Basic Exakta Viewfinders
One of the great features of the Exakta (and later Exa) line of cameras was interchangeability of viewfinders and viewing screens. This was introduced with the Exakta Varex (distributed in the U.S. as Exakta V) in 1950 and the original Exa in 1951. Both cameras would accept the same finders.
This article presents the basic interchangeable viewfinders for the Exakta and Exa lines of cameras from Ihagee Dresden. Any late-period cameras carrying the Exakta or Exa name but not really parts of the Ihagee model sequence are not included (e.g., Exakta RTL 1000, really a Practica VLC with an Exakta lens bayonet, or the West-German Exakta Real, or various Japan-made models with just an Exakta logo).
I am also not discussing here any of the specialized finders: ones with light metering, magnifying units, and stereoscopic ones. The magnifiers are described in a separate article on macro equipment; with the others (except of the Travemat metering finder) I'm missing enough expertise to speak out.
The most commonly used notation is that introduced by Aguila and Rouah in their 1987 book and refined in the 2003 one. On spite of this, and swimming against the current, I will be using my own notation, which better reflects the similarities and differences between various models; this starts from an "H" or "P" for hooded and prism finders, respectively. The A&R 2003 notation will also be shown wherever applicable, as just "A&R".
These, often also called waist-level finders, consist of a hood, with a viewing screen inserted at the bottom, and with a magnifying loupe at top. As always in this kind, the image was inverted in the left/right plane; with moving objects this was quite inconvenient. This is why the earlier models of waist-level finders had a sports viewfinder: a small cut-off in the rear side of the hood, and a larger one in the front side; viewing through these would give the photographer an approximate idea of the coverage for a standard (50 to 58 mm) lens.
The front view of the major versions H.1, H.2, and H.3 (left to right) of the hooded finders. Note the vertical shutter lock lever at the right of H.1; it is gone in H.2.
The same models, as seen from the rear. Various A&R versions differ mainly in the etched lettering.
The one major functional difference between H.1 and H.2 is that the older version has a vertical lever, moving down when the finder was closed, to disable the shutter release.
The Varex camera bodies had a small hole to accommodate this lever. This hole was gone in the second version or Varex VX (*4.2, or A&R v2), therefore to use an H.1 finder with a *4.2 or later body, the lever had to be taken off. This is why some of these finders on the market may come without it.
Version H.3 was a radical departure from previous ones, not only in terms of looks and of the missing sports finder. The major difference was that it would now accept the same focusing screens as prism finders did, not the earlier, thick (2 cm or so) blocks. It also was released in a pretty, striped Jubilee version for the 25-th anniversary of Kine Exakta in 1961.
A plastic hood (not shown) similar to H.3 was made in the Eighties for screw-mount Exas. It is quite ugly, and it may deserve being referred to as a separate Version H.4.
Actually, once prism finders became available, very few photographers wanted to use waist-level finders, with their low image brightness, imprecise focusing, and direction reversal. Some people would even retrofit prism finders on earlier bodies without finder interchangeability (which was not so difficult for Exakta II). Still, Ihagee was selling a large fraction of cameras with only hooded finders included, to force users into paying extra for prism ones.
For those who have to know such things, the table below lists all versions of Ihagee hooded finders, with references given to the A&R classification. Note: the hooded finders bore no serial numbers.
|Distinguishing (new) features, remarks|
|Shutter lock lever, non-interchangeable, thick screen. A&R recognizes two versions, differing in the logo engraved in the back .|
|H.1.2||1953||3||The thick focusing screen becomes interchangeable. Again, two differently engraved cosmetic variants exist .|
|H.2||H.2.1||1954-60||4||The shutter lock lever goes away. Marked Ihagee at the back and Ihagee Dresden Germany at the front. Two variants exist, with different screws on the front .|
|H.2.2||1954-55||-||Like H.1.2.b (big screws), but made by Rheinmetall for Exa *1.2. Marked Rheinmetall at the back and Rheinmetall Sömmerda Germany in the back.|
|H.3||H.3.1||1960-63||5||New, flat cover top covered with leatherette. Round button in the back. Two cosmetic variants with different lettering on the base .|
|H.3.2||1961||-||The limited Jubilee edition with striped top. Pretty and not common.|
|6||Similar to H.3.1, but the round button is replaced with a vertical plastic bar (ugly and unreliable). The 1977 run was for screw-mount Exas. Two cosmetic variants exist .|
|H.4||H.4.0||1985-87||7||Like H.3.1, but the cover made of black plastic. I've never had a closer look at this version. Made for the screw-mount Exa Ib and Ic.|
Notes on hooded finders:
|Distinguishing (new) features, remarks|
|The chrome-finished cover has two holding screws at the front. Various lettering schemes lead to the A&R version subdivision .|
2.2||No screws at the cover front. Again, at least two cosmetic versions exist .|
|P.1.3||1954-55||-||Like P.1.2, but marked Rheinmetall on the cover; made by Rheinmetall for the Exa *1.2. Frankly speaking, I've seen this prism only in promotional materials, and I'm not sure if it ever went out of the prototype stage.|
|The chromed cover gained two quadrilateral leatherette inserts (stubbornly referred to as "triangular" in some sources, including A&R). Cosmetic differences in three aspects: engraving on cover, lettering on the base, and shape of top edges .|
|P.2.2||1958-60||4||Like P.2.1, but Ihagee on the rear is in relief, not engraved. Cosmetically matches Exakta Varex IIa *5.1.3.|
|New the cover shape: three quadrilateral leatherette inserts. The straight top cover edge matches the new name plate of the 1960 Varex IIa *5.2, but its bottom is still curved like in P.2. Minor variants differ in the sharpness of top edges .|
|P.3.2||1961||-||The limited Jubilee edition: like P.3.1, but with striped top. Quite pretty and uncommon.|
|P.3.3||196x-67||5.3||Like P.3.1, but the bottom of the cover is straight. (This is the version shown in the picture above.)|
|P.4||P.4.0||1967-72||6||While generally similar to P.3, the top is covered with one piece of leatherette. This is the last prism supplied with the Ihagee Exakta cameras.|
|P.5||P.5.0||1985-87||7||Like P.4, but the cover is made of black plastic to match the cheap finish of the screw-mount Exa Ib. No signs or serial numbers.|
Notes on prism finders:
|Back to my main Exakta page|
|Photographs taken with an Olympus Camedia C-5050Z camera.|
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|Posted 2004/01/25; last updated 2004/12/04||Copyright © 2004 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak|