My dad called me from Florida and said that one of his neighbors had died and left a bunch of camera stuff to be given away or sold. He mentioned there was “some old Kodak” and wondered if I was interested in it. I said “Sure, why not” and he said he’d send me a box with the camera and some other stuff that came in the box.
The box arrived yesterday and I was thrilled to find a working Kodak Retina IIIC inside. I didn’t know much about the Retinas except they were around for many years and were very high quality cameras, which isn’t something Kodak is known for.
The last of the Retinas, the “Big-C” IIIC was made from 1957-1960. I assume that mine was made somewhere late in that range, based on the serial number. It doesn’t have the absolute latest changes, so let’s guess 1959.
I was surprised by how nicely the camera is built. It’s dense and feels very solid. All the movements, from focusing to folding the lens, are smooth and dampened well. It’s not quite Leica-level build, but much closer to it than I expected, especially considering the price.
I put a roll through it immediately and everything appears to work perfectly. Not bad for a 60-plus-year-old camera. Here are a few snaps taken around the house from that test roll.
One of the lauded features of the IIIC is the 50mm f/2 Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenon lens. I haven’t shot enough to get a good feel, but even after one quick roll I can see that it’s no slouch.
For more details about the camera, there are a few good resources. I enjoyed this Retina IIIC review by Kurt Munger. For everything you need to know, Chris Sherlock has a ton of info on the Retina series.
I don’t know yet how often I’ll use this new camera, but it’s certainly not going to spend the rest of its days on a shelf.
Here’s the camera’s page on my wiki