My Kodak Retina IIIc Camera
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Kodak Retina IIIc Camera

The German subsidiary of Kodak built gorgeous cameras in Stuttgart from the 1930s onward. They were particularly known for the Retina line of folding 35 mm cameras, sometimes referred to as the "poor man's Leica."

This was the first really good camera I owned, and it has a lot of miles on it. I used to carry it everywhere with me in a home-made leather holster.

The top-of-the-line IIIc features a truly excellent Schneider Xenar 50 mm f2 lens, in a Synchro-Compur 1-1/500 MXV shutter. It also has a selenium exposure meter that has never worked as long as I've owned the camera, and a decent rangefinder. There was a later model, the IIIC (uppercase "C") that had a better, brighter viewfinder, but mine was the older, lowercase "c" model.

I'm not exactly sure why, but it always seemed to me that whenever I'd develop a roll of film from this camera, I would have a higher "batting average" of good, interesting photos than I did with my other cameras. Might be because this camera was my constant companion for so many years.

As you can see, it had a hard life, and the finish wore away to brass on the corners and edges. I painted it black partly to make it look cooler, and partly to make it less conspicuous.

It took a very hard fall once, when it tore through the bottom of the pocket in my jacket.

These cameras have a reputation for being somewhat hard to service, mainly because their construction is rather unorthodox, (including having the film advance lever at the bottom of the camera!) but when I was a camera repairman, Retinas were one of my main specialties.

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