No luck with the Kodak Retinette IA

Down the Road is on hiatus, returning Monday, 26 September. I’m rerunning old posts in the meantime. Here’s one of my oldest camera reviews, from 2008, when I was just learning photography.

I had so much fun taking photos with my Kodak Retina Ia that I figured this Retinette IA would be a hoot too. Boy, was I wrong.

Kodak Retinette 1A

I’m sure this Retinette was a very nice camera in its day. It cost $45, which was way more expensive than an average Brownie but probably quite a bargain for its fine German lens and brick-outhouse build quality. Retinette IAs come with three or four different shutters and two or three different lenses, but mine’s got a Pronto shutter and a 45mm Schneider-Kreuznach Reomar lens at f/2.8. That, and the fact that it has a cold (rather than a hot) accessory shoe, says it was made in 1962 or 1963.

Kodak Retinette 1A

I have written before about the perils of buying old cameras on eBay, and I learned as soon as I put my eye to the viewfinder that I fell into one of them with this camera. One of the pieces of glass inside the viewfinder had worked its way loose – maybe it happened in shipping, or maybe the seller just neglected to mention it in the listing. Whatever, the glass’s funky angle blurred the view – instant myopia! – making framing shots difficult.

I have written before about the perils of using a camera without reading the manual first. I took a bunch of shots before I realized that the camera’s focus scale is in meters, not feet. At least those shots looked exactly like they did through the viewfinder.

I have not written (but believe me, I have stories to tell) about the perils of old-camera mechanical problems related to age and disuse. I was able to shoot only 11 photos before the film jammed in the camera. I was able to rewind the film, and so I did, and so I called this experiment a failure.

The photos came back from the processor yesterday. Of the 11 I took, only five came out. Just one turned out to be worth sharing, but only after some digital processing to try to remedy underexposure. The processing gave it a bit of a grainy patina. You might guess I took this shot the day after Halloween. (If you’re really interested, click the photo below to see it, and the rest of the photos that turned out, in Flickr.)

Pumpkin trash

I chose to shoot with my Retinette IA this time because blogger Kristarella had so much good luck shooting with hers. Maybe she used up all the Retinette karma. Maybe I just had a bad few days with this camera. Either way, I’m glad I read her blog first or I would probably have succumbed to the same problem with the camera’s self-timer that she did. Anyway, this one’s back up on the shelf for now, awaiting the day I am up to fixing the viewfinder and winder. I should probably download a manual that day, too.

Feeling like I had fallen off my bicycle, however, I immediately got one of my old rangefinders off the shelf, a Minolta Hi-Matic 7, and loaded her with some Fujicolor 200. I had much better luck with her, and I’ll share those photos soon.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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