The Dresden Exaktas — Taxonomy

About this list

This is a complete listing of 35-mm Exakta models made by Ihagee. These are what many (myself in this number) consider "real" Exaktas, not follow-ups, imitations and namesakes.

The listing does not include cameras which only used the name "Exakta", really having nothing to do with the Ihagee Dresden series. There was such a West-German model (Exakta Real) in the Sixties, and some Japanese ones in the Seventies (really made by Cosina or Petri).

Also note that only the 35-mm Exaktas are listed here. This excludes the VP (Vest Pocket) Exakta cameras manufactured before 1939 and taking the 127 spooled film, as well as the 6x6 cm models.

Models and serial numbers

Every model is identified in the table according to a number of various classifications:

  • The second column shows the version in my own star notation. I have been using it for the last two years (along with a few more collectors).
  • A&R 2003 is based on the "new" Aguila book, vastly improved over the previous one.
  • A&R 1987 is the classification from the "old" Aguila and Rouah book. It may be inconsistent and sometimes misleading, but (maybe because of that) became a de facto standard among collectors. Let us hope it will be eventually replaced with A&R 2003.
  • Hum.1995 shows the model designation from Richard Hummel's 1995 book. Being just a flat list, this classification is not very useful, but many sources use it, as the book itself is a valuable reference.

The first column may show multiple names under which a given model was distributed (for example, "Varex" was usually replaced with "VX" in the U.S. because of trademark issues).

Serial numbers are quoted (mostly) after A&R 2003, production runs — after Hummel (sometimes broken into Hummel versions).

Clicking of any of the thumbnails will take you to the proper section of my small Exakta Gallery, with pictures and remarks on most of the models.

Model designation *Ver.     Year     A&R 2003 A&R 1987 Hum. 1995 Serial Numbers
(Production run)
Distinguishing (new) features, remarks
(Kine) Exakta

*1.1 1936 1 1 001 472000-486000
Often referred to as "Kine Exakta". Fixed waist-level viewfinder. Round magnifier on hood.
*1.2.1 1936-38 2.1
Rectangular magnifier replaces the round one. Serial numbers partially overlap with Version 1. Most spelled with "k", some (rare) with "c" [1].
*1.2.2 1938-40 3.1 3.2 4 004
A third hole added at the front above the synchronization sockets. Two spellings as above [1]. Another version also seems to exist [2].
*1.2.3 1945-49 1.1
5 006
The slow speed knob is no longer grooved on the side surface, the 1/10s speed replaced with 1/5s. Two spellings, with "c" more common. See also [3].
(Kine) Exakta II

*2.1 1949 1 1 010 647000-655000
Partially covered frame counter dial (previously whole was visible). A flip-off lever behind the shutter dial for enabling film rewind. Some early ones may have used "Exacta" spelling.
*2.2 1949-50 2 2 012 655000-673000
The third hole above synchro contacts goes away. Profiled top edge of the front plate.
*2.3 1950 3 2 012 668000?-673000
Externally identical to *2.2, but the viewfinder can be replaced with a Varex-type one (requires removal of the front plate) [4].
Exakta Varex
Exakta V

*3.1.1 1950 1.1 1 013
Removable viewfinder (prism or hood); a catch on the camera body below the logo. Two pairs of synchronization contacts. See [5] on U.S./Europe version notation.
*3.1.2 1950-51 1.2 1 014
Externally identical to *3.1.1, this loses the four screws securing the film gate to the mirror chamber; the gate becomes a part of the latter. See also [5].
*3.2 1951 2 - 016 690000-693000
Hinged back (as in *4.1; a transition model?), opened by pulling a knob on the bottom. A very rare, double-release modification also exists [6].
Exakta Varex VX
Exakta VX

*4.1 1951-53 1 1 017 691000-734000
Hinged back; film speed reminder (Weston/ASA or DIN) engraved on the top plate around the slow speed dial [7]. See also [6].
*4.2 1953-55 2 2
019 732000-772000
Frame counter almost entirely covered; separate milled wheel to adjust it. Rewind enabled with a pushbutton. External bayonet flange added [8].
*4.3 1955-56 3 4
021 772000-820000
Two pairs of synchro contacts replaced with two concentric, standard sockets.
*4.4 1956 - - 021 ???
Name plate says just Exakta Varex. Three concentric, sockets, like in the upcoming IIa. Name variants of this version possibly exist [9].
Exakta Varex IIa
Exakta VX IIa

1956-57 1.1 1 023 820000-852000
10s added to slow speeds; 7 and 11s removed. Knobbed slow speed dial. Film speeds on a ring below that (not engraved on the plate as before). Third synch socket.
*5.1.2 1957-58 1.2 2 024 850000-890000
Shutter speed of 1/150s removed.
*5.1.3 1958-60 2 3
025 860000-937000
Identical to *5.1.2, but the name embossed on the front plate in relief, and not engraved as before. Quite pretty [10].
*5.2 1960-63 3.1
026 935000-1010000
Identical to *5.1.2 and *5.1.3, except for a new front plate with wide "wings" and a new logo: uppercase "EXAKTA" on black background [11].
Exakta Varex IIb
Exakta VX IIb

*6.0 1963-67 1 1 028 1000000-1126000
Film speeds moved to the top of the slow speed dial. Fast shutters speeds follow the "modern" geometric progression from 1/30s to 1/1000s. The rewind knob has a crank handle, and there is no longer a finder release knob.
Exakta VX 1000
Exakta TL VX 1000
VX 1000
Elbaflex VX 1000

*7.0 1967-70 1
1 030
New body construction. Instant-return mirror. Smaller slow speed dial. The separate counter-setting wheel is gone. All four versions differ only in the name- and front plate logos [12].
Exakta VX 500
VX 500
Elbaflex VX 500

*8.1 1969 1
1 033
Stripped-down VX 1000, at first manufactured concurrently with the latter. No film knife or slow speeds; fast ones limited to 1/500s. Only known as Exakta VX 500 in this version [13].
*8.2 1969-72 2.2
Adds the flash synch speed (1/40s) on the shutter speed dial. All three name variants were used for this version [14].
Exakta RTL 1000
RTL 1000
*9 1969-70 1
1 120
Made by VEB Pentacon, this is not really an Exakta, but a Practica VLC with an Exakta lens mount [15]. All shutter speeds (8s-1/1000s) are on one dial; there are both left- and right-hand shutter releases. The camera does not take Exakta viewfinders. See also [16].

Additional notes:

  1. Spelling versions of Kine Exakta

    All varieties of *1.2 were made in two spellings: Exakta and Exacta. I will be referring to these with the appropriate letter attached, e.g., *1.2.1.k or *1.2.3.c, if necessary.

  2. Hummel variant of *1.2.2

    R. Hummel lists yet another model (004), not mentioned by A&R. It differed from *1.2.2 in details of the finder hood, and 2400 were made in 1940-43. I'll be referring to it as *1.2.2.h, and to the "normal" variant as *1.2.2.n.

    Interestingly, the same author does not mention *1.2.2.c, although usually he is very strict about spelling variants. Is it possible that this variant, clearly mentioned by A&R was just 1.2.2.k with a name plate changed for one from a previous 'c'?

  3. A rare variant of the Post-War Exakta

    The 2003 A&R book refers to this model as a "Post War Exakta". A rare sub-variant has a 1/200s speed (instead of 1/250s). If necessary, we will denote it as *1.2.3.s, while the "normal" version will be *1.2.3.n.

  4. A prism-ready Exakta II

    This rare version has been only recently identified; it is not listed in the 1987 A&R book or anywhere on the Web. Obviously, these cameras were made while the assembly line was being retooled for the upcoming Varex/VX. I've never seen this one; it is only described in A&R 2003.

    Hummel lists a prototype Exakta II (011) with a fixed prism, but that one was based on *2.1, not *2.2.

  5. U.S. and European name plates

    All Varex models were sold in the U.S. as just "V" or "VX" as the "Varex" name was registered as a trademark by someone else. The star notation usually ignores this difference (and so does A&R 2003), but if necessary, it may refer to the U.S. (no-Varex) variants with a postfix "u" (e.g., *3.1.u for Exakta V *3.1) and to the European (Varex) ones — with an "e" (*5.1.2.e for Exakta VXIIa *5.1.2).

  6. Second shutter release

    Hummel says (018) that about 100 Exaktas *3.2 and *4.1 have been factory-customized with a second shutter release at bottom-left (looking from the front). This would make it one of the rarest exotic variants. I consider this, however, to be a custom modification, not a production version, and so do A&R, who do not assign it a separate designation.

  7. Film speed markings

    Weston and ASA markings were common in cameras marked as "VX" for the American market, while DIN — in those marked as "Varex VX" (European). The 1987 A&R notation was very messy here, and I'm not missing it at all.

  8. External bayonet flange

    This flange was designed to accommodate larger lenses. It was included on most (but probably not all) of the Exaktas starting from *4.2.

  9. Varex converted into Varex IIa

    I've never seen this version, so I'll have to depend on information from Hummel and A&R.

    A&R refer to this version as "Varex converted into Varex IIa", reporting a wide range of serial numbers and combination of various features from the preceding models. They also are clear about the Varex-only logo.

    Hummel, who at that time was Ihagee's Chief Engineer, refers to this version as a part of the Varex VX sequence (022), and claims that some were marked as "Varex VX" or "VX". If that is true, we will have to deal with three cosmetic variants:

    • *4.4.n — Exakta Varex
    • *4.4.e — Exakta Varex VX (European branding)
    • *4.4.u — Exakta VX (U.S. branding)
  10. Cosmetic variations of Exakta Varex IIa *5.1.3

    A rare cosmetic variation has "Exakta" embossed and "IIa" engraved (no "Varex" or "VX"). I would denote it with an 'i' suffix, therefore using

    • *5.1.3.e — Exakta Varex IIa
    • *5.1.3.u — Exakta VX IIa
    • *5.1.3.i — Exakta IIa
  11. Cosmetic variations of Exakta Varex IIa *5.2

    The versions listed in A&R books differ only in minor body etchings. All have "EXAKTA" on the name plate and "Ihagee Dresden" on the front plate, but then the following variants can be recognized:

    • *5.2.o — no other markings (A&R v3.1)
    • *5.2.m — "Mod.IIa" on the top plate (A&R v3.2)
    • *5.2.e — "Varex IIa" on the front plate (A&R v3.3)
    • *5.2.u — "VX IIa" on the front plate (A&R v3.3)
    This is consistent with the usage of 'e' and 'u' in all other models in my classification.
  12. Name versions of the VX 1000

    To differentiate between different logos in exactly the same model, I will be referring to different variants as

    • *7.0.x — Exakta VX 1000 (A&R v1.1)
    • *7.0.t — Exakta TL VX 1000 (A&R v1.2)
    • *7.0.v — plain VX 1000 (A&R v2)
    • *7.0.f — Elbaflex VX 1000 (A&R v3)
    This follows the policy of not assigning a new version number if no actual changes were made to the camera.
  13. Cosmetic variations of Exakta VX 500 *8.1

    *8.1 was made with two different logos:

    • *8.1.r — Exakta on the plastic name plate, and VX 500 etched on the front plate. According to A&R (who designate this as Version 1), this is a rare occurrence.
    • *8.1.n — Exakta VX 500 on the plastic name plate. This is the more common "normal" version; A&R have it as Version 2.1.
  14. Cosmetic variations of Exakta VX 500 *8.2

    Again, I'll be referring to the lettering variants as follows:

    • *8.2.x — Exakta VX 500 (A&R v2.2)
    • *8.2.v — plain VX 500 (A&R v3)
    • *8.2.f — Elbaflex VX 500 (A&R v4)
  15. Coupled lenses for the RTL 1000

    Exakta RTL provided automatic aperture with a special series of lenses (coupling pin) in an upward-compatible Exakta bayonet.

  16. Cosmetic variations of the RTL 1000

    There are three versions and a number of variants of the RTL 1000 listed in the 2003 A&R book, differing only in nameplates and body etching. I'm simply ignoring these.

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Posted 2001/10/12; last updated 2005/01/13 Copyright © 2001-2005 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak