A complete photographic system in a little leather case: The Kodak Retina IIIc and an assortment of accessories.
After having been a professional photographer for 20 years working with Leicas, medium format and 4×5 cameras, I started around the year 2000 a new career as a writer of books and scripts for tv shows. And I switched completely to digital cameras, starting with a Minolta Dimage 7i (quite a revelation then) and arriving after a brief adventure with Canon DSLRs at Panasonic’s Lumix GH and GX series – a system I can use my Leica lenses with and which I still like and use, though mostly for producing videos.
For 15 years or so I thought I would never touch an analogue camera again until following a whim I put a roll of film into an old Rolleiflex TLR of mine, snapped a happy dozen of pictures, and brought the Ektar 100 to one of the few surviving photo labs in the city of Munich to have it developed.
And there I saw it in the shopwindow of the lab: A little leather box reminding me of a lady’s beauty case, filled with an plethora of photographic equipment at a price i just couldn’t resist.
The little treasure chest contained a Kodak Retina IIIc, made in the 1950s in Kodak’s german camera factory “August Nagel” in Stuttgart. A beauty of a 35mm folder, compact enough to be easily pocketable but still a grown up camera that had everything an ambitious photographer could ask for in those days. It sported a 2/50mm Retina Xenon made by Schneider Kreuznach – a lens that plays in the same league as old Zeiss Planars and Leitz Summicrons – a coupled rangefinder, a selenium light meter (that still works), and – lo and behold – interchangeable lenses. Well, sort of, as it is only the front component of the Xenon that can be removed and replaced by either a f:5.6/35 mm wide angle component (called Retina Curtar Xenon) or a rather hefty Retina Longar Xenon f:4/80mm that transforms the sleek Retina into a monstrous beast once it is attached.
In addition to the camera and these lenses (which I rarely use because of their rather cumbersome handling) the case houses an external viewfinder for the accessory lenses that goes into the cold shoe, a foldable sports frame viewfinder adjustable for both the normal and the tele lens, plastic shades for all three lenses, an assortment of filters, and a set of three closeup lenses with a parallax correcting range/viewfinder contraption. All in all a complete photographic system in a container that is less than half the size of an average present day’s camera bag. Amazing.
And a pleasure to use, as long as you stick with the 50mm Xenon. In the twelve months I’ve owned it now, the Retina IIIc has become my trusty photographic companion – I take it with me every day even when I have to use a digital camera for professional reasons.
Here are five frames from the first black and white films I shot with it downtown Munich (the first two in front of the famous “Hofbräuhaus”). Ilford Delta 100 (pics 1 to 3) and Fomapan 100 (pics 4 and 5), developed in Rodinal and scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 4000.
If you want to read more about this camera you can do so in my blog http://zeitmaschinen.org/?p=508&lang=en
More of my pictures with this and other cameras you can find here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zeitmaschinen/
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