, the two elements of the exposure – the aperture and shutter speed – can be altered in unison to give the correct exposure. This is basically the same as the program shift mode in modern digital cameras.

To set the exposure an external light meter was used which could either give a reading as an EV number or as an aperture and shutter speed. Once that reading had been transferred to the camera, the exposure could be ‘shifted’ to give whatever artistic interpretation of a scene the photographer was striving for without worrying that the exposure would be wrong. Obviously, some attention had to be paid to the shutter speed because the camera couldn’t be hand-held at a very slow speed, but the system was generally easier than using conventional exposure control.

Another big difference is the fact that the IIc has a removable front element to the lens which allows it to be replaces with different focal lengths. As well as the 50mm unit which is fitted as standard to the camera, wide angle 35mm and short telephoto 80mm units were also produced.

The other slight differences from the IIa were the positioning of the frame counter and film advance lever. The IIc has a separate frame counter which is built into the top panel of the camera and the film advance is fitted to the bottom plate, but many of the other features are very similar to the earlier IIa.

The next post about the IIc will describe the cleaning of the slow speed escapement the lens elements.

Kodak Retina IIc Specifications

  • Kodak Retina IIc folding 35mm rangefinder camera
  • Syncro compur shutter
  • Shutter speeds from 1 sec to 1/500sec
  • Schneider-Krauznach 50mm f/2.8 lens
  • Other lens units available for wide angle and short telephoto use.
  • Exposure EV system locks aperture and shutter speed
  • Rangefinder focusing aid
  • Aperture range f/2.8 to f/22
  • EV range 3 to 18
  • Bottom mounted film advance
  • Count down film counter in top plate of camera
  • Clutch on film advance allows multiple exposures
  • Film Type reminder
  • Sync socket on lens
  • Lens Ser No: 4212081
  • Body Ser No: 291640
  • Manual available here
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4 thoughts on “Kodak Retina IIc 35mm rangefinder camera

  1. Hello Simon I can’t seem to contact you via the website, so here goes. Thanks for you first e-mail, I have been sorting out a few oldies, and wonder if an E German Werra would be of interest for you. The only identication is an impression on the back; WERRA. It has an exposure meter, but the flap remains up, and the overall condition is good.

    Regards

    Mike Penrith

    Ryde

    IoW

    • Hi Mike – that sounds interesting. I have a couple of Werra models, but neither are really working properly and would be good donor units to get a cosmetically good unit working. Can you send me an email to simon @ simonhawketts.com and let me know what you want?

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