Exa the Exakta's Small Sister

Two concurrent Exa lines

Over a number of years there were two Exa camera lines, being manufactured concurrently:

  • The original Exa (often referred to as Exa 0), continued as Exa I: this line was undergoing a normal evolution, being manufactured between 1952 and 1970. Their viewfinders were interchangeable with Exakta. The mirror was used as a part of the shutter, and speeds were limited to 1/150s.
  • Exa II/Exa 500: a new body with non-interchangeable prism finder and a regular, vertical focal-plane shutter. These cameras were made from 1959 until 1977 or so, well after Ihagee was eaten by VEB Pentacon.

Both these lines would accept all Exakta lenses, but the first one had a limitation: there was a slight image cutoff with lenses above 100 mm; narrow strips of the film along longer edges of the frame remained unexposed.

The Exa II line never replaced Exa/Exa I — it was just a different camera, made concurrently with the latter.

M42 screw-mount Exas

Additionally, from 1977 to 1987 another Exa line was made: Exa Ib (later renamed to Ic without practically any other changes). This camera was basically an Exa Ia accepting M42 screw-mount lenses (Pentax/Practica standard). Therefore it was not a part of the Exakta/Exa system, although its family relationship with Exa cannot be denied. I decided to add the screw-mount Exas to this list, if only to avoid confusion.

Models and serial numbers

The listed models are categorized according to four different version systems:

  • My own star notation, used perhaps by five people in the world — but I like it.
  • A&R 2003 from "new" Aguila and Rouah book, somewhat improved upon its predecessor. This will be usually shown as just A&R.
  • A&R 1987 from the "old" Aguila and Rouah book — for compatibility with sources still using it.
  • Hum.1995 from Richard Hummel's 1995 book a treasure trove on Exakta history (if you read German).

"Model" sometimes show multiple names under which a given version, basically the same camera but for various logos, was distributed.

Serial numbers are quoted after A&R 2003, production runs — after Hummel.

Clicking of any of the thumbnails will take you to the proper section of my small Exa Gallery, with pictures and remarks on just a few Exa models. There are not many of these, as I collect only Exaktas. (Still, if I find a nice Exa, I will gladly give her a nice home for retirement).

Model designation *Ver.     Year     A&R 2003 A&R 1987 Hum. 1995  Serial Numbers 
(Production run)
Distinguishing (new) features, remarks
The original Exa and Exa I line, 1951-77
Exa

*1.1.1 1951 1.1 1 040 200000-201000
(1100)
Two pairs of contacts of the "old" style. Shutter set with a lever: B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, and 1/250s [1].
*1.1.2 1951-52 1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1 041
042
043
200000-235000
(32700)
Top shutter speed: 1/150s (not 1/250s). A number of cosmetic variations [2].
*1.2 1953-56 2 2 045 235000-245000
(32700)
Two black, concentric synch sockets replace the Vacublitz-style ones. Hinged shutter release protector.
*1.3 1954 3 3 046 245000-275000
(8000)
System Exa Rheinmetall Sömmerda instead of Exa Ihagee Dresden on the front plate. Most were otherwise identical to *1.2, but a large number of variants seem to exist [3].
*1.4 1956-59 4.1 4 047 400000-530000
(94300)
Like *1.2 or *1.3 (except for the Exa Ihagee Dresden logo), but synch sockets chrome (not black).
*1.5.1 4.2 Adds a removable spindle in the hinge, so that the back can be detached.
*1.5.2 1959-60 5 5 048 530000-560000
(38300)
"Exa" on the front plate embossed (not engraved like in all other versions). Pretty.
*1.6 1960-62 6 6 050 560000-620000
(58400)
New, rectangular shape of the front plate; new name plate with Exa metallic white on painted black background.
Exa I *2.1.1 1962-63 1.1
1.2
1 051 120000-150000
(38000)
New, rounded body shape, larger and heavier. Shutter set with a knob (not a lever). No strap eyelets. See also [4].
*2.1.2 1963-64 2 2 053 150000-174000
(16000)
Strap eyelets added.
Exa Ia
Elbaflex 175
Exakta 100
VX 100

*3.1 1964-65 1 1 054 200000-210000
(30300)
Film winding with a lever. Film speeds on a ring on top of that lever. Made only as Exa Ia
*3.2 1965-77 2 055
056
057
058
210000-560000
(328700)
Film speed ring covered; a small window shows the selected speed. In addition to different nameplates, different top plate etchings were used [5].
Screw mount M42 Exas, 1977-87
Exa Ib *4.1 1977-83 1 1 059 600000-810000
206400
While the body is virtually identical to that of Exa Ia (with rewind crank replacing a knob), the lens mount is different: M42, accepting Practica/Pentax lenses. The camera also has internal aperture coupling for M42 automatic lenses.
*4.2 1983-84 2 060 810000-860000
49800
The front plate, previously chrome, is now made of black plastic.
*4.3 1984-85 3 061 820000-890000
29900
The top plate, previously chrome, is now made of black plastic.
*4.4 1985 4 - 880000-890000
???
The camera back and bottom, previously chrome, are now of black plastic. See [6].
Exa Ic *4.5 1985-87 - - 062 001000-105000
103900
The same as Exa Ib *4.4, with a different name engraved [6].
The Exa II line (fixed viewfinder), 1960-69
Exa II

*5.1 1960-63 1.1
1.2
1 063 200000-290000
(88700)
Non-interchangeable prism finder. Film-winding lever. Focal plane shutter in geometric progression from 1/2s to 1/250s. Two cosmetic variants are known [7].
*5.2 1962 2 The rewind knob not grooved on the side.
Exa IIa *6.1 1963 1.1
1.2
1 064 140000-152000
(13600)
Rounded body shape (like Exa I). Rewind crank (not knob). No hinge. No strap eyelets. Shutter lock button on the back. See also [8].
*6.2 1963-64 2 2 067 160000-190000
(32900)
Strap eyelets added. Shutter lock button replaced with a lever.
Exa IIb *6.3 1964-66 1 1 068 200000-270000
(69700)
Like Exa IIa, but adds instant-return mirror.
Exa 500
Exakta 500
VX 200
*6.4 1966-69 1
2
3
1 069
070
071
280000-370000
(102900)
Like Exa IIb, shutter speeds up to 1/500s. Cameras with various name plates exhibit no other differences [9].

Additional notes:

  1. Exa Varex

    According to Hummel, 1n 1950 two very short runs of Exas under the name Exa Varex were made:

    • 038 — with one pair of bipolar contacts; a run of 40 (!)
    • 039 — with two pairs of bipolar contacts; a run of 100 (!)
    If you really have to, you may use for them the star notation *1.0.1 and *1.0.2.
  2. Cosmetic variants of *1.2

    As always, the "star notation" adds letter symbols to distinguish between cosmetic variants within the same model.

    • Lens flange: chrome ('c') or black-painted aluminum ('b');
    • Synch contacts marked as V and E (symbol: 'v') or as M and E (symbol: 'm');
    • Leatherette: fabric-like striped ('s') or leather-like wrinkled ('w').
    Although eight combinations of these three factors are possible, according to A&R 2003, only the following four have been identified:
    • *1.2.bsv, A&R v1.2
    • *1.2.bms, A&R v1.3
    • *1.2.cms, A&R v1.4
    • *1.2.cmw, A&R v1.5
    The aluminum lens flange was quite shabby, and many owners replaced it with a later-vintage steel one — the whole process takes two or three minutes. The leatherette could also be changed, especially after years, as Exas (and Exaktas) often suffer from back oxidization dimples. This is why a camera which originated as one A&R variant may now look like another, even one not listed here.
  3. Variants of *1.3 Exa Rheinmetall

    Giving this model a separate version number seems to be a departure from the principle used in the star notation of not assigning a new version number if all differences are cosmetic only.

    This exception has been made because Exa Rheinmetall was manufactured in a different factory, not Ihagee Dresden. This attempt to farm out Exa production to a subcontractor failed, and production was resumed at Ihagee .

    The "old" A&R lists two minor variants of this version:

    • the hinged shutter release protector with a cutout for a release cable (A&R v3.1)
    • no cutout (A&R v3.2)
    One has to remember, however, that the protector breaks easily and is very easy to replace, therefore this distinction is not really meaningful.

    This is not all, however. I have seen an Exa with the Rheinmetall logo and a serial number from that range, otherwise physically reminding *1.5: chrome flash contacts, removable hinge spindle, "F" instead of "M" marked at the front plate. According to Hummel: "Various detail modifications (among others: flash contacts, bayonet ring, leathering") during production". A number of external and internal modifications over the production span is also mentioned in A&R 2003. Therefore we may say there is no single version *1.3; it should be split into a number (possibly large) of minor versions.

  4. Cosmetic variants of *2.1

    There seem to be two of these:

    • 2.1.z — with letters A and Z on the camera bottom, next to the back-opening key (A&R v1.1)
    • 2.1.d — with a red dot in that place (A&R v1.2).
  5. Cosmetic variants of *3.2

    Aguila and Rouah (2003) identify five cosmetic variants of *3.2, differing only in etching on the top plate, next to the winding lever (similar etchings in Exaktas went unnoticed in that source; a slightly inconsistent approach).

    • *3.2.n — no etching, A&R v2.4
    • *3.2.p — Pentacon logo (a tower), A&R v2.2
    • *3.2.i — cursive Ihagee Dresden, A&R v2.1
    • *3.2.a — aus DRESDEN, A&R v2.3
    • *3.2.d — DRESDEN, A&R v2.5
    Some of cameras were also given other nameplates, otherwise being identical to *3.2.n:
    • *3.2.f — Elbaflex 175, Hum.056
    • *3.2.x — Exakta 100, Hum.057
    • *3.2.v — no etching, VX 100 logo, A&R v3, Hum.058
    Note that this classification covers both Hummel and A&R 2003 variants.
  6. M42 Exas made by Certo

    VEB Pentacon licensed the production of screw-mount Exas (some late Ib *4.4 and all Ic *4.5) to another East-German maker, Certo. Cameras built by Certo have serial numbers preceded with a letter C.

  7. Cosmetic variants of *5.1

    These can be distinguished by looking at the top of the prism housing:

    • *5.1.r — rectangular frame on top, around Ihagee Dresden
    • *5.1.n — no such frame
  8. Cosmetic variants of *6.1

    Again, there are two variants of etching near the opening key at the camera bottom:

    • 6.1.z — letters A and Z (A&R v1.1)
    • 6.1.d — red dot (A&R v1.2).
  9. Name variants of *6.4

    A&R 2003 assigns each name a separate version number; in the star notation we will denote the name variant with a letter:

    • 6.4.n — the "normal" variant, Exa 500 (A&R v1)
    • 6.4.k — Exakta 500 (A&R v2).
    • 6.4.v — VX 200 (A&R v3).

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Posted 2001/10/22; last updated 2007/01/30 Copyright © 2001-2004 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak