Life Goes On II – Review of Kodak Retina IIIC

  This is the Second Consecutive roll from the post Life Goes On. I finally finished it and developed it last night. I will take the liberty of splitting the blog post in two parts. Part One  will be picking up from where I left off with the previous post. Part two will the Impression of the Kodak Retina III (Big / capital) C

Part One – Life Goes On II

  In case you missed the first post, my friend who moved down to Texas several years ago came back and visit. We did what we do best, roaming around picking at each other and me taking photos. There are generally two kinds of “friends”. The first kind is the ones that you don’t talk to much and everything slowly fade away, you forget, and you feel like you don’t know them anymore. The second kind is the ones that you don’t see or talk to them for years, and when you met each other it seems like you just saw him last yesterday. Travis is the latter kind. We’re still doing the same thing thing, as if he never left, only different now is, he got “smart” and start drinking wine instead of liquor. And I walked away from inanimate subjects to documenting life. When he noticed that he didn’t fully understand, since all we did was run around and do landscapes. Well now you can see what this is all about Mr Angry Diesel.

Kagle: I bumped up the width for an extra 50px just for you, just remember poor people can’t afford big screen.

  • Kodak Retina IIIC
  • Kodak Tri X
  • Kodak XTOL 1+2 Rotary



Part 2 – Kodak Retina IIIC Review

*This is a review for the Kodak Retina IIIC (Big /Capital C), not the model IIIc (Small/ Lower Case C)*


  • 35mm Rangefinder Folding Camera
  • Interchangable Front Elements, to transform into 35, 50, 80mm focal length
  • This sample is equipped with 50mm f2 – f22 Schenider  Retina – Xenon C
  • Synchro Compur Shutter B – 1/500
  • Shutter Speed and Aperture coupled to EV (2-18) scale
  • 3 Sets of frame lines with Parrallax Correction
  • X/M Sync with Self Timer, PC Sync and Cold Shoe
  • Non-Coupled Selenium Light Meter – EV Readout
  • Manually reset film counter (Countdown method)
  • Close Focusing approx 2.3ft


  Most of the review I’ve read prior using this camera has been somewhat unfavorable, this one will be a lot different from them after actually using it with couple rolls of Tri X.

   The camera feels very sturdy in hand. It can fold nicely and fit inside your jeans pockets. The lens assembly opens up and retracts smoothly.  The lens and coating gives adequate sharpness and resolution, comparing to most of the lens in that era, it’s not too shabby at all. The range finder patch is big and bright, but so are all of the frame lines. Even though all of the frame lines are visible at all time, I never had a problem of getting them confused with the other, never once, since the 50 lines are brighter than the others.  The  Synchro Compur shutter is simply a mechanical marvel.

  The camera’s shutter speed and aperture is coupled to the EV system, that means the shutter speed ring and the aperture are locked to each other and rotate at the same time.  For example First you change the shutter speed, and then you lift the little tab (unlock) on the aperture ring to change to different aperture. Some people does not like this system, however I’ve used this system on my Rolleiflex T for couple years, also available on the Yashica Lynx 1000 (but without a physical lock, they just catches together inside with the Lynx), I find it perfect with the Sunny 16 rule. Let’s say I set the camera to 1/125 f8. When it’s locked I can rotate my shutter speed and it will give me 1/60 f11, 1/30 f16, or 1/250 f5.6, 1/500 f4, all the different combinations of the same EV value on the fly.

  This particular sample came with a uncoupled selenium meter that is dead. However I am not concerned with it at all, since it’s selenium, it’s not going to do me any good indoors, I can live without it. But I imagine if the meter works it’s actually very easy to use, since it gives you the EV value, so all you have to  you just set the EV value on the shutter (bottom half of the aperture ring by the “EV LOCK”) and not have to worry about reading and dialing in the shutter speed and f stop separately .

  To reset the film counter is a little awkward. First remind you the the counter counts backward (Countdown). To reset it you have to hold down one button and slide a second button. Every time you slide the second button the counter only moves about 3 frames. It could take you 5 -6 seconds to reset the counter. At last, when the counter counted down to frame 1, it will prohibit you from firing the shutter even though your roll might physically not be the end. To overcome this simply click the frame counter over.

   In conclusion, this camera can be a workhorse that fits comfortably in your jeans and jacket, with Style.




7 thoughts on “Life Goes On II – Review of Kodak Retina IIIC

  1. Lovely report, although I have never seen such a camera. And from part one, I totaly get what you say about the two kinds of friends. Ah, yes fantastic photos!

  2. Some of the ‘likes’ you have for this Kodak are similar to those for which I like my barndoor Vitessa, which also has the EV system. As you say, it’s great most of the time when you’re used to it but on the Vitessa I wish it was a little easier to uncouple. Of course on the Vitessa I don’t have the possibility to change the focal length of the superb 50mm Ultron lens, which is no mean performer. However, I really like the mechanical eccentricity of the barn doors and the long wind-on plunger.

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