Most people have heard of the venerated Kodak Retina series but many may not know the “little brother” of the Retina; the Automatic 35. A great cross between quality and usability.
In the late 50’s, Kodak already had a big hit with its Retina line and so it broadened its market with the creation of the Automatic 35 and Motormatic 35. These cameras were very similar to the Retinas but, as the name suggested, were more automatic to be used as point and shoot cameras.
I picked up my little beauty in a garage sale for a couple bucks not expecting much more than a nice display piece. I didn’t even know anything about it other than it looked cool. I noticed that the light meter was working and the lens was in pretty good shape. Sadly, it sat on my shelf for a while until one day I took it with me on a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo with my girlfriend
The shots came out as best you can expect with shooting 200 speed film at 160iso in a torrential downpour. Lol Sadly, it then went back on the shelf for a couple more months while I played with my other cameras. Then I found another excuse to go to Pittsburgh with my favorite girl, this time to an old-school cruise-in called the “Steeltown Shakedown” (Hear more about it in an upcoming article). I brought the Automatic 35 with me just on a whim because I already had a camera that I was gonna use. Half-way to Pittsburgh, I realized that my batteries were dead in my main camera so it was down to the old girl.
I wasn’t expecting much based on the first batch of photos from the Zoo but this time I actually had some LOMO 100 film and that did the trick. It was a great match and the photos came out wonderful. The only downside to it is that the ISO only goes up to 160 and you only have two shutter speeds; 40 and 80. On the bright-side though, it does have a great Ektanar lens and a fast f2.8 aperture which did the trick.
So it has its limitations, what camera doesn’t? But overall, it is a great camera for many purposes. It is hard to beat for travel with its ruggedness and fairly small size but I believe it would also be great for portraits due to its sharp lens. I guess I’ll just have to test that out next time. If you can get your hands on one of these, don’t hesitate, grab it. You will thank me. Lol
So until next time,
Keep on snappin’