Exakta 6×6 (horizontal)
|Exakta 6x6 with Tessar 8cm F2.8. |
Originally belonging to the Royal Jämtland Air Force Wing F4, Sweden
image by the Swedish Flygvapenmuseum (Image rights)
The first Exakta 6×6cm model was released in 1939 by Ihagee in Germany. It makes twelve square-format pictures on a 120 film. The camera features interchangeable lenses, a waist-level viewfinder and a peculiar, very large film-advance lever built onto the base. There is a red window, used to advance a new film to frame 1. The cloth focal-plane shutter has a very wide speed range for the period — 12 seconds to 1/1000th plus B, set on two dials, and has the early electronic Vacublitz flash terminals (one source reports 1/50 as the synch speed).
Interest in the 6×6 film format increased through the 1930s from both consumers and professionals. Benefits of the format included the same camera orientation for portrait and landscape photos, about 38% more picture area compared to the 645 format and a useful negative size for making contact prints. At first the format was mostly used in folders such as the Super Ikonta 530/16 and TLR cameras from Rolleiflex, Zeiss Ikon and Voigtländer. However notably Ihagee had already released a 6×6 roll-film version of the Paff-Reflex camera in 1922. Then the first modern 6×6 SLR camera, the Eichapfel Noviflex came to market in 1934, followed a few months later by the more successful Reflex-Korelle in 1935. In this context, and with their recent experiences with the Kine-Exakta 35mm SLR (released in 1936) management at Ihagee begun their own 6×6 SLR project in 1937.
Willy Teubner was made leader for development from the middle of 1937, and a workshop for prototypes was set up in 1938. Second-year apprentices produced the detail drawings, and one of them, Richard Hummel, has emphasised that parts of the camera had very complex curves and that the apprentices faced many demands, but were well supported by Teubner. It should be noted that a very early prototype "Ihagee Reflex" 6×6 was seen at auction in 2014, with a Meyer-Görlitz Ihagee-Anastigmat Trioplan 8cm f6.8 lens. Both the "Ihagee Reflex" construction and lens seem to be based on the Ihagee Paff-Reflex, with some elements possibly inspired by the Reflex-Korelle, and very few direct similarities to the production Exakta 6×6. Development of new lenses and production of lens prototypes for the camera was carried out at Carl Zeiss Jena at the same time, including a new 1937-designed 6.5cm f6.3 Tessar, 10cm f2 Biotar and 18cm f4 Sonnar (never entered series production), and the 1938-designed 13.5cm f4 Triotar lens. The 8cm f2.8 and f3.5 Tessar lenses used the same design as for the Super Ikonta, Reflex-Korelle and Ikoflex III cameras. Other lenses, such as the Tele-Tessar 18cm and 25cm f6.3 were older designs.
The camera was first shown at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1939, concurrently with the similar but simpler Beier-Flex II. A version of the camera with the 100mm f2 Biotar or 100mm f1.9 Primoplan was also shown, called the Night-Exakta 6x6..
Production and sales
Production was delayed due to problems with the film transport, and did not begin before August 1939. Prices for the camera in 1939 varied depending on the included lens. From 225 RM for the camera with Ihagee-Exaktar 8,5cm f3.5 to 390 RM with the Makro-Plasmat 10,5cm f2.7. The Night-Exakta was significantly more expensive, at 460 RM including the Primoplan 10cm f1.9 or 600 RM including the Biotar 10cm f2. Already in November 1939 production stopped with only about 1500 cameras produced (known serials run from 553504 to 554724, indicating at least 1220 produced). According to Hummel, the reason for the end of production was both the change to war time economy in Germany, but also the faulty film transport, which could only have been remedied by a design revision. However, production may have ended shortly thereafter in any event, as the similar VP Exakta also stopped production in 1940, partly due to the war. Production of lenses continued for a time, with as many as 300 Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 8cm lenses being produced from 17-19 December 1940, and a batch of 100 Carl Zeiss Jena 6.5cm f6.5 lenses starting production as late as March 1941. A dealer advertisement at the end of 1942 states that the Exakta 6x6 camera may be pre-ordered for delivery "after the war", and that lenses were still available for purchase, to be ready for the re-start of camera production. However, by February 1945 the Ihagee works had been bombed, and production did not re-start immediately after the war.
The Exakta 6x6 seems to have been popular for military uses. In the beginning of May 1940 the first shipment of 12 Exakta 6x6 cameras arrived in the Netherlands at the dutch importer Dr. K. Heynderickx, for further delivery to the Dutch Air Force. The Netherlands formally surrendered on 15 May 1940, however, so the cameras saw little use with the Dutch military. Instead they were taken into use by professional Dutch photographers after the surrender. However, the use was limited, as the importation of photographic films stopped, and Dutch Dalco films had to be used. These films had a protective paper sheet of lower war-time quality, which was ripped through by the special film transport mechanism. As far as is know, no further Exakta 6x6 cameras were imported to the Netherlands. Another Exakta 6x6 for military use can be seen at the top of the page, now at the Swedish Air Force Museum, but originally belonging to the Swedish Royal Jämtland Air Force Wing F4. Two Exakta 6x6 cameras believed to belong to the WW2 German Kriegsmarine (Navy) have been found. One with what is probably Navy inventory number M235 (factory serial 554638) and a matching M235 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 8cm f2.8 (factory serial 2429403, from a lot finished from 16 December 1938). Another with inventory number M238 (factory serial 554634) and a non-matching inventory number M240 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 6,5cm f6.3 (factory serial 2551561, production date missing according to Thiele). In addition a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 6,5cm with a navy acceptance mark (M and swastika) and inventory number MF608 (factory serial 2551567, same lot as the previously mentioned 6,5cm lens) has been found.
|Exakta 6×6 1951 prototype, with Tessar 2.8/8cm|
from a reproduction in Exakta Times No. 15, June 1994 p. 3
scanned by Camera Historian (Image rights)
After the war, Willy Teubner, now as Technical Director, introduced an updated pre-war Exakta 6×6 design in March 1951 in prototype form at the Leipzig Spring Fair. The 1951-prototype was also shown in April 1952 at the Photokina. According to reports from Photokina, Ihagee at that time considered producing fully interchangeable magazines for roll-film, cut-film and plates, and also interchangeable finders including a roof-prism similar to the unit for the 35mm Exakta Varex. This seems to point to the completely redesigned vertical Exakta 6x6 already being underway (later unveiled at the September 1952 Leipzig Autumn Fair), as the pre-war design had no provision for interchangeable backs. According to one source production of the 1951-model actually restarted based on pre-war parts. A new Tessar 80mm f2.8 lens design (dated 7 July 1950) seems to have been produced specially for the 1951-design. According to Hummel about 350 cameras of the 1951-design were produced post-war, however few traces of these remain. Horst Neuhaus doubts that the number given by Hummel is correct, and speculates that at most two dozen of the updated pre-war design were produced after the war. Later the tooling for the new Carl Zeiss Jena lenses in the pre-war Exakta 6×6 lens mount was used to produce several thousand Tessar 80mm f2.8 lenses, but adapted to the vertical Exakta 6×6 and other lens mounts. The adapter can be used to mount any pre-war 6×6 lens to Exakta 36x24mm cameras, and furthermore to other adapters, e.g. to digital cameras.
In the end the pre-war Exakta 6×6 was replaced by a complete redesigned vertical Exakta 66 in 1953 and later, with the Reflex-Korelle and Meister-Korelle, inspired the Praktisix and Pentacon Six models.
Lenses from several makers were advertised, however it is unclear if and how many of the lenses from third parties were produced. Meyer and especially Berthiot lenses are very rare. At least one example of the 10cm f2 Biotar has been noted with a red T-mark, signifying the proprietary Zeiss T-coating. Furthermore it seems coating was applied to at least some 8cm f2.8 Zeiss Tessar lenses, without the T-marking. Possibly due to lens orders with Zeiss exceeding the amount of produced cameras, it is not uncommon to find lenses in 6x6 Exakta mount with adapters to other contemporary 35mm cameras, including Leica mount, M42 mount, Contax RF mount and Exakta 35mm mount.
|Lens||Lens construction||Filter diameter||Price||Number produced||Weight|
|Berthiot Olor 6.5cm f5.7|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 6.5cm f6.3||4 elements||150 RM||302|
|Berthiot Flor 7.5cm f3.5|
|Meyer Makro-Plasmat 7.5cm f2.9|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 8cm f2.8||4 elements||105 RM|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 8cm f3.5||4 elements||85 RM||>502|
|Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 8cm f3.5||4 elements||65 RM||>201|
|Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 8cm f2.8||85 RM||612|
|Ihagee-Exaktar 8.5cm f3.5 (produced by Schneider-Kreuznach)||4 elements|
|Meyer Primotar 8.5cm f3.5|
|Meyer Primotar 8,5cm f3.5||100|
|Meyer Primotar 8.5cm f2.8||10|
|Meyer Megon 8.5cm f2|
|Berthiot Flor 9cm f2.8|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 10cm f2||6 elements||425 RM||413|
|Meyer Primoplan 10cm f1.9||285 RM||>54|
|Meyer Makro-Plasmat 10.5cm f2.7||6 elements||206 RM|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Triotar 13.5cm f4||3 elements||165 RM||202|
|Meyer Primotar 13.5cm f3.5|
|Berthiot Tele 15cm f5.5|
|Meyer Primotar 18cm f3.5||>3|
|Meyer Tele-Megor 18cm f5.5||4 elements||144 RM||100|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Tele-Tessar 18cm f6.3||4 elements||255 RM||250|
|Schneider Kreuznach Tele-Xenar 24cm f4.5||5 elements||255 RM||>100|
|Carl Zeiss Jena Tele-Tessar 25cm f6,3||4 elements||280 RM|
|Meyer Tele-Megor 250mm f5.5||100|
|Schneider-Kreuznach Tele-Xenar 30cm f5,5||4 elements||220 RM|
|Meyer Tele-Megor 30cm f5.5 (advertised)|
|Schneider Kreuznach Tele-Xenar 36cm f5,5||4 elements||260 RM|
- Wolf H. Döring, "Das Exakta 6×6-Buch" (1941) p. 58
- Exakta Times No. 37 December 1999 p. 24
- Peter Longden, Ihagee - the Men and the Cameras p. 86, 2011
- Exakta Times Number 37 December 1999 p. 24
- Hartmut Thiele, Fabrikationsbuch Photooptik II Carl Zeiss Jena, 2015, p. 313-314
- Peter Longden, Ihagee - the Men and the Cameras p. 86, 2011
- Exakta - nun auch im Grossformat 6x6
- Richard Hummel, as translated in Exakta Times No. 37 December 1999 p. 24-25
- Hummel in Photo Deal I/96 p. 26
- Hartmut Thiele, Grosses Fabrikationsbuch Schneider-Kreuznach Band I p. 259
- Hartmut Thiele, Fabrikationsbuch Photooptik II Carl Zeiss Jena, 2015, p. 60
- Hamburger Anzeiger 31 December 1942 p. 8
- Peter Longden, Ihagee - the Men and the Cameras p. 90, 2011
- Jan de Haan, "De 6x6 EENOOGREFLEX-CAMERA’S van IHAGEE uit DRESDEN." (unknown date)
- Photographische Korrespondenz: Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche undangewandte Photographie und die gesamte Reproduktionstechnik, Volume 90-91 (1954) p. 141
- The British Journal of Photography May 30, 1952 p. 260
- Peter Longden, Ihagee - the Men and the Cameras p. 107-108, 2011
- Hartmut Thiele, Fabrikationsbuch Photooptik II Carl Zeiss Jena, 2015, p. 237
- Wolf. H. Döring, Das Exakta 6x6 Buch (1941)
- Pages of Hugo Ruys' Ihagee history site:
- The Ihagee page of Peter Lanczak's site features a picture and an advertisement for the horizontal Exakta 6×6
- Exakta 6x6 serial no. 554332, with 80mm f/2.8 CZJ Tessar, offered for sale at the 28th Camera Auction by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction), on 21 November 2015; several excellent pictures.
- Exakta 6x6 instruction manual in PDF (English), booklet & price guide at www.OrphanCameras.com