35mm SLR system • Discontinued

The mother of all 35mm single-lens reflex systems, created by Ihagee East. Ihagee is an acronym for International Handels Gessellschaft, which means International Trading Company.


  • Exakta RTL 1000. This model embodied all the refinements of the Exakta, but was redesigned and incorporated significant advances in photographic technology. One of the three interchangeable viewfinder systems consisted of a coupled TTL pentaprism for internal light measurement. It had a metal focal plane shutter from 8 sec. to 1/1000 sec. and B; the built-in delayed-action timer covered the speeds from 1 sec. to 1/1000 sec. Electronic flash was synchronised at 1/125 sec., bulbs at 1/30 sec. Shutter release on right and left-hand side. New range of lenses with internally controlled automatic apertures. The lenses of the earlier Exakta models could be used also for automatic aperture with an adapter on the release. It had self-setting frame counter, rewind pin remained depressed, rewind crank. The film cutting knife of the earlier models was omitted.
  • Exakta Varex Ila. This model followed in general the above description. Its main differences compared with the earlier models were three co-axial flash sockets (X, M and F), a specially silent shutter mechanism and an improved film indicator. The 1961 model of the the Varex Ila was fitted with an improved reflex hood (with one-finger closing) which also accepted the interchangeable ground-glass screens for special purposes, e.g. with split image rangefinder (up to now only available for the pentaprism). This hood had no direct vision frame finder. The standard lenses had fully automatic preset iris.
  • Exakta Varex IIb was similar to the model lla of 1961, but had geometrical speed scales (1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 sec.). The rewind knob had a crank. The catch to secure the finder was not needed.
  • Exakta VX 1000 was as the Exakta IIb, but with instant return mirror and minor mechanical improvements.
  • Exakta VX 500 was a scaled-down version of the VX 1000, with shutter speeds of 1/30 to 1/500 sec. and B only.
  • Exakta Varex VX (1956) was similar to the model Ila, but had only two flash sockets.
  • Exakta Varex VX (1951) had flash sockets for a two-pin flash plug instead of concentric sockets.
  • Exakta Varex (V), the predecessor of the VX, was similar to it except that it had no film type or transport indicators, it did not permit working from casette to cassette and the back was not hinged.
  • Kine-Exakta II was as Exakta V but had no interchangeable reflex finder, so that the pentaprism attachment was not usable (but a special prismatic attachment could be placed on top of the reflex hood). The flash contact was for flash bulbs only, and there was a minor change in the mechanical construction of the film transport.
  • Kine-Exakta I, the original pre-war Kine Exakta, was similar to Exakta II with quite minor mechanical differences which did not affect its manipulation.

The prefix "Kine" (dropped in 1950) is German for "cine", since the camera used 35mm motion picture film. It is thus distinguished from its year-older brother, the V.P. (vest-pocket) Exakta, so called because it employed 127, or vest pocket, film.

In the 1950s, Exakta cameras had no serious competitors: technologically, they were modern, were provided with a wide range of lenses and accessories, and the workmanship was of a high level, all of which certainly contributed to sales in the United States and Western Europe.

(See also: Exakta real and Exakta Twin TL, Ihagee West's unsuccessful attempts to compete in the global market with Ihagee East)


  • Exa II had shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/250 sec. and B, single flash contact, but no delayed action. The eye-level pentaprism finder was permanently fitted. Most Exakta accessories, including all lenses, could be used in it.
  • Exa IIa, similar to II, but had detachable back and improved film transport.
  • Exa Ilb, similar to Ila, but with instant return mirror (the image can be viewed before and after exposure), a warning signal in the viewfinder when the film has not been advanced, and general mechanical improvements.
  • Exa 500 was an improved version of the Exa IIb with fully automatic diaphragm lens, pentaprism with fresnel screen and micro-prism rangefinder, shutter speeds 1/2 sec. and 1/500 sec. and B, and XM flash synchronization.
  • Exa had a shutter of different design with speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/150 sec. and B only, two flash contacts, no delayed action. Film wind was by a transport knob; the film cutting device was omitted. Long focus lenses beyond 100 mm were not usable (without undue cut-off) and similarly close-ups with longer extension tubes than 5 cm could not be made.
  • Exa I had improved styling, shutter speeds 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/175 sec., B, single flash contact with symbol setting for electronic flash and bulbs.
  • Exa la, similar to Exa I, but with lever film transport.


Ihagee East itself did not produce lenses for Exakta cameras: a large number of manufacturers around the world were involved in the production of optics - from such famous names as Carl Zeiss Jena, Meyer-Optik Görlitz and Schneider Kreuznach, to smaller ones such as Enna München, Isco-Göttingen and Steinheil München. The number of lenses produced for the Exakta is enormous: by some estimates there are at least 2,500 different lens models. The choice of focal lengths and speeds was extremely wide, and lenses were equipped with pre-set or external automatic aperture mechanisms.

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