Ihagee Exa

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

Ihagee is famous for producing what was... if not the first in the world, at least the first widely known single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, the Exacta. The Exa is Ihagee's post-War consumer version of the Exa. It was constructed using less-expensive materials and the shutter design was considerably simplified.

Nonetheless, it's notable for several features:

I received this camera out of the estate of Marion Carpenter, one of the first famous women photographers, who unfortunately died destitute at the age of 82 last year in St. Paul.

There were several versions of the Exa. Mine is a type 1.3 according to McKeown. It came with the pentaprism instead of the chimney hood. It was produced from 1953-53.

There were several manufacturers of lenses for the Exa, including Zeiss who produced the Tessar 50mm f/2.8 for it. My unit came with the ISCO-Gottingen Westanar 50mm f/2.8, I don't have a lot of information on this lens.


Interesting quirks

The shutter design is quite remarkable. Instead of using a cloth or metal shutter curtain like the Leicas or Contaxes of the era, the Exa uses the mirror box itself as the first "curtain" then a rotating steel barrel hidden behind the mirror acts as the second "curtain." This is a very simple design. Unfortunately, the main limitation is that there is a limit to how quickly the mirror can flip up and the barrel can rotate without affecting image quality. Thus the Exa only has shutter speeds from 1/25 sec to 1/150 sec. This is enough for daylight photography with ASA 100 film, which was considered blindingly fast for that period.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Place of Manufacture

Dresden, Germany

Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Single lens reflex
Removable pentaprism


ISCO-Gottingen Westanar 50mm f/2.8
coated and uncoated versions (mine has the red C symbol indicating coating)

x elements in X groups
Close focus: 1m (3')
Filter: xx.xmm screw-in
Cap: xxmm push on


Mirror/rotating drum focal plane shutter: 1/25 sec. - 1/150 sec + B

Metering System



f/2.8-f/16 (1 stop steps)


M and X prong type flash connection on front left

Film type / speeds

Type 135 (35mm standard)

Battery type
Dimensions and weight

129 W x 92 H x 83 D mm (w/ Tessar 50mm f/2.8)

Retail price



About Ihagee

Ihagee was an early photographic pioneer in Dresden Germany. According to McKeown, for a while, Ihagee was the largest camera manufacturer in Germany. Unfortunately, like most German camera companies, it was munched up by the giant Zeiss-Ikon conglomeration in the early post-War period.

On the Net


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