Help with Exakta Cameras and other gear?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by christopher_yee|1, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. So my grandfather was showing me some of his, and my great grandfathers old camera equipment when he found out I am a photobug and he gave me it to toy around with. I am wondering if any of this (assuming it is in working condition) is worth using? There is an Exakta VX with a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f/2, a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 135 f/3.5, An Exackta VXIIa with a Steinheil München Auto-Quinaron 35 f/2.8, a C.Z. Jena Biotar 58 f/2, and a very interesting looking ISCO-Göttingen Westrogon 24mm f/4.

    Some kind of a rangefinder says: TOWER with a Color Luna 45mm f/3.5, doesn't appear to be in a functioning state, a Canonet 28 with a 40mm f/2.8

    Also there were a couple minolta lenses included though no Minolta camera body, perhaps he has one lying around still? A Rokkor 58mm 1.2, No name on it? 35-105mm f/3.5 zoom lens text reads "MC AUTO ZOOM", Vivitar 90-230mm f/4.5.

    If anyone has any information on this that would be greatly helpful on if it is worth using really. For the record I am not looking to sell any of this if that is what you are wondering. I could never bring myself to sell my great grandfathers and grandfathers equipment. Google has given me some advice, but I would like to know as much as possible about all of this stuff, in particular the Exakta bodies and lenses.

    Thank you in advance!
  2. I'm not knowledgeable about the Exacta items, but would note that the Minolta 58mm/f1.2 MC Rokkor lens is a respected and highly sought-after item. (You can google it for further info.)
    If it's in good condition, and if your grandfather doesn't have a Minolta body to go with it, it would likely be worth your while to buy a body in order to use this lens. These days, you can find a good SR-T 101, 102, 201, or 202 on eBay or elsewhere for very little....for much less than the 58mm/f1.2 lens is worth.
  3. Yes, I was going to talk to him and see if he has a Minolta body, otherwise I may consider attempting a conversion to Nikon Mount as that is what I have always shot. However if the conversion is irreversible or damages the lens in any way I will leave it as is and look for one as you suggested. Definitely curious to give that lens a spin as I have seen so many people tat are absolutely in love with the lens!
  4. Here's an image made with the same lens, scanned from a 4x6 print. If you click on the picture, a larger version should appear:
  5. I like the way the lens draws, definitely very interesting. Thanks for the sample!
  6. There is a nice collection of Exakta gear!
    Both VX and VX IIa are US market versions of otherwise identical European Varex VX and Varex IIa. There is no huge difference between the cameras and lenses and accessories are compatible between the two.
    Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f/2 is an older (in Exakta terms) Schneider standard lens, later versions are f/1,9. It's a capable performer, but as it's likely a pre-set lens (no shutter-release arm?) and thus less practical to use than later lenses. Biotar 58 f/2 is most likely a semi-auto lens (older manual and pre-set ones were mostly marked 5,8 cm), a shutter-release arm can prove that. Diaphragm must be manually opened after each shot (a lever on the underside of the lens barrel).
    Steinheil München Auto-Quinaron 35 f/2.8 is a nice wide-angle, one of the best ever made for Exakta.
    The very same can be said for Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 135 f/3.5 except it is a telephoto.
    ISCO-Göttingen Westrogon 24mm f/4 is a good (for that time) super wide-angle, made by Schneider's lesser brand. There was no equivalent in Schneider line-up. It's a capable performer even by today's standards.
    Can you post pictures of the cameras and lenses. I'm sure board members will be able to give you even more detailed descriptions with some visual information.
    Best regards,
  7. SCL


    Immerse yourself in this is for Exakta/Exa lovers:
  8. You have got yourself a nice collection of gear there. 55 years ago, a working pro would have been happy with that Exakta kit.
    First thing to do with the Exakta is open up the back and look at the cloth shutter curtain. If it is straight and smooth, you probably have yourself a winner. If there are wrinkles, the rubber layer on the lens-facing side has deteriorated and there probably are a lot of tiny holes in it. It can be fixed either by patching with liquid plastic or replacing the shutter curtain. Other than that, and film counters that tend to break, these are great machines. Operation is a little counterintuitive but with the glass you've got, you can produce images as good as any 35mm camera out there.
    The Tower sounds like it might be a Tower 55B, aka Yamato Pax Junior. Not a real serious camera but might be fun to play with. The Canonet should deliver great results if you get a battery and get it working.
  9. The Biotar design was one of the all-time great lens designs. Actually, lots of current 50mm lenses have more than a little Biotar flowing through their optics.
    Usually Exaktas have been mistreated by people who didn't know how to work them, so you're lucky to get one directly from the user. Don't force anything and get some manuals from Butkus (link ), if you don't have the originals. It would be an exaggeration to say that nothing on an Exakta is as it seems, but not too much of one.
    Often they need a little jiggling and working to bring them back from their long slumbers.
  10. If you want to use some of those nice Exakta lenses on a metered camera, get a Topcon Super D or RE Super. I had one of those 58 f2 Biotars on one of my Topcon bodies, it was a fabulous lens, reasonably fast and nice looking.
  11. Exaktas are very addictive...I have a VX and enjoy shooting with the waist level finder. All of those lenses are quite good. Do read the manual first and check for the pinholes mentioned above. Take the lens off and insert a small flash light into the lens gap to look for pinholes. Open the back of the camera and look at the shutter with the light shining on the front of the shutter. Patch with Liquid electrical tape if it's not too bad.
  12. Thanks all for the responses, and info so far!
    As far as I can tel the VX shutter is not operating correctly, but the VX IIa seems to be operating fine. As far as I can tell there are no holes in the shutter either.

    I am also considering picking up an old Minolta body to use that Rokkor 58 1.2 as I have read that the lens is a very interesting one to say the least. I am not entirely sure that I would ever want to convert it, though I may consider it someday.

    If anyone wanted to see some images of the equipment to get a better idea of what it is, here is a link: Photos
  13. Beautiful stuff.
  14. Also does anyone know what that Nikon switch thing is?
  15. Just a couple of things. Exaktas are 'left handed" cameras and may be awkward for right handers. Also many of the lenses were made in East Germany with relatively light weight aluminum mounts that don't age well, and so may not be at their best 50 years later.
    The Minolta lenses will mount on any camera from the SR-T-101 to the XD-11, though an MC lens will only give you Aperture priority mode (not automatic or shutter priority) on bodies that support those modes. That is true of any MC lens. The later ones were labelled MD. You can pick up a good body to use the lenses for peanuts, try KEH in Atlanta. I recommend the XD-11 or X700 on the theory that the later ones will be in better repair. The XEs are nice too.
    Tower was a Sears brand name I think. If it's a rangefinder it is probably a leica clone and is probably a respectable camera to play with. Probably Leica thread mount lenses.
  16. East Germany with relatively light weight aluminum mounts that don't age well, and so may not be at their best 50 years later.​
    This is true enough, but I can attest that the West German lenses of the same vintage are also liable to be a little stiff after years of inactivity. Often simply working them a little will do the job, and at worse, the old "grease" in the lens may need to be removed with a partial disassembly. It's usually not the aluminum (aluminium) that is at fault. Lots of 50s and 60s lenses seem to have achieved their smoothness from large applications of some kind of gunk that hardens over time. A drop or two of naphtha can help work this loose if the problem is not too bad, but be very careful not to flood the lens so that the solvent gets inside . This can create more problems than it solves (dissolves).
  17. Does anyone know of a place that repairs Exakta slrs? Specifically a VX? The shutter seems to be stuck in an open position.
  18. Thanks Steven I'll look into it.
  19. The easiest way to check for pinholes is to remove the lens and open the back.
    Shine a flashlight into the front. You will see if there is any holes in the lead curtain.
    Cock the shutter. The mirror will be in the way, but enough light will go anound to see if there are holes in the following curtain.
    Good luck. Hope they aren't any.

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