Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Exakta Varex IIb (Ihagee), 35mm SLR camera, c1963

The Exakta Varex IIb is a fractional development of the Varex IIa, the principle visual difference being the clockwork mechanism wind up knob, although there were many tiny variations even within the same model definitions. The Exakta Varex stems from a long line of distinctive looking cameras that trace their ancestry back to 1932. When the first Exakta SLR was produced, it was a 127 roll film camera. The first 35mm version arrived in 1936, almost making it the first 35mm SLR, the 127 ancestry betrayed by the left handed advance, which seems inconvenient today, but at the time no precedent had been set. The Exakta exhibited a number of interesting features from the outset as well as excellent build quality. None of this was lost some thirty years later, despite the political upheavals, when this model rolled off the, now East German, Dresden production line. This Camera is quite delightful and it's no surprise to see why they were so popular from their inception.

Exakta Varex IIB

The design concept has to be one of the nicest thought out ever, the entire mechanism lifts out from a single piece cast aluminium shell, below.

Exakta varex Shell

The electrical connections to the flash sockets are simply remade as spring tabs re-align when the mechanism is dropped back in.

Body No.1112012
Shutter, Cloth focal plane,1000, 500, 250, 125, 60, 30, B, and T settings. When B is selected clockwork timings between 5th and 6 seconds are available.
Lens, Meyer Optik, Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 No. 4022813
Condition, 5F

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Exacta Varex Dismantled

This Varex IIb was bought for the collection in September 2014, for £20. Neither the shutter or timing mechanism showed any sign of working, hence the lower price. Also it came with the Meyer Optik Domiplan, not my favourite lens. Here you can see the beautifully thought out construction, photographed during the "deep clean" all cameras receive when they join the collection. The entire mechanism lifts out in one piece, and can be cleaned, repaired, adjusted and tested without the need to remount it, making this camera a delight to work on. Unlike the Varex IIa donated a few years back, the shutter curtains on this IIb were still usable. The camera was rebuilt in December 2014 taking 8 hours of workshop time from dead to fully working, including winding a new spring for the lens lock. No refinishing has been carried out in this case, the light patina has been retained.

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Exakta Viewfinders

When a new Varex was bought, the basic body could be specified with a variety of lenses and viewfinders, depending on budget. Presumably the budget was tight for the purchaser of this Varex, as the camera is fitted with the Domiplan lens and the cheaper reflex finder, shown on the right of this picture. The other viewfinder is the prism type, seen on the left. Both viewfinders are a push fit into the body and can be changed over in a blink of the eye. The reflex finder has a flip up magnifier to ease focussing but the image is reversed left to right, and also the front can be opened to form a direct finder.

The prism finder solves the left to right reversal issue, but displays significant "pin-cushion" distortion.


An excellent online reference can be found here,

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