Exakta VX

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Decided that it was time that I wrestled with my Exakta Varex, a camera that I always have mixed feelings about.
    The early Exaktas really shout classic to me, lots of chrome, quite distinctive looks, and enough dials to keep everyone happy. The problem arises when you pick it up to use it...everything is back to front! Some really like the ergonomics, but I just can't get to grips with it. None the less, I still love these cameras, and I persist in their use, no pain, no gain.
    The thing that prompted me to try it again was the acquisition of the prism finder, which does darken the image but makes handling much better, especially when shooting vertical
    I always think that the best standard lens here is the Biotar!, although I do have a Xenon and the ubiquitous Tessar. Something that keeps drawing me back to the Biotar...always a wonderful IQ. Problem is finding one that has no internal haze and a focus that still moves!
    All the pics here were shot with a preset Biotar, which is just marked Jena, the trademark problems have removed all hint of Biotar.
    First up the camera.
  2. And a few pics around the lake in the early morning.
  3. Sorry, forgot to re size that, no.2
  4. That should be charters :) No.8
  5. Thanks for looking. All shots with the F2 58mm Biotar and the Ihagee lens hood and B+W yellow filter. Film is usual Tri-X in Pyrocat...scanned on an Epsom V750.
    Also just received an Exakta RTL 1000, which is not really an Exakta but a Praktica I think, and it came with a 30mm Meyer Lydith which I'm yet to try....anyone have any experience with this lens?
  6. Nice shots from this beauty. I have an Exa and gotta tell ya that it is one good looking camera. My lens does not have the "step down" function, but it is a nice camera nevertheless.
  7. What more could you ask for? Really nice Tony. Those old Biotar lenses are really very good if you find one that isn't to beat-up. You got a keeper that's for sure. JohnW
  8. loved the mirror effect on the water, amazingly a very sharp lens.........
  9. If you had started out on an Exakta when it was the first "real" SLR (Cпорт advocates need not write), then everything else would be "backwards." :)
    Nice work with a camera that I find more natural, the more I use it. As, for the Biotar, well it's my beau ideal lens.
    Although my initial interest in the old Ossies was with KW and Zeiss, I have a great fond spot for Ihagee, too. My favorite VX (as the Varex was in the USA for trademark reasons) is the one I "recovered".
  10. (Cпорт advocates need not write),​
    Not advocating Sport here. No one have seen it working. I heard that its Industar-10 is excellent performer. One of the best Tessars in existence, but who knows...
  11. While we're waiting for Marc, here's a 1952 ad for the VX:
  12. Thanks all, the Biotar is very nice, I had forgotten how good, and JDM...gotta love that red!
  13. SCL


    Terrific results with that Biotar. I had a VXII during the 1990s, but just couldn't fall in love with it.
  14. Super clean camera, Tony. Nice results with the Biotar. Speaking Frankly about the Biotar HERE.
  15. Very nice; it is my most favourite camera. I now have almost the whole series except for the Exakta II. I learnt to repair and restore these from Miles Upton's book. Have restored a few from the grave! It is a great pleasure tinkering with the mechanical subsystems of this VX series. I also noticed that the older ones are made more sturdy. I don't have a Biotar [except for the Helios in M42 mount]; but I have a few Pancolars [of a similar double Gauss design]. I think they are equally good.
    Regarding the Meyer Lydith 30mm, it came only in the old stop down version. I think it is an excellent lens. Rick Drawbridge posted some pics recently from his Exakta. I have also posted earlier from my Praktica. Would love to see more from your Exakta.
    The Exakta RTL was the prototype Fore-runner of the Praktica L-series. It was designed, apparently by Ihagee and Pentacon together. By the time they started marketing the RTL the US Court had awarded the patent in favour of the Steenbergen heirs in the US. Thus, Pentacon decided to emphasize the Praktica L-series and dropped the Exakta brand name. They had a stable market for the Prakticas in the UK, the Netherlands and Europe in general. Best wishes, sp.
  16. Thanks Louis and SP for that extra information. SP, I do have a Pancolor somewhere, so I will find that and together with the Lydith will try the RTL. While it is no Exakta, the RTL feels like a well put together Praktica and seems to handle well. I will post some results soon.
  17. Great series, Tony. Sharp, contrasty results. Regrettably, I don't own any Exakta gear but maybe someday. Thanks for posting.
  18. Lovely series as usual Tony. That Jena seems to be a nice lens, sharp and contrasty. If I had to pick a favorite picture it would be a tie between "early morning fishing" and "yacht reflections." Both are lovely. I've not yet acquired an Exacta, but I've been tempted. Your post is not helping me with my current bout of GAS. :)
  19. Nice. Really nice. I have an Exacta VX1000 with a Pancolor 50mm f2. in really nice condition. A friend of my had it and treated it well. He was getting up there in years and was going to give it to a thrift shop so I bought it instead. I also have a 200mm and 28mm lens that came with it. I have never shot any photos with it because I could not figure out how the blamed thing works. It seems to have three ways of making sure you do not shoot a photo. This includes an almost-hidden thingy that fits under the shutter release and keeps it from be depressed.
    I think your photos will inspire me to get the camera out and take some photos. It is quite a beast. Prior to the Nikon F, Exacta was the best SLR system out there and was very big in scientific circles. IMO.
  20. Tony,
    Really nice post on a true classic. The lens shows great sharpness and contrast. I like your tide patterns shot the best.
    Nice classic Exakta ad. I like how you covered your camera.
    Here is another ad for the Exakta from the Nov. 1954 issue of Modern Photography.
  21. SCL


    I think that bottom shot in the ad is either from, or a takeoff of, a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window".
  22. More beautiful photographs from a beautiful place; you certainly inhabit the nicest portion of OZ, in my opinion, Tony. But then, it's very like New Zealand... Lovely old Exakta; like you, I'm never quite sure whether to consider them a monument to man's ingenuity and craftsmanship, or treat them like fine working cameras, which they surely are. Once one is familiar with the cameras and the quirks no longer seem forbidding, they really are nice to use. Beautiful light in "Early Morning Fishing", and "No Mooring" shows the quality of the Biotar. Here's a pic of a cousin of your VX, and a smaller relative. Nice post; thanks.
  23. Hi, Tony great pictures, mate! You and some of the other posters are quite right that Exaktas are not the most ergonomic SLRs ever made, but maybe all the additional thinking required to get things right exposure-wise means a better end result. One thing I've found with them is that because of that 'clunky' FP shutter, a speed of 1/250th sec is preferable to the 1/125th sec you'd normally use on say, a Miranda.
    My pet hate with Exaktas is the silly setup with the interchangeable pentaprism/wlf's. Not only is the attachment method very 'iffy', but just why the hell Ihagee chose to keep the ground glass as part of them rather than stay inside the camera body, has always baffled me. No wonder that Mr Ogihara of Miranda fame dispensed with both aspects from Day #1, preferring to use a positive slide-in slotted bayonet mount which was subsequently copied by Nikon, et al. He wasn't a big fan of the rather crude Exakta lens mount method either, with that vulnerable single locking lever. In most other respects early Mirandas were very much inspired by Exaktas, a pair of which were acquired by Mr Ogihara and his fellow engineers to dissect and examine, before producing their 'Phoenix' prototype around 1953. No surprise to find that the lenses fitted to the Phoenix were Exakta Tessars, modified with a more positive and less vulnerable bayonet locking setup.
    Don't think that I'm an Exaktaphobe after these few negative comments, because I'm not. I have a nice example of each of the main Exakta models going right back to the prewar Kine Rxakta, through to the VX1000 which to my mind is the last 'true' Exakta. Like you, I don't think the hybrid Pentacon Praktica-Exaktas are kosher items for an Exakta collector.
    Lastly, some links from my Flickr Pages showing my Exakta collection split into three eras:
  24. Very Impressed with your results from the Biotar and it's a perfect .. you could an Exacta match with the Exacta! I liked the comment referring to the layout as pre-dating the standardised Conatx-S look so Who'S on First ..Anyway I have a later lesser built Exacta and an Exa. I My prism fists both but is slightly damaged but the WLF is great and I like the idea of shooting with it but my eyes are getting old and I donT' trust the focus. The zzziiip of shutter is really nice and what Pete said the faster speeds are probably better. I have always wanted a Biotar from the 50s and I have come close a few times. I may yet snag one. I do have the Helios and a real Zeiss Planar. I am looking towards better weather and I will try the Pyrocat. Your results are smashing. I like Winch and the No Mooring very much!
  25. Awwww.....
  26. Thanks again, and Rick, just proves that you need to be south of that equator! Pete, that is a very impressive collection...beats mine by far! I will save my opinion on the VX1000 until I shoot with it. Although it's not really an Exakta in the true sense, it still seems pleasant enough.
    I have the older Exa the same as Ricks as well, they are interesting cameras too, and great looking as well. To my shame I don't think that I have shot anything with it.
    Thanks again to Marc...great stuff...you are a legend.
  27. Tony - please don't think I'm anti-Praktica, because I also have a few of their early SLRs in my collection - an FX, an FX3 and a slightly later IV. All are fully functional.
    SP - got to agree with you about the older Exaktas being better made. Just about all my Exaktas work perfectly, even the two 1937 Kine Exaktas. However, one of those had a deteriorated mirror which Max D., our local Perth Repair Guru, was able to replace very reasonably using the stuffed one as a template. FWIW, the only Exakta in my collection that is still a bit 'iffy' thanks to an erratic shutter/wind, is the very latest one - the VX1000.
    Lastly, I have to get a plug in for my special favourite Exakta - the early Varex 11a with Germanic embossed script. I was fortunate to get one with a kosher F2 Biotar with semi-auto aperture plumbing, and all the original Zeiss markings. Later, I even scored an original Ihagee box thanks to a late night on Ebay - the first one I'd ever seen. I featured it here, in my Flickr pages, along with several relevant IBs etc:
    (Pete In A Stinking Hot Perth)
  28. All the pics here were shot with a preset Biotar, which is just marked Jena, the trademark problems have removed all hint of Biotar.​
    Thanks for sharing these nice images. The "B" in "B 2/58" is a hint of the Biotar name.
  29. Quite right Ferdi, the B is a good hint! Pete, the last models with that script are certainly the best to look at, the last ones with the bold script just don't look right...keep cool.
  30. Just as a technical point, of little interest except to the committed (or should be committed).
    The RTL 1000 is the outcast. I think most people will still accept the VX 1000 (and maybe even the VX500) as real Exaktas (not to be confused with the Exakta Real from the West, which wasn't).
    It was getting close to the end of Ihagee as a separate marque, and they had lost the right to use the Exakta brand in the Federal Republic, though not elsewhere, and had to use the "Elbaflex" brand.
    The Elbaflex here has a TTL metering head on it, Yet another example of how these old troopers soldiered on into modern times.
  31. Is there anyone who can do a CLA and shutter curtain replacement on a 1957 VXlla?
  32. Does it still work Stephen, a lot of Exaktas will work fine with rumpled shutter blinds. Interesting JDM, given the odd design the Exakta certainly was long lived...and much loved. I have been scratching around and have more than I thought! Another post coming up with some lenses that I forgot about...hmm.
  33. My VX

  34. Wonderful photos from your classic, I have two vx cameras and now repairing a vx2b. looks like full shutter r and r. But still worth it. As long as I can get film and chemicals I will continue to use my exaktas.
  35. Just caught up with that post Ronald...wonderful set of lenses you have there. The Angeneaux lenses are very scarce and highly rated.

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