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Nick's Classic Corner - No 38 - Kodak Retina Reflex III

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    In the late 50s, SLRs were the coming thing, and Kodak introduced the Retina Reflex in 1957. By 1960, there had been a few modifications, and the Retina Reflex III was born.

    It's a leaf shutter interchangeable lens SLR with built-in external but coupled selenium meter. The leaf shutter imposes significant issues on the camera - there's no instant-return mirror, for starters; when you wind on, a blind comes down to cover the focal plane, the mirror drops, the leaf shutter opens and the aperture opens up to allow full aperture viewing. As you press the shutter, the aperture stops down, the shutter closes, mirror and focal plane blind move out of the way, shutter opens and then closes t make the exposure. All very complicated, and a process that's often the Achilles' heel of leaf shutter SLRs.

    The camera is fairly tall, but quite thin and narrow. It's fairly heavy, and finished in bright chrome. It's a wonderful piece of engineering, too - not only the shutter sequence, but the meter display on top of the camera and in the viewfinder, the beautiful film speed dial - well, quite attractive, anyway - and the Rollei-like depth of field indicator all point to great German engineering.

    Most of the camera body is unadorned with controls - on top, there's a film type reminder set into the rewind knon, a simple accessory shoe, the meter window and the film speed dial. On the back is a little button for engaging the film speed dial. On the front is the shutter release, with unusually a cable release socket in the underside of the release. Flash sync is on the other side of the camera, on the mirror box.

    The base is a lot more busy - there's a back release, count down frame counter/tripod bush, frame counter reset switch (and it won't wind on past 1 without using it), winder, rewind release button, and windon lever.

    Which leaves most of the controls around the lens. MXV lever is there for flash sync type and self timers. Aperture and shutter speed rings are also here, linked by the LV system, and allowing match needle metering. There's also an adjustment wheel on the base of the lens assembly. There's a lens release button near it - the lens bayonets out, leaving shutter and speed ring behind, but also the aperture ring. My standard lens is the 50mm f2.8 Xenar, a reasonable enough lens. I also have 28mm f4 Retina-Curtagon and 135mm f4 Retina-Tele-Xenar lenses, which come in plastic keepers. The 28 and 50mm lenses focus to a respectable 3 feet/0.9m, but the tele only goes to a pathetic 4m/14 feet. Each lens has moving DOF indicators - as you adjust the aperture, it moves little red markers along the lens' distance scale to indicate the depth of field.

    Viewfinder is fairly bright, has the match needle display and a split image viewfinder.

    The camera has a very nice and fancy leather ERC with complex cut-outs for all the controls.

    Mine is lovely and smooth, and works really well - it's no action machine, but not a bad generalist bit of kit even now. Incidentally, there's a sticker inside the back that informs me that the camera was serviced by Kodak, London in 1968, a nice little touch.

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