Kodak Retina Reflex S: Family Values


The Retina Reflex S is a 35mm SLR built by Kodak. It’s a nice smelling, heavy, full metal camera, and by any means, a classic shooter. Let me take you on a journey with this Kodak SLR camera.

Photo via Camerapedia

The Retina Reflex S was manufactured between 1959 and 1960 by Kodak. The U.S. company that bought German camera manufacturer Nagel AG in the 1930’s introduced the Retina Reflex Series as their first SLR system with interchangeable lenses. The Reflex S was the peak of the series.

The Reflex as has a syncro compur leaf shutter with speeds ranging from 1 to 1/500 second and “B”. The lenses were provided by Schneider-Kreuznach with focal lengths of 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm.

After this bare facts (yawn) I would like to tell you what makes this camera special to me. When I started taking pictures with my then newly-bought LC-A in February this year, I was completely clueless about shutter speeds, aperture, exposure and every other photo technical blah blah. I had a really good time just firing my little Lomography camera. But sometimes, I wondered why some pictures looked the way they looked. The word aperture went through my mind. Shutter speed came next. Any connection between them? The question mark got bigger. I didn’t get any answers.

When my mother got a clue on my interest in photography she gave me her Retina. It has been lying in the drawer for about 30 years. I can’t really remember a lot from that afternoon; the last thing I remember is opening the leather carrying case…

The smell…
Pure mechanical sound…

I was in love with the camera from that time on. And I learned quite a bit. See, the selenium meter is connected to a little arrow in a round window on the top of the camera. A second arrow in that window moves when you set aperture and shutter speed, which can be done by a adjustment wheel at the bottom of the lens. You just have to bring together those two arrows and presto! You get the right exposure! That made the relation between aperture and shutter speed clear to me.

My grandfather, who gave the camera to my mother when she was my age, provided me with a 28mm wide angle lens and a 135mm tele lens. I was in heaven!

The Retina Reflex is a decent camera with sharp lenses. It produces a thrilling color saturation; just take a look at those pictures. It’s a nicely heavy chemical and a mechanical masterpiece. The pictures have the typical 60’s look. If you want to get one, make sure the cocking mechanism is working properly; there lots of complicated parts here.

What makes it so special to me? It carries a family story, a love story, and a learning story. I can really feel the age of this camera; it takes me back in time.

What could it make special to you? It’s a learning tool that makes you understand what you are doing when taking a picture. Ask your parents, ask your grandparents, maybe they have an old camera for you. With these old cameras, you can see what taking photos was like when they were your age.

Photography brought me nearer to my parents and my grandfather. This is the accomplishment of this camera!

written by zark on 2011-12-09 #gear #review #slr #family #chrome #lomography #retina #alt #zark #60er #user-review #kodak-kodak-camera


  1. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    What a great camera. Nice pics too.

  2. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Nice Camera! All manual cameras are a lot of work but fun.

  3. twinklecat
    twinklecat ·

    Old family cameras are the best!

  4. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Great photos, the colours look amazing!

  5. robot_average
    robot_average ·

    Want one!

  6. daniel-e
    daniel-e ·

    Enjoyed your read and photos. You just have me a coherent explanation of how the meter works. I am marvelling at the engineering of the KRR that arrived yesterday. Can you believe it, a pair of pointers that move over the focus scale to show live depth of field. The camera is is not cocking, but I am hoping to coax it back to life like the KR IIIc that recently joined my collection of the Reflex series from Kodak AG, Stuttgart.

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