The Exacta VX100 - a Bit of an Oddity

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by john_seaman|2, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. The last of the "true" Exactas, later models were really Practicas with an Exacta lens mount. It's got three flash sockets – FP on the left, F and X on the right. Here it's fitted with the pentaprism, which has the largest split image focusing aid I've ever seen. The shutter is released by the large button on the lens which closes down the aperture and operated the shutter button on the body underneath. It's a left handed camera. It came with a Pancolar f2 50mm lens with impossibly stiff focusing.
    Sorry the title should be VX1000.
  2. On the top is the left handed film wind and shutter dial which rotated when you take a picture. The dials on the right control both the slow speeds and self timer – I've no idea how this works. This time the waist level finder is fitted.
  3. You can see the trademark film cutting knife in the back of the camera, along with the removable film spool.
  4. Accessories included extension tubes, a set of rods which may be for use with bellows, a lens hood and flash shoe, some of which still had their black and yellow boxes. There was also a Domiplan f2.8 lens. The interchangeable focusing screens are lumps of glass ground on one side, and with a convex surface on the other. They just push into the respective viewers.
    I should add that it's made by Ihagee of Dresden and seems like a glorious oddity when compared with more conventional cameras.
  5. I tried to work some oil into the siezed focusing helix of the Pancolar through the gap, but succeeded only in getting it on the aperture blades. So the following shots at the University of Leicester Botanical Garden were done with the Domiplan, which has performed well at f8 and f11. The shutter seems to be operating correctly at 125th and 250th albeit with a sort of "thwock".
  6. Another one
  7. I owe an apology to the creators of these sculptures as I neglected to record their names or titles.
  8. I've subsequently removed the back of the Pancolar lens and managed to clean all the oil off the aperture and freed up the focus. Using it's for another day though. Here's the last from the Garden (not a sculpture) done using the waist level finder, which you can hold close to your eye using the flip up magnifier.
    Thanks for looking as always.
  9. It has all the things that other cameras have, only they are in places different from what has become the almost universal norm. A direct descendant of what I understand was the first 35mm SLR, not an oddity until the others came to be look-alikes which could be identified only by their name plates.
  10. SCL


    It's an interesting camera, I had one about 10 years ago. It seemed to work fine with a pretty good variety of lenses, and then I found this site: , which really whetted my interest. After a while, however, I moved on and another Exaktaphile now has my gear. Nice shots, and enjoy using this prototype of things to come!
  11. I used one of those in high school. "Thwock" is a good description, but it had a distinctively solid feel to it.
  12. I'm not a collector (although my wife might differ), but this brings back fond memories. I used Exactas (mostly the VXIIb with the 58 Biotar) when I was a teen. It's great to see that the old gear can still produce good images.
    Tom M
  13. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
  14. What a magnificent beast...Even if was inoperative it would be a treasure in the collection, and the fact that you've managed to take such fine pictures with it really doubles it's desirability. It has just the sort of quality and quirkiness I love in a camera, and this copy and the accessories look virtually mint. The Domiplan has again shown it's capable of excellent results, and I'll look forward to seeing how you find it compares with the Pancolar. Collectors talk of the Pancolar with hushed reverence, but my experiences with the lens hasn't resulted in my personally elevating it to iconic status.
    Great camera pics also, John; thanks for producing just the kind of interesting, informative and visually attractive post I like!
  15. Well done post, John, and a swell looking camera. It's good to see the accessories that go with. Some fine shots of the art work, too.
  16. Thanks to all for the comments, as always much appreciated.
    Stephen, thanks for the interesting link about lenses.
    Tom "I'm not a collector (although my wife might differ)" - oh tell me about it.
    Rick, I think the collectors would have forgotten their hushed references if they had seen the Pancolar in bits on my dining room table.
    Here are a couple more sculptures.
  17. Another.
  18. Definitely the last one:
  19. Great photos loved the sculptures! That second one could be Jimmy Neutrons dog! I once had the differences between the real Ihagee Vx1000 and the later ..well said "Practikas with an Exakta mount" With my Exakta I got this handbook. I could send it to you... you're in the UK right! Write me! My outfit is similar I have both finders and I really love the waist level finder. I was amazed when I first used it as it was so bright! Of course 1 2.8 lens makes a difference over a typical TLR 3.5, but still! Wow! my Prism, while like you mentioned has a great split level it has a small cataract in the corner, nothing serious! Please do post the Pancolar if you can manage to reassemble it! I think this is an improved or changed Biotar formula. I am very pleased with my exemplar nice coating! I definitely want to convince RD of it's respectability! You got some neat attachments too like the extension rings and possibly bellows/tube. Saw the box, but not the hot shoe how does that work? The slow speeds areon th the far right there with the timer eh? THe older models on had the slow speeds on the right. A closer look at the lever advance would be nice seems a bit of an improvement. I also have the 35mm Flektagon, a 120mm Biometar and a 50mm Tessar. I love the wacky camers and the shutter thwonk is part and parcel .. I think!
  20. Beautiful pictures John! It is a wonderful camera, a pioneer in camera design. Most lens manufacturers on earth have produced lenses for the Exakta VX, including Rodenstock, Angenieux, Nikon, Canon, Topcon, Schneider, Schact, Enna, Vivitar, Carenar, Soligor, Spiratone, of course in addition to Carl Zeiss, Meyer and Ludwig.
    An earlier model of the VX series, post WWII sold for a price higher than that of a Leica, then. The Exakta was the forerunner of many other latter day cameras. The Exakta RTL was also designed by Ihagee and Pentacon together. It was not a Praktica. The Pentacon people lost their Ihagee and Exakta brand names in the West due to the ruling of a New York court in the 1960s.
    That was a watershed stage when the Pentacon decided in favour of using the Praktica name. At this time the Praktica Nova series was also quite advanced and had produced an electronic shutter camera. They had to make a choice in terms of developing the best market. They chose the Praktica name and the Exakta design. Thus, the Exakta RTL became the Protoype for the Praktica L-series and their system camera, the VLC. The Exakta RTL preceded the Praktica L-series by a few years.
    The VX 1000 itself was then [late1960s]] sold as Elbaflex. The inheritors of Steenbergen fought all these cases and destroyed the brand name for Ihagee-Exakta. They botched up everything in the end. They tried to produce an Exakta-Real from West Germany with a modified VX design. That failed. [You can find an odd piece collector's item today for about $2000.] Then they took it to Japan and produced a Twin TL by contract with the Chinon group. That did not succeed much either. sp.
  21. The sad saga of the Exakta is a good example of what happens if you lose the war, and then wind up on the wrong side of the border.
  22. Chuck, thanks for the offer but do hang on to your handbook!.
    I've done a close up of the winding lever with its backward counting manual reset frame counter, also the flash shoe which slips over the eyepiece, finally the mysterious timer. SP, that's interesting about the development from Exacta to Praktica.
    Thanks again, John Seaman.
  23. Flash Shoe and Focusing "Screen"
  24. The timer dial. I've got the Pancolar lens back on the camera now and one of my next projects will be to share some pictures from it.
  25. How do repairmen feel about working on old Exakctas?
  26. Thanks for posting these close ups. That is an improved lever advance. The post seen there that the lever comes against when pressed down is the spool release I think! Bill you raise a good question..I can'T think of ever reading much about repair. I think it's straight forward. Nice detailed drawings from Rick Oleson on-line and I'd venture to say the curtains resemble the Leica and many other SLRs. The comment about losing the war and being on the wrong side was definitely true but both sides umm lost the war. The fight for market share was theirs to lose. As mentioned the price for an Exakta in 1950 was on par with a Leica. The Cold War wasn't of their making just they suffered the fall out. There were actually reasons to be optimistic but as the lines drew tighter and the "false" marketing bubbles of communism suffocated innovation and development; the candle burned down. I often read people making fun of the Exakta as being awkward and left-handed and backward, and it was ll of those things before he war! So was the Volkswagen! I liked that there is such an array of lenses and attachments etc makes for exciting and interesting new finds.
  27. I often read people making fun of the Exakta as being awkward and left-handed and backward, and it was ll of those things before he war!​
    Chuck, I think a lot of the above is a legacy of the age-old prejudice against the left handed. Many kids used to be taunted as "South paw", "lefty" and the like. Many developed a stammer [life-long] when they were forcibly converted to the "right." I have known several American and Indian friends of mine who were wrapped constantly on the knuckles by their school teachers for writing with their left hands. It was a ridiculous belief that the left hand was to be used only for washing the derriere! Actually, the Exakta VX requires the use of both hands, in practice. The slow speeds, the rewind and the knife are all for right handed use. Bill, I am not a repairman. But I have repaired and rebuilt some Exaktas learning from Upton's book. It is an elating experience. It is actually a very simple camera with a number sub-systems put together in a modular fashion.
    Miles Upton's Manual on Exakta repair is a beautifully illustrated and written volume. He takes you step by step on repair and rebuild of every little item in the camera. Costs about $45. sp.
  28. As far as the fate of Ihagee is concerned I expect similar stories could be told about, for example, Ensign and Corfield in the UK, or the French, Italian, American, Russian and most German manufacturers, Communist or otherwise. Nearly all of them were swept away by the domination of the excellent Japanese camera industry.
  29. The slow speed dial is simple enough. Cock the shutter, set the fast speed dial to B. Then wind the slow speed knob. The outer ring lifts and turns to set the slow speeds. After you wind the slow speed knob, press the shutter release - and it will fire as normal, but using the slow speed timer.
  30. Also, not to be pedantic - but it's exaKta. Not exacta. Some of the earliest exaktas were badged as exactas for the American market, but everything else was always and has always been exakta. Including this VX1000.
  31. How do repairmen feel about working on old Exakctas?​
  32. I found a Exa. The real cheap end of Exackta. Worked flawlessly. Vignetted on a 400mm lens! As I grew older and shakier the lenses got shorter. TG for "anti-shake"!
    The photos are terrific, really 3-d look. My 58mm Biotar needed a Railway engineers wrench to move the focus. I wish I had it fixed. It did amazing things with flare, 2nd images, grain. Please do not tell me grain is NOT caused by a lens. It can be a contributing factor, how the different wavelengths land.
  33. Sorry to come in late here, but I like the pictures and the camera.
    I posted some shots taken with mine at .
    Actually, In trying to get one of these 'last of the true breed' cameras, I bid on both an Exakta and an Elbaflex (a brand name for export because of the claims of an upstart company in the BRD).
    Got them both. In the picture below, the Elbaflex has the TTL meter prism on it. I suppose the proof that although not designed as one, the Exakta was a "system" camera.
    BTW on old, stiff Zeiss Jena and Meyer lenses, a very careful injection of a very small amount of naphtha and working the lens will usually 'fix' the problem. It's old lubricant and dirt. A dis-assembly for cleaning is better, but you need to have some idea what you are doing to get everything together again.

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