After a somewhat unsuccessful attempt with the Kodak Brownie as described in my previous post, I’ve decided to park that one for the moment. I have now moved on to the 1959 Kodak Retina II S, which I previously wrote about here: Vintage Camera #2, and has been my carry-around camera for the last three weeks. The first thing that struck me after I processed the first film from this camera is that I actually had 36 decent, usable negatives.

This is a really nice camera to use; it is very solidly built, and actions are confirmed with a positive mechanical feel. It seems that the shutter speeds are still operating at more or less what they say they’re meant to be, and the inbuilt light meter is still accurate (unless of course both have deteriorated in performance by the same relative amount, and now just happen to cancel each other out to give the same result!), so I think the images are pretty much what I expected in terms of exposure.
One thing I have noticed with this camera though, is that any exposure slower than 1/30s seems to cause the shutter to stick. There is some sort of clockwork device, which doubles up as a self-timer, that appears to have to be cocked beforehand, and seems to delay the shutter closing. I would imagine that the coil in this spring has suffered some fatigue over the years. Even with this restriction though, there is plenty of flexibility, with apertures from f2.8 to f22, and a fastest speed of 1/500s.

The stegosaurus photo in the gallery below (last image) is the best example to show off the shallow depth of field of f2.8. The Retina II S is a Rangefinder camera, which many might say is very easy to focus; simply align the overlaid image in the centre circle with the main image behind. That’s all well and good, but my eyesight for things like this is, frankly, not the best, and when I shoot in digital, auto focus is really the only thing that I let the camera do; beyond that, I tend to shoot in manual mode.

Overall I’m really enjoying using this camera and I’m going to stick with it for a bit longer before I move on to another. I’ve put a few of my favourite examples from the first two films in the gallery below:

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