Information from the Topica Exakta List
file top02.htm from 2001.04.12 until 2002.01.13

back to the Index to Information from the Topica Exakta List

NB This is information I collected/selected from discussions on the Exakta List. The original input came from many persons. This means that the "I" in the texts is not me but can be many different persons, even under one heading.

Exa with black flange
I'm not sure if I've asked this before, but I seem to have an early Exa in the "black flange" serial number range, even though mine is NOT a black flange model. Can anyone enlighten me on when this change is supposed to have occurred? My serial number is 204212.

The change from black flange to chrome happened around no. 201xxx much earlier than yours.

I have three black flange Exas, with SN #s 200550, 201613, 202206, so they continued at least to 202xxx. I think there's a link through that suggests they went through 204xxx.

The link I mentioned shows the black flange models ending at 204349, and the chrome flange beginning at 204264, suggesting the there is an overlapping of serial numbers.

Guess I'm wrong again-I really thought It was only the first thousand or so-so this means there's about 4000 black flange Exas out there. In other words, every Exakta collector should be able to own about 20 of them.  Well, I guess that's good news!

Ihagee Exaktar lens 3.5 50mm
I am wondering if anyone can shed some more light on lenses furnished with Kine-Exaktas bearing the Ihagee brand name to the exclusion of the name of the actual manufacturer.

I have one lens as follows: Ihagee Exaktar Lens 1:3.5 f=5.4 cm. Ser. Nr. 817747. I have lenses for older Ihagee cameras, 127 and 120 rollfilm bearing the Ihagee name, but that is my only 35mm Ihagee one in Exakta bayonet mount.

I also have a second lens in Exakta bayonet mount as follows: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1:2.8 f=5cm Ser. Nr. 1937536. Except for its greater glass element diameter (it is faster) within the same diameter metal, it is almost identical to the Ihagee. Its "rings" and back end are literally, truly identical in all respects and dimensions and diameters that I can find.

Aguila and Rouah (p115) mention there was one lens for the Kine Exakta that carried the Ihagee name, and they illustrate a specimen which appears to like my first lens listed above except for two discrepancies: first - they say it is a 50mm versus 54mm, and second, - their illustration has quite different style" focus and diaphragm engraved script on it than does my (first) lens. The illustration's serial number, 764827, is remarkably similar to that of my Ihagee lens.

So: several things seem funny to me. First, I am pretty confident my Ihagee lens had to have been made by Carl Zeiss under the Ihagee name. Yet, A&R don't say who manufactured the Ihagee lens they illustrate on p115. Seems funny they'd omit that tidbit of information. If anyone besides Zeiss supplied my Ihagee, they had absolutely identical parts.
Second, there are the differences in engraving between my Ihagee lens and their Ihagee lens. The seeming difference in focal length may merely be a rounding-off glitch.

Therefore my question: Did more than one manufacturer supply Kine-Exakta lenses to Ihagee? While A&R say there was one Ihagee lens and illustrate a specimen, they don't say who manufactured it, nor do they day that only one of the three suppliers did so.

1.35 V battery replacement
The issue of a replacement for the outlawed (in USA) mercury button cells is one which plagues many camera collectors.

In the first place, the PX625 Mercury (Hg) was 1.35v, and most Alkaline and Silver batteries the same size are 1.5v. This means that the meter will not be correctly calibrated if you use a higher voltage supply. You may also damage the movement.

Secondly, the characteristics of the discharge rate differ. The alkaline batteries begin to fail soon after installation, and the voltage drops gradually over the life of the cell. This means that if you manage to calibrate your meter to accept 1.5v, it will only be accurate with fresh Alkaline cells - over time, the accuracy will drift. So don't use Alkaline batteries in situations where accurate voltage matters!
On the other hand, Silver (e.g.SR44) remains at a more constant voltage output over its life, so a meter re-calibrated for 1.5v will be accurate far longer.
Finally, available cells of the correct voltage - 1.35v - are now only available in smaller sizes than the original mercury, SO:
Either modify your camera (or meter) to accept a higher voltage, and use
Silver batteries.
Or Use a smaller battery, with a sleeve or adaptor to accommodate a modern 1.35v button cell.

Sleeves and adaptors are a good way to go if you are a collector and don't want to modify the equipment. The 'CRIS MR-9' is a dummy battery the same size as the original, and you put a modern cell inside it - (like a Babushka Doll!) Then you can use a readily available 357 or MS76 cell.

One of the subscribers to the Olympus list made his own adaptor as follows:
"I made an adapter sleeve for my Luna Pro from a short piece of 1/2" CPVC water pipe and sanded the sizes to correct sizes. I did this only because the Luna Pro uses 2 cells."

Another OM list member solved the problem this way: "I bought an "O-ring" from Canadian Tire that makes an SR44 the size of a PX625A.  For anyone else wanting to do this, the "O-ring" you want should have an outside diameter of 9/16", and inside diameter of 3/8" and a width of 3/32" and you just stretch it 'round the SR44 before dropping the battery into the battery slot."

Instead of SR44 you could also try 675 Zn-air, which I think are hearing aid cells, or Wein Zn-air 625.( )

I have had one of the CRIS MR-9 adapters in my OM-1 for about 3 years, and it works fine. It seemed a little expensive at the time, but it should work almost indefinitely, and I don't have to worry about finding mercury batteries anymore.

The small manual for my Harwix Berlin Examat pentaprism refers to a Varta V625U button battery. The unit, which contains a cadmium sulfide (CdS) photoelectric cell mounted directly in the pentaprism, has good needle movement with the currently installed Mallory P-13. I guess that the battery is 1.5V but it is not marked. I would like to know the correct Duracell, Eveready, RayOVac or other modern replacement.

As I type this I am looking at 2 blister-packed batteries. One is marked "Varta 625U (LR9) 1.5 volt. It's an alkaline; Cost: 4.95 DM, about $2.30 US. (Varta is as common here as Eveready in the US.)
The other has no name brand, just marked "Photo Battery", PX 625, Mercury 1.35 volt. Cost: 7.95 DM, about $3.70 US.
I believe the alkaline is the "official" replacement for the Mercury cell, & that the supply of the Mercury cell will eventually dry-up here in Europe, as it has in the US.

Twin TL and batteries
The Exakta Twin TL that I purchased on eBay arrived today. Everything appears to work, but there is no battery. The instructions are in German, but I see nothing that looks like a battery type. The battery compartment is smaller than a PX625, and before I carry the camera to the drugstore and start trying batteries, I thought I would ask for your words of wisdom!

I just checked my Twin TL. I have an LR44 battery in it. I think PX675 was the original designation, but with the closeout of mercury batteries, the whole indexing system changed.

I just picked up an LR44 at Radio Shack. They have them in alkaline and silver oxide. I got the latter. The meter works now, but is not accurate. Not a big deal - I'm a good guesser, and have a spot meter if I need it.

The Twin TL's metering is usually pretty accurate until you get into dim light. Then the accuracy just goes to waste. However, after almost 30 years, who knows?

East-West adapter
Does the adapter flange to use the older Exakta lenses on the Exakta Real/TwinTL really exist? If so, does it ever show up, and can I afford one?
It does exist and very seldomly turns up. (HR)

Non-fitting lenses
Not that it helps when a lens doesn't fit, but we should be clear about lens mounts:
There is NO such thing as an Exa lens, being different from an Exakta lens.
Fitting problems occur:
- because lens manufacturers clearly didn't make their lens flanges precisely the same (maybe
   because of a wrongly positioned locking pin (I don't know that myself)
- when trying to fit an outer bayonet lens on a camera without that feature
- when the lens flange is damaged
-when fitting an RTL1000 lens on Kine-Exakta-Varex (wrong pin in lock)
- when fitting Exakta lenses on Non-Ihagee cameras with Exakta mount (e.g. Topcon)
- when one doesn't know the difference between Exakta and Real/TwinTL

I've actually come across at least one case where the locking pin was too long and scraped against the flange-it was probably a case of it being replaced with the wrong pin-but you might want to add it to your list

The radial position of the lock pin on my 40mm Cassaron was not compatible with the inner/outer bayonet flange on the Exakta VXIIa and VX. I bought it on an Exa v 4 which has only an inner bayonet flange.
On all my other Exakta lenses, the radial position of the lock pin is slightly farther out to on the lens flange base, to clear the outer bayonet flange!!! Removing this pin on the Steinheil 40mm Cassaron allows me to mount it in the Exaktas.

Radioactive lenses
Again I notice the radioactive issue concerning the Steinheils is coming up again. I recall a discussion some months ago on the subject but can't recall the outcome. Should I be wearing a lead lined suit while holding my Exakta? What are we talking here in terms of actual radiation? Are we talking the equivalent of a dental x-ray every time I take a picture or what? I would think that if there was significant radiation being emitted by the glass that there would be spots on the film as a result. Am I really living dangerously by using my Exakta? I never thought of photography with an Exakta as anyone’s idea of living on the edge, but now I'm starting to have second thoughts.

I have detected the radiation with a Geiger counter, and it is only emitted from the front element. I measured 45 counts per second from the front element at close range (a few mm). No radiation is detectable from the back of the lens (or from the viewfinder with the lens attached to a camera) so I don't think you will harm either yourself or your film with normal usage. Apparently only the front element is made from rare earth type glass, and the radiation is blocked by the other elements. Someone else here reported that the radiation from the front element could be effectively blocked with a UV filter, too. The radiation was also mostly (but not totally) blocked by the lens cap, too.

My 100/3.5 Steinheil Auto-Quinar is also radioactive, but at a much lower level than the 55mm, and my 35/2.8 and 135mm lenses did not emit any detectable radiation.

The consensus seems to be that this type of glass would only be harmful if you spent a long time looking into it from short range (like a "hot" telescope eyepiece, for example). I cannot say for sure, though, since I am not certain what type of radiation is being emitted here. The article I have linked suggests that the emissions are alpha and beta particles.

It seems I heard that the Japanese lenses were supposed to be so good because of having rare earth glass. i.e. rare earth glass was "a big advantage". Has anyone else heard this? If correct, that would mean Steinheils should be good for the same reason, and secondly, all the people running around with Japanese lenses have the same radioactivity going on.

As far as I remember, rare earth glass is a glass, having high degree of refraction (bending light rays more). So correcting aberrations requires thinner elements and some combinations of these elements, impossible with typical glasses, like crown or flint, were possible to be done. Level of radioactivity in these is very low, lower than in mushrooms, a common wonder in physics workshops (in my studies, one of tested mushrooms, albeit grown near nuclear plant station, mere 100 kilometres from it, had over 40% of warning level in gamma spectre..) Radioactive lenses are safe, more, these will usually yellow-colorize over time, giving your photos a "Kodachrome effect".

Radiation – Fungus - Pinholes
I've never had any fungus problems on my Auto Steinheils. Could the radiation kills off the fungus spores?
The other question that comes to mind-if one gets light spots on my negatives, how does one know whether they're from curtain pinholes or particles emitted from the Auto-Quinar?

Meaning of camera condition descriptions
Exakta VXIIa body w/removeable prism and Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolor 50 f2 lens.
Light polish marks on front glass, focusing ring is stiff, 2 dings on filter ring and black crinkle finish on front barrel.
1/4" x 1/4" rust mark on body where lens mounts.
Chrome has a couple of bright marks on front of body.
Leatherette is clean, slightly loose on back but tight everywhere else.
Cloth focal plane need to be replaced as its not light tight.
            Overall condition is EXCELLENT.

Always amazing. I think subconsciously what this seller is trying to say to us is overall it would be an "excellent" idea to stay away from this deal!!!

Mint, according to the dictionary:
Meaning: unmarred as if fresh from a mint: "in mint condition". Synonyms: BRAND-NEW, fire-new, spang-new, spanking-new, span-new, spick-and-span.
Related Word: intact, original, perfect, unmarred.

The rating system of a specific seller:
“After 25 years in this business I am rating the cameras like this:”
- new: from factory, unopened box
- like new: new camera with open box
- demo piece: camera used in a store like demo piece, but complete, perfect working condition
- mint: used camera, intact, in perfect order condition, with no visible scratches or other damages.
- excellent +: .....

Generally, I find that eBay dealers accurately grade or scale the condition of their products. Dealers, that is. Private sellers -- the low-volume merchants from their homes -- often make unintentional mistakes because they are not careful. Examples:

A "leather case" so represented in the auction arrives as a vinyl or plastic-based product. Mercedes diesel sedan owners often described the vinyl-covered seats as leather. Rarely does a diesel sedan have a leather interior. The large Argus cases may or may not be leather and certainly the buyer cannot tell from the auction photo. One vinyl clue is the cloth backing which leather does not have.

One private seller sent me an Argus C-3 wide angle lens in the original box, at least that is what he thought. The box was indeed a C-3 box but the lens sent was a standard 50mm lens. He agreed to return my money and I agreed to return the lens. This is carelessness; the lens did not even fit properly in the recess that was designed for the large wide angle.

Some Nikon-mount lenses (of course, we know that means it is not a Nikkor by Nikon) are photographed -- and I think deliberately -- to avoid revealing the brand of the lens. I personally do not wish to buy lenses with no model or brand identification.

The following might be a good way to interpret descriptions:
New, in the box            almost new, with a box
New                             almost new without a box
As new                         used, but sold 'as new'
Like new                      used, but not engraved
Mint                             not heavily used or engraved
Ex+++                         not heavily used, may be engraved
Ex+                              heavily used and engraved
Ex                                still recognizable as a camera
Ex-                               no longer recognizable as a camera
Very good                    may not be a camera

Brassing                       worn out
Ding                             bashed repeatedly
Cleaning marks             any scratch, gouge, or chip in the lens
Fungus                         mushrooms growing between elements
Hazy, foggy, etc.           lens cleaned with steel wool and abrasives
Inop                             badly broken
Sluggish                        something moves, but not in useful manner

My camera repair guy chewed me out for putting a lens in a leather draw string pouch. He said it would induce fungus. I used to use a chamois cloth to rap cameras and I guess that’s another no-no. Nothing worse than having a camera with a bad case of athlete’s foot.

I realize that some people may only be joking about this, but I think it is unlikely that the radioactivity is having any anti-fungal effect. The radioactivity involved is actually rather mild, and (apparently) involves only the front element. Since the radiation is effectively blocked by a small amount of optical glass (like a filter), there would be little to no effect on the rest of the lens. In any event, the radiation emitted (from what I have read) is primarily alpha and beta particles. In commercial radiation sterilization (surgical equipment, for instance), gamma radiation is used (in large amounts), since it is not blocked by packaging. We use phosphorus 32 (a beta emitter) and tritium (an alpha emitter) in our lab, and our radioactive waste will grow mould despite the presence of these substances. I think the bottom line is that if the radiation was strong enough to kill fungus, it would probably also make it unsafe for you to use the lens.

I have heard numerous times that using your lens in the sunlight can prevent fungal growth. I'm not sure if that is true, but in front of my desk here in the lab there is a large window with 2 panes of glass. Every morning, it is exposed to strong, direct Florida sunlight for several hours. For the rest of the day it has indirect sunlight. Despite this, 2 small colonies of fungus (appearing just like those that occasionally infect camera lenses) grew there quite happily, until I opened the inner window-pane and cleaned them out. While fungi in general do not like being exposed to UV light, even regular glass will block UV light to some extent (not as much as special UV-blocking glass). If you also have a UV filter on your lens, I think using it in the sun would not benefit you in your battle against fungus.

As for UV and fungi - as far as I remember, when I was studying physics, we have been exposing fungi to strong UV light across whole UV spectrum and found that some wavelengths
even helped the fungus grow

Manufacturers of lenses
Soligor and Vivitar T4 and TX mount lenses were both made by Tokina according to my information. A Vivitar 35-105 and 35-135 zoom lenses were made as well as 80-200.  T4 mounts will work on T4 and TX lenses; however, TX mounts will not work on T4 lenses, with the exception of screw mounts. I don't think Exakta mounts were made in TX.

The lens you own was produced in 1969. Unfortunately, we have no information left for this product. Kind regards, SOLIGOR GmbH, Renate Bachmann

Removing locking pins from lenses
I have a telephoto which I obtained for very little, and I've used it and like it, but the pin is snapped off flush. It works well and is sharp, but the duct tape attracts unwanted sniggers.

I have spare pins. Has anyone any suggestions as to how to go about somehow putting a transverse slot into the stub so I can back it out? Its a threaded blind hole, and not a through hole, so I can't get at it from the back side of the mount. My smallest files aren't small enough, and Dremel doesn't make a bit small enough.

Using a polishing wheel. You can make a custom small diameter ultra sharp grinding wheel on your Dremel.
You can also try soldering a wire to it and try unscrewing. The solder won't stick to the  aluminium of course.
You can also try to attack it from the other side where pressure on the screw works in your favour.

Mounting flash on Exakta
My question is simply, what do other Exakta users do when it comes to attaching flash units to their beloved cameras? I've always had trouble finding a truly secure flash bracket to fit my classic Exaktas simply because most brackets do not fit flush with the bottom of the camera. To an extent this is true with tripod heads, but seems to be less of a problem. If someone knows of a flash bracket that is wide enough to fit securely against not only the tripod socket but also the rewind knob and back release as well, I'd love to know about it. My usual solution when using flash is to fit my VXIIa with an old prism equipped with a shoe and mount my Metz 32Z-1 on top with a hot-shoe adapter. I'd like to be able to mount the Metz directly on a bracket with a hot-shoe, but again it's a matter of finding one with a base wide enough and long enough that it won't keep twisting and loosening.
Another thing you can try if you have an other size suitable bracket and the tripod screw is long enough is to cut a piece of aluminium stock to go across the top of the bracket (between the commercial bracket and camera) and drill it for the tripod screw. This wouldn't show up the "jury-rigging" as much as my first suggestion.

Reliability of Exa II/500 Exakta 500
My Exa 500 has developed an odd intermittent problem. About 20% of the exposures have a black band across the bottom where the film was not exposed. My guess is that the shutter did not open completely (the camera has a vertically running shutter). Again, it occurs in about 1 in 5 exposures.

I had two Exaktas 500 with the same problem. Actually, the black band is on the top of the negative.  I believe it comes from the instant return mirror not being in synch with the shutter curtain. The cause? It didn't seem to be cocking completely. I totally messed that one up when I tried to fix it.
The next one I got did the same thing. I found that if you pushed the shutter-cocking lever with authority all to the end of its run, it alleviated the problem. I recommend holding it up to a light and trying different combinations of pushing the advance lever hard and shutter speeds. I may sound strange but it works for me.

It sounds like your first curtain isn't making it across the film plane fast enough-thus the second curtain comes up and 'caps' off the opening. I believe it is a problem that could be cured with a good cleaning and lube. The point about the Exa II's I find to be valid. The Exa 500 is simply an Exa II with one more shutter speed. As far as Ihagee products go, the Exa II's are about the bottom of the food chain in terms of reliability. I'd be glad to hear other opinions on the subject, but from my experience and the experience of other Exakta users I know, I've found this to be true. I would not use an Exa II to record a once-in-a-lifetime event. Which is a shame, because the Exa II's and especially the Exa 500 in many ways are almost the ideal camera in terms of compactness and general ease of handling.

Thank you to everyone who responded to my inquiry. It seems that the consensus is that the camera is suffering from "capping". I will so inform the repairman and hope he can rectify it.

I agree with those of you who suggested that the Exa II series of cameras may not be the most reliable to emerge from the esteemed house of Ihagee. Having said that, however, I would encourage any of you to give one a try. They are very compact and the shape really fits your hands (well, mine at least) very well. I think it is one of the most comfortable cameras to hold. The viewfinder image is very bright and the camera is VERY quiet. It is ideal for candids.
Of course, you will probably need a couple of them if you want to be sure that you'll have a working sample at any given time.

The meaning of quality marks (Q1) from the GDR (East Germany)
Does anyone know if there is REALLY any difference between Exakta cameras and Carl Zeiss Jena lenses which bear the "Primarqualität" symbol and those which do not (and which may have a "1" or a "2" marked in a triangle)? I have some equipment with the Primarqualität symbol and some with a "1" in a triangle and I can't see or feel a darned bit of difference between them. I know that the symbol was supposedly used to indicate first quality pieces, but was that really true or just marketing hype?

There have been several quality marks in the GDR.
Q1, 1 in triangle, 2 in triangle, Q1 was the highest world standard quality. A new product was tested and qualified for one of the quality marks. The marks were given to a product type like Exakta Varex IIa, not to a single camera, or to the production process.
To get the higher marks, it must show: for example: high technical quality, innovation, improvement to the former model, improvements to the former production process. Such a mark wasn't donated for ever, but for a certain period ; I guess it was two years. After that, the product became a lower valued quality sign. But in fact, it was made by the same standards as the higher valued marked product before.
A product could keep the higher quality sign if the producer, for us Ihagee or Zeiss, could prove that they had made improvements in the camera, lens, or that they had made improvements in the production process, or that lesser energy, employees, material etc. had been used to built the product.
Many people think that every single camera or lens had been tested and had been given a individual quality sign, depending on the tested quality of this one camera or lens, or cake... That's nonsense.

The Pentacon Club (also for Exakta)
I've just acquired some copies of "Praktica Photography" the official journal of "The Pentacon Club" which describes it's membership as open to all owners of Praktiflex, Exakta, Exa, Praktisix, Pentacon or Praktica cameras and equipment. The magazines date from the early 1980s and are full of good photographs and lots of interesting letters and questions from readers. I've only just started to read them so I may find some articles of interest to us Exakta/Exa users.
Anyone know when this club started and stopped? I assume it's not in existence now.

This Club stopped with the end of the GDR. They've made one or two more issues and then, this Club "died". The last issue had a page on the back with the Dresden Zwinger and the words: "Auf Wiedersehen" = Good-bye.
I had the complete range of this issues, but I parted from them few months ago, as the main themes were Pentacon and Praktica and I've stopped my Praktica engagements completely.

Exakta in movie “The Public Eye”
In regards to Movie Exaktas: at least one Exakta figured prominently in a movie with Joe Pesci (I think I spelled it right) and Barbara Hersey based on the life of the famous photojournalist "Wee Gee" (Again, I think I have spelled it right). I believe the movie was called the "Public Eye. Anyway, he had the Exakta on some kind of remote to capture some underworld scene.

It has been a couple of years since I saw that movie, but I do remember the Exakta in that movie. The Joe Pesci character used it (hand-held) to photograph the final Mafia shoot-out in a dimly lit bar. I thought it was somewhat anachronistic, since he had a pentaprism-equipped model, and the movie was set in the 1940's. (I think the criminal conspiracy in the movie had something to do with dealing of gas rationing coupons during WWII.) I wasn't able to tell which lens was on the camera, but I don't think it was an auto model. He also used a folding medium format camera on a rollerskate (with a self-timer) to get an action shot from the thick of the gunfight! For most of the movie, the photographer used a more typical press camera (Speed Graphic, I think), so you have to wait for the end of the movie to see the brief Exakta cameo appearance.

Frankly, I thought at the time that something like a Contax with a 1.5 Sonnar (or maybe a Robot rangefinder) would have been a better choice for the movie, since the Exaktas of the 1940's were probably not the best choice for fast action photography and/or low light conditions.

The reason why Wee Gee was shown using an Exakta rather than a Contax or a Robot was that he was in fact an Exakta user. If you check out old issues of Exakta Magazine you will find articles on him.

The character in the film was not "Weegee" but a fictional photographer ("Bernsy" Bernstein), supposedly loosely based on Weegee. I don't think Weegee ever photographed a gun battle in progress, anyway (at least not in his work that I have seen). He was usually there to shoot the aftermath, with a Speed Graphic press camera.

I still doubt Weegee or any other pro photographer in the 1940's would have chosen the Exaktas of the time for low-light action photography. As much as I love Exaktas, I am aware of their limitations.

I don't really know, but I suspect the Exakta was chosen by props people because they thought it looked old and cool, rather than because they knew anything about Weegee's promotion of the Exakta in the 1950's. Anyway, if you watch modern movies with a knowledge of classic cameras, you will notice many anachronistic pieces. Not to mention the common "motor drive" sound effect added when someone is using a camera not equipped with a motor drive. I also remember thinking while watching the movie that the resulting photos were remarkably clear and sharp, with none of the high grain/low contrast look that I associate with available-light photography of that period. It is just fantasy, after all. My wife, probably like most people who watched the movie, did not even notice the Exakta, or have any inkling that it was out of place.

Version(s) of the Ihagee Micro/Macro meter
Was there just one version of the Macro-Micro Photometer? The one I just bought is like new with box, instructions and cable. If I recall though, I've seen later ones with no markings on the front. Am I correct? Also, does anyone have a chart that correlates ammeter readings with EV values? I would like to try it out without doing a lot of experimentation.

I'm aware of 6 different versions of the macro/micro meter. All are engraving or stamping variations. The factory recommended bracketing exposures to narrow your ammeter readings down to the one which gives the most accurate exposure - you're right, it will take some time to get calibrated.
Gossen made a nice little ammeter specifically for the Macro/Micro but they're hard to find.  Your instructions might even be printed by Gossen as are a few others I've seen. Any ammeter with an internal resistance of 1K-5K Ohms and a range of 5-30 mA should work fine.

Rear Window Exakta lens
From the ease with which Jimmy Stewart threw the long lens around with no effort, with the body on his knee, and all of a (400mm min?) lens in front of his lower body cast, I think that the lens used in the movie was made of (in those days) cardboard. The camera body definitely had something pasted over the front. By coincidence

Exaktar = Pancolar (or not?) = real Pancolar?
I have seen photos of a lens called an "Exaktar". It is a 50mm f2.0 lens with an automatic dia­phragm. It looks absolutely identical to the Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f2.0 Pancolar except for some cosmetic differences (e.g., shape/ texture of the focusing and aperture rings). I have seen some copies of old ads where the Pancolar is shown on an Exakta, but the "Exaktar" is shown on an Exa II.

I assume they are the same lens. Was this all a marketing gimmick? Did Ihagee (or the importer) not want to show the same CZJ lens on the top of the line Exakta as on the entry level Exa? Are they the same quality, or were the "Exaktars" seconds or of lesser quality?

It has always been my understanding that Exaktar lenses of the later "Pancolar' style are Japanese imatations of Zeiss lenses. I can say though, that the ones that I have tried have produced very acceptable results.  There have been lenses marketed under the Exaktar name for quite a few years in various configurations and from a variety of manufacturers. Most, if not all, are actually quite fine optically,which is typical of Exakta lenses in general.

I have an automatic 50mm 2.0 lens which says "Pancolar" on it, but does not have any other identification on it--no "Exaktar" or CJZ or "aus Jena" nothing. I assume it is Zeiss because I imagine they had a copyright to the use of the term "Pancolar". The depth-of-field indicator is interesting as it consists of two "calipers" which move outwards or inwards on the scale, similar to the Schneider lenses for the Retina Reflexes. If this is the same lens that you speak of, let me know. I have not been able to identify it otherwise. However, I can say that it's a fine lens.

I think you have a fake Pancolar lens. It sounds like your lens is really a 50/2 Exaktar. All of the fake Pancolars I've seen have serial numbers in (or close to) the 650XXX range. Does yours have a similar number? None of these lenses are marked Zeiss or aus Jena. A certain US Exakta importer sold these lenses for a few years because the Pancolar was a more desirable lens. I don't know if they charged more for the "Pancolar" but they surely sold faster.
The importer had a machinist manufacture decorative rings with the "Pancolar 2/50" engraving, plus serial number. The decorative ring covers the original Exaktar ring by simply screwing it down into the filter ring threads. Sometimes, the original Exaktar ring is underneath the Pancolar ring. They're an interesting rarity in the Exakta field.

I believe that the Exaktar external automatice lenses were indeed produced in Japan as an imitation of the Pancolar. I have three styles, a chrome version that somewhat resembles a Retina lens with ridges on the focusing ring running front to back, a black one which is very close in looks to a black leather Pancolar but with diamonds on the focusing ring instead of leather and a possible counterfeit Pancolar.

The Exaktar lenses are somewhat different than a Pancolar even though are made to resemble them. The differences are:
1) The front of the lens is somewhat recessed compared to the Pancolar.
2) The lens coating is yellowish.
3) The diaphram blades overlap in the front not the back.
4) The back of the external automatic is pressed metal not diecast.
5) The top of the external automatic shutter release has more ridges around the edge than the Pancolar.
I haven't tested mine but they do produce acceptable results when I used them outside.

The most interesting Exaktar I have appears to be a Pancolar counterfeit. When I bought it, it looked exactly like the black Exaktar lens but had a Zeiss Jena Pancolar bezel (trademark nameplate ring around the front of the lens). After a couple of years of owning it, I was playing around with it and low and behold the bezel screwed off to reveal the Exaktar name plate underneath. I thought at first the bezel was simply off a real Pancolar. However, the Exaktar counterfeit bezel is flared to fit over the lens so as not to reveal the Exaktar nameplate. I screwed in a real Pancolar bezel that I had in my junk box. It was flatter and didn't fit properly. It left a gap that slightly revealed the Exaktar name. Also the curves of the Pancolar name on both lenses are slightly different. It appears to me that the bezel was intentionally produced to make a counterfeit Pancolar.

You're probably right about the reason for changing the rings - they didn't want to get caught. That certainly gives us another variety of fake Pancolar to collect! I have 3 different fakes - all have the same style Pancolar bezel but the Exaktar barrels have various cosmetic differences.

I imagine the fake Pancolar was "imported" by the Exakta Camera Company into the US in the early 60's since the lens is featured on an Exa II in their ads.

The lens you pictured is almost exactly like mine, though I have not checked to see if the Pancolar front is removable. The serial # is 650684. The focusing ring is the same "diamond" type grip. I can't tell from the picture, but mine has both feet and meters for the distance scale. It also has the pressed metal back for the external automatic diaphragm unit.

See Exakta Obscurities page 48 (HR)

Automatic aperture correction in Sonnar 135
I just purchased on eBay a 135mm f4 CZJ Sonnar automatic lens. It arrived today and is in good shape (well, the focusing is a bit stiff but that is to be expected and I can get it lubricated). My real question concerns the aperture mechanism. When you look into the lens and it is set at f4 it doesn't look like the aperture blade open all of the way. At f4 they just barely protrude as opposed to disappearing completely. Even more curious, when the lens is set at f4 and the focusing ring is turned from infinity to the closest focusing setting, the aperture ring will turn from f4 to f5.6. My guess is that it is supposed to function as some sort of exposure compensation

As for the aperture setting changing as you focus, I have a CZJ 35/2.8 Flektogon that has similar behaviour. It mechanically compensates for the light loss that occurs at close focusing distances. At most apertures, the blades gradually open slightly as you focus at shorter distances to compensate for the light loss of the increased extension. At maximum aperture, it can't really open more, so it moves the aperture setting so that the exposure can be compensated for in that way. You might try looking at the aperture blades to see if they open more as you focus closer.

I just checked my non-multicoated 4/300 and it, too, stops down as you focus closer

Photos taken with an Exakta
The Exakta List photo and advertising galleries can be found here:

The fate of Spiratone
Recently, I was talking to an old line photo supplier - a manager for Bronica. He says that what happened to Spiratone was that the owners wanted to retire and their kids had no interest in continuing the company. He wasn't sure how they disposed of their inventory but I'll be that was one fine sale!

A while back (within the year?) I saw an advert indicating that someone in New York state was trying to make a come-back with the Spiratone name; with one-and only-one product; the "soft-focus", fixed aperture 105mm portrait lens, in T-mount.

False vignetting (in viewfinder only)
I have a question regarding what I call "false vignetting" when using anything longer than a standard lens. I notice that on all my Exaktas, with both types of viewfinders, that the very top of the image is cut off whenever I use a long-focus or telephoto lens.
I assume that this has something to do with the alignment of the mirror, but it exists in all Kines through VXIIa's as far as I can tell and with all makes of lenses from Zeiss to Sun. I have not seen any comments on this, but am curious why this problem exists and why Ihagee never seemed to bother correcting it. It is not "real" vignetting, because the negatives are fully exposed and not cut off.

It's all a matter of geometry; the angles of the incoming light path, the tight restriction in Exas & Exaktas, and the diameter of the rear lens element. These all combine to determine if a given lens will have this problem... No way to predict, till you try it!

A narrow, dark band will appear along the upper margin of the reflex image with lenses of long focal lengths. It is caused by the fact that a small proportion of the light rays no longer enter the mirror which must be kept as small as possible to allow for the use of the short focal length lenses. However, this dark band appears only on the reflex image, not on the negative or transparency; during the composition of the picture it should be realized that all the detail blocked out by the band will without fail appear on the film. The details covered by the band will appear as soon as the camera is tilted slightly upward. This 'vignetting' of the reflex image is, however, negligible and blurred or altogether invisible at full aperture while at a small stop it is a little wider and sharply outlined.

NB Vignetting with longer lenses on the Exa I however is real, i.e. also influencing the picture. HR

Problems when using split-image screens
The ground glass insert in my VX 1000 contains a split image rangefinder, which I find much less satisfactory than the fresnel or micro-prism versions. It is the thick glass kind and easily interchangeable

For some reason, the split image finder seems much harder to use than those on my rangefinder cameras.

I too have switched to the micro-prism after getting very bad results with the split image. The main reason I went back to using Exaktas was the micro-prism and my recent failure to get good results from Nikon split images rangefinders. The bad results were from indoor, night-time situations and available light in dark woods. When I use a split image in the full bright light of summer, the results aren't so bad -- but for a wide variety of lighting situations, this bi-focal shooter must have a micro-prism.

It's interesting the discussion regarding the problems people seem to be having focusing with their Exaktas as they (the owners) age and the problems they are having focusing with bi-focals. I think this problem may be more common than realized. The important thing to remember is that when focusing through a prism one uses one's distance glasses. When using a waist-level finder, reading glasses are in order.
If you wear bi-focals, you might be better off removing the glasses and using a finder equipped with an eyecup that accepts a corrective lens. It may be that the reading portion of the bi-focal is getting in the way of your view of the screen.
Also, as someone else mentioned previously, split image screens work best with faster lenses and by 5.6 one half of the split image is no doubt blacked out. It also helps to adjust the position of your eye in relation to the eyepiece should blackout start to occur. The more on-axis your eyeball is, the better your results. Of course there is the obvious - you need a straight line or two to really use a split-image.
Some users prefer the diagonal split image screens, but there not always easy to find for Exakta anymore.

I use reading glasses and find that, while my distance vision is not what it was, I generally can deal with an eye-level viewfinder without a great deal of trouble. I am using the split image finder with f 2.0 and f 2.8 lenses, so that is not the issue. I find it works well when there are verticals or some sort of sharp edges in the shot. However, for portraits when I want to focus on the eye, the split image poses problems. Furthermore, while it may be the particular glass I have, my split image does not seem to be as fine a line as it might be. At times it is difficult to determine exactly when the image is lined up. May well be aging eyes!!

Quality changes in Exakta VX 1000
I have long suspected that early VX1000's are of higher quality than later ones. I have thought so for two reasons: First, the early ones just feel better to me. They seem smoother and the shutters sound better. The later ones seem louder. Also, I think that as a general rule VX500's are of lower quality than early VX1000's. This would make sense since the whole reason for the VX500's existence was to lower costs. Second, it is clear that Pentacon was trying to lower the manufacturing costs on the VX1000 even before the advent of the VX500. For example, they started "photo engraving" the dials rather than using real engraving as on the early examples. If they were using cheaper parts on the outside, I always wondered if they were doing so on the inside, too. Finally, other Pentacon cameras have never, in my opinion, equalled Ihagee quality. I have little confidence that Pentacon could have maintained Ihagee quality (which was higher than Pentacon could produce for its own cameras). Moreover, I doubt that they even cared about maintaining Ihagee quality.
Does anyone know at what serial number Pentacon took over the manufacturing of the cameras? At what serial number did the photoengraved dials appear?

I wholeheartedly concur with the appraisal of the VX1000 and 500. I thought the later VX1000's, especially the one's marked 'TL' in the US, to be of lower quality and more prone to trouble. I personally have never had a late VX1000 that I could count on. I am curious myself, if perhaps the lack of problems with later VX1000's isn't at least partly due to most Exakta users (myself included) preferring the earlier models, VXIIa and earlier. If, in fact, so few people on the list actually use the VX1000's, maybe it's not a problem.

Having just acquired a late VX1000 marked "TL," I hope that mine is an exception to your rule. For what its worth after shooting just a few rolls, I cannot say that I see a great deal of difference - in terms of photography - between the 1000 and my late VXIIa. The instant return model is nice to have, but not critical and aside from that, the camera handles much the same. I do find the shutter speed dial easier to read (I wear reading glasses) on the 1000, but that is about itcamera.

Just for the record, my "user" camera, which I utterly rely on, is a VX1000 with the TL stamp, Ser. Nr. 1146773, A&R Variant 2, Hummel 030. I acquired it in the eighties, on the cheap. It has always worked perfectly. Never had the curtains replaced. Right shutter tower has always worked, and I use the delayed release a lot.
A VX1000 bought without inspection is very likely to have a shutter problem, and quite likely a right hand shutter tower "no-go." To repair the right hand functions on a VX1000 may likely require machining new parts to replace worn-away parts

Exakta VX 1000 with(out) TL
About the VX1000 serial numbers: I have an idea, but I don't know from where, that the TL stamp was used intermittently on export models for the U.S. market only. I don't think I ever saw one for sale in Europe, for example. The Seymours of NYC catalogues seemed to suggest that all VX1000's became model TL as of some point in time, but I don't trust that source, as Seymours was selling new IIb's beside new VX1000's right up to the final gun.

Aguila & Rouah said (p86) the TL stamp was just a marketing-thing for the US market from 1969 on, and don't refer to it as a variant within its own right. They figured out a lot from 1987 France, but didn't know everything.

I think a reliable source is Hummel, at Ihagee first in 1936, and in and out in Production and Engineering senior positions in the Dresden companies through and including the 1971 liquidation of Ihagee. In his History of Single Lens Reflex Cameras of Dresden, at p178-181, he assigns one and only one type-identification number (Hummel System #030) to the VX1000, with a total production of 104,084 units extending from 08.67 - 12.70.
Hummel lists only two variants, both (non-Exakta) substituted nameplate variants only (the "VX1000" #031 and the "Elbaflex" #032), both running 09.69 - 12.70, with their serial numbers as "included within" the 104,084 total production for the #030 VX1000.
So, if the TL stamp means anything, I suspect it's not much. There was such an unsold hodge-podge of super cheap Exaktas in the U.S., at the end.

Camera repair
The Romney books by themselves are insufficient to instruct you in either the lubrication or repair of Exakta shutters. I know this from my own experience. If you are just trying to get one camera fixed, buying all the tools you need will probably exceed the cost of getting it done professionally, anyway. It is not that hard to take the camera apart to lubricate the shutter rollers. 

If that doesn't seem too daunting to you, then opening up your camera to lubricate the rollers with a small drop of shutter oil is a viable option. Keep in mind that for the novice repairman, it can be all too easy to make the situation worse instead of better. If you would rather not try it yourself, or if your shutter needs more than lubrication, I would recommend getting a professional to do it. Since the death of Jim Upton, I don't know of any real Exakta experts out there doing repairs. (I recommend avoiding "Seymour's Exakta" a.k.a. Cambridge Camera). I think there are one or two people on the list who have learned to replace their own shutters. I have had good results from Essex Camera Repair  with some other cameras, but I have not tried them for Exakta. They are rather expensive, though.

My biggest complaint about Romney manuals is that they really don't adequately address how to properly lubricate an Exakta. Other than that, I can say that I have been able to take apart and put back together more than one Exakta using only Romney's instructions. I've also managed to free up stuck shutters using solvents. But as far as properly lubricating them-I've always been at a loss.

While I (and others) have been a bit critical of Mr. Romney's repair instructions, I think we should pay tribute to this fine gentleman and his long history in the repair business (now retired as repairman). He is and continues to be a fine supporter of not only Exakta enthusiasts but of all camera owners regardless of make. The tools I have purchased from him are high quality products from Germany, France, Switzerland and Japan. Ed, you are an inspiration for us.

The book “Exakta Obscurities”
Exakta Obscurities" by Gary Cullen, with Klaus Rademaker. Text in English and German.
German title "Exakta Seltsames und Seltenes
168 pages, 569 photos and illustrations
100 hard cover, all signed and numbered by Gary and Klaus
400 soft cover, signed by Gary if requested, Klaus if he's able to.

Table of Contents:
1) Pre-Production and Prototypes
2) Gold Plated and Coloured Cameras (full colour chapter)
3) Factory Modifications
4) User Modifications
5) Exas
6) USA Variations (24 face-plate variations used to remove the Varex name for the US market)
7) Wide Angle Lenses
8) Standard Lenses
9) Tele lenses 75-135mm
10) Tele lenses 145-1000mm
11) Macro Lenses
12) Piesker Lenses
13) Vest Pocket Exaktas
14) Vest Pocket Lenses
15) Exakta 66 Lenses
16) Stereo
17) Modified Lenses
18) Fake Lenses
19) Military and Police Equipment
20) Accessories
21) Promotional and Decorative Items
22) Other Interesting Things (a mixed bag of unusual and rare equipment)
23) Kine Exakta or Sport, which was first?
24) The Earliest Kine Exaktas
25) Kine Exakta "Varex"
26) Karl Nuchterlein, the Father of the Exakta

The goal of my new book was not to duplicate what had already been done in A&R's book or any of the Exakta books already in print. 90% of what is in the new book has not been in print before. It's important that you have at least a copy of A&R's book as a basic guide to Exakta collecting as my new book does not try to cover what they have already done, except in very few cases. What you will get with this new book is a fantastic collection of photos and information on some of the most interesting Exakta equipment to surface in the last 15 years.
There are also 4 written chapters. A detailed revue of Richard Hummel's work on proving the Kine Exakta beat the Russian Sport by 20 months as the world’s first 35mm SLR. Another chapter is on the earliest Kine Exaktas which still used some pre-production parts. This small batch of cameras are extremely historically important because they represent the worlds earliest surviving 35mm SLR's. Also a chapter on the Kine Exakta "Varex", an early post-war Exakta that was never built and finally a chapter dedicated to the father of the Exakta, Karl Nüchterlein.

Final price for the book is US$50 soft and US$70 hard cover.
Air mail to the US: US$6.00, surface rate $4.50
Air mail overseas: US$13.00, surface rate $8.00
There's no tax or duty for US purchases from Canada.
Payments in international money order or cashier check.
Gary will accept personal checks from members of this e-mail list only
Orders to
     Please give your postal vaddress and your choice of postage.
Payments to: Gary Cullen, PO Box 1035, Delta, British Columbia V4M 3T2, Canada

The price in Europe is 63.91 Euro plus postage for the paperback version.
Europe (outside Germany) Small parcel 7,67 Euro, Registered Parcel 14,57 Euro
Payment: cash in Euro or
               by PayPal (in US$ +$3 for payment charges) or
                by international money order
Order to
     Please give your postal address and your choice of parcel
Payment to: Klaus Rademaker, Stettinerstrasse 15, D-47495 Rheinberg, Germany

Innerhalb Deutschland: 2,25 Euro als Brief bzw. 5,37 Euro als Paket
Zahlung nur vorab per Verrechnungsscheck, bar (auf eigene Gefahr), bzw. Überweisung.
Versandadresse beilegen, gewünschte Versandart bitte angeben.
Zahlung: Klaus Rademaker, Stettinerstrasse 15, 47495 Rheinberg.

Is infinity infinity with telelenses?
With some telephoto lenses the full-out infinity setting does not result in a perfect split-image alignment on the focusing screen. A very slight tweak downward from infinity results in the proper split-image alignment. Does this mean that the true infinity setting cannot always be trusted for sharpness to the film plane? Or that split-image finders are not really suited for telephoto usage?  I would expect a Fresnel finder to have a similar effect, that is, a slight tweaking to obtain sharpest viewing.

On a directly related subject I have not seen documentation on how to accurately check the position of the mirror to the film plane, although factory tolerances do exist for this purpose. With the camera back open a focusing screen could be placed (flat side) on the film rails, which means the view on the screen is exactly at film surface frame distance. With a magnifier the check for sharpness should be very interesting, especially if several lenses (including telephoto) are mounted and check for comparison.

Use a magnear finder with plain ground glass on film plane to check focus.

Your techniques are correct, however depth of field at infinity is very forgiving. Better to check at close focus with that ground glass, where depth of field is minimal. Corrections made for close focus and infinity should then bring the lenses into spec's.

Exakta waist level finder, with an all-matte focusing screen is the item I most use to check correct focus accordance with all models of cameras!! Just put it on the focal plane (you will have to twist it a little to get the perfect setting), and be sure to wear you glasses. A tripod, a darkened room, a proper target, and a dark clot (the author probably means cloth HR) over your head is mandatory.

Are Exakta lenses of the past still good enough?
The state of the art for both 35mm lenses and colour film has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. I was reminded of this fact when I was shooting the same autumn leaves at the same time with my new Nikkor 28-80mm AF zoom and with one of my two Steinheil München Auto-Quinaron f2.8/35mm lenses (1965) on a VX IIa. For both I was using Agfa ASA800. The vibrant colours of the Nikkor lens are quite superior to the less colourful and poorer contrast images from the Steinheil. The Nikkor lens has the advantage of the latest technology in multi-coatings whereas the Steinheil and many other Exakta lenses are apparently best suited for B&W photography 36 years ago. I will be making similar comparisons with other Exakta lenses, but perhaps you can advise on which Exakta lenses give the best rendition of colour. I am getting excellent colour results with an aftermarket Vivitar 85-210 with Exakta mount. The body and the viewfinder are wonderful, but for true colour I am not yet satisfied with the Exakta line of lenses. With appropriate ring adapters (not the thick 25mm adapters that decrease telephoto focusing distance), such as the Minolta to Exakta ring adapter, I can try some nice lenses from the post-Exakta era.

Don't blame the coatings, either old or new, for tiny differences you may claim to see in lens performance. An UNcoated lens, yes...but there's really not a spits worth of difference between a good 1940's coating and today's "super-duper" multi-coatings, no matter WHAT the manufacturers want you to believe!

I would never disagree with the statement that the state of the art has advanced for both lenses and film-though I think the real major improvements in the past few decades have been in film, far more than lenses. Computers have advanced lens design to the point where lenses are far more compact, faster and with far greater range in the area of zooms than was conceivable in the heyday of the Exakta. I also agree that the advances in multi-coating that came about in the mid-70's were a bit too late for Exakta users. But it's interesting that you seem so disappointed by the results produced by your Steinheils. I agree they lack the super accurate colour rendition of most modern Japanese lenses which, if you compared side by side, you would be hard put to tell which Japanese lens took which picture. I personally have never been disappointed with the results of my Steinheils and at times I find them quite spectacular.
The interesting thing here is that most Americans seem to love the dead-on rendition of the Asian lenses, but buyers in Asia often pay high premiums for the older German lenses just because they do produce results which are in some markets considered more 'artistic'. I just recently had a phone conversation with someone who sells a lot of Exakta lenses on the Asian market and he told me that one of his customers, Asian of course, suggested adding photos taken with the various older lenses-that it would greatly improve his sales. It seems most people over here look at super accurate colour rendition as a sign of quality, something to strive for, but in other markets this is not the case. They value the differences in lenses more than the similarities. I've had many compliments on photos taken with my Steinheils-I recall one person saying they reminded him of old German post cards - it was meant as a compliment though. I think most Exakta users value the diversity available to them. If your looking for results with your Exakta that resemble modern Japanese cameras, probably your best bet is the later Zeiss and any Meyer Orest-anything. But your probably not going to equal the contrast specs of a modern Nikkor. Then again Exaktas are not for everyone.

Film has advanced greatly, in fact to the point where it has made old cameras functional because higher quality at high speeds make f4.5 and f3.5 lenses useful again. Often these slower Tessar types were the sharpest in the days when f2 was really pushing the limits. (I have some Leicas; the Elmar f3.5 lenses were much better than the f2S Summar and as good as the f2 Summitar. With modern film, f3.5 is useful again.) Film is so good and the colour contrast so high that it compensates for older uncoated or uni-coated slow lenses. However, in my opinion, lens technology has advanced the most. Really high-quality lenses are now relatively cheap. Even simple point/shoot cameras today give a print quality that Leica would have had a hard timematching in 1950. The designs may be the same (Tessar, Gauss-type, etc.) but the lenses are now made much better, sharper and contrastier at a lower price.

Perhaps it is a matter of taste or of what I now consider normal, but I find the Japanese renditions too contrasty and false coloured. I look at the German rendition, in general, as the really natural one and closest to what I like to see in a photo.

Using a wrong viewfinder screen?
I find that I have two types of focusing screens for the Exakta pentaprism: a thin variety (glass and plastic) and a thicker variety (all plastic). I should have taken notes before I disasembled everything, but I am guessing that the thick variety belong on the later black plastic pentaprism and the thin variety belong on the older, Ihagee viewfinder. Does this matter? I am having trouble getting a good focus. Could this be because I'm using the wrong focusing screen in the pentaprism?

The thickness of the focusing screen should not matter since the image is actually reflected onto the bottom, flat part of the screen. The upper, curved portion of the screen acts as a magnifier. It does not matter what screen you use in what finder. Make sure the iscreen is properly seated in the holding clips on the finder, though it's actually the prism pushing the screen against the body of the camera which hold it in alignment. Try using a different type of screen for focusing; say a microprism vs. a split image. If that doesn't work, refer to text concerning mirror alignment.

Automatic diaphragm mechanisms
Have you ever taken one of the Steinheils apart? They are very interesting! All other automatic diaphragm lenses either have the diaphragm held open or closed by a spring and have a plunger that disengages the spring so the diaphragm will open or close as as required. The original late 1940's Contax SLR M42 screwmount (Pentax) has the spring holding the lens open and the internal plunger overcomes the spring and closes the diaphragm. When the shutter closes and the plunger is released the spring reopens the diaphragm. The CZJ Semi Automatics (Also Nikons etc) have the spring wanting to close the diaphragm and it is held open against a notch in the plunger. When this type of lens is released the diaphragm snaps closed under the spring pressure. This is faster than the M42 style but it introduces another vibration into the exposure cycle i.e. the slap of the diaphragm against the spring.
The Steinheils are unique; the diaphragm arm is pivoted and has a linear gear cut into its internal section. This gear drives a rack which is cut into a barrel segment within the lens that is attached to the diaphragm. When you press down the release arm it pivots and the gear and rack rotate the diaphragm to the preselected f-stop. When you release the diaphragm arm/shutter button, a spring attached to it pulls the arm back to its pre-exposure position.
This is another of those delightful Exacta obscurities that make Exakta photography such a passion. And those first generation (i.e. silver/brushed anodised) Exakta Steinheils are beautiful by themselves. (The M42 and Pentina mount Steinheils without the external diaphragm release arm are not anyway near as cute.

So, a Zeiss Semi-Auto, such as a Biotar that you cock underneath, and a later fully automatic such as a Pancolar, operate differently of course. But, on the semi-automatic, all springs are untensioned when the lens has been "discharged," right? I meant that to be question number one. Hope I was clear.
But you don't mention the case of a Zeiss automatic. I remember the guy from the Zeiss Jena factory who appears on the Ihagee Video tape casually mentioning that they shipped 12,000 auto Tessars a year to Exakta, so there are a lot out there.
Question two: On a Pancolar or Tessar automatic, when you lock out the automatic by rotating the knurled ring on the lens's shutter release, are you tensioning a spring?
Maybe a better question would what state is an automatic Zeiss in Exakta mount totally untensioned?
The background for my question is that on the non-instant return mirror bodies, I sometimes leave them locked at smaller apertures after time exposures, and a couple of times when I have come back to use the lens normally (with automatic diaphragm) it seemed to me that the iris was lazy opening back up after discharge. Of course we've got aging grease and different temperatures on different days, etc., but that was why I was curious.
Then number four. I rather fancy Schneider automatics. Into what camp do they fall function-mode wise

I believe the 1960's fully automatic CZJ Exakta lenses work the same as the M42 Praktica lenses. The spring holds the diaphragm open when you push the shutter release, it overcomes the spring pressure and drives the diaphragm closed. When you screw down the auto diaphragm collar this has the same action, but when you release the collar the diaphragm springs open. Remember that CZJ was making the same lenses for both Exakta and M42 mounts.

In what state is an automatic Zeiss in Exakta mount totally untensioned? If #2 above is correct then NEVER

Upgraded Exaktas (Umbau in German)
Factory modification of cameras was a common practice in traditional factories - if you had the money, they would do anything - it was the ultimate in customer service. Most period factories would 'upgrade' a camera to the specs of the most recent models and some advertised their upgrades. Upgraded cameras are very valid collectibles that are frequently overlooked because collectors don't realize what they're holding. Unfortunately, I have to attribute this to lack of information in the form of books.

I don't have the records in front of me but somewhere I've got an itemized factory production sheet that lists up to 100 upgrades in one month alone – Kine to Kine II, Kine to Varex. I've seen one camera that's a very early 1936 Kine modified to Varex standards. The factory went as far as engraving a blank Varex body shell with the original serial number of the Kine. Ihagee records show frequent updates on cameras through the 1940's/1950's. In fact, the only part of the camera that is from a Kine …. is the serial number.

There are some very unusual and highly collectible cameras from Ihagee that were built immediately after the Dresden bombing.. People salvaged parts from the factory rubble along with existing parts stashes in storage units and employees houses to build cameras. There's a nice group of mix-and-match cameras where the builders were using whatever parts they could find (literally!) because for a period of time, there was no factory!
There are pre-war body shells with post-war mechanisms, complete pre-war cameras with post-war serial numbers, version 4 cameras with version 3 nameplates, even cameras with unchromed exterior parts (levers, knobs, screws.)
Immediately after the Dresden bombing, the employees of the factory used these ' mix 'n' match' cameras to trade for food, clothing etc.. I think some were also used for war reparations.

There's a very drastic change in the mirror housing castings on the interior of the post-war Kine. Almost all post-war Kine's have an incomplete removable finder - another of Nüchterleins great brainstorms! The only part missing is the latch. Nüchterleins original latch was designed to slide sideways.
After the war, Nüchterlein was dead and another employee designed the Varex latch. I've always suspected that the original machinery for the pre-war Kine was completely destroyed and Ihagee began post-war production with the machinery that Nüchterlein used to build prototypes of the removable finder.

Premature flashing
Usually I shoot flash with my VXIIa or b, and I never have this trouble. Today, I decided to drag out one of my VXs (v.2) to shoot a church Christmas pageant - my daughter was an angel. If I didn't cock the shutter right away (2-5 seconds) my Vivitar 283 would trigger again, sometimes in rapid succession if the subject was close and the flash capacitor had not completely discharged.
Is this common to other VXs or is mine sticking somewhere inside? I was thinking that this might be a design flaw that didn't matter in the 50s because its took a lot longer for electronic flashes back then to recycle. On later cameras, the flaw might have been corrected.
This particular camera is a European version. It has the larger tripod socket and says both Varex and VX. I also use one of those two prong adapters that have a PC outlet, which might have an impact on the premature firing.

All the Exaktas have something in common in that once the shutter is released the flash circuit remains closed until the shutter is re-tensioned. This is the same system on the 1, 2, V., VX, VXIIa, etc. This is why you always used to hear the warnings about not changing flash bulbs until the shutter is cocked; burned fingers could be the result of not heeding these warnings. In your situation, because the flash works with the VXIIa and not the VX with the adapter, I strongly believe the problem lies with the adapter. I believe a short in the adapter is causing intermittent breaks in the circuit, thus causing the flash to fire again. I have had similar problems in the past with faulty PC cords. Try cleaning the contacts on the adapter and see if there is an improvement. If not, you may have to invest in a new adapter-or use the VX only in natural light. You should be able to test the adapter with a pair of test leads. Trigger the flash by attaching a test lead to the prongs on the adapter. If you have the same problem, you know where it lies.

I think your comments are right on. I tried my two other VXs and my V. (Varex). They all did the same thing. It very well may be the adaptor.

The story of the VERY personalised VX500
"So, what I really wanted in the dark, small eBay photograph was the 200 mm Exakta mount lens with an automatic diaphragm release. One could just make it out, the release, I mean. And, there was an Exakta VX500 camera with what looked like a clip utterly smack on top of the prism. The seller (in Germany) couldn't seem to tell me too much about what was going on except it was a "work Kamera" that was "much-use". There were some German language booklets and the usual exposure meter and flash and case, etc. No bidding interest; picture frightfully off-putting. No one wants an Exakta 500 anyway. And, I never did know what the regular lens was.

Box Arrives. What a packing job. Every piece in two layers of bubble wrap. Could have had a dozen eggs in there - none would have been broken. The 200mm lens? Superb. Nearly two pounds worth. Literally no sign it had been used. Hardly any paint scraped off on the bayonet ears. The regular duty lens? Still don't know. It says 50mm and f2 and that's all she wrote. No country of origin statement even. Works fine. Automatic. All some sort of plastic coated metal. Used? Much. Where you would grip it to plastic coating left. Pitted aluminium.

Best for last. The VX 500 camera. No. 1516715; Hummel 037 and probably manufactured approx. 1970. Hardly any fake leather left on it; just the fabric base. The black painted brass trim-rail parts? Only a speck or two of black paint left, and that only in corners. The "I thought it might be an accessory clip on top of the prism but utterly on top" is a hot shoe epoxied onto a little block triangle of wood, in turn epoxied onto the prism, with the fake leather cut away to promote good bond. The conductor going to the flash socket on the left of the camera snakes around the lens 270 degrees, clipped under the lens mount flange using cut down metal binder-clips. On the camera back are two of the intact spring-loaded clips neatly screwed through the back to the case, I suppose to hold messages. Secured behind the film pressure plate with flat metal nuts. The Selenium exposure meter works great, or I should say it agrees with my Gossen. Looks like a white Baby Ben Travel alarm clock

Does the camera work? You bet it does. Oh, I forgot the film advance. The handle is broken. A piece of copper tube (fuel line) is crimped onto the stub. Works great. Curtains are fine functionally. I'd really like to know what the rubbery paint is that's been painted on so as to seal the pinholes: it works! The shutter speeds seem right on. The Brand X lens isn't bad. The flash even fires. The camera strap is a piece of braided electrical telephone wire, crimped into a loop at each end. Quite sturdy. The inside of the camera was as immaculate as an operating room. The film pressure plate had three different hand-brushed coats of paint. The film rewind head was held on with a USM pop rivet. Like to know how he did that.

Anyway, I put the camera back into stock condition (stealing winder parts from a hopeless TL VX1000), re-skinning the prism with new leatherette (suitably distressed with sandpaper), but leaving the stripped brass and the naked case as is. I did remove the two binder clips and the lens flange. Oh yeah, I forgot, the prism retainer spring was gone; it was retained by clever little strips of a matchbook bottom stuffed between the camera's "billboard" and the front of the prism. I kind of hated to re-install the catch, but I did.

Variants of the VX1000
There was some discussion recently about early vs late VX1000s. Here are the variants I have
1146235 /VX1000 /Ihagee Dresden /fine finish /black frame counter window ring on shutter is darker than the other 3 /tapered shutter release button.
1196269 TL VX1000 /aus Dresden /fine finish /tapered shutter release button.
1196319 TL VX1000 /aus Dresden /fine finish /tapered shutter release button.
1214536 /VX1000 /aus Dresden /coarser finish /VX1000 engraving shallow/louder shutter / shutter release button is non-tapered.

I'm not sure if they qualify as different versions though. Apparantly from my limited sample TLs were mid production models flanked on both sides with plain VXs. Has anyone noticed any other variants including Elbinas and Elbaflexes? I've taken an interest because the 1000 is my favourite user-Exakta.

Two of my three VX1000's have serial numbers beyond the A&R limit. My VX1000 TL is 1205527 and my rarer VX1000, with only VX1000 on the black faceplate, is 1221114.

What is an Exakta Lens?
All this lens discussion leads me to a subject that came up the other day as I was on the phone with another Exakta collector discussing Gary and Klaus's new book (Exakta Obscurities HR)-which I'm sure you all have. Anyway, the question basically is 'what constitutes an Exakta lens?'. Some collectors would say that the Burke & James modified lenses of years back are considered Exakta lenses since they were sold concurrently with the cameras. I would say no to that one and my collector friend agreed. However, here is a question for the list:
                 Question: Is the Zeiss 180/2.8 Auto-Sonnar an Exakta lens?
I have my opinion, the collector I was speaking to could only say "hmmm", what does the list say? I think this question is relevant, especially now with the Exakta Lens List hitting 1600+.

I would say an exacta Lens is any lens made or commissioned by the factory and any lens made by a lens manufacturer in a non-user-interchangeable Exakta mount for use with Exaktas. This would include the native Exaktars as well as CZJ, ISCO, Steinheil, Wirgin and Schneider stuff to name a few. It would not include interchangeable stuff like Tamron or any of the Topcors.

I would call the Sonnar 180-2.8 a P6 lens with Exakta adaptability! Ha Ha I was too clever for you!
But that gets me thinking: considering that it could be adapted to at least three mounts, M42, Praktina and Exakta, and possibly others I haven't seen, I think it may qualify as the world's FIRST interchangeable mount system! Possibly before Tamron, Soligor, Sun etc. Not sure about the dates though.

Well in that case, in the name of completeness I would include it. It is then an Exakta lens which can also be used on other cameras.

Is it? Didn't you just say it was a P6 lens that can be used on other cameras? Or is it a Contax lens that can be used on other cameras? If that's accepted, then what prevents all those T-mount lenses from being on the Exakta list.

I think it's a question of breeding! You could of course argue that the Japanese lenses were intended for a much wider market that may at times have included Exaktas almost as an afterthought. The crucial difference between the 180, 300, 500(?) and 1000 and the Japanese stuff is that they were made for a larger format and therefore could qualify as accessories within a system built for the
East-German gang. Then again so would the big Meyers. To avoid these mind-altering dilemmas I think it might be a good idea to adopt a hierarchy rating

1) Exakta made or badged (Exaktar maybe). Can't think of any really.
2) Lenses commissioned by the company. CZJ, Meyer. These are the accessory lenses that appeared in Exakta brochures and manuals.
3) P6 lenses from CZJ and Meyer.
4) Rigid mount lenses not commisioned by the factory but intended primarily for the Germa market. These would include Schneider, Isco, Angenieux, Steinheil, Wirgin, and some Russian lenses maybe.
5) Specialty interchangeable mount lenses whose manufacturers serviced the German camera market primarily, Novoflex maybe some others (Long Cats).
6) Rigid mount lenses made for all brands including Exakta: Sigma, Soligor.

The clean definition is a lens produced, sanctioned and approved by the Exakta factory for use on Exakta cameras without need for an intermediate adapter. For example, the Paris Angenieux series qualifies as Exakta lenses for, among other reasons, the fact that they were pictured and described in the Exakta lens brochures. Numerous Japanese lenses, even with direct mount and without the Exakta name, under this clean definition do not qualify as Exakta lenses. They do not appear in the factory literature. However, they do functionally perform well on the camera. The Vivitar 85-205mm zoom has an Exakta bayonet mount and apparently arrived as an aftermarket item after the factory ceased production. So there is the integrity of the Exakta name and the issue of association and promotion by the factory itself. My judgment says there are a lot of lenses out there called "Exakta lenses" but they really are not. Even with the Exakta name, if it was used without approval from the Exakta factory, the lens cannot be considered a true Exakta lens. Hopefully, misappropriation of the name rarely, if ever, occurred. I cannot name an example but perhaps someone else can.

I could go along with that. I think the point you mentioned about the CZJ and Meyer lenses being listed in the brochures and owners manuals carries some weight. I can't recall any other interchangeable mount lenses being 'pushed' by the company-with maybe the possible exception of some offered by Seymour’s Exakta back in the 70's and 80's. The whole point of this post-is really to point out the fine line between what is considered an Exakta collectable and what isn't - what is
considered an Exakta lens and what isn't. I think it started when I was discussing the section in Gary and Klaus's Book with another collector and two sections immediately came up - the sections on the 'version 4' VXIIa's and the modified lenses. Both, we agreed, were essentially disfigured cameras and lenses. I had a little more sympathy than he towards the 'Modified lenses' as long as they were offered concurently with the Exaktas they were intended for. I base this on the fact that some aftermarket accessories are allowed on Concours cars as long as they are 'period pieces', even though they were never produced by the original manufacturer. Exakta collecting is complicated by the fact that Ihagee never made their own glass. In effect all Exakta lenses are aftermarket. Then it is up to collectors to decide what is collectable and what is not. Of course it is largely up to the individual collector.

That a good description but some of the most desirable "Exakta" lenses would be left out! For example the 135/2.8 Steinheil Macro automatic did not appear in an Exakta manual and I don't believe the post war Angenieuxs (if any) did either. In fact no western lens was recognized by the factory.

Not true; the Angenieuxs were in many post-war Exakta brochures, as were the Steinheils. Look in Exakta Pageant for instance.

It certainly gets complicated. For example, I have a 50/2.8 Tessar #4842626 that I got with a Pentacon D. Close inspection of the lens revealed an M42 collar fitted around an original Exakta bayonet! The land had been machined some in order fit the M42 back focus. Since it appears to be a factory job I'll leave it to the collectors to tell me if it qualifies as an Exakta or as a Praktica lens.

To the question about the Sonnar. Which 180f2.8 Auto-Sonnar do you mean? According to Hugo's list Zeiss made 4 models in Exakta Mount:
1961 with leather focusing ring
1964 with dimpled plastic focusing ring
1966 with ridged black/chrome focusing ring
1972 with black serrated focusing ring
The first 180f2.8 Sonnar in Exakta Mount was 1938 Chrome. Is this enough to qualify as an EXAKTA LENS? Perhaps you are referring to the Pentacon Six mount lenses which can be used with the Zeiss Exakta Auto-Adapter ? These lenses were made concurrently with the dedicated Exakta mount lenses and the adapters were made by Zeiss to allow one to use one set of lenses for either 35mm Exakta or 6 x 6cm Pentacon.

Good thinking! I see that Contax is now making a similar adapter to allow Zeiss Autofocus lenses for the Contax 6 x 4.5cm lenses to be used on the new Contax 35mm Autofocus cameras! Is your objection based on the fact that the later 1980's multicoated versions of these lenses were made after the demise of Ihagee (East & West)?

I asked Hugo about these latter lenses last year and at that time he said he really had not considered the issue.

All I know is that my 1989 Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Black Multicoated P6 Mount 180f2.8 Sonnar with the Zeiss Auto-Adapter is one beautiful sharp contrasty lens and I love it dearly. Last month I took it to my Nikon collecting repairman in West Palm Beach for a CLA and he was drooling over it (Metaphorically Only Thank Heavens). I also own a 1989 MC Auto-Biometar 120f2.8 and hope to purchase an MC Auto-Sonnar 300f4 and will also use these on my VX11a!

My question specifically is about the auto-Sonnar, which would include any of the four 180's in Hugo list. The pre-war in dedicated Exakta mount is without question an Exakta lens. My objections as well as the unnamed collector’s (also on this list), is that the 180 as well as 300's, etc. are in fact P6 lens that only fit Exaktas via an adapter. In a very real sense they are no different than the T mount lenses that came later. My 'point' is really just to get other collectors’
opinions on the subject. I hadn't really given it much thought until the recent phone discussion with the other Exakta collector (who I just got off the phone with) BTW. Is the 120mm Biometar in P6 mount considered an Exakta lens? Or the 50 and 80mm P6 lenses? All will fit the Exakta with the Zeiss adapter. I consider my 120 Biometar in Exakta mount an Exakta lens without question, but not the 120 in P6 mount. I guess I'm just trying to find out where other collectors draw the line.

I personally do not think that the P6 lenses are Exakta lenses. They have the Pentacon Six mount and can be used only on the Exakta with the adapter. BUT what about the old Zeiss lenses, like 180 Sonnar, 300 Sonnar and 500 Fernobjektiv? These are lenses for the Contax Flektoskop and Flektometer, and can be used only on the Exakta with an adapter. OK, they are shown in the catalogues and brochures as Exakta lenses. But have a look at the Ihagee catalogues and prospects of the 60s and what will you see there? The 1000mm, the 300mm, the 180mm from Zeiss, all original P6 lenses....…

What is an Exakta lens - let me count the ways. Here are two opinions from me - one as a collector and one as a photographer.

A collector’s opinion:
I am a classical style of collector so in my world, originality is the important key to collecting lenses. I don't consider 'modified' or 'remounted' items to be true Exakta lenses (some people collect them but that doesn't mean these are true 'Exakta lenses'). I don't pay much attention to factory brochures as there were fixed mount makers that don't appear in factory literature and some of the brochure lenses are adapted. Traditional collecting puts a large emphasis on originality.

A Photographers Opinion:
I don't care what mount it originally had. If it has glass and you can screw, glue, weld, solder that bastard on your camera, it's an Exakta lens! It's a lens on a camera and the camera is named 'Exakta' isn't it? You can add many of the butchered and mangled homemade and aftermarket lenses from the likes of Burke and James in this category because the lens has an Exakta bayonet - at least now it does! Collectability in the classic sense has been destroyed by modifications but the usability is a different issue.

About the question: What is a true Exakta lens?
It is of course not defined by a higher power what an Exakta Lens IS. In my list on I include every lens that fits an Exakta, either with fixed or with exchangeable mount, internal or external bayonet, for 24x36mm and 6x6cm Exaktas, and the screw mount lenses for the VP Exakta. When I know a lens has an exchangeable mount, I put EM in the description, and include the EM system if I know it, i.e. T2, T4, etc. I started recently to put FM (for fixed mount) in the description when I know that, but for many lenses I don't know or haven't checked yet.

Even the difference between EM and TM is not absolute. I believe that some lenses have been made both with FM and EM. And some lenses have FM, but the mounts are screwed-on and can be changed: to the factory they were EM.

If you all believe it is important to make the distinction between FM and EM, we both have something to do.
1 I must make a separate column in my database for mount type (EM/FM) so that I can sort the items on this criterion.
2 You must look up all lenses in my list without the EM/FM indication, compare them with your collection/knowledge and tell me what to add.

The next question is whether a rare, or a very rare, or even a one-of-a-kind lens belongs in the list. I have decided to include most of those and add the text "one-of-a-kind" to the description, sometimes with a question mark. I am inclined however to exclude lenses that are clearly tinker work. I am not sure what to do with serial-numberless lenses (prototypes?).

I also exclude all modern lenses fitting Kiev/Pentacon66/Exakta66(new) and of course all M42 lenses, although they fit Exa 1b/c, Exakta TL 500/1000 etc. I hesitate even to mention here the modern lenses with the NAME Exakta, that fit many types of other cameras.

Since companies have been farming out work for years, you really have to wonder if anything really qualifies as a true manufacturer lens. From what I've heard the bulk of West-German manufacturers bought their optical elements from Schacht glassworks. This would make them lens integrators rather than manufacturers, Leitz went even further by having their 35-70 Vario Elmar and 24 Elmarit-R made for them by Sigma and Minolta. I can imagine the same sort of thing happening in the east, particularly considering their desire to centralize production resources. It makes me wonder if the glass on my Meyer Oreston 50/1.8 for my RTL came from Meyer or Jena. Well, this is straying off the topic a bit but it serves to remind us that many of these distinctions about true vs not-really-true manufacturer lenses become trivial. There really is no correct answer and the only alternative is to be as inclusive as possible without getting silly about it.