Chris's camera pages

Production changes to the Retina IIIc types 021 Ausf. I and 021 Ausf. II

Kodak Retina IIIc

This is the earliest IIIc (type 021 Ausf. I ) that I have in my collection. The camera body serial number is 200078. The Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenon f/2 50mm lens has the serial number of 3742085.

The differences between this and later examples are fairly minor, but naturally interesting to dedicated Retina nuts like myself. All are fairly easily explained as "improvements", either to make the camera easier to use or cheaper to produce.

The serial numbers used below are taken from data gathered by the Historical Society for Retina Cameras and was kindly sent to me by David L. Jentz. The numbers, and the features of the cameras they apply to, have been gathered from the cameras held by collectors and from information provided by people selling cameras in public arenas like Ebay. If you have such a camera with a serial number outside of these ranges please contact me with the details.

The serial numbers used for the Retina IIIc cameras are found in two batches. From 200078 to 299762, and then from 510241 to 753513. With many of the changes there seems to be a crossover period where some cameras have the earlier feature and some have the later feature. There may have been less than strict "stock rotation" at the factory, or perhaps batches of serial numbers may have been assigned to orders of cameras destined for different markets.

Telephoto Focus Register Mark

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

This feature of the first examples shown here was very quickly changed. On this camera number 200078 the wide-angle (on the right visible near the focus knob) and the telephoto (on the left near the flash terminal ) focus register marks are very similar black triangles. Using these auxiliary focus scales is such an awkward business anyway, it would have been very easy to confuse the two register marks. The fix was simple enough......the telephoto register mark was very quickly changed to an inverted "T". This new register mark is found on cameras from serial number 200085 .

The Film Advance lever

Kodak Retina IIIc

The film advance lever of early examples has the bright polished alloy dot in the centre. This was a feature of the first few thousands of Retina Ib, IIc and IIIc models.

This was probably a pain to machine and producing the black leatherette discs with a hole in the middle was an unnecessary complication too. I doubt anyone thought that the bright dot contributed much to the appeal of this model to prospective camera purchasers.

The polished dot is found on cameras up to serial number 208647. The change was made in August 1954 and cameras with the plain disc are found from serial number 208171 .

Aperture Setting Numbers

On early IIIc cameras the aperture setting numbers appear below the shutter, not on top as was later the case. You can see the aperture numbers in the picture below. This change was made between May and June 1955 . By the time this change was made the camera had been in production for over a year, and there had been sufficient time for users to suggest the improvement.

Cameras with the aperture numbers below the shutter appear up to serial number 274538. Cameras with the aperture numbers above the shutter are found from serial number 262968.

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

The Clip that hold the shutter speed dial and the aperture setting together

On early examples the sprung clip that holds the dials together at the set exposure value was weak and prone to fail to do it's job properly. This is particularly noticeable on cameras that have the slightest oil on the diaphragm blades rendering the aperture setting to be stiffer than optimal.

A more robust clip was fitted at the same time as the position of the aperture number changed from the bottom to the top of the shutter.

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

Back Door Construction

The back door on the early Retina IIIc cameras were an alloy diecasting, but this was changed to a riveted two-piece pressed door at much the same time as the aperture numbers were changed. The appearance remained very much the same. This change was made in late May or early June 1955. Cameras with the cast door are found up to serial number 274538 and cameras with the new pressed door are found from serial number 272795 .

Kodak Retina IIIc

Kodak Retina IIIc

Film Release Button Guard

Kodak Retina IIIc
The film release button lacks a guard on the earlier production, this was probably added after users reported too many missed exposures due to accidentally depressing the button. This change came in March 1956. Cameras without the guard are found up to serial number 569760 and cameras with the guard are found from serial number 571253.

Exposure Meter Changes

The early production had a two-range exposure meter with film speed settings from ASA 5 to ASA 320. Cameras with the ASA 320 meter are found up to serial number 569666.

The meter was changed in March 1956 to another two-range meter with a film speed setting running up to ASA 640. The ASA 640 meter has been found on cameras with serial numbers between 562705 and 592340.

In June 1956 the maximum film speed setting changed again to ASA 650.This meter is found on cameras between serial number 593687 and 722683.

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

Exposure meter flaps

Earlier cameras had a 21mm wide meter flap. This was changed gradually between July 1956 and February 1957 to a new 23mm wide flap at which time the method used to clip the flap down also changed. The earlier flap had a small slot in the flap and a matching protrusion on the casting of the meter housing. The later style reversed this method with a press formed catch on the flap which mated with a slot formed in the meter housing.

The later style of flap is easily recognised by the trapezium shaped raised centre section instead of the rectangular shape of the earlier type.

The 21mm flaps are found on cameras with serial numbers up to 678497 and the new 23mm style are found on cameras with serial numbers from 609673 to 722683.

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

It is worth noting that the broad range seen in this change over may in part be due to post-production camera repair with replacement of dead meters with the 21mm flaps, by those with the new 23mm flaps.

The final change in exposure meters was the move to a single range meter in July 1957. This meter had film speed settings from ASA 5 to ASA 1300 and is identical in style with that fitted to the later IIIC, Retina IB, Retina Reflex and the Retinette IIB. The alloy casting and chrome flap were replaced with a plastic moulded meter housing.

Cameras with the new single range meter are found from serial number 722045. With this change the IIIc was now known as a type 021 Ausf. II.

Kodak Retina IIIc Kodak Retina IIIc

Body Casting Edges Finish

Kodak Retina IIIc

In July 1956 the treatment of the body casting edges changed from the polished and lacquered alloy of the early examples to black lacquered edges with thin chrome plated pressings covering the top and bottom of the body casting edges. On the face of it this wouldn't have been a cheaper option, but there may have been trouble with porosity of the body castings showing on the exposed edges causing castings to be rejected at the assembly stage. Cameras with the polished alloy edges are found up to serial number 603149, while cameras with the black edges with chrome pressings are found from serial number 600621.

The Shape Of The Accessory Shoe

Kodak Retina IIIc

The accessory shoe changed at, or about, the time of the introduction of the type 021 Ausf. II from the "octagonal" outline of the early shoes to a neat rectangular look. This change took place in late May or early June 1957.

Cameras with "octagonal" shoe are found up to serial number 710449, while cameras with the new rectangular shoe are found from serial number 711093.

Focus Scale Markings

The camera was supplied with a focus scale that was calibrated in metres for the European market but in feet for the English speaking markets.

It is not uncommon to find that cameras originally sold with metric scales have had the focus scales swapped at a later date to one marked in "feet" to suit the purchaser. The two scales would have been available as a spare part. On two examples I have in my collection only the main focus scale had been swapped, leaving the scales for the auxiliary lenses marked in metres.

Kodak Retina IIIcKodak Retina IIIc

The Shutter Setting Gear Cover

In the pictures above you may be able to see the change the chrome cylindrical cover to the right of the pictures from a two-piece 8mm height cover to a single-piece 9mm height cover. This change occurred in May 1956. Cameras with shorter cover are found up to serial number 581117. Cameras with the newer 9mm cover are found from serial number 583066.

Film Reminder Dial

The film reminder dial changed from a flat to a very slightly domed outer section. This change happened with the introduction of the type 021 Ausf. II .