Exakta 66

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See also the earlier East German horizontal Exakta 6×6 and vertical Exakta 66.

The Exakta 66 is an SLR camera taking 6×6cm pictures on 120 or 220 film. It employs the same lens mount introduced on the Praktisix, one of the last models to do so.


Heinrich Manderman, founder of the Beroflex firm, started the "Projekt Exakta 66", with the belief that a reasonably priced camera could still be produced in limited runs in Germany, especially in medium format. Principles for the project were that the camera should be qualitatively first rate, but not neccessarily offering the latest technology. Importantly customers used to the 35mm-format should not face any hurdles due to the shape of the camera, or the price. Finally the lenses, a central component of the concept, should be of professional quality, and from Schneider-Kreuznach (recently acquired by Mandermann).[1] Harold Brochmann, writing in Exakta Times, emphasizes that it was difficult to sell east-bloc cameras in the West at the time, and that Manderman exploited the rules regarding country of origin. I.e. by having sufficient parts of production in West Germany, the camera could be marked as "Made in West Germany". According to the same source, the Exakta-name was bought from Cosina (who had purchased the name from the previous owners, Ihagee West), the camera back mechanics were designed by Schneider's departement for precision mechanics and the viewfinder was designed by Harwix in West Berlin.[2]

The project manager was Dr. Otto Stemme from Durst, earlier Rollei and the Munich camera plant of Agfa. Several of Stemme's colleagues or partners in Munich were also part of the team, including the design-firm Schlagheck & Schultes, which earlier had designed several Agfa cameras. The design was not entirely original, but an external update of the Pentacon Six camera, in an attempt to keep costs down.[3] The design was said to represent a "macho "rancher"-style camera that doesn't need to be treated too politely"[4]. This was also reflected in the advertising of the camera, stating that it was made "For heaven and hell and all things between. Six by six for men". It was announced by the West German Ihagee Kamerawerk (Ihagee West) at the 1984 Photokina, and sold from 1986.[5]

The original version was followed by a model II; then in 1996 a model III offering mirror lockup. These were marked as "Mod 2" or "Mod 3" in the center of the advance lever.


The exact number of Exakta 66 cameras produced is not known. From January 1985 a monthly production of 200 cameras was planned, i.e. 2400 cameras per year[6]. In August 1990 Heinrich Manderman admitted that the camera sales initially had been a flop, and that 600-700 cameras were sold per year, or about 25% of the original target, with production only requiring one employee at that point[7]. Assuming constant sales, this rate would amount to about 3600 cameras sold up to that point. From observed serial numbers, it seems that the Exakta 66 cameras originate from Pentacon Six lots produced between 1985-86, totaling a bit less than 12 000 cameras[8], indicating an upper limit (though this number includes cameras which ended up as ordinary Pentacon Six TL cameras). On this basis, and assuming declining sales through the 1990s, a guesstimate would be about 5000-6000 cameras produced.


Lens Lens construction Filter diameter Overall length Diameter Minimum focusing distance Weight Number produced
Schneider-Kreuznach 40mm Curtagon MF f/4 (announced) 9 elements in 8 groups 109mm 104mm 0.5m 700g
Schneider-Kreuznach 55mm PSC Super-Angulon MF f/4.5 10 elements in 8 groups 157mm 104mm 0.5m 1650g
Schneider-Kreuznach 60mm Curtagon MF f/3.5 7 elements in 7 groups 67mm 81mm 84mm 0.6m 570g 615 (uncertain)
Schneider-Kreuznach 80mm Xenotar MF f/2.8 7 elements in 6 groups 67mm 72mm 84mm 0.6m 500g 1547
Schneider-Kreuznach 150mm Tele-Xenar MF f/4 5 elements in 5 groups 67mm 101mm 84mm 1.5m 760g 547
Schneider-Kreuznach 250mm Tele-Xenar MF f/5.6 5 elements in 4 groups 67mm 168mm 84mm 3m 900g
Schneider-Kreuznach 75-150mm Variogon MF f/4.5 15 elements in 13 groups 95mm 171mm 98mm 1.8m 1770g
Schneider-Kreuznach 140-280mm Variogon MF f/5.6 17 elements in 14 groups 86mm 240mm 95mm 2.5m 2070g 105 (uncertain, serial group shared with 250mm f/5.6)

In addition to the excellent Schneider 80mm Xenotar MF standard lens, there were three additional standard focal length lenses offered at 80mm. The three lenses were the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenotar E 80mm f/2.8, the Exakta 80mm f/2.8 (no manufacturer name marked), and the Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8 in Exakta 66 livery. It is very likely that these three lenses were introduced as cheaper alternatives to the Xenotar MF in order to lower the entry price to the camera in an attempt to expand sales. Visual inspection of these three lenses suggests that all three use the same lens element design based on the CZJ Biometar of the Pentacon Six, packaged in Exakta 66 lens barrels. The Schneider Xenotar E and the CZJ Biometar appear to be identical lenses with only the name ring changed. It is not clear whether the Schneider Xenotar E was actually made by Schneider, or if Schneider simply allowed their name to be used on a CZJ-produced lens. These two lenses both use a shallower front rubber extension than the Xenotar MF but the front element is still deeply recessed into the barrel of the lens. The lens labeled only "Exakta" appears to use the same lens elements of the Xenotar E and Biometar, but the front rubber ring is deeper, similar in outer length to the Xenotar MF but with a much shorter lens element set within. The combination of the Biometar-based lens elements and the deeper front rubber ring leads to a very deeply recessed front element. A lens shade is usually not necessary with this lens.


  1. Fotomagazin 1984 p. 68
  2. Exakta Times, Issue No. 30, March 1998 p. 12
  3. Fotomagazin 1984 p. 68
  4. Popular Photography, October 1984 p. 141
  5. McKeown, p.439.
  6. Popular Photography, October 1984 p. 141
  7. http://www.pentaconsix.com/36half.htm
  8. http://www.pentaconsix.com/37serial.htm



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