Kodak Retina Reflex IV, Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenar 50mm f/2.8
Kodak Tri-X 400
Lately I’ve lost touch with why I started shooting old film cameras in the first place: wondering what quality of images an old piece of gear could produce.
I’d never shot a Kodak Retina Reflex camera before and I got this one for a song. These leaf-shutter 35mm SLRs offered a limited set of interchangeable front lens elements to yield a few common focal lengths. It can be hard to find a Retina Reflex in good condition as the works are complex and, after 60+ years, failure prone. Mine wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough.
I put a roll of Tri-X into it and blasted through it in an hour in my front yard. It was one of those charmed times with a camera, where I just got lost in the pleasure of shooting. None of my subjects was profound or memorable, but that 50mm Schneider-Kreuznach lens penetrated deep into the detail and made some wonderful images.
It doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes an old camera is just frustrating and returns crap images. This year I haven’t wanted to invest time and effort into a camera to get nothing usable back. That’s always the risk with an unknown old camera.
I have a handful of older cameras I haven’t shot yet. A few old boxes, an early Kodak Retinette, and an Argus Argoflex Forty are upstairs in a box under the bed, awaiting their turns. Here’s hoping I can make time for some of them yet this summer.
If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.