The Kodak Retinette 1A. The site Kodak Classics gives in excellent detail the history of the delightfully well-built Kodak Retina range and its budget sibling the Retinette. Mine is the type 042 Retinette 1A from around 1962 and the first thing you’ll notice is that this is one solid wee camera. There’s a lot of metal and it’s not the lightest, there are no lugs for a strap (you’ve to use the case) and it’s fully manual – no meter and viewfinder/guess focussing (there are sort-of zone dots). And it’s a delight to use.
All the business is done on the lens/shutter housing. A Pronto shutter unit with a Reomar 45mm f2.8 lens. With no internal meter, it’s Sunny 16, a handheld meter or the phone app. There is a generous range of four shutter speeds 1/30th to 1/250th and B. Who needs milky water anyway. Aperture is F22 to F2.8.
Focussing is a reasonable guess or using the sophisticated 1-to-3 dots going from close to further away, Father Dougal style.
You could attach a rangefinder to the cold shoe, but since you can pick these cameras up for a tenner, it hardly seems worth the bother. And why not go fully manual – it’s part of the fun of using something of this vintage.
There’s a wee button to open the back and film goes in easily, and the viewfinder ? – nice and clear with zero information apart from the subject.
There is a self timer, they’re the weak link in a lot of vintage cameras and since I’m never going to use it, I’ll assume it’ll work.
The first roll out was Agfa APX100 developed in Ilford Ilfosol with some shots taken in Lloret de Mar, Spain and east Belfast. For the contrast..
The main thing I noticed about the Retinette is that in good light, f8 and smaller, the lens is tack sharp and nicely contrasty. In fact all the over/underexposed and blurred shots were purely down to me and rushing a bit. When you slow down, check the exposure and take a bit of care focussing, this is a terrific camera. If the Irish summer holds up, it’ll see a few more rolls.