Kodak Retina Type 117 – The introduction of the 135 cartridge

The Kodak Retina type 117 is the first in a long series of 35mm cameras produced by Kodak AG, the german branch of the Kodak company. What makes the Retina worth collecting to me is the fact that this very camera was the first one to use the now well-known 135 daylight-loading cartridge for 35mm film.

There were earlier cameras than the Retina using 35 mm cine film. Those cameras had to be loaded in the dark room using bulk cine film. Later daylight-loading film cassettes where introducted which could be loaded with film in the darkroom and put into the camera when required. By the early 1930s film manufacturers started to supply film in disposable cassettes. Introducing the Retina and the 135 cartridge in 1934, Kodak established an industry standard which is still in use today.

8 revisions of the Retina (type 118, 119, 126, 141, 143, 148, 149 and 167) where produced until 1941 when Kodak AG stopped camera production. After World War II two more revisions (type 010 and 013) of the Retina where produced from November 1945 to December 1950. The Retina series of 35mm cameras was continued with various model names until October 1958.

The Retina type 117 has a f/3.5 F=5cm Schneider Kreuznach Xenar lens in a Compur or Compur Rapid shutter. Mine has a Compur shutter with times from 1 second to 1/300 second plus time and bulb action. Apertures reach from f/3.5 to f/16. Focusing is done using a distance scale from 1m to infinity.

When you are used to auto focus systems, a focusing scale is quite challenging. And according to the first film I shot with my Retina I failed more often than I succeeded in estimating the distance to the main object. But some photos worked out anyway, and here are two examples I like the most:


3 thoughts on “Kodak Retina Type 117 – The introduction of the 135 cartridge

  1. Hi,

    I have just received a Kodak Retina type 117, and i am unsure of how to use the film advance on the camera (and how the smaller knob next to the winding knob is used).

    Would it be possible for you to do a step by step on how to load/take photos/rewind on this camera, please?

    Thank you,

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