Retina Reflex

Kodak Retina Reflex We made it to the flea market around the corner last Sunday morning. I actually went in search of the black market for hard-to-find essential things, like laundry detergent and bath soap, which are scarce in regular shops because of the shortages and rationing. I figured that wherever there is a shortage of such, someone will have hoarded the stuff and be selling them off for three times what they paid…but no luck. Ninety percent of the stalls were selling secondhand fashion. There were lots and lots of old shoes and clothes, all too small for a big fat gringa like me! Cheap costume jewelry, three-quarters empty bottles of nail polish, battered-looking handbags, and bridesmaid’s gowns. There were plenty of fried food stalls, and people selling cheap, mass-produced stuff, like plastic food containers, from China (brand new). A few stalls did have second stuff that wasn’t fashion-related: boxes of dusty, tangled computer cables, chipped dinnerware sets, dog-eared playing cards, gift sets of tiny perfume bottles (the kind you buy in-flight on planes) being sold off, one 20ml. bottle at a time. Old things. Worthless things. Sad things. Kodak Retina ReflexI didn’t really expect to find a ‘treasure’ at a market like this. The tang of desperation and hard-times filled the air. But there it was. The treasure. A vintage camera, the Kodak Retina Reflex, made in Germany between 1957 and ’58, still in its leather holster, complete with a bakelite flash unit and reflector dish that looks like a pie tin. And it was in working order (well, maybe not the flash unit)!

-¿Cuánto cuesta?
-Dos mil quinientos. (Bs 2,500.00)

Five dollars.

Sold. To the sweaty gringa who looks like she’s just barely managing to hold back a triumphant roar. I’m in love with it. It looks beautiful, it weighs a ton, and I can’t wait to get some film for it someday, if such a thing still exists (not here…not in a country where you can’t even find bath soap easily!)

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18 thoughts on “Retina Reflex

  1. love, when I ran your comment -¿Cuanto cuesta?” through my translator, it gave me “Whichever hill?” What on earth’? ha ha

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  2. Nat, the moment I saw your subject line, I got a charge! 🙂 That was my first, real camera before I went to the Philippines in 1960. (It was a new sensation at the time, a single–lens reflex instead of that lousy curtain that couldn’t sync with speeds above 1/60 sec. and distorted the width of a subject that moved aross the field of view, (But with a mirror that would get stuck sometimes, if I didn’t keep it in an airtight container with reactivated silica gel crystals). When you remove the lens, is there any mold inside when you look through it? If not, it would still take nice, sharp pictures! I swapped this camera a couple of years later for my true love, a Zeiss Contaflex Single–Lens Reflex, but with another innovation, the Pro–Tessar lenses, three of them! Wide–angle, normal, and Telephoto (80 mm). How I loved that camera! With a full set of peripherals and polaroid© filters, I took many a beautiful Kodachrome (no Ektacrhrome yet, at that early time, even KodaColor Negative film only came into the Philippines around that time…) What a history! I lent the camera to a good friend, he went around the world with it and returned it in good shape. Then, wouldn’t you know it! I went to Europe, and it was stolen in of all places, Germany! Guess they knew a good thing when they saw it. So, from that time on I used cheap Japanese cameras. Until I got the Fuji from you! It took sharp, nice pictures! Espcially, in “raw” mode. Also, during the past years, I got a Linhof Technika (6 X 7cm) camera, and just sold it a couple of years ago, for $1,500. to a guy in Taal, Batangas who has a fantastic collection of vintage cameras! I paid only the equivalent of only $20. for it, but complete, film roll and cut film holders, 3 lenses, orig. leather box; the works! (You are right, your Dad is crazy over old cameras! And you should see that museum in Taal! Every camera that even my Dad used is there! Old box camerra of unknown manufacture, Argus was the first. For a farmer, my Dad took pictures of everything! The only farmer in Cedar county who was “cutting edge”. 🙂 Now, I can only imagine how hard it is to get 35mm film for it. (KODAK just closed its doors!) But here in the Philippines, some stores are selling film made in Brazil, of all places. And probably, outdated. And there’s a couple of small European companies making film yet, also. Good luck! Love, Dad

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    1. Hahaha, yes, I guess you’re right…I didn’t deserve this one, at all, because years ago I came across a real wooden spinning wheel—lathed and carved—at a junk shop, and let it go…so I was given one more chance. 😀

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    1. Absolutely! When I get back home & into the craft markets again,I’d like to create a stall that looks like a writer’s workstation…old escritoire, an ink well and quill pen, some vintage props…it would fit in well.

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