Tag Archives: Retina II

Looking back at the Retina …

There was one thing that continued to cause issues with my Kodak Retina II type 142 … the focus action was sticking around the infinity mark. Squirting some lighter fluid in between the parts was not enough to free it up. This means I need to get access to the focus helix.

DSC00667Open the back up, and you can see the rear cell.

Do not unscrew the outer metal ring … just use a rubber tool to unscrew the cell so you have access to the retaining ring.

Note that you may just unscrew the rear element in that group first … just take it out and remove the rest of it.


Once the rear lens cell is out of the way you can now see the retaining ring that secures the shutter.

Use your spanning tool to unscrew this.
DSC00665 The shutter should now fall out.

Looking at the back of the shutter … you can clean the blades.






Now that looks better.

The focus helix is now partially exposed.

I decided not to take this completely apart … it was enough to clean off the old grease and apply new stuff.

Now it is a smooth ride.

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 alignment I made a guess by adjusting some things … this might not be the correct way but it did work. First make sure the rewind knob is pushed down so you can see through the rangefinder window.

Horizontal -> Circular thing on the right – loosen the large screw on the left, then turn the screw on the bottom. This moves the arm that turns the prism.

Vertical -> Triangular arm on the left –  there are small two tapered 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.