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 Ihagee Exa - 1951                    New! WidePhotoViewer for iPhone/iPod/iPad       

First low-priced sibling SLR
$97.50 with f2.9 lens in 1951 ($818 in 2010 dollars)

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This page continues from the Kiné Exakta page. Start there. See also the Exakta Varex VX page.

The Exakta was a system camera, with lots of accessories. But Exaktas were as expensive as Leicas ($280 in 1948, about $2500 today). Why not produce a cheaper mostly-compatible body to sell more accessories and to provide a backup body? It was a great idea, one copied later by Nikon in the 1960s with the various cheaper Nikons (Nikkormat, Nikon EM, etc.), and by other makers, too.

So, Ihagee came out with the smaller Exa in 1951. "Exa" was half of "Exakta". This is Ihagee being smart and even lighthearted. Too bad 10 years later they seemed so much more stodgy.

The first Exa ad that I could locate was in the August 1951 issue of Popular Photography. Seems to be just a teaser—didn't even say was the Exa was; from the picture, it was a camera of some kind:

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Then some more detail followed in the next month's issue:

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Here's a newer ad from the February 1967 issue of Modern Photography for an updated automatic model ("automatic" refers to the diaphragm stopping down automatically; it's linked to the shutter as the picture shows):

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They got the price under $100, too.

There are two sites for tracking down when an Exakta or Exa was made and what version it is: and Exaktaphile. My Exa is serial number 229249, made in 1951 or 1952. It's a so-called Version 1.2; that is, the 2nd version of the original Exa.

The Exa has neither a focal-plane shutter nor a leaf shutter. The mirror and a baffle below it operate together as the shutter. Below is a view from the back with the mirror coming back down after an exposure. On the way up, the mirror would go first, and then the baffle would follow after the appropriate time (1/60 sec., say).

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Here's the Exa in a 1956 Sears Camera Catalog:

This design saved money, but operated only up to 1/150 sec. I explained how it works in pictures in a recent blog article.



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