Kodak Retina I Type 117

2011/03/09

I’ve written about a Kodak Retina camera before, so I’m not going to re-tread that ground this time; Kodak’s Retina series cameras followed a fairly linear evolution from one iteration to the next, so there is little difference between the various models. Before I get to specifics about the camera, though, here is an example of what it can do.

RetI-117 CHI TMAx100 BrownLine01B

Photo Information:

Location: Chicago, Illinois; Lakeview Neighborhood
Camera: Kodak Retina I Type 117
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 50mm f/3.5 Xenar
Film: Kodak TMax 100 (135)

The specific model of camera I used for this photo has the distinction of being the first production model of 35mm camera produced by Kodak, which also introduced the standardized 135 format. An interesting issue regarding the 135 format is that the canister was designed specifically to fit both the Leica and Contax 35mm cameras, both of which pre-date the Retina by a few years. Anyways, below is a photo that shows what the camera itself looks like.

RetinaI_Type117

The camera itself is of fairly simple design, but also robustly built, so it has held up fairly well since it was originally produced (in the mid-1930s). Apart from being designed to use 135 format film, the camera is actually quite similar to the Zeca Bettax (and other folding-bed pocket cameras) about which I’ve written previously. Apart from having a slightly more complex focusing mechanism than the Bettax, the Retina operates in much the same manner. Not much else to say about the camera that hasn’t already been covered in the previous post regarding the Retina I Type 141 (which was a descendant of this one), so if you’re interested in reading more about this series of cameras, head over to that post.

As for the top photo, I shot it while I was walking north on Sheffield in the Lakeview neighborhood. The elevated tracks seen here are part of the CTA Brown Line that heads northwest to Ravenswood, just after it splits off from the north-south tracks it shares with the Red Line. Also, as with the Bettax, rather than use a handheld light meter with this camera, I used the Sunny 16 Rule to estimate the exposure values, with occasional spot-checks using my DSLR. Seems to have worked out well, doesn’t it?

Enjoy.

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One Response to “Kodak Retina I Type 117”


  1. […] how, months ago, I wrote a post about my Kodak Retina I Type 117, mentioned how I was going to share more photos I shot with the […]


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