Kine Exakta / Kine Exacta

  • Type: Kine-Exacta Type 5 or according to an other classification: Kine-Exakta Type 1.2 - post-war model with "c" spelling; or according to a third one: Kine-Exacta I - Post War Version 2.2
  • Serial No: 617715
  • Manufactured: 1948
  • Manufacturer: Ihagee, Dresden, Germany
  • Shutter: Focal plane horizontally travelling textile curtain
  • Slow shutter speeds: 12, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/5
  • Slow shutter speeds with self timer: 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 1/2, 3/4, 1/5
  • Fast shutter speeds: B, Z, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/150, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000
  • Lens: Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primagon 1:4.5/35
  • Aperture: 4.5-22 stopless
  • Lens Serial No: 1826515
  • Lens mount: Ihagee/Exakta/Exa bayonet
  • Last CLA: 06/2011

Kine Exacta / Kine Exakta Type 5

Kine Exacta / Kine Exakta Type 5

Kine Exakta was the World's first 35 mm SLR camera. It was in production from the spring of 1936. (In fact the prototype of the Russian Sport preceeded it in 1934 but it was not ready for the mass production until 1937.)  The 'Kine' in its name refers to the Cinema, where the standard 35mm film was used for motion pictures at that time. In fact, the first self-made 35mm still cameras were used by motion picture makers to take quick test shots. This heritage can be found in the Kine Exakta in the form of a small embedded film cutting blade next to the film cassette compartment. It can be used to cut out the exposed part of the film to develop it quickly without waiting for the rest of the roll to be exposed. (See the small hooklike blade in the center of the picture below.)

Kine Exacta / Kine Exakta Type 5

Ihagee was a serious player on the medium format market producing quality folder and reflex cameras. The predecessor of the Kine Exakta was the VP Exakta, an SLR using 127 (Vest Pocket) film, hence its name. Both of them was designed by Karl Nüchterlein, a forgotten genius. The VP Exakta was a superior camera in 1933 with shutter speeds 12s to 1/1000, focal pane shutter, interchangeable bayonet-mount lens and, before 1940, wind lever cocking the shutter and putting the mirror in position. The Kine Exakta continued this path in the 35mm film market.

Kine Exacta / Kine Exakta Type 5

Now let's see the shutters. There are two of them - one for short speeds and one for long speeds and self timer. Using the short speeds from 1/25 to 1/1000, B and Z is quite simple. Cock the fast shutter with hte film wind lever an set the speed with the disc on the left. (You have to pull up the disc and rotate it in the direction of the arrow until the inner dot matches the desired speed number.) B means Bulb mode; shutter stays open until the release button is pressed. Z means that shutter opens for the first press of the release button and closes for the second - remaining open between the two.

To use long exposure times you have to cock the fast shutter and set the left disc to Z or B. Then cock the slow shutter turning the right disc counterclockwise until it stops and set the desired long speed using the longer scale (from 1/5 to 12).

The self timer can be accessed using the shorter scale (from 1/5 to 6) on the right side disc. If you want to use long exposition with the self timer you just cock the fast timer and set it to B or Z. Then you cock the slow shutter and set the desired time on the shorter scale.

To use short times with the self timer you should cock the fast shutter and set it to the desired speed. Then you cock the slow shutter and set it to any speed on the shorter scale.

So you have 20 normal speeds and 15 with self timer! Sophisticated enough? And one more thing. You cannot release the shutter with the finder hood closed; there is a shutter lock mechanism preventing unwanted expositions.

Kine Exacta / Kine Exakta Type 5

[More to come soon...]

Kiev IIa

  • Type: IIa
  • Serial No: 5703793
  • Manufactured: 1957
  • Manufacturer: Arsenal Factory, Kiev, Ukraine, SSSR
  • Shutter: vertically travelling metal "curtain" shutter
  • Shutter speeds: B, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1250
  • Lens: Jupiter-M8 1:2 F=5 cm
  • Aperture: 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
  • Lens No: 6516489
  • Lens mount: Contax bayonet
  • Last CLA: 10/2010

Kiev IIa

I have always wanted a Contax II. This camera is a copy of it. I was really excited when I finally got it to my hands after the CLA.

Contax meant to be the camera system to rule the 35mm market and push Leica off its trone. Contaxes were technically more advanced with their larger rangefinder base, rangefinder integrated into the viewfinder, removable back for easy film loading, sharper and faster lenses, bayonett lens mount, faster and sun-resistant vertically traveling metal curtain shutter, built in self timer and later the integrated selenium light meter.

Kiev IIa

Kiev IIa

Kiev IIa

The first Kiev rangefinders were relabeled Contaxes produced by the Karl Zeiss Dresden factory at the end of WWII. After the War the Soviet army transferred the machinery, parts and engineers from Dresden to Kiev to establish the production of the Russian Kiev rangefinders in the Arsenal factory. They even produced Contax labeled cameras in the beginnings. The Russians took some engineers from the Zeiss Jena factory as well where the legendary Sonnar lenses were made to copy them under the Jupiter name. (The same engineers who, after going back to Germany, designed the legendary Werra cameras.) The Russians modified the plans to reduce the precision needed and make the manufacturing more simple.

But let's come back to the Kiev IIa. Let me explain how this camera gradually transformed my opinion.

Kiev IIa

Kiev IIa

1. Before The First Roll
Before the first roll I was amazed by its look. The square design suits it well. The lens is a masterpiece. I loved it and hardly waited to start shooting with it.

2. Shooting the First Roll
Well, it's a strange camera. You cannot set the aperture unless you lock the focus to infinity because otherwise the aperture ring twists the whole lens setting the focus. And the rangefinder. The famous Contax rangefinder. It's almost impossible to set the focus with it because the left and the right side of the rangefinder frame matches at different distances. It's somehow too precise to be useful. Very difficult to handle. The other thing is the shutter. Setting the speed is quite problematic with that inconvenient knob which you have to pull out and twist while you are reading the speed marks engraved under the knob. The metal curtain shutter sounds great but, in reality, it's heavy like hell. It has a momentum which makes the camera "nod" after the exposition. Really. It feels strange. No, this camera will never take a single usable photo that's sure. The designers had to do something in lower shutter speeds to make it somehow nearly useable so they slowed down the speed of the curtain. Very much. Looks ridiculous. Summarizing: it's an uncomfortable, difficult, impractical thing which is basically incapable of taking sharp photos.

3. Shooting the Second Roll
I don't know, everybody likes Contaxes and Kievs so there must be something in them. I'll give it a second try. Still uncomfortable but gets better when you get used to it. First set the aperture. Part of the composition. Then match the speed. Finally set the focus. Can be used this way. The large rangefinder base definitely needs some practice but it's precise like nothing else.

4. Getting the Rolls Back from the Lab
Wow! How the hell... These photos look great! Did they really come out of that camera? Sharp, crisp and beautifully rendered. No, you cannot hate something which takes this kind of pictures. It simply must be loved. Let's put another roll of fim in it.

5. Third Roll
I love it. A great camera. It takes fantastic photos and that is what matters at the end of the day. Doesn't it?

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Adam with his Yashica

Ford Capri MK1

This is how I ended loving this camera so much. It renders almost in 3D. I haven't seen anything like this before.

Always cock the shutter before setting the speed. Never set the speed first or you will damage the shutter permanently. (Some later types are not vulnerable to this but you’d better not count on it.)

Voigtlander Bessamatic

  • Serial No: 66717
  • Manufactured: 1958 - 1960
  • Shutter: Synchro Compur
  • Shutter speeds: B, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500
  • Lens: Color-Skopar X 1:2,8/50
  • Aperture: 2.8 - 22 stepless
  • Lens No: 4970657
  • Lens mount: Bessamatic bayonet (very similar but not identical to the Retina Reflex mount)
  • Last CLA: unknown

Voigtlander Bessamatic set

Big? Yes, it's big but there are other big cameras as well. Heavy? Like a rock but it's still not a unique feature. If I had to use one word to describe the Bessamatic it would be the quality. The unimaginable Voigtlander quality is what makes this camera outstanding. And the handiness.

By the way, this was the first camera in the World wich had a zoom lens, the 36-82mm Zoomar as an accessory. On my wishlist. But let's get back to the camera itself.

Bessamatic was the last in the line started with Contaflex and followed by Retina Reflex, both with leaf shutter and interchangeable lens. These SLRs were quite compicated with a lens shutter and a second shutter behind the mirror. The push of the shutter release button triggered a series of complex events which had to take place very quickly: close the lens shutter, reduce the lens aperture to the preset f-stop, raise the reflex mirror, open the second shutter and finally open and close the lens shutter to expose the film to the light. You could hear the noise of slim metallic parts busily swirling.

Voigtlander Bessamatic

I'm not sure which camera was the first with the meter match needles displayed in the viewfinder but lots of photographers were thankful for this feature. The designers of the Bessamatic tried to make the whole picture taking process as easy as possible. You just have to turn the topleft dial to match the needles in the viewfinder and turn the aperture/speed ring to shift between the corresponding aperture and shutter speed values. Or set the speed first with the ring and find the appropriate aperture with the dial. Two moving small red indicators show the dept-of-field for the given aperture as you set it with the dial. Focusing is guided by a split image prism. Everything feels so natural.

Voigtlander Bessamatic

Here are some field experiences with the Bessamatic. It's too heavy to told it in your hands for long time. It's too heavy to hang it on your neck using the neck strap of the ever ready case; it causes muscle pain after a while. It's too heavy to bring with you everywhere but it worth the effort. This camera can cause a sort of addiction. You don't want to use anything else after you tried it. It's so precise, it works like a clock. It operates easy. Everything on it is extremely good quality.

For night shooting the Bessamatic is almost as good as the Werra Matic, however, you can have difficulties seeing the speed/aperture settings in the dark. Be aware that he otherwise precise selenium cell is not accurate in low light conditions. Here are some sample shots on a high ASA Ilford Delta film:

The Muflon Drinking-Trough

First staircase


And some color shots:

Color-Skopar X



I love this camera. Here is a last shot using the macro extension lens:

Certo Dollina

Ihagee Exa

  • Version: 4
  • Serial No: 504555
  • Manufactured: 1957
  • Manufacturer: Ihagee, Dresden, Germany
  • Shutter: “Guillotine-type” Exa specialty
  • Speeds: 1/150, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, B
  • Lens: Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 1:2.9/50
  • Lens No:1996718
  • Apertures:2.9, 4, 5.6, 8. 11. 16. 22
  • Lens mount: Ihagee/Exakta/Exa bayonet
  • Last CLA: unknown
This is one of the best looking things ever made. No doubt about it. Look at this picture. Something you want to possess immediately, isn’t it? The good news is that you can buy one for less than EUR 50 on ebay.

Ihagee Exa

This camera is the older brother of the Exa Ia, I’m going to compare with. People often call it Exa 0 to distinguish it from the latter I and II models.

The most striking difference is the look. The Ia was a nice camera but the 0 is simply beautiful. Sparkling metal everywhere, knobs and buttons, and this nice engraving on the front plate, all in all, this camera is a dangerous seducer.

Ihagee Exa

The cheap feel of the Ia is not present when you hold the Exa 0 in your hand. It feels solid and precise. And it’s so damn good looking that you tend to forgive anything anyway. Even the sound of the shutter which is the same empty can noise as of the Exa Ia. But don’t hear, look!

There is charm everywhere on this camera. You can set the shutter speed with a stick for example. Isn’t it delightful? Of course it is.

Ihagee Exa

Now let’s see the handling. This camera have a Trioplan lens which is great but it doesn’t include automatic aperture stop down so you have to set focus on maximum aperture and stop down manually before the exposition. Another issue is the finder. There is no focusing aid in the prism so using it is more difficult than the finder of the Ia which is brighter, have better loupe and gives us the comfort of a microprism. So the Ia is much easier and faster to use.

But the Exa 0 is a piece of gem and it even provides us with a “sport finder”. Or at least a hole that can be called this way. It cannot be used to focus or set anything but it’s so nice that it even exists.

Ihagee Exa

Ihagee Exa

Maybe beauty is not everything but it is almost. That’s why we love this camera. Finally some words about the lens. I love the Trioplans since I tried one on my Altix. They render beautifully, especially compared with the Domiplans. The Domiplans are boring, the images are unsharp and the colors need lots of digital post-processing not to be dead-grey. The best you can tell is that they are reliable and even the old ones are in generally good shape. But don’t go for it. There is a large lens selection for the Exas. Tessars for example. But the best choice can be the Trioplan. It is a mid-priced lens and this suits well for the cheap-SLR concept of the Exa family. Trioplan is the best on the mid-priced lens palette, standing out the same way as the Exa stands out from the other cameras of its price range. Or even more.

Some test shots in BW

Before hitting the road

On the road

And here is the undeniable evidence of the superiority of the Trioplan lens. Look at them in full res. Look at the textures. And the bokeh. Crisp like nothing else. I love it.

I'm in love with Trioplan - 1

I'm in love with Trioplan - 2

She's out of focus

Lookout tower


Yashica Electro 35 GSN

  • Type: GSN
  • Serial No: H 662891
  • Manufactured: 1973 - 1977
  • Manufacturer: Yashica
  • Shutter: electromagnetically controlled Copal metal leaf shutter
  • Shutter speeds: stepless from 1/500 to ~30 s (depends on the aperture) and B
  • Lens: Color Yashinon DX 1:1.7 f=45mm
  • Aperture: 1.7, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16
  • Lens mount: fixed
  • Last CLA: none, it's virtually new

I’ve got this camera and the extension lens set in their original boxes, even the protective plastic bags were on them.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Yashica Electro 35 GSN wide and tele extension lens set

Ever ready case, lens holder, straps, user’s manual, auxiliary finder, lens caps, everything. And it was virtually unused. (Ok, there was a film cartridge in the camera and an old battery but there were no other signs of use and the extension set was not even unpacked.) Am I a lucky guy? Yes, I am.

The Yashica Electro 35 GSN is an interesting aperture priority camera which needs an 5.6 V mercury battery (don’t worry, you can find good replacement batteries). The battery is needed by the CdS light sensot and the stepless, semi-electronic shutter which is basically a mechanical metal leaf shutter controlled electro-magnetically (the quietest shutter I’ve ever heard). So you can use the camera without battery but you will lose light metering and will be limited to only one shutter speed: 1/500. Not bad for daylight photography, though.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

The camera itself is big and heavy like hell. The body is full metal and ready to make serious injuries if the situation requires. The extension lens kit is quite impressive but almost unusable in the practice because the coupled rangefinder needs post-calculations on focus setting if you put an extension lens on. However, the 45mm focal lenght of the default lens is very comfortable in most of the cases.

I don’t like this Yashinon lens, I have to admit. It can be my fault but I don’t like the way it renders the pictures and the colors. I’m seemingly alone with this opinion because the net is full of praises of its sharpness and other superior qualities. Sorry guys, I still don't like it.

Monet-Goyon motocycle

BMW race car

An interesting solution of the light metering: it is adjusted to the film speed with a little aperture on the top left of the camera front. You can see it moving when you set the ISO value on the top. The metering is surprisingly precise, by the way.


Two FED-2s together

Great cameras have great stories behind them and this applies to the FED-2 which was named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky alias Iron Felix. Iron Felix wasn’t a cartoon superhero but he was the founder of the fearful Bolshevik secret police called Vecheka, well-known from its brutality. It was the ancestor of the latter KGB. He got the assignment directly from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

F.E. Dzerzhinsky

Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky wasn’t an optical engineer. He wasn’t a photographer either. But he must have been quite influential because they named six towns after him, and, most importantly, a labor commune in Kharkov, Ukraine. This rehabilitation commune of abandoned youths (or prison of young criminals, mostly 13-17 year old boys and girls, as the rumor says) was led by the reputed Soviet pedagogue, director Anton Semyonovich Makarenko, famous after his theory of collective discipline. Here they started to manufacture the Soviet Union’s first 35mm camera, the FED, during Stalin’s push for the industrial and economic transformation of Russia.

Young communards working in the F. E. Dzerzhinsky Commune - 1934

The FED was based on the Leica II(D) - the Russians bought the license from the German company for the camera body, the collapsible Elmar lens and the 35mm Leica film cassette in 1932. But they didn’t just copy it, they made some developments as well. Soon, the FED-2 was born. It wasn’t a simple Leica replica anymore.

FED-2 type B2

  • Type: B2
  • Serial No: 153914
  • Manufactured: 1956 - 1958
  • Manufacturer: Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky Labour Commune, Kharkov, Ukraine, SSSR
  • Shutter: curtain
  • Speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500 and B
  • Lens: FED 1:3,5 F=50mm
  • Apertures: 3,5 - 16 without stops
  • Lens No: 280375
  • Lens mount: M39
  • Last CLA: 06/2010

The FED-2 got a large, Contax-like 67mm coupled rangefinder and a Contax-like film loading mechanism while keeping the ergonomic Leica design and the Leica shutter. The best from both world, one may say. The FED-2 is therefore a very comfortable and surprisingly usable camera.

FED-2 type B2

I love the way you have to cock the curtain shutter: you can feel the curtain rolling to the spool. The exposition feels a bit clumsy as the curtains roll down but in fact, the shutter is quite precise. The whole process is simply lovely.

FED-2 type B2

Despite the compact look, the FED-2 is heavy and solid as a rock so you can use it for self-defending purposes in case of need. The knobs rotate a bit rough, you can feel that it’s a Russian piece of machinery of the not-too-precise-but-surviving-everything kind.

FED-2 type B2

FED-2 type B2

The camera design is so simple that it’s almost impossible to wreck and cheap to get repaired. They made more than one million FED-2s so it’s not too difficult to find spare parts. However, parts of different cameras are not necessarily interchangeable from two reasons: firstly, there were about 30 more or less different types of it, secondly, they were made by hand so the sizes and the location of screw holes may differ a little.


The collapsible FED lens is not the sharpest one I ever had, but it’s a big fun to use it. First, you have to pull it out of the camera body, then you have to twist it while pulling to lock it. Don’t forget to push it back a little to check you locked it properly otherwise you can get an out of focus image like this:

Landscape out of focus

You can call it artistic anyway.

Now let’s see the other one:

FED-2 type D6

  • Type: D6
  • Serial No: 2343868
  • Manufactured: 1959 - 1968
  • Manufacturer: Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky Labour Commune, Kharkov, Ukraine, SSSR
  • Shutter: curtain
  • Speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and B
  • Lens: FED I-26m 2,8/52
  • Apertures: 2.8 - 22 without stops
  • Lens No: 1581284
  • Lens mount: M39
  • Last CLA: 06/2010

I ‘ve got this camera from a girl working at the photo lab when I took a few rolls of film there for development. She was enthusiastic about digital photography and didn’t understand why I used a film camera. This FED-2 was her grandfather’s camera but she never used it and wanted it to be in good hands so she handed it over to me. I’ve got it CLA-d and promised to take care of it. He made me promise to show the first roll taken with it but I couldn’t find her at the shop anymore despite that I tried it several times.

FED-2 type D6

This later type FED-2 feels to be exactly as well-balanced in the hand as the older one, with the same vulcanite exterior which gives a good grip. The main difference is that the knobs work more easily and more precisely. There is a minor change in shutter speeds which I wouldn’t call an enhancement: 25, 50 and 100 was replaced by 30, 60 and 125. The shutter itself is a newer design: it’s not as vulnerable to improper handling as the older ones were.

FED-2 type D6

The pretty collapsible FED lens was replaced by a definitely better performing but less charming Industar 26 labeled as FED I-26m with a strange 52mm focal lenght. It is sharper and renders definitely better pictures than its collapsible brother.


The widest aperture

Elisabeth Bridge

St. Stephen's Basilica

Here are two really important warnings if you want to use a FED:
  1. Always cock the shutter before setting the speed. Never set the speed first or you damage the shutter permanently. (Some later types are not vulnerable to this but you’d better not count on it.)
  2. Never turn the lens to the sun. It will burn holes into the shutter curtain. Use lens cap every time.
The FED-2 is a popular camera among vintage camera users because it’s cheap, handy, good looking and has a special story behind. You will find lots of information about it on the net. Here are some starting points: