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Camera industry in Dresden
Balda | Certo | Eho-Altissa | Eichapfel | Ernemann | Feinmess | Heyde | Hamaphot | Huth | Hüttig | ICA | Ihagee | Kochmann | Kerman | KW | Eugen Loeber | Ludwig | Mentor | Merkel | Meyer | Mimosa | Pentacon | Richter | Sommer | Stübiger | Unger & Hoffmann | Werner | Wünsche | Zeiss Ikon | Zeh
Camera distributors in Dresden
Camera industry in Freital
Beier | Pouva | Stein & Binnewerg | Thowe | Welta

Ihagee (Industrie- und Handelsgesellschaft)[1] was a German camera maker, now mostly known for its 35 mm SLR cameras. The company was founded in 1912 by Johan Steenbergen, a Dutch merchant. He had received his training at Ernemann in Dresden.


Company origins

The company started by producing conventional folding rollfilm and plate cameras. By 1918, the German economy was in serious trouble and so was Ihagee. It was liquidated and set up again. By 1925, Ihagee produced 1,000 rollfilm cameras a day.

In 1933 the Exakta A was presented. It was a single lens reflex and was greeted with scepticism. This Exakta took 3×6,5cm pictures on 127 film. The Exakta line was to become Ihagee's major success. In 1936 its most famous camera, the Kine Exakta was presented at the Leipziger Messe. This was the first SLR to take pictures on 35mm film[2]. From the beginning the 35 mm Exakta was a system camera, offering interchangable lenses, finders, microscope adapters and plate film backs.

By 1940 camera production ceased because of the war and Steenbergen, a Dutch national, transferred ownership rights in the company to trusted partners and employees because of xenophobia in Germany.

Cold war

In 1945, the Ihagee production facilities found themselves in the Soviet occupation zone. The Dresden plant started producing cameras again in 1945. For a time Ihagee had a special place in East Germany; while German camera making companies were being nationalised into VEB (company owned by the people) Zeiss Ikon/Pentacon, Ihagee had a certain autonomy because it had been Dutch-owned and East German officials were reluctant to damage international relations. After the war Exakta continued to make Kine Exakta cameras. According to McKeown, postwar models have a ribbed mirror chamber. Models used for export to the USA were engraved with "Soviet occupied Germany".

By 1949 improvements were made to the Exakta. The focus magnifier now had a protective door. This model is known as the Exakta II.

Trade disputes

In 1950 the Exakta Varex or V was introduced. Sources on the internet report the American company Argus quickly reserved the "Varex" name as a trademark and never used it, thus blocking the import of Exakta Varex cameras to the USA. Export models were renamed Exakta VX. It's the same camera with a different nameplate. The Exakta Varex series had interchangable pentaprisms, later ones are even metered. They're beautiful cameras with a reputation of good quality. So good, a professional photographer in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear window (1954) uses an Exakta.

Ihagee West

Meanwhile, the original owners tried to get back their ownership rights. When this effort proved to be unsuccessful, they founded Ihagee Kamerawerk AG ('Ihagee West') in Frankfurt and later in Munich (the company also gave an address in Berlin[3]). Ihagee West started lawsuits against Ihagee East. Most of these failed.

Ihagee West made the reportedly unreliable[4] Exakta Real. This included several improvements on the Exaktas from Dresden of the time (an instant-return mirror, a right-handed shutter release, and an improved lens mount allowing automatic stop-down), but the camera wasn't a commercial success. Rebadged SLRs from Petri and Cosina were also offered. Later they made their own version of the Exakta 66, a high quality medium format camera that used Pentacon Six mount lenses or dedicated Schneider lenses. A rangefinder camera Exa 35E seems to have been a little success.


1912-1918: Early folding cameras

  • Photorex
  • Photorekord
  • Photoklapp
  • Viktor
  • Patent-Duplex
  • Triplex
  • Weltrekord-Kamera
  • Microbie
  • Photoknips

1920-1939: Folders, Reflex Boxes and others

35mm SLR cameras

See Exakta and Exa family.


  1. The name means Industrial and Trading Company. 'Ihagee' (ee-ha-gey) is the letters I H G pronounced as in German.
  2. According to McKeown, p. 427. The GOMZ Sport was introduced in the same year.
  3. User manual for the Exakta Real at Hugo Ruys' Ihagee.org.
  4. Described as such by Hugo Ruys' Short history of Ihagee (pdf) at Ihagee.org.


  • Asahi Camera. Advertisement by Ihagee in June 1932 (p.A23).
  • Aguila, Clément and Rouah, Michel. Exakta Cameras. 1933-1978. UK: Hove Books, 1987. 190 pages. ISBN 0906447380.
  • Allinson, K. L. Exa Photography Technique And Practice. Morgan Publishing, 1965. ASIN B000S2ZNSY.
  • Longden, Peter. Ihagee - the Men and the Cameras. 2008 and 2011. 158 pages. Available for download at Exaktacircle.org.
  • Emanuel, W. D. Exakta guide: How and why with the Kine-Exakta I, II, V and VX, EXA, VP Exakta, Exakta junior and the 21/4" x 21/4" Exakta. Focal Press, 15th edition, 1953. 110 pages. ASIN B0000CIO5W.



Catalogues at Ihagee.org :


In English:

In Dutch:

In French:

In German:

In Italian: