Category Archives: Cameras

Retina … I can see clearly now.

Tools … eh, I skip this since you will probably figure it out.

OK, so I got this Retina from one of those Antique Markets. It was on an open table with a lot of other junk stuff. In a small pile of really beat up folders, this was the only one with intact bellows so I grabbed it.

Note that is camera has mechanisms to keep users from goofing up. The film winder will turn freely if there is no film traveling across the sprocket. Once the sprocket is turned it will lock the winder and also allow the shutter button to be depressed.

The viewfinder and rangefinder windows needed a cleaning, and the lens had fog/haze … so first thing is to get into the top.


Note: if you just want to adjust the rangefinder alignment, skip to the next section.

The top looks cleaner than when I got it … I cleaned out the groves with a dental pick and scrubbed with a toothbrush.

Two long screws hold the top plate on. To access them you wll need to remove those knobs. First lift rewind knob, and remove two side screws – when pulling off the knob be aware of the J shaped metal spring that is located on one side. Note its positioning.

Unscrew the winding knob unscrews clockwise. The shutter button unscrews normally, anti-clock wise.

Two screws on ether end take the top plate off.


The four smaller screws take off the name plate to expose the rangefinder mechanism.


To adjust the rangefinder aligment, first make sure the rewind knob is pushed down:

Horizontal -> Centre wheel on the right – losen the large screw on the left, then turn the screw on the bottom. This moves the arm that turns the prism.

Vertical -> On the left triangular arm there are two tappered screws. Loosen one, then tighten the other, as this will pivot the arm to adjust the angle of the prism.

Ok, so lets get into the cleaning. Pull off the top plate and clean the viewfinder and rangefinder ports.


Beam spitter is on left and the prism is in the middle. Here is a view from the front.


The beam splitter plate has silver material on the inside … DO NOT TOUCH !!! I mean it … I did it and ended up with a clear piece of glass, though it was very clean piece of glass.

Ok, you can clean the front facing side … but do not touch the inside.

If you happen to be a dumb as I am, or the previous owner of the camera was as dumb as I am, or just that the mirroring material has faded over time, there is a solution. The solution is Nobby … ?!

eBay merchant Nobbysparrow sells beam splitter plates for camera, and he also will custom cut to size. I ordered one from him and replaced the clear glass. His plate is thinner than the original one so you will have to bend the spring clips that secure the plate … and note that the silvered side is on the inside.

You can clean the prism in the middle.


As I noticed haze/fog on the front elements I needed to clean the front and back. The front cell just unscrews.

You can now access the shutter blades if you need to clean them up.

In my case there was also haze/fog between the elements, so I needed to open the front cell up further.


The front cell is made up of two sections. Grasp the outter chrome ring and unscrew

DSC00554_DxO This is where rubber gripping devices come in really  handly.

I did not need to work on the shutter so I did not open up the Compur any further.

I did squirt a bit of lighter fluid to soften up the grease in the focus helix … I did not feel like taking it all apart to put in new grease.

One thing you may notice on older cameras is that the leather covering has the mumps.


I had these on the Rolleicord that I recently got.

I’ve heard that they are called Zeiss Bumps … though I really don’t think Carl invented it.

What actually occured is that over time lumps of copper corrosion material have built up enough to push the leather.


To “fix” this you just need a sharp knife and make a cut through the bump, then clean out the blue corrosion material.


Retina II type 142

This model that I have is a Retina II … not to be confused with the Retina II. Whaaaaaaat?

The Retina lineup had a I, II, I, II, and III version. One interesting thing about the Retina model naming … they restarted from I after the war, so you will find Retina I/II pre-war and Retina I/II post-war. Mine is a II pre-war model made between 1937 and 1939. Another thing is that there were various submodels typically designated with Nr/Type which is not marked on the camera itself.

As I mentioned before, the Retina is a German design camera. This model has a Schneider Retina-Xenon f:2.8 5 element lens. The Retina I models were viewfinder scale focus cameras. The Retina II was the first rangefinder produced by Kodak AG.


The first model, 122, had an advance lever … but it was quickly replaced with a knob with the 142, I guess there was an issue with the original design.

Kodak AG made over 25 folding Retina models alone … and each having different lens variations … so if you want to collect them, be ready to build a big shelf.


Kodak Aktiengesellschaft

If you have ever handled a Kodak Retina you will soon realize this ain’t your Grandma’s Kodak camera. Whats up with that ?

In 1932 Eastman Kodak realized that they needed to step up … so they did something about it … they hooked up with a German. In the 30’s kodak was making new “six” series cameras which still had the look of the previous camaras it was making in the 20’s … they soon found that could not compete with what was coming out of Europe in the higher end market. So, if you can’t beat them … get someone on your side who can.

Hmmm, those Germans … well it was one, Dr. Nagel.  August Nagel founded Contessa, and co-founded Zeiss-Ikon, then split to make his own company. Nagel Camera Werkes was located in Stuttgard Germany. Dr. Nagel was into cameras that used rolled film … hmm. Eastman Kodak decided to buy his company to produce high precision 35mm roll film cameras.

Nagel was tasked with making a precision cameras equal to the other European cameras but at a lower price point. They started with some cameras that Nagel aready had on the market and were rebadged with the Kodak brand.

What Nagel developed in 1934 was to be known as the Retina. A bellows folder with cross-struts support, made of metal and designed to use Dr. Nagel’s daylight loading cartridge … a pre-loaded single use cartridge of 35mm format roll film … ummmm, that sounds familiar. This was a camera very unlike anything that Kodak had produced … as I mentioned at that beginning, you know this is a different animal as soon as you pick it up.

Nagel would go on to producing a number of various Retina models and other high precision cameras for Kodak. Dr. Nagel died in 1943, and Kodak AG continued to make his type of cameras after WWII all the way up to 1960.



… bad Luck.

Follow up to my last post …

The shutter is … well, lets say that I should start seriously looking into on how to replace curtains.

It did not take much to tear the material. Just exersizing the shutter put enough stress on it that the second curtain fell apart.

Minolta really put some poor quality material there … oh, well.

Lucky … no, not my cat.

“Luck, that’s when preparation and opportunity meet” – Pierre Trudeau

… yeah, I have a cat named Lucky … cause he is.

Sooooo, in my current hunt for broken stuff I decided to go back to a risky comfort zone item. This is the Minolta-35 LTM rangefinder camera.

The risk part is the high probability of finding one that has a degraded shutter, and replacing shutters is not something I like to do … I’ve attempted it a couple of times and it ain’t easy.

The comfort part … well, I’ve probably worked on about a half a dozen of these.

Anyway, I took a chance on an auction and got a body with a lens at a pretty low price … and luck was on my side, the shutter is in almost working condition !!! Woo Hooo !! Bonus !! The rest of the camera I really did not care about as I have two parts bodies sitting on my desk.

… and after I restore it, someone will be lucky to be a new owner of a working Minolta-35.

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