A snapshot generation from the family with heritage
Retinette, the more affordable cousin of the Retina became popular in the 1960s. It closely followed the design of the original series including compatibility with Retina accessories. Even though Retinettes missed on some more sophisticated specifications they could and still can, take very good photographs.
The history of Retinas and Retinettes is well known to those who are passionate about Kodak classic cameras. The creation of the range started in Germany, before World War II, as a personal project of Dr. August Nagel. He remained in control of the design and manufacture after Kodak’s takeover of his own business in 1932. Experimenting with chemicals and downsizing, he contributed to releasing about 152 different camera models. He died during the war, but his son continued his legacy after the war had finished.
You may also know the fact that all cameras that use 35mm film today have to thank Dr. Nagel for introducing DLC (Daylight Loading Cassette) for the first time, in its original Retina series in 1934. This technology made the cameras much easier to handle and as a result it created a real boom in the photography market.
There have been numerous models of Retinas and Retinettes produced before, during (although from 1941 German government took over the factory to produce ammunition) and after the war. The production of the range continued until 1969. Retinettes were much more affordable than Retinas and so they become popular with amateur photographers who wanted a piece of kit for taking snapshots.
The Kodak Retinette (022) featured here belongs to the first non-folding range, introduced in 1954. It is a slightly later model called ‘22 variant’, manufactured specifically for the UK market around 1958. One of the giveaways is the fact that the distance scale is in feet and not in metres.
The camera has a die-cast body and transport mechanism, the same as the Retina. The body has a hinged-on back, and the lock has a safety latch to prevent accidental opening.
What’s quite unusual is the fact that the lever-wind is placed under the right-hand end of the camera, which takes time to get used to. But if anything this feature makes the camera more interesting and unique.
The film track is designed to keep the film flat without risk of scratching. As the film is advanced to the next frame, the film counter moves too. The whole mechanism prevents accidental double exposure, which is not good news for those who like to experiment with easily available instant multiple exposure options.
The COMPUR-RAPID shutter offer speeds of 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500 sec. and a B setting too. There is also a delayed action release.
It is used by moving the lever on the left of the shutter to "V". On pressing the release button with the lever set to V the shutter goes off after a delay of approximately 12 sec. The lever automatically moves back into the standard position (X).
This Retinette is fitted with Reomar f3.5 lens (made by Schneider and by Rodenstock). Its focal length is 45 mm and it covers an angle of 51°. A depth of field indicator is fitted.
The lens is the most sensitive part of the camera and is greatly responsible for the brilliant quality of the snapshots. It is coated with a fine film of magnesium fluoride which acts like a filter reducing the light reflections. This results in better contrast for negatives and offering a wider range of tones at the same time. This kind of coating is susceptible to water particles, dirt and fingerprints, so you should check the lens often and keep it clean and, of course as you would do with any other lens, avoid touching it.
Overall the camera feels of solid quality, even though it is compact and relatively easy to handle. Knowing the amount of research, time and dedication invested in creating the range gives you extra re-assurance that what you have in your hands does what it should do - take pictures of real life situations very well.
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Here are some examples of what this camera can do, courtesy of Roberts Birze from Australia.