Kodak Retina: Family values


The Retina Reflex S is a 35mm SLR build by Kodak, a nice smelling, heavy full metal and by any means classic shooter. Let me take you on a journey…

image from here

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 1930ties introduced the Retina Reflex Series as their first SLR system with interchangeable lenses. The Reflex S was the peek 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 length 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 just 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 Lomo. 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? The question mark got bigger. I didn’t got any answers.

When my mother got a clue on my interest in photography she gave me her Retina. I has been lying in the drawer for about 30 years. I can´t really remember a lot from this afternoon, the last thing I know is opening the leather carrying case…

The smell…
Pure mechanical sound…

I was in love 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: 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 an 28mm wide angel and a 135mm tele lens. I was in heaven!

The Retina Reflex is a decent camera with sharp lenses. Thrilling color saturation. Take a look at those pictures. Its nicely heavy and a mechanical masterpiece. The pictures have a typical 60ties look. when you want o get one make sure the cocking mechanism is working properly, a lot of complicated parts here.

What makes it so special to me: Its 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: Its a learning tool, 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, see what taking photos was like when they were your age.

Photography brought me nearer the my parents and my grandfather, its the accomplishment of this camera!

written by zark on 2009-01-14 #gear #review #retina-kodak-german-35mm-vintage-slr


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great review for a beautiful vintage camera! And the shots are really sharp, I specially love shot n° 51 :))

  2. anarchy
    anarchy ·

    Hey, did you spray paint that poor sheep? Hahaha....

    Seriously though, great review and really nice and sharp gallery!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. zark
    zark ·

    The sheep was already spraypainted. Doesn´t spoil the picture anyway, adds colour!

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