Exa Ia

  • Type: Ia
  • Serial No: 379142
  • Manufactured: 1965-1977
  • Manufacturer: Ihagee, Dresden, Germany
  • Shutter: “guillotine-type” focal plane
  • Speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/175 and B
  • Lens: Meyer-Optik Görlitz Domiplan 2.8/50
  • Apertures: 2.8 - 22 in half stops
  • Lens No:5116628
  • Lens mount: Ihagee/Exakta/Exa bayonet
  • Last CLA: unknown

The Exa Ia is a cheap and simple SLR camera system from Ihagee with interchangeable lens, interchangeable finder and lots of accessories (like a 3 parts macro tube for as close focusing as 2 cm). It was designed to be an affordable alternative of the more sophisticated and higher quality Exakta series.


It comes with a waist-level finder which can be replaced with a normal eye-level finder but why anybody would do that? A waist-level finder is a great fun. Firstly because you have to compose in a mirror (and it’s not as easy as you think). Secondly you will get a completely different perspective. Composing while the camera is on the ground is not a problem anymore. Same applies when you hold it up above your head. Finally, the waist-level finder is the less obtrusive solution possible. Most people will not even notice that you take photo.



Then comes that ugly clash. The Exas have a very simple shutter which is basically the mirror itself making a noise of an empty can. It’s really ugly. Simplicity means a limited choice of speeds from 1/30 to 1/175 which is surprisingly enough in most of the cases. Simplicity also means reliability: it’s free from the slowdown in cold - a typical problem of other mechanical shutters having higher speeds.


The camera itself is somehow wobbly. However, it’s wobbly in a German way. For example the cover of the waist-level finder is beveled because of an imprecise fastening. But not only on mine - it’s beveled on all Exa Ia-s exactly the same way. Engineered discrepancy.


The manufacturer was IHAGEE, a strangely named camera company founded by a Dutchman in Dresden, Germany (the name is the German pronunciation of the acronym IHG standing for Industrie- und Handelsgesellschaft).


You can find several lenses for the EXA Ia since it has a standard IHAGEE Exakta/Exa bayonet mount. Mine came with a Domiplan lens which is not a sharp one but reliable and without noticeable distortion. Here is a sample photo taken with it:


All in all, the EXA Ia is a unique camera with a really special look. It’s simple, medium quality but reliable and fun to use. You will like to play with it.

Raoul Pop, an American photographer made a short video to introduce the EXA Ia in details. A must see.

Exakta EXA Ia SLR from Raoul Pop on Vimeo.

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