Kodak Retina Type 149 1939

Tomei Collection

The Retina cameras were wildly successful following their original introduction in 1934.  A newly designed top appeared in the Type 148 and 149 in 1939 including another new frame counter.  However, the partnership between Kodak and the German affiliate became critically strained by the onset of WWII and production of these cameras was discontinued that same year.  Only about 10,403 Type 149 models were built and none were exported to the United States (note: about that same time the last shipment of Compur shutters was on a vessel that was sunk by a German submarine before it could reach New York harbor).  In 1939 these cameras sold for about $50 to $65, depending on the lens and shutter combination. The Retina camera shown here sold for $55 in 1939, a relatively substantial price given the fact that it is equivalent to approximately $700 today.


The Type 149 is marked by the leather-covered upper housing, whereas the Type 148 was chrome.  It is not clear why there were two types marketed simultaneously but there was speculation that Kodak AG had tried to use all available parts to minimize losses with the impending closure of business in Germany.  Curiously, following WWII Kodak launched the Retinette Type 012 in 1949 which bore a striking resemblance to the Retina Type 149 (see below).


This camera is in excellent condition and used regularly. Ergonomics are difficult and the Xenar uncoated lens is sharp but has a bad tendency for flare without a hood.


The 1939 Retina Type 149 beside a post-WWII Retinette Type 012(above). 

Here is a special Retina 149 that is heavily worn but still usable. It was purchased used shortly after WWII by my wife's father who then employed it for many years for street photography here in Rome during times that were truly very difficult.  Many tourists in Rome in the late 1940's and through the 1950's had their photos taken on the streets and piazzas with this venerable Retina.