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Kodak Retinette 1A 35mm View Camera

A few times my mate Gaz has turned up at my home with a camera he has found in a charity shop. I must admit most don’t work or are in a bad condition, but still, he thinks of me. And I am not the best person to give a broken camera to! I have tried a few times in the past to fix old cameras but there is usually some part or other that is left behind or that I can’t fit back in place.

So when Gaz turned up with this Kodak Retinette 1A in a leather case I had my doubts. I didn’t even know what it was! I’d never seen or heard of it. But. It was in beautiful condition. I had to take notice. Especially as I noticed the words “Made in Germany” on the front. Must be quality!

It didn’t work. It wouldn’t fire. But looking at the top case I figured that is where all the clockwork is and it appeared to be easy to open with only a few screws holding it together.

So I went to work and took the top off. Apart from the viewfinder parts falling all over my desk everything else seemed solid. Straight away I noticed the firing pin was loose. So I positioned it and the camera started to fire. All I needed to do now was get it all back together. Before I did that I ventured more and removed a few more bits so I could clean the viewfinder and associated mirrors. They cleaned up nice and I managed to get it all back together.

I now have a mint working Kodak Retinette 1A to shot. If it worked still!

All I needed to do was check that the focus was accurate, there were no leaks and that the shutter speeds were well in tune.

I loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 and set up a small scene of dead Tulips. With the minimum lens focus distance of 3.5ft and using a tape measure I got exactly 3.5ft from the Tulips to the cameras film plane.

I could now test the focus and shutter speeds and aperture blades all in 4 frames. I metered the scene and started at F/11 1/30th. First frame taken. Then I went through the speeds compensating with the aperture.

f/11 – 1/30th

f/8 – 1/60th

f5.6 – 1/125th

f4 – 1/250th

If all of my negatives were relatively the same exposure AND in focus then everything works.

I also took a few frames outside to test the focusing on Infinite and another frame on a broken Buddha where I used Zone Focusing measuring just in front of the Buddha to be 3.5ft at f11 and anything between 3.5ft and 6ft would be in focus. It was.

Here are my images.

I don’t need to bang the history drum of this camera. It’s all online to find but I’m just pleased I got it working again and looking forward to trying some more creative photographs with it in the future.

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