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Thread: Retina IIIc

  1. #1

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    Retina IIIc

    My latest bargain find was a Retina IIIc. I found the camera at an antique store for $10 and picked it up with some vague recollection that people liked it.

    First test roll in, I'm stunned. This camera seems to have a significantly sharper lens than I'm use to on cameras like this. I don't know why I disregarded the camera before - I guess the Kodak=mass produced time period was too deeply ingrained.

    Here are a few highlights from the test roll:







    Larger versions here for anyone curious about sharpness:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannelb...7624834741726/

    Frankly, I think this lens is resolving more than the film and other elements in my pipeline can deal with. I want to try this with a higher resolution film than FP4 to see what it can do.

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Brian:

    That is a very good find.

    Is it a Retina IIIc, or a Retina IIIC?

    Here's an eBay search to give a flavour for how good a find it is:

    http://photography.shop.ebay.ca/Came...4&_sop=3&_sc=1
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #3

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    Thank you! I've found a few decent deals but as a user, this one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

    This is a IIIc/little c with a Xenon lens.

    I haven't handled a big C, but after playing around with a screw mount Leica, the finder size isn't really bothering me at all. My only issue with the camera is that it occasionally fails to fire the shutter. I'm guessing the rack may need to be replaced but we'll see once I open it up. It doesn't fail enough to be a deal breaker, but I hate missing moments.

  4. #4

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    I had a Retina IIc that intermittently failed to fire when I first got it. There was a small amount of lubricant or gunk on the shutter, and a (very) gentle clean with a lint-free cotton swab and a tiny amount of lighter fluid [really a very very tiny amount] followed by exercising the shutter a few hundred times was enough to fix it. The front element of the lens comes out as it's interchangeable and you can get access to the shutter. N.B. I'm not a qualified camera repair person, I just found this worked for me.

    For what it's worth, I found the lens to be the equal of anything I've owned of a similar vintage. Certainly a match for the Leica IIIc with Summitar I also had at the same time, and the ergonomics of the Retina are great -- I really like the bottom wind and the feel of the lens when focusing. The only downside, and the thing that eventually led me to get rid of the Retina was the pokey dark viewfinder.

  5. #5

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    Ah, I think you're right. Brian Sweeney over at rangefinderforum suggested the same thing. It hadn't hung since then so I hadn't had a chance to pay more attention.

    I fired it twice after reading your message - the second time it stuck. A few drops of Ronsonol and it fired.

    That is good news. Much easier and cheaper to deal with than a part change! As I couldn't see any oil when the blades were closed and as it either fired at the right speed or stuck, I assumed it was something else. Live and learn.

  6. #6
    mr rusty's Avatar
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    It *is* a bit of a shock when you get your first pics back from an old folding retina. Been there, done that!

    Shutter failing to fire is almost certainly some sticky lube. I have played around with my iic and for a time had a iiic which was a bit of a dog. My iic was sticky. Flushed with contact cleaner and then the mechanism in the shutter oiled lightly with watch oil, its still going strong, but any oil on the shutter leaves and its a full strip down. The full strip down I did on the bad iiic, but it never did get right and wasn't good enough to warrant a pro CLA. If your IIIc is clean, and a keeper, have a think about a full CLA.

    I would hesitate on the exercising a few hundred times. The cocking racks are not that strong and respect careful treatment. If the rack is dry of lube and exercised quickly I think quite some wear would take place. You can still get replacement racks from microtools, but In my experience the metal they use isn't that hard.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the recommendation. I've dealt with oil on the blades without completely stripping down a few cameras. I'm averaging 50% success or so. Hopefully a few cleaning passes will take care of it here.

    Good to know about the possible complications with the microtool rack replacement. That was something I'd researched as a fallback and hadn't heard that point yet.

  8. #8

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    Wow, congrats, great find. I was just looking at these on KEH - they want $50 for an "inoperative" IIIc - I guess if you're good at repairing them that might be a deal.
    i can't wait to take a picture of my thumb with this beautiful camera.

    - phirehouse, after buying a camera in the classifieds

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    When i was growing up, my Dad wanted one of these in the worst way. And the Kodak lab he worked at had a Retina trained technician who had a parts inventory and experience working on them, so even if he found one that needed work, he could have dealt with that.

    Unfortunately, with a young family and all those related concerns, he never felt that it would be right to spend the money.

    When we got older, and finances would have permitted it, he couldn't find one.

    Five or so years ago I found one in California on an eBay auction that went for a reasonable cost and bought it for Dad for his birthday.

    The small viewfinder is a challenge for him (he will be 89 this year) but he is very glad to have it.

    I think I referred to this camera as "my favourite 35mm camera" in the APUG thread of that name.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #10

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    I recently picked up a Retina IIIs in almost new condition at the flea market for $30. It's got a Schneider Retina-Xenar 50mm/2.8. I was quite shocked to see how well that lens does. Can't wait for the weather to cool off a little so I'll feel like shooting with it again!

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