Ihagee was a German camera maker, mostly known for its SLRs. The company was founded in 1912 by Johan Steenbergen, a Dutch merchant. He had received his training at Ernemann in Dresden. 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 arguably the first SLR to take pictures on 35mm film. From the beginning it had been 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, had transferred ownership rights in the company to trusted partners and employees because of xenophobia in Germany.
In 1945, the Ihagee production facilities found themselves in the Soviet occupation zone. However, 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 US 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.
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.
Meanwhile, the original owners had tried to get back their ownership rights. When this effort proved to be unsuccessful, they founded Ihagee West in Frankfurt and later in Munich. Ihagee West started lawsuits against Ihagee East. Most of these failed.
This West German produced the reportedly unreliable Exakta Real. This camera wasn't a selling success. 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.
35mm SLR cameras
1912-1918: Early folding cameras
1920-1931: folders, reflex boxes and others
|Advertisement by Ihagee in Asahi Camera June 1932. (Image rights)|
- Luxus Duplex
- Ultrix Stereo
- Zweiverschluss Duplex
- 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.
- 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.
- Allinson, K. L. Exa Photography Technique And Practice. Morgan Publishing, 1965. ASIN B000S2ZNSY.
|Camera industry in Dresden|
|Balda | Certo | Eho-Altissa | Ernemann | Feinmess | Hüttig | ICA | Ihagee | Kochmann | Kerman | KW | Eugen Loeber | Ludwig | Mentor | Mimosa | Pentacon | Richter | Werner | Wünsche | Zeiss Ikon | Zeh|
|Camera distributors in Dresden|
|Camera industry in Freital|
|Beier | Pouva | Thowe | Welta|
- Ihagee at Pacific Rim
- Company history at dresdner-kameras.de
- Classic Exakta Cameras, by Andrzej Wrotniak, at Wrotniak.net
- EXAKTA.pl, by Pawel Fila and Jerzy Szajta
- The Exakta and Exa Pages in German
- a trilingual Ihagee company history
- a Johan Steenbergen biography and Ihagee company history in Dutch
- Discussions on the Kine Exakta vs Russian Sport and Ihagee company history in Italian
- Ihagee page at Collection G. Even's site
- Cameras and User manuals at www.collection-appareils.fr
- Ihagee Cameras Price Guide at CollectiBlend