Information from the Topica Exakta List
file top03.htm from 2002.01.14 until 2004.01.15

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.

Meyer Domiplan
There are two versions. The first version had a solid metal auto shutter release, with a finer satin finish. This version has two filter rings. One is 49 mm and is around the f stop setting ring. Any lens hood or filter will turn as you change the f stop.  The other filter ring is a neat inner ring that takes a 40.5 mm filter or lens hood. It does not move when the f stop is changed.

The second version has an all black auto shutter release. The release is plastic on its front and it doesn't have the second inner filter ring. The lens seemed to be cheapened. Was the optical quality degraded too?

I too have had positive experience with the Domiplan. My first 35mm camera was an Exa 1a with a Domiplan purchased from Cambridge in the early 70's. It was my initiation into the Exakta world. My personal experience was that the lens was capable of taking excellent, sharp photos. I have been told that this is not always the case with Domiplans as they can vary from lens to lens because the low cost construction-there were compromises made in the design which can cause mis-alignment of the elements in some examples. Again, I always found mine to be a sharp lens-though not necessarily as good as a Tessar. There is however more to my story of my Exa 1a and Domiplan. The design of the Domiplan release lever [called the rocker release or the Hummel Wippe in German HR], as well as that of the Domiron and 100/2.8 Trioplan is such that it hits the camera shutter release at an angle. This can actually cause damage to the release after time. During the first year I owned my Exa, the Domiplan damaged the shutter release on the camera twice. Since both these occurences were during the warranty period, it was simply a matter of bringing the camera back to Exakta Camera Co., then located in mid-town Manhattan and having it repaired no charge. The third time it happened though, I decided to destroy the lens and sell the camera body.

The Meyer rocker system looks convenient but is usually less durable than the push-in types. Also, if the lens does not fit exactly (pardon the pun) and the shutter button is in too far, it sometimes does not trip the shutter. The push-in type lens buttons usually have a screw-type adjustment at the back so that you can move the push-button on the lens in or out, depending on where the body shutter-button is located. If the body button lies close to the body, the rocker-type mechanism hits it at an angle instead of pushing it straight in. Some people say this wears the button (unusual angle of meeting) and in most cases it makes you push harder than you need to. The bottom of the rocker is not sealed against dirt and moisture. I have seen some jam after use in dirty environments. Push back on it and you will see the gap. The design has, in my opinion, little merit except ease of use.

Tom-and anyone else who has doubts about the ability of a Meyer lens with the rocker type release to inflict damage on a camera body:  I have taken out a Domiplan and mounted it on a couple of different camera bodies and noticed what happens when the rocker meets the body mounted shutter release. I have tried this on a couple Exaktas and a couple of Exas. Interestingly, the effect seems most pronounced on the Exa 1a. Try mounting a Domiplan on an Exa 1a and notice what happens to the shutter release the moment the rocker makes contact with it. You'll understand why I have not used a Domiplan in nearly 30 years. As soon as the rocker makes contact, the shutter release is moved out of alignment-when you continue with the exposure, the shutter release is forced through it's path in this deviant manner. Over time, it will do damage. Domiplans should come with a warning label attached like tobacco products. But, I guess that's just my opinion.

I checked out the Exa 1a and compared it to Exaktas and earlier Exas. The Exakta and earlier Exas shutter releases are at an angle to conform to the typical hand grip. The Meyer rocker arm seems to hit the shutter release more or less straight on. The Exa 1a release however is 90 degrees to the film plane.  When the rocker arm hits it, it does so at an angle. I can see what you mean when you say it can do damage

I have used a couple of Domiplans lately and found them to be almost as sharp as a preset Tessar 2.8/50 and much sharper than a very late, "aus Jena" 2.8/50. Some of the photos are on the cool side but that may be the photo processor. I have not had a problem with it damaging the release, but then I do not use any one lens that much compared to when all I owned was an Exa IIb with a Domiplan. Now that you mention it, it seems logical that the 45 degree sweep across the release could cause damage.

Meyer independent of Ihagee and vv.?
Some of you try to argue that, if the Ihagee company put the name/picture of a lens in its publications, it must be a true Exakta lens. I wonder however how independent Ihagee actually was in deciding what to promote. Ihagee was never officially nationalized, but on the other hand it was never really independent from the restart after WWII. The money and building to restart the company came from the East-Zone, later the GDR, not from the owners. Could Ihagee have refused to plug Zeiss Jena or Meyer lenses if it had wanted to? I don't think so.

I would tend to agree that Ihagee had influence as to what lenses to 'plug'. This seems to vary too, depending on market. As someone pointed out, the 180/2.8 Auto-Sonnar is shown in the US market instruction book for the VXIIa/61, but it is NOT listed in the English language version of the same manual for markets outside the US. The 180/2.8 does appear in most manuals and brochures by the time of the VX1000, which would make sense since by that time Pentacon played a larger role in the Exakta world.

Zeiss Olympia Sonnar for Exakta?
It's always been my understanding that the original 180/2.8 Sonnar was nicknamed the 'Olympia Sonnar' because it was introduced to coincide with the 1936 German Olympic games, where it no doubt demonstrated its worth. It was of course intended for the Contax originally with the reflex housing, but by design was easily adapted to other cameras. It was not listed as an Exakta lens until years later, though I've seen people refer to even the auto-Sonnars as 'Olympia Sonnars'. I think the name just stuck and had a somewhat classy sound to it.

As far as the term Olympia Sonnar, the term coincided with the original Contax mount lens which came out around the time of the 1936 Olympics, hence the name. The term 'Olympic Sonnar' came into popular use - at least among photo buffs. For instance, I've seen the name applied to every other Sonnar listed on eBay. But I really don't think this is technically correct. I believe the only true 'Olympic Sonnars' are the original Contax mount Sonnars.

I think this is substantially correct; the only added bit I have heard is that the Olympia Sonnar was designed at the request of Hitler. Consider also that the 1950's, 1960's 1970's 1980's CZJ Sonnars are the same lens design; what was added was the light weight aluminum barrels and later the automatic diaphragm. The original 1936 Olympia Sonnar was mounted in a chrome plated brass barrel so it was much heavier.

[Conclusion one: the name is Olympia Sonnar, not Olympic. Hitler and his regime would never have allowed an English name for a German product HR]

[Conclusion two: there is no such thing as an Olympia Sonnar for Exakta; they are from different times HR]

Exakta shutter times measured
An interesting French publication, which is essentially a thorough test of the camera, is apparently a supplement to Phot' Argus magazine dated Avril 1968. It is 12 pages and includes photos of test charts using such lenses as the 20/4 Jena and 50/2 Pancolar as well as P.A. Curtagon 35/4, Macro-Quinar 135/2.8a and Tamron Zoom 95-250/5.6. It also features photos with the Iscorama, Sigma 12/8 Fish-Eye, Flektogon and Curtagons. The centerfold is a complete exploded view of the VX1000 with 45 parts labeled. I have yet to read the whole report, but an interesting table I came across is a chart of Indicated Shutter Speeds and Measured Speeds for camera No. 1127102. Here is the Chart-Some of you may find it interesting:

12           11.5
10             9.5
8               7.5
6               6.4
4               4.2
3               3.0
2               2.0
1               1.0
1/2            0.5
1/4           1/3.6
1/8           1/8.3
1/30         1/27
1/60         1/55
1/125       1/111
1/250       1/228
1/500       1/410
1/1000     1/850

I used to work at a repair shop years ago also and when adjusting speeds on my VX1000's I would adjust the curtain speeds, recheck the speeds, set the camera aside for a few days and when I rechecked it again they would be off (different)! Sometimes I fiddled with it for weeks checking it every few days until I got the speeds to maintain relatively constant when checked a few days, weeks or even months later. Once you got them locked in they held for ever it seemed. I still don't know why this occurred with my Exakta bodies, when setting (newer) Canon, Nikon or whatever bodies would not vary like the Exakta did. I always thought it was the mechanical transport mechanism of the Exakta that gave me the variance but once it stabled out it held.

Wouldn't the curtains accelerate as the curtain material built up on the curtain drums regardless of whether the curtain drum itself accelletated? Isn't that why the thickness of straps and curtain cloth are so important? With so many factors, it's no surprise that curtain timing can be so difficult.

Don't forget that you are also dealing with cameras that are up to 69 years old. The springs in the take-up rollers (the power source for your curtains) nearly always suffer from varying degrees of metal fatigue which can create some interesting timing problems. This helps describe an effect someone else mentioned pertaining to shutters that fire at a different speed the 2nd time around.

I think the viscosity of the shutter lubes acted as a kind of damper - try using synthetic lubes on a curtain and see what kind of slit width you end up with. We won't even consider the effects of temperature on the lubricants, as someone mentioned in an earlier post regarding oil on diaphragm blades. All I can say is thank God for latitude in film. I'ts a wonder even, well-exposed negatives ever get.

About quality: what is MTF
Actually MTF gives a value that reflects to you the loss of contrast in transferring the image of a real subject. The higher the value (ideally a 100 percent), the better. Different test are presented to the lens. Those test or patterns, are black lines and white lines, same width, alternating. Normally, 5, 10, 20, and 40 lines/millimeter ("cycles") are used. 40 l/mm tend to be used as "fine detail", and gives values for resolution. Lower l/mm values are used as "coarse detail", and their readings are used as for "contrast" values for the lens. Values are normally given for "heights" in the frame, being "zero" the center of the frame. The Highest value is referred for the corner or the frame, and normally, is equal, of course, at half the height of the frame. It is customary to give values for "full open", and two stops "closed". Be aware that manufacturers can, in some way "manipulate" the results, for example by giving resolution values not for 40 cycles (l/mm), but, for example, for 30 or 20!
Well, that is the better I can do with my poor English: but remember: the higher the values, the better the lens, but be careful, and see if the values are expressed for low cycles or high cycles, and check if they give them to the very corner (proper height), or just to the border of the frame. For example, for a 24 x 36 mm frame, the center is "0" height: Start a line from there to the very corner, and you can "project" a vertical to the horizontal line. What is the best thing of MTF: it is cheaper for the manufacturer, once they have the equipment. But the good old way gives more information.

MTF is a measure of how accurately a lens can render back and white lines. Using 8 bit color computer language a perfect lens would turnout 254 values (perfectly black) over the black lines and zeros (perfectly white) over the white ones (this is never going to happen, by the way). This has to do with both contrast and resolution and becomes more difficult as the line spacing decreases. But we are also describing the accuracy of the transfer of refractive energy of different wave lengths over close fields.

The only important matter for me is that we all agree about how to measure MTF. Since I am writing the code for a computer assisted lens resolution test that can be used by any photographer, this factor of measurement is only major factor to me. The rest I will leave for the more informed.

Voss lenses from Germany! Japan?
Cullen & Rademaker write in Exakta Obscurities that the name Voss was used on (German) Piesker lenses. Earlier however, I read in lens lists in Modern Photography that there are Voss lenses from Voss Photo, Japan. Who knows more on this confusing subject? Confusion is bad for the Exakta Lens List.

I have a 35mm f2.5 Voss preset lens, No. FT27592, with a red H.C marking (and some internal fungus). It has a zebra pattern on the focus ring, but the aperture ring is chrome. After a little searching I found Japan embossed on the side of the lens near the mount. This information doesn't rule out a German manufactured Voss lens, but clearly shows that at least some of the Voss lenses were made in Japan.

I always remember Voss as being a big manufacturer of inexpensive, but decent enlarging lenses. According to Norlin Rober's 'The Ihagee 35-mm Exaktas and Exas', Voss imported Piesker lenses. He states "those imported by Voss are marked "Votar"." He lists an 85/2 Pre-set.

Ribbed/non-ribbed triangle on top of Exaktas
On my Exaktas, the bodies commencing with the II, and lasting up through the IIb, from roughly 1949 through 1967 production, all have a little triangular area of ribs in the left hand top deck, forward of the post, alongside the mirror box. On my Kine-Exaktas, all have a little raised, triangular plateau there, in the stamping, but it is not ribbed. Starting with my first VX1000, there is no longer a raised area at the post - ribbed or unribbed. Some I have asked say it must be for strengthening the mounting of the post against the return of the film winder. Which is very good idea, except that (a) the spring-assisted film winder, when it returns, has essentially no mass and there little force force, although it can return with considerable velocity, (b) none of my Kine-Exaktas show any deformation in the (unribbed) left top deck in the area of the post, and (c) why was it deleted...ribs, little plateau and all, starting with the VX1000, and by the way, (d) I have never seen any deformation in the left top deck in the vicinity of the post on any VX1000, VX500, etc.

That the ribs run in the plane of the lens does lend support to the mechanical-strengthening school of thought, however: it may also be coincidence. I've also heard that the ribs were of some purpose relative to positioning measurements from the mirror box wall. Film plane is out as it's transverse to the rib axis.
As coincidence, there is another little mystery occurring at the same geographical point. On the prism viewfinders I have which are of the design Aguila and Rouah call Versions 1 and 2, for early Varexess, each viewfinder housing has a little concave depression leading down into the area of the "triangle" and its post. But maybe I digress.
Here's two different views of a bent top plate on a worn Kine Exakta. Notice how the edge of the top plate immediately behind the post, is bent slightly upwards above the edge of the body shell

I guess when you eliminate everything except the apparent answer, that must be it. I guess the early top decks may have been stamped out of thin gauge sheet metal stock?

None of mine (eight K-E) show any "tilt" to the post. But, of course, I've no idea how much any were used. Question: you work on Exaktas, taking them apart, as opposed to merely talking about them, is the sheet metal stock from which the VX1000/VX500 top decks are made, is it thicker gauge than the preceding Exakta models?

VX1000's seem to have a bit of a value-engineered reputation with some on the List. It'd be interesting if this was an example of the factory up-specing something as of the late sixties, when the writing was on the wall.

Don't forget the VX1000 doesn't have a post like the Kine.  The advance lever returns to rest (or slam!) against the rewind button which transfers the energy of the advance lever spring down through the rewind shaft...

Regardless, the top plate of the VX1000 gets it's structural rigidity because it is a 'cover' with bent edges that enclose the top of the body shell. A Kine plate doesn't have the inherent strength of it's VX1000 equivalent since the it is essentially a flat piece of metal (except for the counter stamping) screwed into a recess within the top edge of the shell..

I tend to think a VX1000 plate would be considerably stronger than a Kine plate even if made from slightly thinner sheet stock.

Start of coating
My question is exaktaly when Zeiss and Meyer started coating their lenses and was it more or less a definate date, starting with a certain serial number, or did certain lenses start to get coated first.  For instance, I have a 135/4 Zeiss Triotar for Exakta Square which is uncoated. It is serial number 2659048. I also have a 75/1.5 Biotar, serial nr. 2688312, which is factory coated with the proper red T. I know it is a later serial number, but not by much, and I know both lenses were made in 1940-according to all serial number guides I've seen. Does anyone have a Zeiss lens with a number earlier than my Triotar that is factory coated? Is it safe to assume that Zeiss started coating all their lenses sometime in 1940, or did some later lenses still come through un-coated? For instance, did the Biotar start getting coated earlier than other Zeiss lenses because of it's high speed and large front element? From what I've been told, my Biotar is one of the earliest factory coated Zeiss lenses known. As far as Meyer lenses I own, I'm looking at a Meyer Weitwinkel serial number 1120082, from 1949, which is not coated. I have seen earlier Meyers that bear the red V. Is it because they did not feel the need to coat a 40mm f4.5 lens because of it's recessed front element of small size? By 1949 coating was pretty much the norm. If anyone can shed some light on the subject, or some element of the subject, please don't hesitate.

Numerous times, in the early morning light, the low angle. warm sun coming through all the little "lenses" on buds and twigs is incredibly beautiful. But all my photographs of them have been "blah." I've been through eliminating flare, and using a deep hood (you have to be shooting fairly close to up-sun) and have tried all the standard, relatively non-color correcting filters (UV, Haze, Linear Polarizing, and none) and my pictures still don't come close to capturing half the brightness of all those
little points of light. The pictures are like looking at a copy of a copy.

Question; I don't know - steer me at a reference source - can the lens coatings be "suppressing" the brightness of the light coming through the ice lenses?

Shutter curtain pinhole repair
For repair of pinholes in shutter curtains I have successfully used Liquitex concentrated artist color (Mars black), a medium viscosity acrylic made for painting on cloth. It has the merit of remaining flexible. Available at the artists or crafts store, it can be applied THINLY with a cotton swab (not a toothpick) to cover several pinholes. I have repaired some very leaky curtains. To make sure that no pinholes have been missed, check the entire area (both curtains) with a 3X to 5X hand magnifier.  I have found pinholes invisible to the eye. After application do not move or operate the curtain of its use until the acrylic has fully dried (30 to 45 minutes). I have no information on how well this product performs against comparable products that surely have been used by other Exakta owners. The key is that the product must be recommended by the manufacturer for use on cloth, and it must have the property of remaining permanently flexible. Contact with the manufacturer to discuss the specifications could be helpful.

Perspective control
Dose anyone know if there were any lenses made for the Exakta that allowed perspective correction for shots of buildings, etc. I know that Nikon makes one and there may well be a number of others for 35mm cameras, but I have never seen one talked about in Exakta mount.

The Schneider 35mm PA Curtagon was available in Exakta mount. I've seen pdf reprints of Schneider literature on this lens on one of the Exakta sites.

For one thing, the Kopil Bellowsmat , which has rise & fall front movements was available for Exakta

A company called Atzmuller & Rendl has produced several perspective control lenses with Exakta mount. You can find them mentioned in the Exakta lens List on

Downfall of Exakta
I think the boat-missing was on the part of the East Germans. By the time the Contax D and Exakta started looking good, that part of Germany was in Communist hands. The Communists for ideological as well as perverted business reasons felt they could exploit the rotten capitalists rather than treat them as customers, to be wooed and pampered.  That meant that dealers in the Western world were usually quite arrogant and dismissive; that service was lousy (it remained so through all the Communist era, even in Communist countries); and quality began to deteriorate. The VX1000 is not as good as the VXIIb, the IIb not as good as the IIa and the IIa barely better if at all than the VX. There was no further point to the Exakta, and a lot of Americans wouldn't buy a Communist camera at that time even when the quality and features WERE good. So: political disdain on our side; political stupidity on their side.

Exakta fell in the wrong hands in the USA. It was poorly marketed and tightly controlled by the marketers/importers. Customer service became more and more shoddy and even arrogant. 

The Japanese companies employed totally different marketing strategies. Editors and journalists got lots of freebies and even trips. The now-famous brands were accordingly shown and mentioned "incidentally" in many magazines and movies - much like cigarette companies now do, with the film makers reaping rich rewards under the table. A few Big German companies did the same, and they survived, sort-of.  The modern Exakta 66 suffered the same fate. Such unbelievably poor marketing and service, such limited advertising and distribution, such arrogant dealers that no-one in their right mind would consider it seriously.

The legal fights over certain rights also ate money and energy that could have been used for Ihagee's development and marketing.

Granted, Exakta was behind with technical developments such as instant-return mirror and through-the-lens metering. The Exa 500 could have become a truly modern camera, albeit without removable prism, but it was too late.

I believe politics played a stronger role than most people would like to admit. In an era of McCarthyism, I think a lot of people were unwilling to admit they liked Exaktas, let alone buy one. Why these views still remain all these years later, though, is a mystery to me.

I want to remind you that the downfall of the Exakta (limited, then stopped development) was, according to a former technical director of Ihagee, not really caused by politics or law suits. He maintains that the Pentacon company would have decided to concentrate on one line (Praktica) even when there had been no particular problems with Ihagee/Exakta. I believe that, knowing that even the West German camera industry couldn't cope with the Japanese competition.

The quality, marketing and pricing of the Exakta was downgraded from a high quality instrument to a piece of junk. Only Earl Seymour (Seymour-Exakta) in the early 70s properly marketed the camera.

The business failure of the importer - Exakta Photographic Products - led to their closing out Exakta VX500 models with f2.8 Domiplan and waist level finder - at the retail price of $29.95 in Willoughby's and Alexander's department stores. People who bought these as a low price item had no idea of how to use them, easily snapped off the wind lever and the end was near. The jamming up of many RTL 1000 cameras added to this.

Exakta Photographic Products took many broken cameras under warranty back and never repaired and sent them back as they were going bankrupt – leaving dealers and the public furious. Thus in the biggest market (USA) the Ihagee Exakta was considered to be a piece of low end trash and no amount of pushing from Pentacon could have changed that mess.

I'm not sure how this fits in with the current discourse on Exakta's descent throughout the 1960's, but I find it interesting to review the commentary appearing in the popular press then (I.E. modern and Popular Photography). For example, both journals would state that the quality of the chrome finish of the East German marques Praktica and Exakta were below that of  their contemporary Japanese brands, but no such comparison was made with the more mainstream priced West German models of Icarex or Edixa. I'd be hard pressed to think of a camera whose chrome finish was more coarse or garish than that of an Icarex CS - decidedly not of the same stripe as a VXIIb or even of that of the Praktica L serie, but I've never seen in print anyone deride the faltering qualities of Zeiss Ikon throughout the same period. Perhaps I'm leaping to conclusions here, but I tend to attribute this as much as anything to Cold War politic. I'm sure there are many who may disagree.

Oil or graphite
I was reading the repair manual -- what a great community -- and it talked of taking the camera apart to get the grit out as oil and grit just cut the camera's innards. Now, I was wondering if I didn't take the whole camera apart, just the outer panels, brushed out the visible gunk, and used graphite instead of oil. Would that be better than nothing?

I know some people, even some books, advocate using graphite carried in lighter fuel or something similar, but having spent literally hours cleaning out an Exakta VXII, a Robot I and a Compur shutter that had been treated with graphite goo I hate the sight of the stuff. In my experience it might free off sticky parts for a while but when the lighter fuel dries out the graphite powder tends to get everywhere you don't want it to go like in the lens and on the film and makes a complete mess inside the camera. At least, that's my experience. The examples I had to clean were, I suspect, dosed with graphite by secondhand dealers just to get them clicking and sell them. Follow the series in Miles Upton's exaktaphile site and do the job properly.

I used graphite on a shutter 'once'. Sure glad it was a throw away camera

A better (past) future for Ihagee?
Has anyone ever considered if things could have been different for Exakta? Not a great deal was done that I can see after about the late fifties, in terms of advancing the technology, except the belated instant return mirror.

We've all seen once leadership businesses and divisions, etc., where a decision was eventually made to just harvest the cash, cut customer support and R&D, give priority to cost reduction, and ride a business down into the ground.

Clearly, Japan played the SLR game better and more consistently well than Exakta did in Exakta's last decade, or maybe in the last decade and a half of time that the Exakta name was still "alive." But, certainly, Japan was trying to improve, refine, and innovate (sometimes with lousy results) whereas Exakta wasn't trying. And Japan had a lot of problems to overcome, too. They were coming from nowhere, whereas Exakta had come from being "it" in 35mm SLR's.

But, I wonder sometimes, if it could have turned out differently if Exakta had done this on this date and/or stopped doing that on that date. Any thoughts?

Of course any company that had used enough resources and attracted enough brains could have competed with Japan. But in East Germany the access to new technology was limited, and in Ihagee (a private owned company!) there was no money either.

I have told you before that, according to the technical director of Ihagee in the 60's, the demise of Ihagee was not really caused by external problems, but by the decision to concentrate on Praktica only; a wise decision in my opinion, certainly from their point of view. As we know, Praktica did better because all available technology was used there. The basis of Exakta was old-fashioned from 1936 on. It was a continuation of the VP Exakta with only upgrades, without real innovation. This was good enough for many years, but it is/was a dead end.
IF East Germany had not been occupied and
IF Johan Steenbergen could have returned and
IF he had been able to find money and capable designers like Karl Nuechterlein, THEN MAYBE...
Let's blame emperor Wilhelm of Germany because he lost WWI, which made Hitler so angry that he lost WWII.

Split-image range finder 45 degrees useful?
Occasionally a seller, in this case Cambridge Camera (eBay #1353223714), extols the merits of a 45-degee split image finder for Exakta. The reasoning is to resolve focusing against a horizontal line reference in the view when no vertical lines are present. For tripod setups I see some merit of convenience. Most of my shots are handheld, and I merely rotate the camera slightly (much less than 45 degrees) to synchronize the split image against a horizontal line reference.

I have had 45 degree fresnel screen for a number of years. Quite frankly, I find it inconvenient. I always find myself rotating it so that it is horizontal. I much prefer the same screen with the regular horizontal split image. There always seems to me to be something to lineup such as eyes, noses, or mouths

I have no objection to the 45 degree screen and rather like it, in fact, since it means one does NOT have to rotate the camera whether in a vertical or horizontal position. However, I also prefer the plain ground glass, to tell you the truth.

Special grid screen
I also have two screens that have something like an extremely fine grid over the entire surface. It too snaps in and out focus well but the illumination does not seems to be even since it vignettes slightly even with a f2 50 mm lens. Does anyone know about this screen. I think it might have been an after market.

I have recently bought a ground glass grid screen. It appears to be "better" (I am not able to explain why it appears so) than the ground glass without screen. I have used since now ; it also snaps in and out of focus in a better way than the preceding screen. Is it possible that this is an optical effect due to the grid lines (the eye has an always sharp reference line to compare with the variable sharpness of the subject's details)?

Zeiss Sonnar that doesn’t fit
I just received a CZJ Sonnar 180/2.8, for which I doubtless paid way too much :-) On mounting it to my camera (a Varex IIB) the lens only turns a few degrees then the bayonet binds. Examining this bayonet against my other lenses I see that the locking pin is in a different location vis-a-vis the bayonet blades. Were there different versions of the mount? How can I get this one to fit? Is it a one-off rarity and worth zillions ??

You are not alone with this problem, but knowing that does not solve it. Ihagee added OD cams to the bayonet some time way back I believe in the mid '50s for certain lenses (I have no lenses that need this). You can see the 3 cams by looking at the bayonet. The locking pin on lenses made prior to this change (I have three) may not not clear the OD cam. I have one Exakta with the old style bayonet. No OD cams. That's one solution. I am considering removing the pin and grinding one side of the head. That is a maybe better solution.

Ultimately the solution was simple - I filed a fraction of a millimeter off the length of the locking pin, and it slotted home sweet as you like

Radioactive lenses
I recently came up with a nice practical solution to substantially reduce the residual radioactivity when carrying the Steinheil 55mm f1.9 on your Exakta. As I have recommended to everyone in the past, keep a Contax 49mm P filter over the front element of this lens at all times, even with using another filter. This reduces the radioactivity when shooting but does not not eliminate it. But the filter has a almost totally null effect of color balance (unlike almost any other "UV" filter).
So here's the second fix. Buy a small SIMA film shield. This pouch is made out of lead foil clad with Barium impregnated plastic, designed to attenuate X-rays in airport film scanners. It cuts easily with sharp scissors. You can cut out two circular sections of approximately 50mm diameter to fit inside hollow of the plastic Steinheil cap. Cut out the second circular section a little large and press it in over the first cutout into the cap. The lens cap still fits on the lens, and the two thicknesses of lead foil makes it safer to carry around when it jostles around at random angles. The plastic cladding keeps the lead covered so you aren't touching it when handling the cap.

Gentlemen, this business about the so-called hazards of mildly radioactive optical glass needs to be put into perspective! The type of emisions we are talking about, will be stopped by as little as a single sheet of PAPER! (or in this case, by any part of the camera) It will NOT fog your film, it will NOT rot your brain, it will NOT deform your unborn children! The ONLY application where it is any real hazard at all, is when using a telescope eyepiece made with these glasses. Here, the glass is in almost direct contact with the eye for extended periods of time, and there seems to be a cumulative effect on the lens of the eye, causing cataracts to develop. If you have a lens that's any more active than this, it's unusable as a photo lens anyway, since it will certainly fog your film!

Please don't blame the Germans alone; optical designers didn't have so many options; in the years when these designs appeared, the only "exotic" glasses available tended to be slightly "hot"! Uranium oxide is just one of the "rare earths". There is one version of the 50mm Asahi Pentax Takumar (I think the f/1.4) that is known for turning yellow or orange with age, due to its uranium glass. And this is the REAL problem with these glasses; the color change. The original culprits, who started using radioactive glasses, were the US and other militaries! They wanted special high performance optics, and damn the consequences; didn't you know there's a WAR on?!!! A lot of the Kodak, Bausch&Lomb and Wollensak aerial camera lenses made for the US in WW-2 have turned yellow with age. As well as many of those big Erfle eyepieces! It's only in recent years that modern glass technology has given the makers options WITHOUT the residual problems. I'd say MOST of the credit that is given to so-called "multi-coatings", should in fact go to the availability of new high-tech glasses.

I don't know what kind of radiation is put out by the Steinheil rare earth glass, but it is not stopped at all by a sheet (or several sheets) of paper, nor by several layers of aluminum foil. In fact, a lead sheet several mm thick did not completely block the radiation. (Just from curiosity, I checked it with a Geiger counter.) The radiation only comes from the front of the lens (none is detectable at the back of the lens or at the viewfinder), and seems to have a short range. I have never really worried about this "problem," since I don't spend a great deal of time looking in the front of my lens.

I think these sorts of lenses have been shown to fog film/paper, but you basically have to leave the lens inverted on the material for a while to have this occur. Still, just to be safe, I don't put film in the pocket of my camera bag facing the Steinheil 50mm (my favorite lens, despite the radioactivity).

The Japanese (as well as Leica) also used rare earth glass. It seems to have been very trendy for a while. Minolta used to brag about it in their ads (although they never mentioned radioactivity!). In fact, my 1970's vintage Olympus Zuiko 50/1.4 is much "hotter" than my Steinheil.

Also BTW, when I asked the Olympus technical guys what kind of radiation was produced by their lens (and if it was potentially hazardous) they essentially told me they had no idea. I would suspect they give off at least some beta and/or gamma radiation, since alpha particles would be stopped by a sheet of paper.

There are many factors in the formation of cataracts, but exposure to radiation has been proven to induce them. In the case of the rare earth optical glass, you would almost certainly need to spend prolonged periods in close proximity to the glass to have any problems. This is (or was) mostly a concern in cases where this type of glass was used to manufacture eyepieces for telescopes, etc. I do not consider it to be a problem for the Steinheil Exakta lenses, as no radiation is detectable at the viewfinder (where your eye should be).

The right to use the name Exakta
Lately I've been really enjoying using an Exa Ia with waist level finder and 35mm Flektogon for stealthy street shooting. Its inspired me to buy an Exa Ib to use with my Pentax thread lenses. A question just occurred to me, though, regarding the Exa Ib and Ic. The Ib and Ic were in production long after Pentacon had lost the right to use the Exakta name. How did that company retain the right use call these models Exa?

[Exa production ceased in 1987, long before the joining of East and West Germany and the demise of Pentacon. Why should Pentacon have lost a right that there were activily using? HR]

Why the embossed name plate of the Exakta IIa?
Actually guys, and I hope no one gets offended, I've always thought the embossed "anniversary" name plate was kind of cheap looking. I guess it has to do with trends in metalworking art more than anything else. At some point everyone in the industry began wanting to hide the fact that something was stamped, preferring instead, to convey the appearance of an item having been machined from a solid chunk. Clearly the Exakta decorators didn't care for this approach. Perhaps this explains that generation of very sharp angular cameras with pointy prisms and sharp edges everywhere. (the birth of the ding).
Back to Exaktas, I have always wondered why they didn't just cutoff the top of the front plate and introduce an overhanging prism with aperture coupling possibilities, the way Nikon did. Of course I'm not sure how they would have coupled the shutter! No matter, The Exaktas , particularly the aniversary model are the only world class cameras never to have been ashamed of stampings!

[It seems rather difficult to design an external aperture coupling system, where dozens of factories independent of Ihagee and each other produced hundreds of lens models. Coupling of a time setter that has to be lifted is very difficult. HR]

RulesForGreatEBayExaktaPictures  by Bob Locke

  1. Make the camera you are selling out of focus in the picture, but put the background in sharp focus.

  2. Make the camera very small in the picture, by shooting from far away.
  3. Put the camera on its back and shot from well below the lens, so that the front and top of the camera can't be seen.
  4. Take lots of pictures of the camera case, good sharp ones.
  5. Backlight the camera so it is too dark to see.
  6. Or alternatively, just under-expose the whole picture.
  7. Before sending the jpegs to eBay, size the photographs so that the pictures will be 'way smaller than the allowed picture service format.
  8. If you intend to charge really high prices from uninformed bidders, take several photos, always at funny angles, with the camera in space, like it is a playful little kitten.
  9. You know how your Quickie Mart Five Minute Photo 4 x 6 inch prints are always too wide for the eBay picture format ratio? Don't go to the work of cropping. Just compress the image horizontally. When the compression is so severe that the lens barrel is ellipsoid, the bidding will begin will get hot.
  10. Have lots and lots of pictures on slow servers at a really lousy image service. This way it will take forever for the item's page to load, and bidders' browsers will think the site is not responding, and give up waiting. This will narrow the field down to just the few, dedicated bidders you want.
  11. If you don't have much "Zubehor", bluff your way through. Spread spare filters and empty cases and magazines and ash trays around the camera to clutter up the picture. And again, remember to take the resulting picture from below, far away, badly light, and out of focus.
  12. Come to think of it, you can make many creative combinations out of the above.

Bad red curtain material from Microtools
You might all remember how I reshuttered one of my Varexes a year or 2 ago using shutter curtain cloth from Microtools. Well It's turned into a nightmare. The rubber is starting to get sticky, there are pinholes all over and the camera is useless. To make things worse, There's no way I can unfold those curtain frames again without them cracking. It's really infuriating to think Microtools could sell a substandard product for a critical app but I should have seen it coming. The curtain tape I bought from them was way too thick to use on any camera and was plain cotton so I scrapped it. I guess they are just buying anything they find bulk, and reselling it as photo repair materials. It took me the better part of a day to get those curtains gapped and moving perfectly with the right relative growth, specing at all speeds. I don't think I want to do it again. I wonder what else they are selling with the repair label on it. It was the red curtain material that failed. They have 2 type. One is available in red and black and the other type only in black. I don't know if the other type fails like this one.

I started making my own curtain material several years ago after buying some of the black curtain material that Microtools says is .001". When it arrived it miked at .012" - way too thick for an Exakta. The square foot that's been sitting on a shelf since purchase is still in nice shape. I bought the same ribbons and they are worthless for any camera applications except maybe a 1903 Graflex SLR that has 1/8" clearance.

Older waist level view finders in the Exa Ic
I use the Exa 1c's WLF more often than the prism finder. However, I like the older type of WLF much more than the modern versions; I prefer the thicker condenser and the larger image. I find that it is relatively easy to fit the older WLF onto (= into) the Exa 1c, but it is darn hard to get it off/out again. Have you had any experience with this? Is there some modification that one could attempt?

I can't help much more than confirm that it is indeed a lot easier to get my ver. 3 WLF finder on a 1c than off. Once on it seems to work fine but the removal process is not for the faint of heart, requiring both finesse and prayer. The ver. 6 WLF slips on and off easily as does a ver. 5 prism but the ver. 2 prism doesn't fit at all. Interestingly, my Exa 1b will not accept either the ver. 2 prism or the ver. 3 WLF. They're both too big.

Just cut away the edges of the old waist level finder. Remove the frame of the wlf by unscrewing the 6 screws and cut the edge off. With a Dremel or so. Or bend the edges up. Will not look nice, but should work. Surely you will have a damaged one for a try.

Indeed. I did it tonight. Instead of taking the edges off with a Dremel grinder, I just bent them over with small pliers. Voila! The old WLF with its thick condenser fits beautifully on my Exa 1c, it even looks nice, and it is easy to take off.

Special VP
I recently purchased what appears to be an interesting chrome Exakta B, version 6, except that it has a large black milled focusing ring like a Night Exakta but a smaller lens. It seems to closely resemble item 9 on page 73 of "Exakta Obscurities" by Cullen & Rademaker but with two exceptions:
1)      the focusing ring is black rather than chrome and
2) the focusing lock lever is on the opposite side from normal
I would be interested in whatever insights the List members can provide regarding this camera and especially opinions as to whether it was produced at the Ihagee factory or is the product of later user modifications.

I think it is a later user modification. But at this price, I would have bought it, too!

Buying and processing 127 film (2002-2003)
For 127 film, you don't have a lot of choice. Instead of worrying about which film is best, you just have to take whatever is available. (Either that or undertake cutting your own from 120 rolls.) B&H sells a few. Look in "other film formats" under "Film and Storage." They have Ektachrome E100S slide film and Portra 160NC print film (also Maco 100 B&W film). You can get film (basically the same choices as from B&H) and processing from "Film for Classics":

In this country [USA HR], considering that you live so close to the city, I should think that you would buy the 127 film from B&H - NYC. I don't know whether B&H have anyone to offer processing through their store.

If B&H can't suggest someone local to you for processing (darn, its nice to be able to have someone local when the results are lousy), and if you can't find anyone else in your area, based upon my experience with 127 processing and printing, I would strongly recommend you try Rocky Mountain for processing instead of using Film For Classics. Rocky Mountain is run as an actual business and handles other discontinued film formats besides 127 (828, etc.) and they will answer communications and care whether a customer is coming back, in my experience. The web address for Rocky Mountain Lab is
By the way, there are other several other places to buy 127 film by mail that have good websites and service, besides B&H, but B&H is just a fantastic place to visit and you're lucky to live so close. I sure never went in for one item without coming out with several.

Check out this site for a possible source of 127 film. I just ran across it a couple of days They offer Croatia made Efke film in that format in b/w print and color transparency. They also offer slide mounts. Not sure about color print, but they may have that too.
Have never used this film so I can't vouch for it, but it appears to be real new manufacture 127 film, pre-spooled. They show a few example photos shot on the film for what it's worth.

VP (not) nice to use
"The Exakta VP... It is a real pain to use. The viewfinder, non-removable, is dim. No prism finder, so no eye-level. Outside, light leaks in and you cannot see the dim screen anyway. The lens is a Tessar f3.5, non-coated and non-removable and completely manual,  not even pre-set. So you are stuck with only one viewpoint and very slow change of f-stop and focus."

I agree that with the 3.5 lenses the finder is quite dim, but it seems the 2.8 and f2 lenses make a world of difference. My Juniors have dim finders, but I really don't find the same problem on my B's with 2.8 and 80/2 lenses. Also, there is definitely a difference in my VP's that are in great shape cosmetically. You may have a problem with mildew or dirt on the screen that makes it appear dim and focusing tough. I have a couple of really nice shape VP's with clear screens that focus like a charm. I just have to actually use them.

Schneider and ISCO
ISCO simply is an abbreviation of Jos. Schneider CO. Isco was founded by Schneider to meet the demands of the military for special lenses, that could not be delivered by the other optical factories!

I agree "cheaper alternative" better describes the Isco line. While pondering this I pulled out an old Schneider lens ( 12.5cm f2 Xenon) I was told is from a WW II German aerial camera( although I always questioned its age because it had a very low serial number and was uncoated) and note that it is marked " Schneider Goettingen", rather than the usual "Schneider Kreuznach”.

I just checked the Vade Mecum & it states that Isco is " a well known subsidiary of J. Schneider of Kreuznach" & its first product was the 125-f2 Xenon, etc., but its product line since the war has mainly been lenses for 35mm SLR's. All settled.

I do have to say though on an experiential basis, I very much prefer ISCO. All of my ISCO lenses have performed every bit as well as my comparable Schneider lenses. However, the ISCO lenses seem to me to be much more durable and sturdy. Perhaps, ISCO went for a less expensive mechanism which required a heavier construction. For instance, the Schneiders have persistent problems with sluggish irises, which the ISCO don't have as much (at least from my experience).

You can check out their home page: They started making optics in 1936, the same year as the Kine Exakta.

What is the VadeMecum?
"A lens collector's Vade Mecum" , a comprehensive treatise on photographic lenses of over 500 pages ( or on one CD) published in England. email:

How to get a VP to coax flash connector
The only adapters I have seen are those to convert the 2-prong plug to a PC socket. I'm fairly certain that these are no longer produced by any company. In the old (pre-eBay) days, when I was unable to find one of these, I fashioned my own cord by modifying a similar two-prong flash cord I found in the junk box of an old camera store. The prongs were too large for the VX, so I ground them down and bent them to fit. Then I spliced that cord with the end of a Vivitar cord to attach to my flash.
You will occasionally see these items on eBay. I got one from Robert Pins several years ago; he had a number of them, still in the original blister packs. It is worth checking to see if he still has any to sell. Someone else on the list can possibly give you his number. He doesn't have a website that I know of, and I haven't had his catalog for several years. I was disappointed with his grading of used equipment (among other things), but there is not much to go wrong with a small part like this.
You might try calling or e-mailing some used equipment dealers, or visiting some older camera shops in your area. Some might consider this item too small and insignificant (or unidentifiable?) to list in a catalog.
As a very _last_ resort, you might try Cambridge Camera. They are notorious in the camera community for their sleazy business practices, but they still have a lot of Exakta stuff after buying out Seymour's some years ago. It is possible that you might actually get what you order from them if you are specific and determined!

Under Exakta accessories: Kaiser, Exakta dual-plug to PC adapter #8550xxx (9) $12. They even have a photo of it!

White, non-original prism view-finder
I have an Exakta prism which is white on the inside!

Normally if you look through the finder at the walls of the prism you won't see much of anything - just black except maybe for thin lines on the edges if they are desilvering. Well, when I look through this one I see white walls with clearly defined edges. It's like looking inside a pentaprism shaped room. I can still see the view finder image and it's about as bright as any of my other prisms. Was wondering if anyone knew anything about this. Is this a factory job? Was it resilvered? Anybody else got a white prism? Any info is greatly appreciated.

I have a few, most are marked " Sperling", others have no mark. Obviously not Ihagee.

In 1961 Ihagee West entered into an agreement with Foto-Vertriebs- und Fertigungs-GmbH in West-Berlin for the production of prism view-finders for the (true) Exakta. This company had produced these view-finders between 1953 and 1955 illegally and, according to Ihagee West, with a bad quality. Ihagee West put pressure on the Exakta importers (e.g. Mr. Heynderickx in The Netherlands) to buy these view-finders, now carrying the name IHAGEE, instead of the ones from Ihagee Dresden. Heynderickx has told me that those prsims were the ones with the white interior. He already had had many complaints about the (illegal?) view-finders from his customers, who had bought them privately in Germany.

Sperling, also from Berlin, has also produced prism view-finders with a white interior but, according to my source, always under its own name.

Making one lens out of two?
It is not really to be recommended to swap single glasses from one Zeiss lens to the other as Zeiss changed the design of the lens and the sort of glasses, used, quite often. For example the Sonnar was redesigned several times and this happened with the Biotar and Tessar, too.
Another point is, that you will not be able to get the lens centered perfectly again. You may have a chance to get a lens centered quite good again after cleaning it when marking the position of the single glasses, they had before removing.

Guys, you're going to drive yourself NUTS with this idea! The hard truth is, most lens elements can't be successfully "swapped", outside of a single production batch from a single maker. Curvatures, diameters, glass types and even thicknesses of elements change, as a design is produced over time. It's therefore just not reasonable to expect a "borrowed" lens design from one maker to have parts interchangeable with the original. And often optics need to be hand "matched", even in normal production.

Cambridge Camera still in business? (2003.02)
I read in Pop Photo some months (or a year?) ago that they were cleaning up their advertising section. They specifically mentioned kicking out one bad advertiser. They did not name which one, but the Cambridge Camera ad was missing from that issue, and has not reappeared. (Or at least I don't think it is back; I only look at Pop Photo intermittently these days). I think I saw a Cambridge ad in a recent Outdoor Photographer (which used to be one of the few magazines free of such things), or one of the other magazines on the rack (Photographic? They are hard to tell apart anymore.).
Internet legend has it that Cambridge is still in Pop Photo under an alias (AAA?). Considering the reputed business practices of some of Pop's other ("Check Rated"!) advertisers, you have to think that Cambridge must have really crossed the line to get booted. They were/are the most notorious of the "back-of-pop-photo-rip-off-joints," but hardly the only one. I would have thought that the reputable (and biggest) advertisers (B&H, Adorama, etc.) would have tried to get Pop Photo to clean up just to avoid being tarred with the same brush.
But, back to the point, they still seem to exist, and have a Cambridgeworld web page claiming that they have "thousands of Exakta cameras, lenses and accessories in stock." No doubt most or all of these are leftovers from Seymour's:
There is no list or catalog, only a request to "call us for all your needs." No, thanks. I called Cambridge once (I thought I was calling Seymour's Exakta, not realizing it had been bought out), and have no wish to repeat that experience.

You are correct about Cambridge. They are now in the old B&H store on 17th Street just west of Ave. of Americas. Different shop; same old people.

Lists of camera fairs
Is there a good list for foot fairs in Europe? I know there are some good ones for U.S.A. that include part of the european fairs.

PhotoDeal magazine has a very good listing and you can find a copy usually in a bookseller located in a larger Bahnhof. The antique/collector magazines such as SammlerJournal or Troedler [Now one magazine called Sammler und Troedler Journal HR] usually has a smaller listing - not nearly as complete.

A good site is This is a Dutch site, but also in English. Fotografica is the Dutch collectors club old camera and cinema equipment. They organise the biggst fair in Europe in Houten twice a year. Yesterday I went there myself and bought some nice Exakta equipment. Next fair will be on Sunday 9 November. Fotografica gives an extensive list of all European fairs in the wide neighbourhood of The Netherlands, including Germany, France and the UK.

[Next international photographica fairs in The Netherlands on 7 may and 21 November 2004 HR]

Infra-red photography with an Exakta
Does anyone on the list have experience using infrared B&W film with the Exakta? Any words of wisdom to offer? I also have a question: I've been told that textured pressure plates (on Minoltas specifically) can transfer spots to the film and I'm concerned my VX1000 may do likewise. I'd appreciate any feedback on infrared from the list.

Focus normally and reposition to the RED R where the feet mark was indicated. Use a ttl head as the exposure factor of the deep Red filter is 3+ stops. its been 15 years for me but I remember some great stuff shot in Monument Valley Utah with this technique, that worked well. Of course if you lens does not have a Red R on it you may be guessing.

Now, I don't know if you are in position to do this, but phone # for Kodak is 1-800-242-2424. They can confirm what I'm telling you, in tech information office. Try using a very dense #87 opaque filter. Plus you may try using a red filter/polarizer combination. On the #87 you may not be able to see through it to focus, so you would have to first focus, then put filter on the Exakta. It will depend on the strength of the light.

Inspection or matching codes in the backs of Ihagee cameras
Is there a possibility that those numbers correlate to the inspectors ok, and stayed with the camera, until leaving the assembly line. I've noticed in some of my VP, numbers that started with an "0" and then ended in a ltr. For example 0518P or 699K. I'm not sure, but most of the part numbers or body numbers never started with a 0. But when a station came up for piece part they would indicate the assem position by another number. This may not be true for VP's and may have been for other manufactures. I've noticed this in Kodak folding cameras many times, but may not apply here.

That's a good question. The short answer is that maybe this could be so. But I doubt it because (1) the numbers were stamped into the removable back and into the body before either was painted, and (2) if they were an inspection mark then they could not have been very near the end of the assembly line.
I think the numbers more likely just mean one specific back fitted nicely with one specific body after any required fitting adjustments pre-painting, and the numbers merely facilitated re-combination after bodies and backs were respectively painted in production lots.

I have found a remarkable 'pencil inscription' in a EXA I a. Under the film pressure plate is handwritten WJM 6346 Gry or Gzy. Serial number is 361312. My Exaktas have the last 3 numbers of the serial number handwritten under the film pressure-plate. In my VX i am not sure, because the plate is screwed. Don’t know if I can get it correctly mounted after all.

Try switching the backs on two VX's and you'll probably find out why the parts were being marked. ;-) Most of these marks are 'tags' that employees used to aid in assembling groups of cameras. There are quite a few different pressure plate initials. Some are graphite pencil, some are red wax. The initials probably belong to the person who assembled or inspected that part of the camera.

The Ihagee made so many different Ultrix cameras. For double format, with additional plate back, with focusing lever, with front cell focusing, frame finder, Albada finder. I guess they had marked all parts with a code so that they could avoid a mix-up of the many different parts needed for so many different kinds of cameras. Have a look at your car. Each part will have it's own code number.

The pencil written numbers in the Exakta backs: It was one of the last steps in production to add the back to the Exakta. During production, the back wasn't fixed to the body, the spindle of the hinge was still missing. The number made sure that each camera got it's fitted back.

[Also read the article "Control backs?" by Harald Brochmann, Exakta Times no.34 March 1999 p14-15 HR]

What type of glue is found on both types of cameras? On the Exas it appears to be a darker substance than the yellowish type found on later ver. of Exaktas. Wouldn't think it was horse glue, and have never read such in any books that I can recall. Is it a resin or synthetic type?

The darker glue on earlier Exas and similar age Varexes is actually red. I'm not sure exaktly what was in this glue but I can tell you for certain  that it's heavily impregnated with iodine (probably as an anti-fungal) and very brittle. When I remove this glue from a camera, it flies all over the place. The properties of the red glue are similar to hide glue used on good music instruments/cabinetry/furniture... very strong but it "breaks" clean and easy.

Is there a solvent you have had that will break loose the old glue from the material, or camera, that would prevent the material from breaking or cracking? Lot of times it just will not come loose.

If I were still in the real workforce, I'd sneak some old adhesive samples into the lab for analysis. I have seen some red stuff that cracks and doesn't want to come off in any user friendly manner, and I am going to guess was an early Resorcinol, or animal-based product (obsolete when used in the thirties). And I've also seen some other red prewar stuff that flakes apart like crazy from the metal (because the metal hadn't been properly cleaned of oil intended to prevent surface oxidation of the steel) and I am going to guess that was a phenolic, good cheap adhesive widely used in a broad mid-century period. And the vile yellow stuff postwar that doesn't want to give up but has lost its properties as an adhesive, I'm going to guess that was an isocyanate (TDI) - or "urethane" - adhesive, often badly formulated in the fifties and sixties.

Regarding widely available consumer solvents (most people can't get carbon tet or methylene chloride, etc.).

I would suggest (first) mineral spirits; it almost most always works, use sparingly (Q-tips to apply and remove, toothpicks to attack when the adhesive is softened, and again a fresh Q-tip with spirits to remove the softened goo).

I would suggest as second choice (and any lawyer is going to sue here), but maybe I should say skipping from first to fourth choice among today's available solvents would be nail polish remover. Its usually highly perfumed to mask the solvent release but its pretty good stuff. Lacquer thinner can be pretty effective, too. But with the latter two, I'd pay attention to not using it a lot in a confined space as the high can be hard to come down from. Also, they can be aggressive solvents, attacking things you accidentally touch, although not skin unless you have an unusual sensitization.

Nine times out of ten mineral spirits will do it. It merely stinks. And so long as you're a nonsmoker and dispose of the Q-tips and rags properly, the hazards are relatively low level.

Your description of a phenolic glue sounds like what is on early Exas. What is your opinion of the iodine?  The powder (during removal) reeks of iodine and stains in a similar manner. Is there a glue component from this era which smells like iodine but isn't?

I guess that the leathering of the early Exaktas and Exas was glued with Shellac (this dark yellow to brown glue). The residues of this glue can be removed with Methanolum (be carefull, poison!).The real leather of the Kine and earlier Varex, VX cameras and the fabric and real leather of the earlier Exas were fixed with it. Later when Ihagee turned to fabric covering materials, they also changed the glue. Don't know when this happened, as I do not want starting to peel of all the leatherings of my cameras.

The German word 'Methanolum' sounds very close to the English Methanol but the best way is to check the chemical formula on the label - CH3OH. If this is Methanolum, it is also Wood Alcohol/Methanol.

Wood alcohol should dissolve shellac. Principally, shellac is wax gum dissolved in wood alcohol.

Leatherette on Ultrix =? On Exa
Most of us are familiar with the ribbed leatherette on early Exas and some models of Ultrix. Last night I held one of each camera side-by-side and in my opinion the ribbed leatherette on an early Exa is not just similar but identical to the Ultrix. Did Ihagee have an extra roll of ribbed leatherette laying around after the war and use it on the first Exas?

I know just what you mean, that's a very interesting subject. They appear to be (Ultrix and earliest Exas) the same, but I question whether they are, in fact, identical. From the surface they seem very similar. But I have seem more than one early Exa on which the "leatherette ribbed surface" is just deteriorating like a snake skin, delaminating from the cloth substrate, and pulling apart from itself, very brittle.
And, my experience is that if you touch the Exa ribbed surface that is brittle and coming apart from its deteriorating backside with any sort of current, volatile solvent-based adhesive, the "snake skin" just wants to dissolve and shrink.
I have never seen a pre-war Ultrix with that condition. The cloth and the calandered ribbed vinyl surface on top of it are always in good shape and if a corner has come loose, you can safely glue it back down.

Re-covering Exaktas
Another source for camera covering material is:
They sell a variety of types. It takes a lot of browsing of their site to see all of the choices, but some look very similar to the Exakta coverings (although there is not a ribbed style like the Ultrix). They sell pre-cut kits for "most post-war Exakta SLR's."

I have not tried their products, but they get a lot of good reviews from the Leica fans. They seem to specialize in oddly colored "exotic" camera coverings (snakeskin, etc.) that I would personally never put on any of my cameras, but to each his own, I guess. They do have several "ordinary" styles, though, in real or fake leather.

Their stuff has some sort of self-adhesive backing, so you will probably not get to use your favorite vintage glue formula with their products, either.

Are you aware of He makes pre-cut stick on kits in a variety of materials at reasonable prices. I haven't checked what Exakta/Exa patterns he has but you might want to check. (If that URL doesn't come up for you I can find it and send you the full path).

Kin-Dar and Hyponar
Here's a quoted history excerpt of  the Kindar/Hyponar from a letter written by Seton Rochwhite (at the young age of 92!).

"In the late 60's it occurred to me that there might still be a market for the Kindar lens. By that time we had moved to San Jose, CA. So I re-designed it and gave it the name "Hyponar". I changed the finish from plain aluminum to black anodized. I also made some dimensional changes so that it would fit the then current models- VXIIa and VXIIb. With Kindar out of business I no longer had the Steinheil Cassar lenses available but I was able to get surplus lenses from Edmund Scientific which I re-mounted. As I remember they were from the Revere Stereo camera."

Loosening lenses (and more) with WD40
WD-40 rescued the lens on my newly-acquired Exakta 500. The lens, a Zeiss 50mm f2.8 Tessar, was locked up so stiff that it took all my strength to move it the focusing ring from infinity to the hyperfocal distance for f8. The eBay seller described this malady on the auction page, so I had no beef with him. But what to do?
This was a case where drastic action was called for. The whole camera and lens outfit cost about $50, so I could not justify sending the lens off for a costly CLA. The lens was in beautiful shape -- but evidently the factory grease had congealed to the point of virtual solidity. I bought a small can of WD-40, protected front and back lens surfaces from getting sprayed, and with the little nozzle tube squirted small amounts of the liquid into the space between the inner and outer lens barrel sleeves. The upshot: this fixed the problem. The lens now turns smoothly. Though still slightly stiff, I can use it, and I am getting very nice results.
Of course this would have been a disaster if any of the WD-40 had leaked internally onto any of the lens elements. But it didn't happen.

However as a courtesy to you I will say that WD-40, a local (San Diego area) product in those yellow and blue cans, is found just about everywhere in the world. We hear this about every year when some local newsperson writes up an article on one of our "famous" local companies. I just wish they would get rid of that smell!

The legend is that "WD" stands for "Water Displacement" and the current product is the 40th formulation they tried. It may be advertising hype. My take is that it is mostly kerosene.

My knowledge bank states WD-40 stands for, " War Development " 40th formula. This product was developed to ease the operation of screw thread rocket nose cones during WW2. It seems there was great problems with the threads seizing from manufacture to explosive insertion.

"WD-40 literally stands for Water Displacement, 40th attempt. That's the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed WD-40 back in 1953. The chemist, Norm Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion -- a task which is done by displacing water. Norm's persistence paid off when he perfected the formula on his 40th try."

WD-40 does have some strange ingredients, including kero, but NOT, fortunately, silicone! In the application we're discussing, where we are trying to refresh dried-out lubricant, a little clear #1 kero might do as well, without the odd smell. And speaking of great smells, my favorite useful liquid for camera repair is Hoppe's #9 bore cleaner, which is ideal to remove that dull film from camera (Exakta) chrome.

Another hint, in another message, concerned using WD-40 to loosen up stiff focusing on lenses, particularly the Zeiss Tessar types that are prone to it.  I have also recommended this on this list, but I would use a 50-50 mixture of light oil with the WD-40, and as said in the other message, make sure no oil gets into the lens elements. You can drip the mixture into the gap between the outer focusing ring and the lens. First rack the lens out to the close-up position, then put in a few drops using a syringe, and rack the lens back to draw the oil mixture in. If you are careful and have a small syringe, you can also put it in from behind, inside the lens mount. Again, make sure to cover the elements. I have also used WD-40 successfully to loosen up a slow-speed knob /film indicator. Use it sparingly, work the parts back and forth, and you can do it with no harm. I was amazed at the sticky dirt that was under the film-indicator ring , which the WD-40 flushed out.

In the Netherlands WD40 is available

As a veteran of 37 years of photography, and having worked around just about every conceivable fluid, chemical or co-treated liquids. I wouldn't recommend anyone with a camera of any type, and not just Exaktas ever use anything but the properly treated fluids on lenses, and most definitely gear mechanics, sleeves, rack and pinion, etc. with anything, but taking apart  and using grease, oil or resins of the proper thickness or grade. If you want to permanently ruin a lens cement, use the wrong one. If you want to mix old grease (dried) with something new like spray you mentioned, that could possible cause an abrasive reaction, go right ahead, but don't tell us about it.

Improving the brightness of the prism finder
Since I work a lot with available light, I have this question. Compared to the waist level finder, the prism finder appears to be much darker. And the difference is not just one or two stops. The waist level finder combined with a 2.8/50 Domiplan lens is still much brighter than the prism finder with a 2.0/50 Pancolar. This difference is clearly much bigger than I would expect. Is there a way to improve the brightness of the prism finder? I already followed the suggestion to improve the mat ground glass with sewing machine oil. It really works.

You might consider one of the fresnel-type screens that was made for the Exaktas. I have one of these, and it is brighter than the plain ground glass, although it seems difficult (or impossible) to focus using the fresnel area, which shows up in the viewfinder as a series of concentric rings. (I suppose you have to rely on the split-image rangefinder with these.) I don't use the one I have because I don't really have a problem with the brightness of the plain ground glass/prism finder, and the fresnel screen was damaged when I got it (the plastic fresnel surface seems rather fragile). I got the screen with a finder I bought. If you would like to have it to try out, contact me off-list.
Something else to consider: Last year I ordered a focusing screen for my Rolleicord from Bill Maxwell. He told me that he can make these for virtually any camera, and suggested he would try it on an Exakta screen if I was interested. I'm not sure if his process can be applied to glass screens, but you could contact him. I'm not sure if he was thinking of modifying the existing screen, or cutting out a screen from a fresnel blank. The screen made a dramatic difference with my Rolleicord, which was previously almost impossible to use indoors. I don't think he has e-mail or an internet site, but his phone number is 404-244-0095. (He is located in the US.)
By the way, I would think there is a trade-off between viewing brightness and focusing "snap." A relatively coarse ground glass gives a good feeling of when an object is in focus vs. out-of-focus. With a finer ground glass (or oiling a ground glass), there is more light transmitted, but the difference between in focus and out-of-focus is more difficult to appreciate. On the other hand, if the image is too dark to focus, "snap" cannot be appreciated. Of course, this makes little difference if you are relying on a focusing aid (like the split image). Personally, I can't stand split-image circles.

I believe that is right. Oil or vaseline tricks give you a brighter screen at the expense of focus. The best is to use a clear glass with a central cross-hair (takes a bit of practice to get used to focusing your eyes on the cross-hairs) or with a central split-prism and clear glass around it. I believe split-prism, clear glass types are rare. The ones with the cross-hairs were more common in my day and were much used for microscope work.

I have a couple of pretty dark ground glass focusing screens that indeed could be 2 stops darker thank my better screens. I also have a couple of wonderful ground glass focusing screens that are very bright and snap in and out focus like a charm. Certainly putting on a good screen such as a fresnel screen, may be just the trick for a prism that is no longer transmitting all the light it originally did.

Need to adjust the ground glass position?
The focusing screen in the pentaprism housing of my Exakta VX IIb has straight sides, with no registration indents to securely maintain an exact position. Its possible to have one edge lower than the other, or one corner cocked relative to the other. This must lead to inaccuracy in focusing, especially at wide apertures where depth of focus is critical.
Either way the raised rails are supposed to be at the same distance as the film rails. What bothers me is that there is no way of raising or lowering the screen for adjustment. Only the mirror angle is variable but depth must occur when it is in the right position or you will get different focus points depending on where you focus on the screen. I guess you could shim one end of the flange but again, if you throw it off angle you might be in focus nicely all along the screen but the picture won't be! My best guess is they felt it wasn't a problem as long as the centre was in focus since that's where most photos are important and you wouldn't be able to tell in the finder anyway if using the old ground glass screens.
However, when using coarse collar screens and a magnear I can detect areas of different focus along the collar! I would call it a design flaw. It's more of an omission coming from a time when that sort of thing wasn't yet critical yet - before the days of the 75 Biotar or 180 Sonnar which the Kine predates by 4 years or so in the case of the Sonnar. The 2B is not that different from a Kine. Of course it would be a serious design flaw if it was a current design.

The registration of the focus point for the focusing screen is maintained by the tension of the springs on the arms holding down the finder in place. The spring holds the screen in place flat against the top of the mirror housing. I am sure you also noticed that the finders also have small springs which causes the screen to move under tension in the finder itself. Its actually quite a good system. The really critical issue is the angle of the mirror. Even a slight variation will cause out of focus pictures. I believe that any detectable difference of focus on the screen may be caused by a slightly warped mirror. Personally, I have never noticed any difference other than the difference caused by the distortion caused by the curvature of the screen itself.

The alignment of your focusing screen is not determined by the fit into the prism, but by the body of the camera itself. There is a metal frame (part of the camera body) that supports the focusing screen. You can demonstrate this by deliberately installing the screen slightly crooked in the prism, and then installing it in the camera. When the screen presses against the frame in the camera body during installation, it is forced into alignment. When you remove the prism again to examine it, you will find that the screen has been "straightened."

Q1 Quality mark
Your "RTL 1000" photo camera (built by VEB Pentacon Dresden!) with the "Q1"-sign is marked as a premium quality product of East Germany (G.D.R.). I don't want to bother you too much with east-/west German history, but especially this example may need some explanation.
In 1951 a so called "Quality Control System" was introduced to the East German economy. In East Berlin the new "Office for Quality Control" ("Deutsches Amt fuer Messwesen und Warenpruefung") was established. In 1964 it was extended with a department for standardizing the industrial production, their products and product lines (very similar to the pre-war or later West German "DIN - Deutsches Institut fuer Normung"). To make a long story short: The new system of QC in the G.D.R. was introduced and all producers were obliged to mark their products, to ensure a certain consciousness for delivering quality products to the people's economy. This was, considering the historical circumstances, not so easy to achieve. The "Q" with an included "1" means the product meets the highest quality guidelines (top class/ Spitzenerzeugnis), followed next by a "1" in a kind of triangle (equal to "1st quality"). There has been a "2" in a triangle for 2nd quality, a simple letter "S" for standard quality and an empty triangle for a non-standardized (classified) quality product (probably not worth to invest any money in).

USSR occupied
I believe that the distinction is that "USSR Occupied" refers to the portions of Germany occupied by the Soviets immediately after the war and established as a "zone" before the actual creation of the DDR.

Yes, all the cameras were made in the same place, but not all were stamped 'U.S.S.R. Occupied', only those that were imported into the U.S.A. As a result, these stamped cameras are considered relatively rare in other (non-USA) markets. This is why some E-bay sellers point out the stampings on their wares.  Whether or not it has any real affect on the value of the camera is questionable, since so many were in fact imported into the USA.

I wonder when the US stopped demanding the "USSR Occupied" inscription. To me it seems kind of diplomatic protest against the division of Germany after the war. This protest would logically stop the moment the US recognized the GDR.

The stamping does not mean much in terms of value at this time, but it inevitably will. Your grandchildren may get rich, but not you. USSR-occupied used to be a curiosity mark, as it is only in the West that cameras had to be marked this way. But now the USSR no longer exists and the mark becomes one of those things that people at auctions and on the Antiques Road Show value, because it sets off the product from otters that are similar.

Parvola model out of line?
I have just acquired a Parvola #369954. It has knob wind, no strap lugs, and is formatted 4x6.3 cm. It has the 70mm/3.5 Xenar lens in Compur 1/300. It would seem to be a standard model 1350 of early 1931. BUT it has a focusing scale calibrated for roll film and also for plates. Is this normal? I thought the plate version was the 1550 Dual Format model which was much later in 1933 with higher serial #. I would like to get the plate back and also the half frame back. Is there a source for these?

The metered prism of the RTL1000, how to open
Does anyone know how to disassemble the metered prism of the Exakta RTL1000? I've got the top leatherette off and the screws are undone, but the asa/shutter dial shows no apparent means of disassembly.

Regarding the RTL 1000 meter prism.......please don't go there. If it worked, you would find it so frustrating to use that you would not use it. I suggest you ditch the RTL meter prism sooner instead than later. You will be happier, I predict.

If the TTL meter isn't broken, don't try to fix it. If it is broken, save your salvage efforts for something else, and use it as a viewfinder.

The easiest and most pleasurable way to disassemble it is to take a holiday to New York, go to the top of the Empire State building, throw it off the top sight-seeing perch, and go down to the bottom to sweep up the pieces. The meter design was not worth it. Forget it. I know of none of them that were any good.

Exakta lenses on Bolex film camera?
I recently purchased a Bolex-Exakta adapter to use my unnecessarily numerous Exakta mount lenses on my old 16mm camera (a Victor Cinematograph Model 4. Yes it still works fine). Hopefully, some of you can answer these questions:
Firstly, I am not sure if the Bolex adapter is a true C-mount adapter or one of the "Bolex-mount" adapters they used in some of their cameras (forget whether those were for the reflex or not). Any ideas on how to tell?
Secondly, it occurs to me that I might have to make adjustments for the f-stop. Given that the ratio of light going into the focal plane of the film camera seems to me to be greater than it would be on the old VX (about twice as much, I figure), should I go stop down two after taking a meter reading? I have an old book on using telephoto lenses that has all kinds of calculations they used to have to go through in the old days, but it makes my head hurt.
Thirdly, is there anything else I should know; such as, whether there a limit to the types of lenses I can use?

Keep in mind that "f-stop" numbers (f/4, f/8, etc.) are ratios (like fractions). For example, f/4 means: f (focal length) divided by 4. In other words, the aperture is one-forth the focal length. This is called the FOCAL RATIO. Since the focal length doesn't change (prime lens), the iris diaphragm (f-stop) determines the aperture, which effects the focal ratio. My point is: two different lenses, both at f/4, can have different apertures! So, call it f-stop numbers if you want but remember it's really FOCAL RATIO."
The 'focal ratio' never takes into account the size of the light sensing target - so it doesn't make any difference whether it's 16mm or 35mm - f4 is f4, and the meter reading you get that calls for f4 should be accurate, all else being equal. What will change is the APPARENT focal length. A 16mm film frame is roughly one quarter the size of a 35mm frame. So, again roughly, a 100mm lens from a 35mm camera (being used on a 16mm camera) should give you the same view as a 400mm lens being used on a 35mm camera. You see these same types of calculations being used when digital camera lenses are given an 'equivalency' in 35mm camera lenses. A 7-21mm zoom lens in Digital is equivalent to 35-105mm 35mm camera lens -- the reason is that the light sensor in a digital camera is one fifth the size of a 35mm film frame.

Film transport problem with RTL1000
When I load film into any Exakta RTL1000, I have quite a bit of difficulty ensuring that the film is actually advancing. On more than one occasion, I have loaded the film following the instructions in the instruction manual (even checking to see that the film appeared to be advanced properly by rechecking after closing the back and advancing the film) only to discover later (after thinking that I had taken a full roll of shots) hat it had not advanced at all. How about recommended solutions?
I know that I could check for film advancement by tightening the film in the canister (turning the rewind crank without pushing the rewind button) and watching the crank to see if its turning. But I don't always remember to do that. And it doesn't seem that I should have to worry about such a basic function as film advancement.
Another problem that I have experienced with one body in particular is overlapping of the frames to the point of making the photos useless. Is that film advance problem related to the first or is it caused by something else?

I own an RTL1000, now non-functional after the second shutter breakdown. I learned early not to trust the so-called automatic loading device on this model, which allegedly made it a simple matter to lay the leader down to the appropriate green mark, and the sprockets supposedly pushed the film forward until that wire bail clamped it to the take-up spool. It didn't work well when the camera was new and unlike good wines, did not improve with age. The solution is simple... go back to the manual method of loading. Stick the leader into the take-up spool and wind it onto the spool with the back still open, so that you can SEE the bail clamp down and SEE that it is winding. Then close the back and rewind to tighten the film. The RTL-loading system was another one of those good ideas that was ahead of its time and technology. On some cameras, and for some owners, it works fine. Just like with some cameras, and some owners, the shutter does not jam,. I was not among them. By the time the RTL came out, quality of construction in the Ihagee line was getting pretty variable. The last reliable Exakta was, in my opinion, the IIa. A good RTL is a very nice camera to work with and while working, it was easily one of my favorites. The qualification was that "while working".

It ought not to be the first. The gears for the sprockets are slipping. But try manual loading and see if that helps. If so, your problem is over. If not, your camera is getting sloppy mechanically. If one body does it and the other does not, it is likely a mechanical failure.

I had it happen to me with my first Exakta, a VX. The sprocket tore the film at the leader and the film didn't advance. After that I always advanced the film until the sprocket holes on both sides of the film were engaged before closing the back and put the back of the camera to my ear to listen to the film advance to the first exposure. I never had the problem again.

RTL1000 shutter locking up; by heat?
The shutter of the RTL1000 has a propensity to lock up. I experienced it firsthand a few weeks ago when I was taking shots of the lens test target for Mike Higgins' lens test project. I had no problems with the shutter when shooting the shorter focal length lenses, which I could accomplish in a large room inside my house. The shots outside, however, were another story.
Keep in mind that I was taking the photos in the middle of one of the worst summers in Kansas City history. The temperature was right at 100 degrees when I headed out to shoot my long lenses. The much greater lens to target distance required the outside shooting. I had to wait until my target was evenly lighted, which meant starting after noon, when the target was in the shade. The camera and the photographer (me) were in the sun. The first few shots went OK (despite the sweat streaming down my face and body), but then the shutter started operating strangely. On one or two shots the shutter stayed open much longer than it was supposed to. Then it just locked-up. Luckily, I had another working RTL1000 body onto which I could transfer the focusing magnifier, which was very helpful in properly focusing each lens. I went inside to change bodies and to cool off. The second body worked fine for a few minutes but then also locked-up. As you can imagine, I had a few choice words about that situation. At that point I gave up, since I was on the last lens to be tested.
My question: was the lock-up problem occurring on two cameras in short succession just a coincidence, or did the environmental conditions (extreme heat) cause the problems? One interesting point is that when I checked both bodies recently, the first body still was locked-up, but the second body worked just fine. This experience does make me wonder if I would want to rely upon any RTL1000 in a critical situation.

I personally have not been able to connect the shutter jamming on my camera with heat, but another photographer I know says it is plausible. The RTL shutter is all-metal, multi-blade. He thinks it is possible that a small misalignment of some of the blades, of the arms that move the blades, or the rivets that hold the arms together and on which they pivot could be aggravated by expansion/contraction due to temperature changes. Take that for what it is worth. But it is one reason many manufacturers stuck with cloth focal plane shutters despite the pinholing problems. Zeiss used a multi-blade design on the Contax cameras but the blades are held together and in alignment by silk threads, rather than metal pivoting arms. This allegedly allowed for expansion and contraction with fewer problems.

Tamron Adaptall for Exakta?
It shows a VXIIa with a Tamron zoom lens. The seller notes that an Adaptall-2 mount for a Topcon RE was used on the Exakta. Is anyone familiar with this setup? If it works as noted, it would be possible to use some very nice Tamron prime and zoom lenses on our beloved Exaktas. I presume that they would work only in manual mode, though.

By the 1980s Tamron offered the Adaptall-2, which was an improvement over the original (I used to own two in Pentax K and screw mounts, but they and the lenses they attached to were stolen in 1985). I'm guessing that lenses made for the Adaptall-2 mount will not work in the Adaptall mount. Does anyone know if newer Tamron lenses will work with the original Adaptall mount? If not, to use newer lenses the Adaptall-2 mount would be needed. From a little bit of Google searching, I found that Tamron still makes lenses for the Adaptall-2 mount.

You ought to make a difference between Tamron Adapt-A-Matic, Adaptall and Adaptall-2 fittings. Adapt-A-Matic was available for Exakta and Topcon, but sold so badly that it is hardly obtainable nowadays. Adaptall was the first Tamron adaptor to connect (Tamron) lenses to any camera with any automatic stop down capability. Adaptall 2 (II) added electrical or mechanical capabilities for cameras with open lens metering.
The Tamron Adaptall-2 system never had an Exakta/Topcon adaptor because no electronic camera was ever sold by those companies.

I have an Adaptall Topcon mount that I use adaptall2 lenses on an Exakta VX1000 (manual diaphragm only). By changing the mount on older Exaktas to the VX1000 mount , they can also be used on them.

[Conclusion: Adaptall(I) doesn’t have an Exakta adapter, but it has an adapter for Topcon that can be used on an Exakta with a flat lens catch lever; the diaphragm must be set manually. This Topcon adapter also fits Adaptall-II lenses. HR]

P6 connector that doesn’t fit short lenses
I just received my newly acquired adapter to mount Pentacon 6/Kiev 60 lenses on the Exakta. Fitted to my CZJ Biometar 120/2.8 it works like any old auto Exakta lens. On the Jupiter 250/3.5 it looks great, (I even wonder whether a VX 1000 could manage the weight) manual OK but the auto diaphragm does not work. My shorter lenses, 45 & 65mm Russians do not fit the adapter; there is some kind of ring or sleeve in their back that interferes with the same thing inside the adapter. Does anyone know the solution, short of removing a sleeve/ring?

Just got a Pentacon Six to Exakta auto adaptor to use with 120 Biometar and 180 Sonnar. I've seen references to these adaptors being suitable only with the telephoto focal lengths, but is there any reason why I shouldn't use the 80mm Biometar as well?

There are two models of the P6 to Exakta Converter. The one which you can only use with the 120 Biometar, 180 and 300 Sonnars has a protruding tube in the center that may act as a lens stiffener/stabilizer. The other model lacks this tube and allows you to also mount the 50 and 65 Flektogons and 80 Biometar.

There are two kinds of Exakta adapters that will take P6 lenses. I have the same one that you have and, because of that sleeve (extension) in the middle of the adapter, it will only accept P6 tele (120mm or longer) lenses. If you mount your 120 Biometar, you will notice that the sleeve slips into a cylindrical cavity at the back of the lens mount. If you try this with a 80mm Biometar, you will notice that there is no cylindrical cavity at the back of the lens mount where the sleeve can slip in, thereby preventing the mounting of a shorter lens on the adapter. The other kind of adapter apparently does not have that sleeve (extension) so it will accept ALL P6 lenses.
I noticed in the ad that was written by the seller of your adapter that he does not mention that it will only take P6 teles. Could be that he himself was unaware that the adapter was limited to P6 teles.

I asked myself the same question as to whether one could remove the sleeve (grind it down or whatever) without damaging or interfering with the functioning of the adapter. If anybody in the group has modified this adapter with the sleeve, I'd like to hear about it also. This way I wouldn't have to buy the other adapter.

I do not know the answer to your primary question. The adapter I have which accepts all my P6 lenses and works in automatic with all my Exakta double bayonet mount bodies is externally different in appearance from the one you bought.
I do not know whether Zeiss Jena made mine, but it looks like it has an external ring that looks just like the "Zebra" style collar you would see on a Tessar or Pancolar. I would, if I were you, not attempt to grind out part of the adapter in order to modify it. Why not resell it, saying what its good for, and buy the other type of adapter?
I have certainly personally used P6 mount 120, 180, 300, and 500mm lenses with the adapter with my user-VX1000.

I re-read the ad by "gold-camera" and find that the ad is misleading in that it states that it will accept Pentacon, Kiev lenses but neglects to state that the adapter will only accept 120mm or longer lenses. I find this to be a very significant omission. In this regard I find that the product was not listed properly and the buyer should ask for a full refund. When I bought my adapter from another seller, the ad was very specific in underlining the fact that the adapter would work only with 120mm and longer.

Background of Exakta EDX
There was an exchange of messages about the Exakta EDX, triggered by the availability of a winder. Now what is (the background of) the Exakta EDX? Answer:

The are two models, EDX2 and EDX3. The first one is identical to the Topcon RE200, the second is identical to the Topcon RE300. They have the Exakta/Topcon mount. According to the book "Topcon Story" the RE200 was produced from 1977-1978 and then succeeded by the RE300. The two models are essentially the same; but only the RE300 has the winder option. They seem to have a chrome and an all black variant. There is a Topcon winder and an Exakta winder, but the difference is in the name only. Surprisingly, in the page-and-a-half of description of the RE200, nothing is explained about the EDX2. So I have no idea whether Topcon sold them directly or indirectly.
In their new book Exakta Collection Aguila & Rouah also show an Exakta KE4 with a Pentax-K mount. This must be the same as the Topcon RM300 from the book Topcon Story - identical to the RE300 but with Pentax-K mount - , but in that book the Exakta KE4 is not mentioned. It is however mentioned that this camera has been sold under the name Quantaray D2-RX.
There was no EDX1. Why? Because there was no Topcon RE100. Why? Search me.

I am curious after the Exakta EDX2 versus the Topco RE200 issue. Topcon and Exakta have slightly different bayonet-to-film-plane distances. Would the Exakta EDX accept Exakta-lenses without modification?

I tested one 200 mm lens on an Exakta VX1000, a Topcon Re Super and an Exakta EDX3, all with split image ground glass. I found no differences in the "distance" of a house at slightly over 100 meters (more than 300 ft) away. If the difference between Topcon/EDX2/3 and true Exakta is more subtle than this, I would say there is no difference at all.