Ladies and Gents, please meet Kodak Retinette

Ladies and Gents, please meet Kodak Retinette

Kodak Retinette 022* is a 35mm camera made in Germany from 1954 to 1958.

When, last Christmas, I took it out of its original leather case (isn’t the type, especially that R, fantastic?) the first thing I noticed was that it has not a built-in light meter but a scale of numbers engraved in red on the same ring as the shutter speed.

After doing some research on the Internet, I discovered that these red numbers – which run from 2 to 18 – represent shutter speed / aperture combinations. Known as Exposure Values, they come in handy when trying to find out the correct exposure without a light meter.

If you are now wondering how to determine them, have a look at this exposure table that is contained in the camera manual.

So, let’s suppose that I’m loading the camera with a ISO 400 film and going out right now (5pm on a lightly cloudy day) with the intention of shooting a seascape of Dublin Bay. The Exposure value then would be:

(Subject and Weather) Distant landscape / Cloudy Light: 12
(Month and Time) 7-9am to 4-6pm / Sept: 0
(Film speed) ASA 400: 4

These values are only general guidelines but, assuming that I want to follow them, now that I have it I can set my (more or less correct) Exposure value pushing back the sickle-shaped lever behind the light value scale on the shutter rim (you can see it in the first shot of this post, right below the Retinette plaque) and move it sideways to set the red dot to the required light value. Setting the red dot to 16, the combination will be 1/500 at f11. This seems reasonable to me. Does it to you?

I haven’t used this camera very often but, so far, I’ve found that the most difficult thing to do with it is to focus because I’m very bad at calculating (ahem, guessing) the distance from the subject. Once I’ve got it, I have to set it by turning the front of the lens mount until the distance figure engraved on the mount is opposite the black arrowhead on the front of the shutter. And, to make things worse, values are expressed in feet!

To end this long post on a positive note, I’d like to add that this model has also a button that allows to unlock the double-exposure lock and, therefore, to make double-exposures. I haven’t used it yet but I’m thinking of trying it soon!

PS: Have you noticed that in Month and Time under Nov to Jan and alongside 7-9am to 4-6pm there is a dotted line? I love it! It seems to say: Don’t you even think of using this camera with those lighting conditions! It’ll never work!.

PS2: If you’re scratching your head over some part of this post, please leave a comment and I’ll try to make them clearer.

*Type 022 – Schneider Reomar 1:3.5/45mm lens / Compur-Rapid shutter with red on chrome EV scale – rectangular lens panel.