The Kodak Retinette 1B was a viewfinder camera made by Kodak to be a simpler, cheaper alternative to their Retina series of rangefinder and slr cameras.
These pictures can also be viewed full size here.
I bought this camera as a bundle along with a Kodak Instamatic 304 camera. They were sold as untested and therefore not guaranteed working but as it turns out both are actually fine and work as expected. Although I wasn’t really interested in the Instamatic it had a bonus in the shape of a Kodak Kodacolor-X 126 cartridge which was still fitted in the camera, so that will hopefully be refilled with blank 35mm film at some point.
The Retinette, although unfortunately empty of film, is in fine condition. The only slight issue is a small patch of fungus on the outside of the front element, but that should be easily cleaned off.
The light meter still seems to respond to light and looks to be accurate, and the shutter, although a bit sluggish at first, has settled down after a couple of dozen actuations.
Kodak Retinette 1B description
The Retinette series, as I said above, are viewfinder cameras, some with light meters included. The 1B which I have here, has a light meter, a Rodenstock 45mm lens and a Prontor 500LK shutter.
In design it is typically Retina like, with the film advance on the bottom of the camera having the characteristic ‘bent lever’ shape. Unlike the Retinas that I own, this Retinette has a plastic film advance lever; I don’t know it this was a change introduced across the whole series or just implemented on the Retinettes as a cost saving exercise.
The shutter in this camera is a Prontor 500 LK which gives speeds of 1/15sec up to 1/500sec and bulb exposures. This is a bit limited compared to many cameras which have a full range of lower speed settings although the Retinette 1B does have flash sync and a self timer. The flash can be synced via a cable from a socket on the front panel or via the hot shoe on the top plate of the camera. Interestingly there is no switch on the camera to select flash bulb or electronic sync and the handbook doesn’t specify which the camera works with.
As I said, there is a light meter fitted to the Retinette 1B, which is fully coupled to the camera’s shutter and aperture controls and has a display needle visible in the viewfinder making it easy to set the correct exposure during composition. You do need to be mindful of the shutter speed selected so you don’t set the camera to bulb however since the actual value of shutter speed and aperture isn’t displayed. In the handbook it is recommended to set the shutter speed first and then use the aperture lever to get the correct exposure and that is probably the best way to proceed.
The focusing is carried out manually and the camera has distances marked in feet and meters, as well as zone pictures for landscape, group & portrait.
All in all a typical Retinette, although quite different from my only other example, which was a folding Retinette – type 017
Kokak Retinette 1B specifications
- Kodak Retinette 1b 35mm viewfinder camera
- Built in light meter with in viewfinder display
- Prontor 500LK shutter
- 1/500 to 1/15 sec + bulb shutter speeds
- 10 sec self timer
- Flash sync via socket and hot shoe
- Film Speed ASA 12 to 800
- Film type reminder
- Parallax markers in viewfinder
- Count down frame counter
- Rodenstock Reomar 45mm f/2.8 lens
- Zone focusing
- Self timer
- Manual available on-line here.