Kodak Retinette 1B – type 037

There were two releases for this camera. By the serial number I can tell this is the earlier 037 type. That means my camera was released between 1959 and 1963. Considering the age, mine is in wonderful condition. It looks and feels like a quality piece of kit. Even the case was in good condition, which is good because there are no strap lugs on the actual camera. I carried it around with the bottom half of the case attached.

Before I tried to use this camera, I looked for the manual and read it carefully, which is not like me at all. I did it because I could not quite see how to set the ASA in order for the coupled light meter to work. It turned out there was a tiny red dot that I was just not seeing. I needed much more light and better glasses. My, that dot is tiny.

All the technical details are available to see right on the camera.

Aperture: between f2.8 – f22, stepless
Shutter Speeds: 1/15th – 1/500th, and B
Minimal focal distance: 3.5ft

The front of the lens has the label ‘LK’ which refers to the light meter. The LK is short for the German Lichtgekoppelt which means light coupled. It is activated with the black knob on the side of the lens. By moving that, a needle inside the viewfinder moves. The aim is to get the needle pointing straight up. If it can’t do that then you have to alter the shutter speed setting. The light meter on my example reacted as I hoped it would. The only issue the camera had was with the self-timer, which did not seem to work.

Using the camera takes a little getting use to. You would think that the black knob next to the lens would work a rangefinder, but it doesn’t. As I have said, that works the light meter. There is no rangefinder. Focusing is achieved by turning a dial on the very front of the lens. You will hear it click into set positions for zoned focusing, but you can set the focus outside these set places. I decided to set mine at the position close to infinity. I love how the zone position is before infinity not at it. Therefore, you get as much foreground in focus at the same time as infinity. After that, if I took a photo of something closer to me, I reset the focus zone. After the shot I immediately reset the focus position back to the “close to infinity” position.

Another slightly odd thing about the camera is the placement of the film winder, it is on the bottom of the camera. Which, for someone with small hands like myself, meant I could not wind on the film without removing my finger from the shutter button.

I took my camera on a walk to a local cemetery along with another camera. I also put a short roll of Power Geek film from Poundland inside. It only had ten shots, but as the loading was manual I could get the full 10 shots. Before you start shooting you have to set the film counter manually, it counts down. I set mine to 10 before I set off. Once I returned home I developed the film myself as detailed on the post for the other camera.

Here are the results.

I love the results from this short film. The lens is nice and sharp. It was a lot easier to focus than I thought, with a wide depth of field that is clearly visible on the scale on front of the camera. This camera has a very classic look to it and is super cheap to buy. If you are looking for a cheap, solid, vintage camera that does not need a battery then this is a great one to look for.

You can find another great review here.

NB: I had originally listed this as the type 045, but I received an email from Dave who pointed out my mistake. When I reread the serial link I could see he was right. The script of the name also let me know it was the 037.

6 thoughts on “Kodak Retinette 1B – type 037

  1. Toby says:

    Is this one that I gave you? Regardless, lovely photos and yet again can tell that you enjoyed shooting it. Think you should put a black and white roll through it!


    1. Peggy says:

      If you think it is, then it is…as you know I rarely remember. Sorry, I do appreciate what you give me but I need to start labeling things. I suspect it is as I do have a vague memory of a conversation about it 🙂


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