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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Muzdakis

Caffenol + the Kodak Retina 1A, a Vintage Folding Wonder

The Kodak Retina 1a is a mid-century gem. I bought mine on eBay for about $40. I knew the shutter fired but it was otherwise untested. The camera arrived in gorgeous shape. Its a nice, heavy feeling camera. The lens folds out and in, making it easy to slip into a pocket. I popped some Fomapan 100 in and set out around Rochester to test this antique.

[Note - if you need to repair a Retina, check out Retina Rescue.]

I had purchased a vintage rangefinder as this model only has zone focusing marks. The Retina II has a built-in rangefinder. However, I mostly ended up shooting on high apertures as it was sunny, so precise focus was less of a concern. I visited High Falls and Durand Beach. It's always a pleasure to shoot vintage Kodak cameras and Kodak film in Rochester—my home and Kodak's.

I developed the film myself at home using a fairly standard Caffenol CM recipe. I love playing around with Caffenol, and so far have had the best success with 100 speed films. I hope to continue refining my techniques this summer when I am reunited with my materials. This remains the only roll I've shot through the Retina 1a, but I hope to break it out again soon with some color film to see what clarity I can get with standard development.

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