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Exakta VP Type B (Ihagee, Dresden), 127 roll film, SLR c1935

The Exakta VP range of cameras made full use of the 127 (or Vest Pocket in popular parlance) roll film introduced by Kodak for their 1912 VPK. This film format had become very popular largely due to the compact nature of the cameras it spawned. The term "Vest Pocket" had been coined earlier from plate cameras taking 45 x 60mm plates and was incorporated into the name of many cameras. Single Lens Reflex cameras were already established by the time the ExaKta VP model A arrived in 1932 with an image of 40 x 63mm, What the makers achieved though, is little short of a masterpiece. The design evolved fairly rapidly, and there are many sub variants with subtle changes, a whole web site could easily be devoted to the family of Exaktas - in fact there are. This B model, introduced in 1935, alongside the earlier model, had variable delayed release and timed exposures up to 12 seconds, via the knob on the right hand side of the camera. The lever advance was introduced before the end of 1937. By 1938 the styling had evolved to satin chromed front, so our model B was probably built c1936. The Exakta VP is a logical design, function dictating form to a large extent, but in a very pleasing and distinctive way. Whilst innovative it also made good use of established practice and this, coupled with excellent manufacturing made for a truly remarkable and reliable instrument. The design centres around a neat single piece die cast zinc alloy shell, into which drops the fully functioning assembled mechanism. This mechanism, consisting of the mirror box, focal plane shutter setting, release as well as timing functions, can all be tested prior to lowering the whole assembly into the shell, making these cameras a delight to work with. This design philosophy continued into later trapezoidal Exaktas, including the Kine and Varex models. Despite having over twice the image area of the later 35mm Exaktas, these VPs weigh about the same and are only a tiny bit longer, however - you only get 8 photographs per roll. Ihagee didn't make the lenses, and sourced them locally from Zeiss or Schneider Kreuznach, either of which are excellent.

Image of Exakta VP Type B (Ihagee, Dresden), 127 roll film, SLR       c1935
This ExaKta VP Model B was acquired for the collection in December 2014, it was relatively cheap as it clearly had a shutter issue, though cosmetically it was quite tidy. Upon stripping it down it was found to be almost a wreck. Three of the four curtain tapes had snapped and the camera had obviously been "looked at" previously. The relationship between the leading and trailing curtains had been lost and the leading curtain was unravelled. The mirror setting tab was at some weird angle and the timing mechanism was installed backwards. Needless to say, this took a bit of discovering and sorting out, especially as I didn't have any written material to go on, and stumbled upon a certain amount of protectionism whilst attempting to find any for these Exakta VPs. However, the good news was that it was all still there, the curtains themselves were still soft and serviceable and there were clearly visible witness marks to indicate the start and end points for the shutter curtains. After nearly 40 hours in the workshop, it was reborn on 21st January 2015. I think that Ihagee set themselves very ambitious target to reliably produce a cloth shutter capable of 1000th sec. exposures. Even more remarkable that 80 years later it could be overhauled and every function made to work as it did when new. No cosmetic remedial work was required, it was just cleaned.

Body No. 488122
Shutter, Focal Plane, Cloth curtains
Lens, Carl Zeiss Jena, 75mm Tessar f/3.5, serial 1831700
Condition, 5F

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