focal length: n/a
focus range: n/a
lens fitting: Exakta double bayonet
shutter: horizontal cloth focal plane
speeds: 12 seconds to 1/1000 seconds
flash: three PC connectors, no accessory shoe
film size: 35mm
|Exakta Varex IIb with lens and viewfinder added|
|slow speed selector|
|fast speed selector|
Exakta cameras have exchangeable viewfinders. When I bought this camera, there was no viewfinder with it, just a rectangular hole in the top plate. I have two viewfinders for my Exa cameras and these fit this camera so I have a choice of an eye-level finder and a waist level finder.
|Hole in the top plate for fitting the viewfinder|
|Base of camera|
|Rear of camera|
The camera in use:
I am trying out this camera (despite having a faulty shutter) with a roll of out-of-date and no longer made film - Kodak Plus X. I have never used this film before but it had a very good reputation. This film is monochrome and is rated at 125 ASA/22 DIN. I don't know why but it seemed appropriate to try this camera with a vintage monochrome film.
The camera set-up I am using is the Varex IIb body, Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar (50mm and f2.8) and a waist-level viewfinder with a plain focussing screen. [This lens should not be confused with a Carl Zeiss Opton Tessar from West Germany. The Carl Zeiss Jena lens is the real thing.]
There are many options available for this camera for both lens and finder. I have the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar and two Meyer-Optik Domiplan lenses available and the waist-level finder and a pentaprism eye-level finder. I am enjoying the waist-level finder but must admit to struggling a bit with the reverse action when I move the camera.
First aspect of the waist-level finder is the fact that the image is reversed left-to-right. If you want to move the image to the right, you need to move the camera to the left.
It is also easy to get verticals at an angle. Again, you have to move the camera the 'wrong' way to correct this.
This finder has a plain focussing screen which makes focussing a bit harder. For me, this is not a significant problem as I usually use hyperfocal focussing. On the rare occasions when I rely on critical focussing, there is a hinged magnifier available which is more than I shall ever need. If not, other focussing screens are available with micro-prisms and split-image centres.
I have been carrying this camera around for about an hour this afternoon and I can confirm that this is a heavy camera. There are strap lugs with split rings available to connect a strap. A nice touch is the presence of triangular leather patches behind the split rings to stop the rings and strap ends from scratching the camera body. While I have a number of straps available, I have not fitted one to this camera.
Contrary to my usual practice, I am using a shutter-priority exposure system, adjusting the aperture to vary the exposure. The reason I am doing this is because this ('faulty') shutter seems to perform best at 1/125 seconds so I am keeping it set at this speed.
What I am finding, which delights me, is that I am seeing the image in the wauist-level finder as a picture rather than as a view. This is making composition not so much easier (see my comments about image reversal) but clearer and more precise. So far I much prefer it.
I am also finding the left-hand operation surprisingly easy. I am no longer pressing the slow speed selector hoping to fire the shutter. The film advance with its 300 degree travel is also surprisingly easy to use left handed.
As I have already said, I usually use hyperfocal focussing but if I did not I think I would find right-handed focussing cumbersome.
My first film being completed, I need to develop the film and scan it. Then I shall post some sample pictures here.
Film is now developed and scanned. Here are some example pictures, clearly showing the problem with the shutter is one of them. The rest are not too bad (if you ignore my poor scanning ability!).