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.
Actually the SP500, a budget Spotmatic from the early 1970’s whose shutter speed only went as fast as 1/500th. But actually it did 1/1000th but it wasn’t shown on the dial – you just move it round.
I got this for a tenner on the eBay with a Tessar 50mm/2.8 lens, all working except for the meter. So Sunny 16 for using what is an aesthetically pleasing, delightful to handle and well build classic.
The SP500 is a no-frills M42 SLR but it’s useful to compare with the Eastern European counterparts. The Pentax looks and feels smoother and lighter, it handles really well and there’s no recoil from the shutter like the Praktica MTL3.
One of the factors contributing to it’s overall sleekness is the absence of a hotshoe, but there’s sockets for normal flash sync (X, 1/60th) and FP (focal plane) for higher speed fill in flash, not that I’ll be using this much with flash.
On top there’s the basics including the unmarked 1/1000th shutter speed setting. I’m sure Pentax had a good reason for that… Shutter release (threaded for a cable) and a pointless film identifier ring around the rewind crank finishes off the lo-fi feature list of the SP500.
Using it though, with Sunny 16, is a delight. It’s got a bright viewfinder (complete with non-functioning exposure needle), Olympus-OM-levels of ergonomic niceness and is a suitably admirable film camera for the inevitable Instagram post. I took it on a photowalk with a roll of expired Kentmere 100 which was developed in Ilford ID11.
The SP500 – a basic budget M42 Pentax – has no unique selling point other than it’s a delight to handle, looks great and you can pick them up for a song on the eBay. It’s a sleeker alternative to the DDR and Soviet M42 SLR’s and there’s a ton of lenses out there.
The Kehlstein, site of the Eagle’s Nest and the Nazis’ Bavarian getaway outside Berchtesgaden has always held a bit of fascination. Is it a case of considering whether even the most evil of humanity needed the odd vacation or a natural curiosity to visit a significant historial site which happens to be in a spectacular location? I’ll go with the latter.
The Kehltstein can be reached on foot (long and very hot in summer) or you can get the bus from the train station and use the path (about 40 mins climb) or you can get the lift via a dark and cold tunnel.
Once up, it’s time to enjoy the views from the top and have an enjoyable walk as well as a suitably priced coffee at the Kehlsteinhaus.
Shot on the Vivitar V3000s (before it died) and Fomapan100
I enjoyed Salzburg – plenty to see and a great city for walking about. I probably didn’t get the best of it not being a classical music lover or enjoying fine (= expensive) dining. However there are a few city views that would warrant a return.
Away from the crowds and walking tours there are many quieter streets and walks in the centre of Ljubljana to indulge in a bit of street photography and to try and capture the look and feel of the city, even around the Triple Bridge when it isn’t so crowded..
I had no real expectations regarding Ljubljana having little knowledge of the city or indeed of Slovenia beyond the usual photos of Lake Bled. It was however one of the friendliest, relaxed, photogenic and enjoyable cities I’ve been to in Europe, and there seemed to something going on at every junction along the river.
The area around the Triple Bridge can attract the artists and the crowds.
There is a statue of France Prešeren, Slovenia’s greatest literary figure near the bridge which is a general meeting point – and the starting point for the excellent Free Walking Tour.
And in direct line of sight from Prešeren is a little wall statue of his unrequited love and subject of many a poem, Julija Primic.
And of course if you’re hungry there’s many food vendors.
Giudecca is the longish island that lies opposite the main island of Venice and you can get to it by vaporetto from St Marks. One of the main attractions is that it’s relatively quite and peaceful. Being mainly residential, most tourists don’t go across, but it’s a delightful place with some magnificent churches, views and cafes. En route the vaporetto also stops at San Giorgio Maggiore, the little island with the landmark church everyone photographs from across on the main island.
This was my third visit to Venice but my first staying on the island – near the Arsenale (1-0 to the..) – as opposed to being a day tripper from elsewhere. Venice is a crazy illogical place, has a love/hate relationship with tourists but I love it totally.
It can be an expensive place to visit. Eating and having a coffee on St Mark’s would take up a two-day food budget for me and a Gondola ride starts at around €70. I prefer the Vaporetto saver tickets and just photograph the Gondolas.
Photos all taken on the Ricoh KR-5 and Oriental Seagull 100.
Rome was everything I thought it would be – magnificent in its ruins, churches, history and people. I’ll go again, maybe in autumn when the heat isn’t as crazy. The sites, streets, piazzas are all undeniably photogenic and maybe in less tourist-heavy seasons, I’d take a more measured photowalk round the numerous easily walked. Here’s some random shots of Rome. Shots taken on the Ricoh KR5 and Lomography Earl grey 100 film.