GB Sports Photographer & The Panasonic LUMIX S1

The Camera That I Waited 50 Years To Own - The Exakta VX 1000!

John Duder is a patient man, waiting half a century to own a camera he first clasped his eyes on 50 years ago and this article takes us on that journey, focusing, today, more on the love of a thing that takes pictures rather than the photos themselves - enjoy.

|  Photographers
 Add Comment

My VX1000 with the beautiful leather case that it came with, and the soft plastic lenscap.

My VX1000 with the beautiful leather case that it came with, and the soft plastic lens cap.

 

Delayed Gratification

I learned the basics of photography from four sources. Foremost was Fred Jackson, who ran the camera shop 100 yards from St Edward’s Vicarage in Leek. This was backed up by the Ilford Manual of Photography, Amateur Photographer and my physics teacher at school, Ron Young (there was a darkroom in the physics lab, and I was allowed to print there until I got my own enlarger).

Fred used a variety of cameras and was particularly fond of an Exakta, so I always wanted one. I was impressed by the engineered finishes and the utterly different way the whole thing worked.

 

The Exakta from the other side: the automatic diaphragm mechanism at one o’clock on the side of the lens stops down the lens and then pushes on the camera body shutter release. The shutter lock is the semi-circle of metal just above and behind it, which you rotate down to cover the body release button. Crude, but effective

The Exakta from the other side: the automatic diaphragm mechanism at one o’clock on the side of the lens stops down the lens and then pushes on the camera body shutter release. The shutter lock is the semi-circle of metal just above and behind it, which you rotate down to cover the body release button. Crude, but effective.

 

But as a schoolboy, a Varex 1000 was beyond my means - and my first SLR was, instead, the cut-down Exa 500. Different in almost every way, they’d recently been discontinued, and I bought mine for under £45 in 1970.

A year or two later, I found a Varex IIb (the VX1000’s immediate predecessor) in a local camera shop, but it lacked an instant return mirror, and I never loved it very much. Both cameras were sold while I was at university.


 

Unique Workflow…

Exakta was the first make of 35mm SLR, back before the Second World War. Ihagee in Dresden made the range versatile in a way that no other manufacturer matched for many years, although the more exotic lenses are incredibly rare.

 

Top view of the right-hand side of the Exakta top plate. The knob sets both the slow-range shutter speeds (1/8 to 12 seconds) and the self-timer (1/2 to 8 seconds). Inside the dial is a reminder for the film speed. The dial needs to be physically wound up each time it’s used, by rotating the knob.

Top view of the right-hand side of the Exakta top plate. The knob sets both the slow-range shutter speeds (1/8 to 12 seconds) and the self-timer (1/2 to 8 seconds). Inside the dial is a reminder for the film speed. The dial needs to be physically wound up each time it’s used, by rotating the knob.

 

The engineering was typically East German - finely done, but not at the cutting edge of modern practice in the Sixties. Interchangeable viewfinders, microscope and telescope adaptors, and the clear expectation that users would learn how to operate the camera were all part of it.

For me, as a left-hander, there was a certain appeal in the wind lever on the left-hand side, and a shutter release on the front of the camera, for operation with the left forefinger! Two shutter speed dials (one for slow speeds, down to 12 seconds, the other rotating), and the ability to wind film from one cassette to another and cut the film off with a built-in knife so that exposing a few frames and developing them quickly was easy) really marked it out from the herd.

 

The film-cutting knife in the Exakta. Just pull the little knob down, and this will slice through the film, allowing you to wind the exposed film into a second cassette, replacing the removable take-up spool.

The film-cutting knife in the Exakta. Just pull the little knob down, and this will slice through the film, allowing you to wind the exposed film into a second cassette, replacing the removable take-up spool.

 

Rising sophistication and falling prices from Japanese cameras put an end to Ihagee in the Seventies, and their cameras are a real rarity these days, though not (yet) priced so high that they are for ‘serious collectors only’. Inside a decade, camera design had moved on by a couple of decisive steps, and in 1976 I bought the camera that is still closest to my heart, the Contax RTS. With ergonomics by Porsche, it remains the slickest, most intuitive camera I have used. It does everything that you NEED, and very little that you don’t, a bit like the Porsche 911 of the era.

 

A much-loved and much used Contax RTS. This is actually an RTS II, with slightly altered controls, and a backup manual shutter speed in case of battery failure.

 

Blast From The Past

Someone mentioned a VX 500 in a post: and so I went looking on a website or two, and ended up ordering a VX 1000 from a Ukrainian eBay shop. I haven't had such wonderful tingling anticipation of a new camera for years… It even came with the top standard lens for the Exakta/Exa range, the Zeiss 50mm Pancolar f/2. I had owned one of these before, on my Exa 500.

And then it arrived: with a still-shiny leather case. To my considerable surprise, it was in good working condition, although the shutter can sound a touch asthmatic, and the mirror sometimes thinks a bit before returning. There’s the odd failure of a frame, but overall it’s a delight to own and use - and it makes a fantastic prop, second only to a Polaroid (but there are a few people with those, and few Exaktas around!)

 

Front view of the VX1000, focussed on the FAD mechanism. The slider in the middle of the camera above the lens releases the pentaprism (a waist-level finder and a metering prism were available).

Front view of the VX1000, focussed on the FAD mechanism. The slider in the middle of the camera above the lens releases the pentaprism (a waist-level finder and a metering prism were available).

 

Other Older Cameras – Why?

You will need to leave the hard logic of making pictures as good as they can possibly be regardless of everything else behind. The charm of older cameras lies elsewhere – and, frankly, isn’t shared by every obsolete model. Let’s consider the reasons you might want to find a film and someone to process it (which you can do easily enough, even now – for instance, consider this previous article, in which I interviewed Matt Wells, who has spent the last ten years building a new business selling film and darkroom supplies, and mail-order processing).

 

Dad's Camera

Dad's Camera

 

Nostalgia - I still have my Dad’s Braun Super Paxette 2BL, although the light meter is long dead, and the rangefinder doesn’t work any more. It’s still fascinating, and a reminder of how far we’ve come. The lens and the results are not in any way put to shame by the latest DSLRs and CSCs unless you head for the top end of the market. Even then, you’d need a large print to see much difference. I won my first photographic prize with this camera, back in 1970, with a picture of a couple on board a schools cruise.  There was a cash prize (which went towards my first SLR), and a day with a staff photographer from the Wolverhampton Express and Star which I never managed to collect. Maybe it’s not too late…

The feel… Just like driving a vintage or veteran car, some older cameras remain a sensuous delight. They are not just interesting to look at but are ergonomically very special. Sometimes, this is very precisely because you have to go the long way around, and there is satisfaction in learning the sequence of operations – the most commonly known example is the complex series of different things that you need to do in order to use cut film in a large-format camera.

This is a very important part of using an older camera, and so I strongly suggest that you avoid things like autofocus and very lightweight bottom-end bodies. Get something with a bit of heft to it, and preferably a non-zoom lens.

 

A pre-war Leica IIIa, with collapsible Summar lens and the specially-shaped lens hood in the foreground – it allows an almost unobstructed view through the viewfinder, and is the most sophisticated lens hood I’ve ever met. Behind is a Zorki 4, showing how closely the design follows that of the Leica. It works well, but it lacks the smooth and silky feel of the pre-war camera, despite having several real improvements (rangefinder in the viewfinder, coated lens, flash synch incorporated in the body).

A pre-war Leica IIIa, with collapsible Summar lens and the specially-shaped lens hood in the foreground – it allows an almost unobstructed view through the viewfinder and is the most sophisticated lens hood I’ve ever met. Behind is a Zorki 4, showing how closely the design follows that of the Leica. It works well, but it lacks the smooth and silky feel of the pre-war camera, despite having several real improvements (rangefinder in the viewfinder, coated lens, flash synch incorporated in the body).

 

Results – the digital revolution has given every one of us almost total control of our pictures. But there’s also satisfaction to be had from deploying the right film and developer, matching characteristics to the subject in a way that digital never offers, simply because it is so malleable. I’ve described working with film as being like a high wire act, without a safety net: you rely on your own skill, on making every decision right, and this brings joy and occasionally elation to the process when you see the print emerge from the darkroom.

 

A Rolleicord was never as glamorous as the Rolleiflex – cheaper lenses, and knob wind for film advance, uncoupled to the shutter. But it’s capable of delivering very good images indeed – all you need is the camera, a Weston Master meter, and a few rolls of FP4… And it makes a rather fine prop for Joceline.

A Rolleicord was never as glamorous as the Rolleiflex - cheaper lenses, and knob wind for film advance uncoupled to the shutter. However, it’s capable of delivering very good images indeed - all you need is the camera, a Weston Master meter, and a few rolls of FP4… and it makes a rather fine prop for Joceline.

 

There’s also the fact that there are some effects that are simply... simpler. While you can apply Gaussian blur and selective sharpening in processing, there’s a real delight (for me, anyway) in putting a Softar filter on the lens and just making it so. There are many effects filters that are really unimpressive, and were obvious workarounds when digital processing didn’t exist: this could even extend to the hallowed ND grads that landscapers love so much - do you need them when you can stitch separate land and sky exposures together, blending along the line of the actual horizon, rather than aligning a straight edge as best you can?

Emulation - and why not? In the same way, as you may want to tour Italy in a powerful Mercedes (like Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia), you might want to shoot portraits with a Hasselblad like Bailey, or glamour with a Mamiya RB67 like Geoff Howes, just to get the authentic experience. Maybe, one day, firms will hire out classic cameras for the weekend, as they now do with classic cars. And while it’s true that it’s not the camera that makes a picture, it definitely is the case that the camera affects the picture you take. A camera with slow AF requires prefocussing for action shots, rather than banging away with the motor drive. A waist-level finder gives a better perspective to standing figures, compared with an eye-level finder that leads to foreshortened legs (look at those celebrity red carpet pictures – massive torsos and tiny feet…)

 

Someone described the Hasselblad as ‘camera porn’ – all the same features as an ordinary camera, but hyped up, glossier and more glamorous. You probably need three hands to operate it successfully, but the negatives are wonderfully sharp.

Someone described the Hasselblad as 'camera porn' - all the same features as an ordinary camera but hyped up, glossier and more glamorous. You probably need three hands to operate it successfully, but the negatives are wonderfully sharp.

 

Because It Was There

I think I’ve set out enough reasons why you should be discerning in acquiring old cameras to use. But let’s say that you have inherited a camera, or it’s come as a present from an acquaintance who knows you’re interested in photography.

Sometimes, it’s fun to explore and just see what you can do with it. The enjoyment is not in the ergonomics, the feel, the results – it is simply that you are not going to let it win. However awful the camera, you are going to squeeze the very best that you can from it.

By definition, I shouldn’t have got it, but I bought a Mamiya-made rangefinder camera from a junk shop because I’d once used one like it that belonged to my geography teacher: he’d bought it cheap, as they were used by the staff photographers on a cruise liner. The rangefinder and meter don’t work, it focuses by moving only the front cell of the lens, and the highest shutter speed is 1/250 second. It doesn’t feel great in the hand, and the performance is not very special. But having paid a few quid for it, I had to use it…

Just don’t spend money on it if it doesn’t have the appeal of the sorts I described earlier!

 

This was the 1970 equivalent of the bottom of the range consumer DSLR. It was perfectly competent within its limits, but was never going to be a class-leader. But the price made it accessible.

This was the 1970 equivalent of the bottom of the range consumer DSLR. It was perfectly competent within its limits but was never going to be a class-leader. But the price made it accessible.

 

Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width

Now, here’s the tricky part. I’m not going to suggest, for a moment, that every old camera is wonderful. There are some really awful pieces of crap out there, and some of them are collectable. Others are decorative. But this article is about the love of a thing that takes pictures.

Time to name and shame, a bit. I remember my art teacher had a Halina 35X; these were cheap and cheerful 35mm cameras with a fixed 45mm f/3.5 lens. It’s very compact, and it could produce decent results (Paulbroad has recently posted a shot that he took back in the Sixties with one). However, the shutter speed range was pathetic (1/25 to 1/200) and the controls were either very stiff or very loose. I can’t remember which way round it was, but you had to be careful that altering the aperture didn’t also affect focus or vice versa. Or possibly both! There was also a separate lever to cock the shutter for each picture. Utterly frustrating, every frame.

 

A view into the lens throats of the Leica IIIa and the Zorki shows a difference in finesse. The Leitz camera has a small wheel to sense the position of the lens to feed data to the rangefinder: the Zorki has a triangular metal cam, which will lead to far faster wear of both lenses and the cam itself. Relevant after the first few tens of thousands of pictures – which is a lot of film!

A view into the lens throats of the Leica IIIa and the Zorki shows a difference in finesse. The Leitz camera has a small wheel to sense the position of the lens to feed data to the rangefinder: the Zorki has a triangular metal cam, which will lead to far faster wear of both lenses and the cam itself. Relevant after the first few tens of thousands of pictures - which is a lot of film!

 

Contrast that with a pre-war Leica IIIa that I bought when I was at university. You have to learn how to use it, but then, it’s obedient, biddable. You’d have no trouble using one of these for covert street photography now. And it feels lovely, not bodged together and roughly made.

I will mention one other category of camera that exists, and you may want to dabble with. The Russian Zenith and Zorki models are agricultural in many ways. They can handle as though they came from the same factory as the T-34 tank, but they also deliver the results. You work hard, but they are cheap and effective tools. As a craftsperson, you need to accommodate the quirks of your tools, and then you can do great things…

 

12	I love cameras as well as pictures… Here, mistere caught me explaining how the lens diaphragm mechanism works to Marie Jean Taylor.

I love cameras as well as pictures… Here, mistere caught me explaining how the lens diaphragm mechanism works to Marie Jean Taylor.

 

Bad Workmen

There’s an old saying that bad workmen blame their tools, and it’s certainly true that a really good craftsman can do wonders with a blunt chisel and a bent screwdriver. That isn’t the whole story, though, because if you look at any good artist or craftsperson, they will have chosen their tools with care. Concert pianists will, usually, prefer a Steinway to a battered upright from a pub backroom, and the reason is that good equipment works better, is more reliable, and responds to subtle use better than lesser kit. So if you come across, for instance, a Halina 35X, and the bright red spot on the front attracts you so that you want it in a display cabinet, fine. But if you want to take pictures, that’s a different matter…

 

Digital Dilemma

Of course, digital imaging is improving so fast that there are also plenty of bargains… The downside is that you will be able to make direct comparisons with the equipment that you usually use. This isn’t to say that there aren’t seductive older digital cameras – just that you will probably find their weak spots easily. You don’t expect a film camera to have face recognition, but it’s hard to forgive a digital camera for the same failing, or for having only nine AF sensors clustered near the middle of the frame.

 

Practicalities

If you want to actually try taking pictures with something as old as my Exakta, you will need film and a way to develop it. You may well need an instruction manual. And you’ll either need a suitable exposure meter, to take your modern camera along to take readings, or – horror of horrors – you’ll have to do exposure the way that most of us always used to, by following the instructions.

 

Inside the leather case of every Zorki was this little label, warning users that they should only adjust shutter speed after winding on the film and cocking the shutter. This is because shutter speed dial is actually part of the shutter mechanism, and rotates as you fire the shutter. It’s well worth reading the instructions for this sort of wrinkle. Otherwise, a repair bill may come your way for untangling the blinds and the ribbons that control the width of the gap between the first and second curtain.

Inside the leather case of every Zorki was this little label, warning users that they should only adjust shutter speed after winding on the film and cocking the shutter. This is because shutter speed dial is actually part of the shutter mechanism, and rotates as you fire the shutter. It’s well worth reading the instructions for this sort of wrinkle. Otherwise, a repair bill may come your way for untangling the blinds and the ribbons that control the width of the gap between the first and second curtain.

 

For film, you could do worse than visit Ag Photographic's website - and they develop and print as well. For an instruction manual, have a look at the marvellous website that Mike Butkus has put together in the USA. Mike doesn’t charge, but he does ask for a donation - I hope that you’ll agree with me that a couple of quid is a very fair price to pay for the information that stops you tearing your hair out.

 

It took 50 years to get there… And the Exakta is definitely usable, if not actually ergonomically great. Picture © Beth Duder

It took 50 years to get there and the Exakta is definitely usable, if not actually ergonomically great. Picture © Beth Duder

 

And for exposure, there’s always the 'Sunny f/16' rule. Essentially, if you set a shutter speed of 1/ISO, then you need somewhere around f/11 to f/16 in direct sunshine – see this useful webpage for more details.

When I was a lad, every roll and cassette of film came with a leaflet that extended this rule for other common daylight conditions, and sometimes some guidance for ordinary room lighting indoors. If you lay hands on an older photographic manual, this will probably include a detailed guide, maybe even giving corrections for time of year and latitude.

Joceline and Marie Jean Taylor are both members of Purpleport.com and can be booked for modelling assignments through that website.

 

About Author: John Duder 

John Duder celebrated fifty years since developing his first film last Christmas - on Christmas Day 1967, the only present that mattered was a developing tank and chemicals, so that he was able to develop a negative film in the morning, and process a film for black-and-white slides in the afternoon. He doesn’t remember Christmas dinner - but he was only 14 at the time.

A way of saving money developed, so to speak, into a lifelong obsession. He’s now trying to turn it into a source of income through tuition and writing - or, at least, into less of a negative cash flow.

John still has and uses a darkroom, and specialises in black-and-white images, portraits, and nudes. He’s been a member of ePHOTOzine since 2003 and joined the Critique Team a few years ago.

When he was younger and had children under ten, he was frustrated by two weeks of grey weather on a holiday in Porlock. He has since rethought his approach to holiday photographs.

Support this site by shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, Save 10% with Eversure Insurance.
*It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

Other articles you might find interesting...

The Stylish Art Of Photography - David Thorpe
Nikon Photographers Explore The Power Of Light In Wedding Photography
John Duder Talks To Photojournalist and ePz Member Phil Taylor
Top Tips On Composition & Decluttering Images
John Duder Chats With ePHOTOzine Member Mistere
Q&A With ePHOTOzine Member & Landscape Photographer Andy Gray
New Year's Resolutions For Photographers
Key Tips For Aspiring Photographers

Comments


dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
9 Apr 2019 5:13PM
Please let me know about your experience of dusting off, inheriting, or taking a punt in a junk shop, and post the results on Ephotozine...

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

10 Apr 2019 12:52PM
Fantastic article. Some amazing cameras in there! I admire your dedication.
Kind regards
Ian
KeithOT 13 10 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2019 1:05PM
Interesting article, I still have my Fathers Ensign Box camera a Contax with Zeiss f2 pullout lens very battered but still works, it is a bit light leaky! My last film camera was/is a Canon AE-1 Program. Older digital cameras? I have a Sony DSC-R1 still works beautifully & getting accessories for it are mind-numbingly expensive!
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
10 Apr 2019 1:10PM
Thanks, both.

All cameras seem to benefit from a bit of exercise...

I've never actually met a rangefinder Contax, though - as you saw above - I lost my heart to the Seventies SLR camera that inherited the name, and which may owe a bit to the Zeiss Contarex cameras that came in between.
MentorRon 1 60 Canada
10 Apr 2019 5:07PM
When I was a teenager, I also got dreamy-eyed when I read about the Exactas. If I had the money then, I surely would have purchased one! However, on a small allowance from my father added to Christmas and Birthday cash, I was restricted to inexpensive rangefinder cameras, such as the Petri. When I became employed, I was also married, so still had to forego having an Exacta. I settled for a Konica-Minolta SLR and used it for many years until I got a Canon A-1 (the SLR) which served for taking Kodachromes for a couple of decades until the digital era. Since then, I have degraded to very inexpensive cameras until I got a Sony SLT-a58. Enjoyed that for a few years, but carrying a large camera about no longer pleases me, no matter the image quality :-(
The camera I use most often now is a used (for $7 Cdn at a thrift shop) FujiFilm F100fd which I can carry together with it's charger, 2 extra batteries (also $7 each), and a spare SD card in a small belt-attached case. Easy to use and I'm happy with the majority of the images it takes. Yes, it struggles a bit hand-held in the dark Wink Images I have taken with it are here in ePhotoZine..
So happy for you that you actually have your Exacta. If I found one somewhere "for a song", I would get it to put in a display case. Then I could hold and manipulate it whenever I felt the urge to do so !
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
10 Apr 2019 5:16PM
Ron, my Exakta wasn't a song: more of a full opera: but still cheap compared with a Leica or a Nikon in good nick.

The spelling fools so many people, as does that of the lens - as you can see from my daughter's picture of me using the beastie (as well as the header shot), it's a Zeiss Pancolar, not a 'Pancolor' as so many people write it!
MentorRon 1 60 Canada
10 Apr 2019 5:18PM
319285_1554913050.jpg


This is me as a preteen (12 going on 13), probably reading a review of the Exacta at the time in a hotel room in Jersey City, N.J. USA. Taken using self-timer with a Kodak Pony 135 on Kodachrome 25. My first 35mm camera after having a small Kodak Baby Brownie as a birthday gift at 11 Wink
mistere Plus
6 4 3 England
10 Apr 2019 5:26PM
Some people climb mountains, some follow football teams or rebuild steam locomotives.
Some run marathons or go deep sea diving. They're all totally bonkers..according to someone else, who
doesn't share their interest.
So, I completely understand your "enthusiasm and passion. The "specialist subject" may be different
but the enjoyment and the fascination are the important things. They make life that bit more interesting.
sometimes its worth waiting for that special something, you appreciate it more.
Imagine if you had bought that camera 50 years ago, would you still feel the same way about it today?
Keep doing what you love,
JuBarney Plus
8 33 4 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2019 5:50PM
Interesting article and wish I knew what has happened to my Dad's old Leica but I'm sure it has gone somewhere by now as he died in 1974. I can still picture him using it and i'm pretty sure it was a good make.
Ju
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
10 Apr 2019 5:55PM
Ju, Leicas are among the very best...

The positive side is that it will probably still exist somewhere: it's one of the very few makes that always attracts attention!

But keep your eyes open - it might be in an old trunk of clothes somewhere, or behind a piece of furniture...
I still own a Zorki 4 I bought from a second hand shop in the 70's on the Witton Road in Birmingham. Once I read the manual, learned ASA settings and F numbers in relation to lighting etc. I was well on my way to creating nice photos. Many of them were of siblings and my kids when they were young. I did some black and white developing and printing at college but never got round to a home set-up.

It's still in pristine condition with it's leather case. But alas resides at the bottom of my wardrobe these days. When I'm feeling tactile I'll unveil this old kit it and it still feels good with it's range finder even though I'm unlikely to put film and use again.

I'm digital these days but I'm not likely to sell my Zorki 4 anytime soon.

Love the article.

Regards,

Rob
iancrowson Plus
9 213 146 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2019 11:27AM
Hi
An interesting article. I too have a collection of old camera which reading your nostalgic writings encouraged me to to think about and have a play.I still take a film or two on my original OM1 and a few other of my cameras.
What I have found is that having a bit of share cash in my old age I've been able to buy cameras I would have loved to have owned in my youth. Look around, it's possible to pick up mint early Nikon SLRs and Leica rangefinders for a song. Many of us spend a lot on new DSLRs and mirrorless which lose their value at such alarming paces. My OM1 might well sell for what I paid for it, approaching 40 years ago.
That camera replaced the Russian Zenith which I dropped overboard whilst sailing on Loch Eil all those years ago. What a shame, there could of been a winning shot on the film.That really was a very manual camera.
regards
Ian Crowson
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
14 Apr 2019 2:28PM
I think more people cut their photographic teeth on a Zenith than anything else back then, Ian: I chose the Exa because of the better range of shutter speeds, and the automatic diaphragm (not to mention that Exakta fixation...) I did buy a Zenit B in the eighties, just to show what a 12 clunker could do. Like the Zorki, finesse is something that you have to provide!

MentorRon 1 60 Canada
14 Apr 2019 5:14PM
Forgot to mention that my favourite cameras to dream about back then were, like you, in addition to the Exacta, the Hasselblads, RolleiFlexes and RolleiCords. The Mamiyas were in the next tier Wink For some reason the Leicas didn't really hold any appeal ? The downsides to the twin lens cameras were the difficulty with taking macros (I think they had tripods with settings for switching framing from viewing to taking lens) and the non-availability of other focal lengths. Most folk in my childhood used Kodaks, purchased at the photo counters in pharmacies. One maternal uncle knew a bit about 35mm cameras, as he was a buyer for a major departmental store. He promoted the Topcon (Japanese) brand of rangefinder cameras (a tiny bit too pricey for me).
21 Apr 2019 5:38PM
I reckon it's an age thing.

The demise of film means that plenty of stuff you once aspired to is now very affordable. The possibility of using it is irrelevant to me, the joy of owning something you once aspired to owning that was beyond your reach is enough.

Then there's revisiting your youth. I would dearly love to have my old Pentax Spotmatic and MX back again.

It's a bit like those (usually) blokes who collect space dollies .

Nothing wrong with owning something you don't use. You can just enjoy them for what they are, magnificent engineering.

Oddly, one of my early mentors, a local archivist used Exacta kit. It never did it for me!

Now if you find a Bronica S2A lying around from my college days or an MPP monorail.
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
23 Apr 2019 7:45AM
Quite weirdly, given the lack of slick ergonomics, I really enjoy using the Exakta. Though my choice of holiday film camera is a Contax...
KeithOT 13 10 United Kingdom
23 Apr 2019 8:20AM
I forgot to add that I bought a Russian Leningrad in the 60s unusual as it had a power (clockwork) wind on & shutter reset it was pretty hefty! I added a 135 telephoto lens & a wide angle lens to the kit. The viewfinder has engraved rectangles on the screen framing the different lenses.fields. I lugged this kit around for years & took a lot of photos. Like the Contax the only problem I had to fix was light leakage through the joint with the removable back. The felt seal seems to get too compressed with use & allows light in. The camera was very reliable & tough when a strap broke the camera hit a concrete path & chipped the concrete, the camera body was hardly marked!
MentorRon 1 60 Canada
23 Apr 2019 5:37PM
319285_1556037038.jpg



Still have one of these, bought used, although the battery (2 AA) door was broken. Not many inexpensive point and shoots had a Schneider lens. Too bad it wasn't a wider angle (say 28mm?). Most of the used cameras I have tried cost $7 at local thrift shops.
So many of the cameras now advertised in local newspapers cost in the four digit price range, body only or fixed focal length or short zoom lens. Even some pocketables !
Slowly getting too elitest for me. I'll just stick with my F100fd or SLT-a58, dependent on the situation.
25 Aug 2019 1:00PM
This is the camera I most regret parting with. I bought it new, trading in my Zenith E to help pay for it.I seem to recall that it cost about 48 with a f2.8 Tessar lens (one of the sharpest lenses I ever had on a film camera.) Although the camera carried the Exacta name it was however assembled by Pentacon using parts from the stock they acquired when they took over Image.
dudler Plus
16 949 1521 England
25 Aug 2019 6:15PM
I'm intrigued by this, Pete - I am fairly sure that Pentacon and Exakta cameras were imported by the same company, and I assumed there was a bit of a tie-up, as the same firms (Zeiss and Meyer) provided lenses for both.

I didn't realise that there'd been a complete takeover. Wikipedia says this happened in 1970 - I did know that the last couple of models were Praktica L bodies with an Exakta mount on the front, and (possibly) interchangeable viewfinders...
26 Aug 2019 4:16PM
The Praktica models were the RTL series, & did have the interchangeable viewfinder facility. Unfortunately I also owned an RTL1000, compared to the Exacta it was crap - needless to say I didn't keep it very long.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.