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Ihagee Exa - 1951
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• First low-priced sibling SLR

• $97.50 with f2.9 lens in 1951 ($818 in 2010 dollars)

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.

My Exa is serial number 229249, made in 1952 or 1953. It's a so-called Version 1.3; that is, the 3rd 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). This design saved money, but operated only up to 1/150 sec.

Ihagee ExaThe mirror and a baffle below it operate together as the shutter.Ad from Popular Photography, August 1951Ad from Popular Photography, Sept. 1951
Ad from Modern Photography, Feb. 1967From the 1956 Sears Camera CatalogAd from Modern Photography, Feb. 1967Review From Popular Photography, Feb. 1958 (Exa Type 4)

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