At 11:30 on the morning of May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt Everest, 29,028 feet above sea level, the highest spot on earth!!
It is the picture (source) of the Tenzing Norgay on the top of Mt Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary was the photographer.
If you are familiar with luxury watches (sorry I am not…), you must know it is the story behind the Rolex Explorer I – the first watch reached the highest mountain in the world, Mt Everest.
To my surprise, not so many people care or ask about which camera was used for this difficult task in 1953. What camera in 1953 was able to function well to capture this wonderful image at the highest spot on earth. The answer is here: Kodak Retina type 118 (RETINA 118). Retina 118 was produced in 1935-1936 and was the successor of Retina 117, which was introduced in my last article [Link]. Retina 118 is very similar to Retina 117, except the rewind clutch lever was moved from film knob to the back of the top cover, and the film sprocket shaft extends across camera body. According to the record, only 9144 pieces of Retina 118 were produced.
You may question about why Sir Edmund Hillary had to use a 1935 camera to finish a 1953 Mt Everest expedition. Obviously, Kodak was NOT the sponsor of their task. Sir Edmund bought his Retina 118 from a second hand shop and did some minor modifications, e.g. adding a small extension that was attached to the film advance lever. This allowed the operation of the film advance with heavy gloves. Now the camera was on display at an Auckland Museum.
My collection, Retina 118, is equipped with Xenar lens and Compur shutter.
It is a very compact and durable camera, so good for travel (if you don’t mind it is just a viewfinder camera, with no light metering).
Here I shared some of my photos, which were taken by this legendary camera during last Christmas…
^ This picture was taken under heavy rain in German Heidelberg Castle
^ Retina has no double exposure prevention system, you can use it to create creative double exposure images
^ Do you like the bokeh of this f3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar Lens
^ Inside of the Basel Munster in Switzerland, 4s exposure time
Details of the Camera:
Camera model – Retina type 118
Year built – 1935-1936
Lens – f3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar (SN: 815333)
Shutter – Compur
Shutter speed – T, B, 1sec to 1/300 sec
Total quantity built: 9,144
Made in Germany