The original Exa is a 35mm SLR launched in 1951. It is part of the Exa series and manufactured by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co, Dresden, former East Germany. The true Exaktas and Exas are ones made by Ihagee in Dresden. It is quite the opposite of its big brother, the Exakta Varex, consisting of the bare necessities of mechanical internal mechanisms. The camera is quite compact and robust, using the same finders and lenses as the Exacta Varex. Some limitations exists with respect to the use of telephoto lenses. There are 6 versions and many variants of the original Exa series. The original Exa is also known as Exa 0.

Common specifications of the versions[]

  • Lens: intechangeable, Exacta bayonet mount; there are many lens types of many manufacturers used on Exa versions [1]
  • Lens release: via a lever on the left of the lens flange
  • Shutter: mirror acts like a curtain as a part of the shutter, vertical moving, due to this maximum speed is limited to 1/150, speeds: 1/25-1/150 +B
  • Shutter release: a knob, on front of the body, it can be pressed with the plunger on the special lenses
  • Viewfinder: SLR pentaprism finder, interchangeable with Waist level finders
  • Finder release: via a knob beneath the Exa logo
  • Mirror: stays up after exposure, so viewfinder is dark, cocking the shutter returns the mirror to normal position
  • Bodies: metallic

Exa Version 1[]

  • Produced between 1951-52
  • There are 5 sub-versions [2] [3]
  • There are many cosmetic variations also
  • Special features of the version:
    • Two pairs of flash PC sockets of the old style
    • Shutter setting with a lever on the top plate: speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 +B, later top shutter speed is 1/150

Exa Version 2[]

  • Produced between 1953-56
  • Special features of the version:
    • Two black, concentric flash PC sockets replace the old Vacublitz-style ones
    • Safety locking cap for shutter release

Photos in Captain Jack's website and in F.W.Tappe's website

  • [1] w/ Isco-Göttingen Westar 50mm f2.8
  • [2] w/ Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 50mm f/2.9

Exa Version 3[]

  • Produced in 1954
  • Numerous variants exist
  • Special features of the version:
    • System Exa VEB Rheinmetall Sömmerda [4] engravings instead of Exa Ihagee Dresden on the front plate
    • Engraving Rheinmetall is on the back of the waist level view finder
    • Most features are identical to version 2

Exa Version 4[]

  • Produced between 1956-59
  • Special features of the version:
    • Similar with versions 2 or 3, except for the Exa Ihagee Dresden logo
    • Flash PC sockets are chrome, not black
    • Added a removable spindle in the hinge, thus the back cover can be detached
    • The film guides of the pressure plate are omitted

Exa Version 5[]

  • Produced between 1959-60
  • Special feature of the version:
    • This model is identical to version 4 except Exa logo on the front plate is embossed, not engraved like in all other versions

Exa Version 6[]

  • Produced between 1960-62
  • There are numerous variants of the version
  • Special features of the version:
    • New rectangular shape of the front plate
    • New black and white Exa name plate

Notes and References[]

  1. Ihagee did not produce their own lenses. Instead, they relied on many of the major optical firms of their day to each produce a series of lenses for their cameras, eg. Carl Zeiss Jena, Meyer-Optik Görlitz, Schneider-Kreuznach and E.Ludwig. The lenses from these makers, in terms of the number and variations of lenses produced, are the most plentiful. Maybe, over 80% of the Exaktas are equipped with normal focal length lenses from these firms.
  2. according to Andrzej Wrotniak and F.W.Tappe
  3. Andrzej Wrotniak made a very sensible classification, listed on his website. It is multi dimensional in setup, without being complicated. It is improved version of Aguila and Rouah classification in their 2003 edition of Exakta cameras 1933 - 1978
  4. In 1954 the Ihagee plants in Dresden had problems with the production capacity. So the VEB Rheinmetall plants in Sömmerda started to made Exa cameras. The production in Sömmerda finished in early 1955 with the quantity of 15000-21000 cameras


Ihagee Exa series cameras
Exa (original) | Exa I | Exa Ia | Exakta 100 | VX 100 | Exa 1b | Exa 1c | Exa II | Exa IIa | Exa IIb | Exa 500 | Exakta 500 | VX 200