There are many excellent Eastern Europe lenses of the past with the M42 screw mount, and I have some, e.g. the Helios 44M4 58mm f/2. Built in the former Soviet Union to equip Zenit cameras. The latter, while if robust, often have limits, both operational, and reliability. To play it safe and always staying behind the Iron Curtain, should turn to production in the former GDR. Still were German! And so, I did not miss a couple of Praktica Mtl5 bodies . One normal, and the other in B version. These differ between them practically only in the power source of the TTL CdS meter. The second in fact, uses the current LR44/SR44 batteries, while the first was designed for use with the PX625 mercury.
I promised you, my dear readers: this would be the last Retina test. Actually it had been there for a bit of time and waited for his chance to be used. The Retina IIa is one of the most sought after on the market and in fact, I struggled just to find a copy in good condition at a reasonable price. The reasons are soon said: small, handy, but at the same time, equipped with a rangefinder and especially, the prestigious and fast Schneider Kreuznach lens Xenon 50mm f/2.
There is a camera that I love very much, but I haven’t been too lucky with. It’s the Soviet version of the legendary Zeiss Contax II, which in the 30’s and 40’s disputed the primacy to the eternal rival Leica in the 35m range. Immediately after the war, as partial compensation for damages, all equipment and materials present in the Zeiss factories were moved (along with a good number of technicians and specialized workers) behind the Iron Curtain, in Kiev, at the plant of Zavod Arsenal. Here, in the years immediately following the war, they were therefore produced the Kiev II (almost exactly the Contax); later underwent some changes in later models III and IV. Unlike Zorki and the Fed, that “copied” the Leica models from afar … these Kiev, in fact, can not be considered copies but, delocalized productions …
It took too much time, but in the end, my Leica M2 and its beautiful “damaged” Summitar managed to tie the “lawful marriage” …. 😉 All this has been made possible thanks to a special Fotodiox adapter ring ( M39 to Leica M mount) in fact they were a few months that a roll of Ilford Pan F+ was lying unused in M2 and, given the time elapsed, I didn’t remember how many Iso rated the film for the first few frames. The value on the Voigtlander Vc Meter was 25 and so, I continued that way until the end.
Okay, do not say I did not warn you! Most of my purchases in recent months has focused on Kodak Retina and Retinette cameras. As a result, even my shots and post on this blog … reflect this trend. This time, however, let’s consider one of the “Top” models of the range: the Retina IIIc (Typ 021 Ausf I). Laboriously, and after a long search, I managed to win one at an affordable price. In fact, many collectors and enthusiasts, eagerly, are grabbing these jewels of photography, conyinuosly raising the prices. Indeed, the aesthetics, the level of construction and the photographic performance, give their holder the feeling of holding in your hands something really valuable.
Fed, along with Zorki and Zenit is one of the best known Soviets brand by photography enthusiasts. Since the early 30’s of the twentieth century in fact, have been built millions and millions of Fed cameras. Just to give an idea, the initial model that was simply called “Fed” (ФЭД), since 1934 and until 1955, were produced (in many variations) about 720,000 copies, while for the model 5 in production from 1977 to 1990, I have no data (according to the website Sovietcams, which I suggest to refer to anyone interested in identifying and learn more about these cameras) but are surely made in hundres of thousands copies.
This time I want to talk a little about the Kodak Retina II (Typ 011). A camera (for the era in which it was built) high performance. Indeed, it was equipped with a coupled rangefinder and a Schneider Kreuznach Xenon 50 mm f/2 lens. What makes a bit special the copy in my possession is a small white triangle (which means not coated) between marks that identify the lens and which is present only in a small number of copies, produced in Germany during 1948 for the domestic market. Of course this is only a little curiosity that adds nothing to the value of the camera itself, if not from the historical point of view.