Exakta 66 (vertical)
Development and production
The vertical Exakta 6×6 was launched at the September 1952 Leipzig Autumn Fair by Ihagee of Dresden, East Germany. It represented a change in direction, after Ihagee first presented an updated version of the 1939 horizontal Exakta 6×6 in 1951. The update of the 1939-design was dropped due to continuing production problems, or fundamental design flaws in the film transport (according to Hummel). Development of the vertical model was already underway by April 1952. The prototype vertical model presented at the September 1952 Leipzig Autumn Fair (see photo to the right) still shared a few features with the horizontal Exakta 6x6, including the waist level finder loupe design and notably the lens mount. A prototype series of about 10 cameras was produced and used for survey purposes. The response was good, and the responses only lead to a limited detail changes. At the August-September 1953 Leipzig Autumn Fair, a camera with further design refinements was presented. This included changing the lens mount to a larger mount which, together with a longer split mirror, gave a better groundglass image when using longer focal lengths. The waist level finder loupe was also changed to a design which let less light in. Production began in 1953, but only 118 cameras were delivered that year, which was a bad omen for 1954, when 10 000 deliveries had been planned. Uncertainties with the film transport mechanism and other functions influenced the production process. At the end of 1954 production was temporarily halted, with only 2250 cameras produced that year. Tensions arose between the business and technical staff, leading to an order of a third party evaluation of whether to halt production or invest in further fixes. The evalutation from the Insitiute for electrical and mechanical precision mechanics at the Technical College of Dresden made clear that only through a fundamental change of the general construction, would it be possible to achieve the desired functional guarantees. The camera was made for a few years from 1953 (McKeown dates it to 1953-4, and an article in a 1953 edition of Exakta magazine states that the camera would probably be available before the end of that year; the camera was certainly still available in 1958.
The film is loaded in interchangeable backs, and runs vertically, with the supply spool at the bottom. The camera has a cloth focal-plane shutter with a very wide range for the period — 12 seconds to 1/1000th plus 'B' and 'T'. The speed is set with separate fast and slow speed dials on the right hand side of the body. The upper dial sets speeds from 1/25 - 1/1000 second, 'B' and 'T'; the lower dial has separate scales for 1 - 12 seconds, and for 1/5 - 6 seconds (this second slow speed scale is for use with the self-timer). The shutter release is a button on the bottom right corner of the front. It is threaded for a cable release.
The shutter is synchronised for flash, with a PC socket on the left shoulder of the body. The synchronisation delay is adjustable for bulb and electronic flash, with a dial on the left side of the body. There is no accessory shoe, but the camera has two ¼-inch tripod bushes, to which a flash holder might attach (a bulb flash is in the 1958 price list). In addition to the tripod mounts, the camera also has a table-stand at the front, so that it will stand upright on a flat surface.
The viewfinder is interchangeable. The standard finder is a folding waist-level hood, with a loupe and the facility to fold the front panel to form a frame finder, familiar on TLR cameras. The user's manual refers to a pentaprism finder as 'in preparation': however, the 1955 advertisement shown below does not mention this attractive accessory at all, and it is not in the 1958 price list. No example has been seen with an Ihagee prism; one was sold at Christie's in 2003 with the prism from a Kowa camera fitted. The focusing screen includes a magnifying lens (i.e. it is a condenser with a ground bottom surface), and this is also interchangeable with a 'special' one according to the manual (presumably allowing for alternative screens to be introduced later; perhaps ones incorporating a split-prism rangefinder spot).
Between the two speed dials is the film advance winder, which also tensions the shutter. Frame spacing is automatic, and there is a frame counter above the winding knob. There is a double-exposure prevention interlock, which has an override mechanism (this is stated in the advertisement shown here, and in the article about the camera in 'Exakta' magazine, but it is not explained in the user's manual.
A range of high-quality interchangeable lenses was made for the camera. The standard lens is an 80 mm f/2.8 Tessar with preset aperture: McKeown states that lenses between 56 mm and 400 mm were made. The lenses have helical focusing, and a bayonet mount. Some of the lenses are illustrated in a 1953 edition of 'Exakta' magazine, and the article refers to Meyer f/3.5 Primotar lenses in 85, 165 and 180 mm, and f/5.5 Tele-Megors in 150, 180, 250 and 400 mm; a rather smaller range of lenses (and only long focal lengths) is in the 1958 price list. As with other Exakta cameras, extension tubes and a bellows were available for close-up work.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p428.
- Photo Deal I/96 p. 27
- The British Journal of Photography May 30, 1952 p. 260
- Die Fotografie, January 1954 p. 21
- Exakta magazine Vol. 2, No. 2, 1953, p26-7 at Hugo Ruys' Ihagee.org.
- US Exakta price list, 1958 (archived) (the 66 is on page 5), at Ihagee.org.
- User's manual at Ihagee.org.
- Exakta 66 serial no. 600851, with a Kowa prism viewfinder, sold in April 2003 at Christie's in London.
- Examples sold in past auctions by Westlicht Photographica Auction in Vienna:
- Exakta 66 serial no. 600074, sold at the 21st auction, on 23 May 2012.
- Exakta 66 serial no. 600089, sold at the thirteenth auction, on 7 June 2008.
- Exakta 66 serial no 600243, sold at the nineteenth auction, on 28 May 2011.
- Exakta 66 serial no. 601002, with extension tubes, sold at the fifth auction, on 29 May 2004.
- The Ihagee page of Peter Lanczak's site features a picture and a repair manual for the vertical Exakta 6×6
- Exakta 6x6cm instruction manual from OrphanCameras.com Butkus camera manual site