Exakta Kine and Varex Series

From Camera-wiki.org
Jump to: navigation, search

The Exakta camera was one of the pioneers in creating the SLR as we know it today. The first use of the brand Exakta was on Ihagee cameras made for 127 rollfilm, now known to collectors as the VP Exakta. But historically, the most significant series is the one designed for 35mm film—originally cinema film—hence the German name "Kine Exakta."'

Exaktas were rather expensive cameras, used by professionals and serious amateurs. Beginning with the Exakta Varex, the lenses, eye-level pentaprism and waist-level viewfinders are interchangeable within all versions.

Ihagee never made lenses of its own brand for the Exakta cameras. Many of the major optical firms produced lenses for them, including Carl Zeiss Jena, Meyer, Schneider-Kreuznach, E.Ludwig and many others.

The East German Zeiss lenses made for export, were marked from 1954 with different engravings. The brand name Carl Zeiss Jena is replaced by C.Z. Jena or Jena or aus Jena. The lens names Biotar, Biometar, Sonnar, Tessar, Triotar were replaced by the letter B, Bm, S, T, Tr.

After 1972 the name Exakta was applied to a variety of products; but to serious collectors, true Exaktas are ones made by Ihagee in Dresden, former East Germany and produced between 1936-72.


  • Produced between 1936-49
  • Version 1; There are 4 sub-versions [2] [3]
  • Fixed waist-level viewfinder
  • Two spellings:In late version the Exakta name with "c" is more common

Exakta II

  • Often referred as Kine Exakta II
  • Produced between 1949-50
  • Version 2; There are 3 sub-versions
  • The third sub-version has a limited interchangeable finder

Photo in Andrzej Wrotniak's website:[1]

Exakta Varex

  • Produced between 1950-51
  • Sold as Exakta V in USA
  • Version 3; There are 3 sub-versions
  • Removable viewfinder with SLR pentaprism or waist level finder by a catch on the camera body below the logo

Exakta Varex VX

  • Sold as Exakta VX in USA
  • Produced between 1951-56
  • There are 4 sub-versions


  • Lens release: via a lever on the left of the lens flange
    • External bayonet flange added to the lens flange in this model, to accommodate larger lenses
  • Focusing: via Fresnel matte glass screen, rangefinder split images on the center
    • Screen interchangeable
  • Shutter: focal plane double cloth shutter, horizontally running
  • Speeds
    • Fast speeds 1/25-1000 +T, B, dial on the left of the top plate, setting: lift and turn
    • Slow speeds 1/5-12 second, dial on the right of the top plate
    • Setting: cock the shutter, set the fast speeds dial to B, then turn the slow speeds dial clockwise as far as it will stop, then lift and turn the outer ring of the slow speeds dial to desired speed (black engravings on the dial), then shot
  • Cocking lever: also winds the film, long-stroke type, right-to-left film transport, on the left of the top plate
  • Shutter release: a knob on front of the body, w/ a safety locking cap and cable release socket; it can be pressed with the plunger on the special lenses, w/ cable release socket also
  • Frame counter: coupled with winding lever, additive type (S, 0-36), almost entirely covered, adjusting with a separate milled wheel on the cocking knob
  • View finder: SLR penta-prism finder, interchangeable with waist level finder
    • engraving on the finder: Ihagee
    • Finder release: via a knob beneath the Exacta logo
  • Mirror: not instant return, stays up after exposure, cocking the shutter returns the mirror
  • Two pairs of old type two-pin flash PC sockets for M and X, synch 1/25
  • Self-timer
    • For fast speeds: after cocking and selecting the high speeds, turn the slow speeds knob as far as it will go and set it by outer ring to any one of the red figures, then shot; the time elapse will be 13 second
    • For slow speeds: cock the shutter, set the fast speed dial to B, then turn the slow speeds dial clockwise, then lift and turn the outer ring of slow speed dial to desired time elapse to 1/5-2-4-6 seconds (red engravings on the dial), then shot
  • Back cover: hinged
  • Special take-up spool, removable
  • Others: Film-cutting knife handle on the right of the re-wind knob; Tripod socket 3/8inch with an adaptor for 1/4inch; Strap lugs
  • Body: metal; Weight: 833g


An Exakta Varex VX was used by Jimmy Stewart's character in the 1954 motion picture "Rear Window." In the film, his character attaches a Kilfitt Fern-Kilar f/5.6 400mm lens to the Exakta body so as to be able to see his neighbors out his apartment's rear window better. However, the Exakta name on the front of the camera was covered over with black tape so that it would not show.

Exakta Varex IIa

  • Sold as Exakta VXIIa in USA
  • Produced between 1956-63
  • Version 5; There are 4 sub-versions
  • In the last version there is a new name plate and
    logo: uppercase "EXAKTA" on black background
  • Specifications are the same with the Exakta Varex VX, except:
    • Flash PC sockets: three, modern type, M, F, X,
      sync.1/25 (seperate on the fast speeds knob)
    • Back cover: hinged and detachable

Exakta Varex IIb

  • Sold as Exakta VXIIb in USA
  • Produced between 1963-67
  • Version 6
  • Film speeds moved to the top of the slow speed dial
  • Fast shutters speeds follow the "modern" geometric progression from 1/30 to 1/1000
  • The rewind knob has a crank handle
  • There is not a finder release knob

Exakta VX1000

  • Produced between 1967-70
  • Version 7
  • New body construction
  • Specifications are same with the Exakta Varex IIa, except:
    • Cocking lever short-stroke
    • Mirror instant return type
    • Backcover hinged, non- detachable
Exakta VX1000 version 7.0 (1967) aus Jena T (Tessar) 50mm f/2.8 (Zebra)

Images by Süleyman Demir (Image rights)

Exakta VX500

  • Produced between 1969-72
  • Version 8; There are 2 sub-versions
  • Simplified version of Exakta VX1000
  • Specifications same with the Exakta VX1000, except:
    • Speeds 1/30-1/500, +B, no long speeds
    • View finder SLR penta prism finder P.3, w/ a triangular red
      indicator appears in the top-right of the viewfinder when the
      shutter required winding
    • Flash PC socket: two, F and X, sync.1/40,
      flash symbol on the speeds dial
    • No film cutting knife

Notes and references

  1. Kine Exakta is the first 35mm SLR camera. The camera's features were based on Ihagee-Exakta rollfilm 4×6.5 cm, an earlier SLR made by K.Nüchterlein who also designed Kine Exakta. Kine Exakta was introduced at the fair Leipziger Früjahrsmesse in spring 1936. This date is important that it is one and a half year earlier than the Sport made by GOMZ. Although, some authors say that Sport is the first 35mm SLR, based on the prototype design
  2. The classification of Exaktas in this page is according to Andrzej Wrotniak
  3. Notes about Exa/Exakta classification: from F.W. Tappe Andrzej Wrotniak made a very sensible classification, listed on his website. It is multi dimensional in setup, without being complicated.. Richard Hummel's 1995 book lists an "one dimensional" classification, which is incomplete, but many sources still refer to this. Aguila and Rouah (A&R) in their 2003 edition of "Exakta cameras 1933 - 1978", come to an improved classification. They built on their previous 1987 edition classification, which was the leading standard among collectors. Klaus Wichmann, prolific writer of books about Exakta - and Exa cameras, published his classifications earliest.