Utterly mechanical masterpieces of precision and engineering which become top-notch tools in the hands of both professional and amateur enthusiasts of entirely metallic thoroughly made devices which can be flawlessly used with colour or black and white films for decades, relishing unique experiences and feelings, and vast majority of times can be repaired if necessary, as well as often making up coveted and collectible items with a high resale value.
Jo Geier, its owner, in spite of his youth, has become a knowledgeable authority not only in both screwmount and M Leica stuff (he´s been one of the expert advisors of Wien Leica Shop and Westlicht Photographica Auction for years) but also regarding a comprehensive range of old cameras, lenses and accessories in different formats from mid XIX Century to early XXI Century, in addition to featuring an experience of more than ten years in the scope of rare and collectable cameras and photography related products.
Ihagee Kine Exakta from 1936 in B/A condition on sale at Jo Geier Mint & Rare.
This was the first 35 mm format reflex camera made in the world.
Only 1,400 units of this model were manufactured 82 years ago, so it´s exceedingly difficult to find one in such a good cosmetic condition and working flawlessly at every shutter speed and diaphragm, even more if it includes the original leather case also in great condition as happens with this serial number 483850 Ihagee Kine Exakta
On the other hand, this was the first camera system in the history of photography, since the Exakta bayonet mount could accept an amazing quantity of different lenses, finders and interchangeable screens, along with a very comprehensive array of accessories for macrophotography, microphotography, astrophotography, spectrophotography and astrophotography.
Needless to say that the compatibility of this bayonet mount was huge throughout more than three decades, between 1936 and 1970, with all the 24 x 36 mm format Ihagee Exakta camera models and the thousands of lenses and accessories that could be attached to it.
The camera comes with an exotic and valuable Exaktar (Primoplan) 54 mm f/3.5 lens likewise in excellent cosmetic and working condition.
On its top is visible the round magnifier ( exclusive of this model and hugely increasing its value in comparison to other models of Kine Exaktas with rectangular magnifier made between 1937 and 1949), which was replaced for a rectangular one from 1937 onwards.
Back view of the gorgeous Ihagee Kine Exakta Round Magnifier from 1936 on sale at Jo Geier Mint & Rare.
We can see the waist level finder hood unfolded, and from left to right of the camera top panel: the film transport lever with the picture counter disc under it, the reversing lever, the shutter speed knob, the finder hood catch and the slow speed and delayed action knob.
On the other hand, the condition of the leather cover of the metallic chromed areas of the camera is simply superb in spite of the more than eight decades elapsed since its construction, which does enhance very much the unutterable cosmetic appearance of this very beautiful photographic tool.
Top front area of the camera in which stand out the round magnifier of the unfolded hood finder and the legendary Exakta logo (probably the most beautiful one ever devised for a photographic camera) and under it the words Ihagee and Dresden engraved in two different types of letter.
The metallic light alloy casting construction of the this Ihagee Kine Exakta Round Magnifier (also known as Kine Exakta Model 1) 24 x 36 mm camera was truly painstaking and advanced for the time, with thorough attention to every detail, a top-notch polishing of the outer surfaces and featuring an integral chroming to prevent the spreading of any corrosion
Front lying view of the camera showing under its baseplate, from left to right (as seen in the image): the rewind knob with a folding key (which must be pulled out until the loaded film cartridge is placed into the film chamber and which should also turned clockwise to wind the exposed film from the take-up spool back into the film cartridge), the small milled knob of the film cutting knife for trimming exposed film ends, the threaded tripod socket and the knob with folding key for engaging the film.
On the middle right half of front area of the camera (on the left in the image) are the two Vacublitz flash-gun contact sockets also working as fixers of the Exakta flash units.
The ability to change films without rewinding by using the cutter is an excellent feature of this camera, allowing a partially used film to be developed, with the added possibility of inserting an empty 35 mm cartridge in place of the usual take-up spool.
Detail of the Ihagee Anastigmat Exaktar 54 mm f/3.5 lens designed by Meyer Görlitz Optics, boasting a 15 blade diaphragm delivering very nice bokeh and able to focus from 0.8 m to infinity.
The mechanical construction of this rare and valuable lens is top-rate, in the same way as the rest of the camera and it is in excellent both cosmetic and operating condition.
Flash synvhronization was one of the many sides pioneered by the 24 x 36 mm format Kine Exakta camera some decades before it became widespread.
The metallic piece with small round button at its end (visible on the lower right area of the image is the is the lens bayonet catch, while the shutter release knob with its little threaded socket for shutter release cable can be seen on top right of the picture.
Among the immense array of very good lenses that can be attached to the Kine Exakta Round Magnifier stand out:
Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50 mm f/2.8, Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35 mm f/2.8, Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58 mm f/2, Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 75 mm f/1.5, Carl Zeiss Jena 180 mm f/2.8, Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 300 mm f/4, Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 20 mm f/4, Meyer Primoplan 58 mm f/1.9, Meyer Primoplan 75 mm f/1.9, Meyer Orestegor 300 mm f/4, Meyer Telemegor 400 mm f/5.5, Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 50 mm f/2, Schneider Kreuznach Xenon 80 mm f/2, Schneider Kreuznach Xenon 125 mm f/2, Schneider Kreuznach Variogon 45-100 f/2.8, P.A. Curtagon 35 mm f/4 shift lens, Angenieux 90 f/2.5, Astro Berlin 800 mm f/5, Ennalyt 85 mm f/1.5, Tele Ennalyt 135 mm f/2.8, Kilfitt Macro-Kilar 40 mm f/3.5 Types D and E, Kilfitt Macro-Kilar 40 mm f/2.8 Types D and E, Kilfitt Macro-Kilar 90 mm f/2.8 Types D and E, Kilfitt Fern-Kilar 400 mm f/5.6 and many others.
These lenses are a far cry from modern aspherical objectives in terms of resolving power and contrast and uniformity of performance between center and corners, but many of them deliver very good quality and wonderful vintage aesthetics of image with unique signature and bokeh (the latter because of the very high number of diaphragm blades typical of the ultraluminous objectives of the time), particularly the large aperture wideangle, standard and tele lenses between 35 mm and 90 mm, and to have the negatives exposed with these old lenses digitized with Hasselblad Imacon Flextight film scanners will deliver stunning results harking back to a golden age of photography and becoming a treat to watch for any lover of classic optical designs featuring excellent mechanical construction enabling to keep their performance for many decades.
Top view of the unfolded chromium hood for the focusing magnifier, the left wall and right walls of the finder hood and the finder hood back.
The quality of both the machining and finishing of the metallic surfaces together with the overall chroming is breathtaking,
something which reaches its apex on top left panel of the camera with the film transport lever, the picture counter, the reversing lever and the shutter speed knob for 1/25 s, 1/50 s, 1/100 s, 1/160 s, 1/250 s, 1/500 s and 1/1000 s + B + Z.
It´s a ravishing sight evoking times when programmed obsolescence and short-term thinking wasn´t commonplace at all and top priority was to provide the customers with top quality products sporting a very high level of compatibility and seemlessly working throughout many decades of professional hard use in a number of different photographic genres and environments.
Just on the right of the arrow of the frame counter is the lever allowing the disengagement of the winding mechanism. It´s in R position (Rückwärts, id est, Backwards in German), and the V position (Vorwärts, that´s to say, Forward in German) is concealed by the very milled lever.
It all in a breakthrough camera for 1936 that meant a turning point in many aspects, including a dazzling trapezoidal design having been introduced in 1933 by the Ihagee VP Exakta for 127 film.
Back right top view of the Ihagee Kine Exakta highlighting the slow speed and delayed action knob, the jewel of the crown of this camera which was born with a scientific vocation to cover the fields in which the superb Leica and Contax 24 x 36 mm rangefinder cameras of the time didn´t excel: the macrophotography, microphotography, astrophotography, sports with long teleobjectives, industrial photography, etc.
Aerial back view of the Ihagee Kine Exakta Round Magnifier from 1936 with all of its top left and right panel knobs and dials in sight, along with the neat waistlevel unfolded finder hood with round magnifier.
The accuracy of mechanizing and warping of the hood left and right walls has to be seen to be believed and enables the folding of the finder hood making the camera smaller for an easier transport after pressing the rounded button with concentric circles located at its back middle low area, between two hollow spaces carved on the metal with a commendable degree of precision.
Detail of the greatest masterpiece technical tour de force accomplished by the genius engineer Karl Nüchterlein (creator of this camera) with the Ihagee Kine Exakta 24 x 36 mm format he created: the big slow speed and delayed action knob working as a selector of long shutter speeds.
This entirely mechanically controlled system is an extraordinary horology device encompassing nothing less than twelve different slow speeds (1/10 s, 1/2 s, 1 s, 2 s, 3 s, 4 s, 5 s, 6 s, 7 s, 8 s, 9 s, 11 s and 12 s) and very expensive to design and manufacture.
Therefore, the black numbers indicate the selectable slow speeds between 1/10 s and 12 s and the red ones refer to the eligible delayed times (1/10 s, 3/4 s, 1 1/2 s, 2 s, 3 s, 5 s and 6 s).
And on far right can be seen two of the four sturdy hexagonal clamps (two at each far end) fastened as one with a screw, making up strap lugs and built with heedful attention to foster their transport function.
Detailed front view of the waist level hood of the Kine Exakta from 1936 with its round magnifier and its four walls unfolded.
The exceptional quality and precision of polishment and machining is so apparent and results in a sumptuous finish of visible metallic surfaces and parts.
This is a class in itself camera oozing a very strong personality, indescribable beauty and elegance to spare.
In this camera the film transport lever, the knob for fast shutter speeds between 1/25 s and 1/1000 s + B + Z and the shutter release button (out of image, beyond this knob and located on top left front of the camera) are placed on the left of the waist level hood finder, whereas the large slow speed and delayed action knob reaching up to 12 seconds is on the right.
Visible in the middle center of the finder hood back base is its small catch button.
Johan Steenberger, Dutch entrepreneur who founded Ihagee Kamerawerk in Dresden (Germany) in 1912.
His outstanding insight and grasp of the photographic market and its needs was instrumental to manufacture the slr Exakta VP using 127 roll film in 1933, which would be followed three years later by the Kine Exakta Round Magnifier using 35 mm format film in 1936.
He utterly trusted Karl Nüchterlein´s huge knowledge, ingenuity, experience and resourcefulness, to such an extent that against the opinion of most of the firm managers (it was widely deemed that a reflex camera featuring such small 24 x 36 mm negatives couldn´t get accurate focus), he accepted to go ahead with the 24 x 36 mm format Kine Exakta Project (whose design and prototypes stage elapsed for three years, between 1933 and 1936).
Karl Nüchterlein, chief engineer of Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co. Dresden and the man who firstly couched the host of breakthrough keynotes introduced in the 1933 Exakta VP 6,5 x 4 cm format on 127 film and which were subsequently enhanced and developed by the successful 24 x 36 mm format saga of cameras started with the Kine Exakta 1936.
However incredible it may seem, his gift and capacity to beget brainstorms were so far-reaching that all the analog single lens reflex cameras of XX Century and digital single lens reflex cameras manufactured till now in XXI Century were possible thanks to many of the fundamental tenets set forth by Karl Nüchterlein, something which was a real technological milestone, because in 1936 there weren´t any prentaprisms whatsoever and he had to design a highly updated hood finder getting a sharp and luminous image by means of a lens simultaneously working as a ground-glass screen and condenser optical lens.
The Ihagee Kine Exakta Round Magnifier was an exceedingly innovative camera and far ahead of its time in 1936, laying the foundations for the maturity of the system which would arrive fourteeen years later with the Exakta Varex (featuring a new interchangeable viewfinder, so the photographer could choose between waist-level screen or eye-level pentaprism) and the great labour fulfilled during fifties (heyday of Exakta) by the world-class technicians Heinz Lesser, Richard Hummel, Lothar Quaas and Herbert Blumtritt, together with Max Roskstroh (sales manager), Willy Teubner (technical manager) and Walter Kretzschmar (Ihagee Director).
On the other hand, the Kine Exakta Round Magnifier was one of the most brilliant and beautiful designs ever made.
The exotic Exakta logo, one of the most prestigious ones in the History of Photography, on front top area of the camera, with the words Ihagee and Dresden engraved in different kinds of letters.
The machining and polishing of the two hollow spaces carved on the nicely chromed metallic surface on each side of those two words is simply enthralling.
Top view of the Ihagee Anastigmat Exaktar 54 mm f/3.5 lens designed by Meyer Görlitz Optics, revealing in ascending order: the stop ring in the front, the distance ring and the depth of focus ring.
The shutter release button (featuring a threaded socket for the insertion of shutter release cable) appears on top right area of the image, while the lens bayonet catch (out of focus) can be glimpsed next to the depth of focus ring.
Unlike the Leica and Contax rangefinder cameras of the time (stellar performers at reportage, photojournalism and street photography, but limited because of their own nature to focal lengths between around 21 mm and 135 mm and not a good choice for macrophotography, microphotography and scientific scopes broadly speaking), the Exakta bayonet mount, the most versatile one in the history of photographic cameras, enabled the coupling of a myriad of lenses featuring very different focal lengths and easily interchangeable, from wideangles to superteles, in addition to accept a slew of adapter rings and extension tubes for micro and macro photography, color filters, microscope adapters, soft focus lenses and so on.
Front aerial view of the slow speed and delayed action knob (located on the right top panel of the camera as seen by the photographer) working as a selector of long shutter speeds.
This is a milestone accomplishment for a camera created in 1936 and probably the technological pinnacle ever achieved in the field of mechanical shutters along with the groundbreaking concepts incepted by Peter Loseries and Otto Domes while improving the focal plane shutters of the Leica M cameras (firstly designed by Ludwig Leitz, Willi Stein and Friedrich Gath for the Leica M3) during middle and late sixties through their in-depth research on swinging sector camera shutter including first and second swinging sectors, with each swinging sector featuring a number of aligned bearing studs and many lamellae mounted for rotary motion with respect to the axis of a corresponding bearing stud on the working of the shutter and the functioning relationship of a pin and slit mechanism linked to the lamella of each sector bringing about the driving of the sectors.
Front aerial view of the left top panel (as seen by the photographer) of the Kine Exakta 1936, highlighting the shutter speed knob for 1/25 s, 1/50 s, 1/100 s, 1/160 s, 1/250 s, 1/500 s and 1/1000 s + B + Z.
This entirely mechanical device for the fast speeds and very specially
the gorgeous masterpiece mechanism of the Kine Exakta Round magnifier 1936 with the slow speed and delayed action knob ( inspired by the movements of A. Lange & Söhne watches of the time, and which must be winded) make up a horizontally travelling cloth shutter system belonging to the realm of top-drawer clockwork and is on a par with the also mechanically controlled focal plane shutters of the Leica M6 (1984), M6 TTL (1998) and M7 (2002) in which the shutter speeds are formed by control cams and by a gear train working as a delay mechanism.
But it is very important to bear in mind that this 24 x 36 mm format Kine Exakta Round Magnifier camera was launched into market in 1936 (48 years before the Leica M6) and its fabulous horology system for slow speeds and delayed action is by far the most comprehensive one in the history of photographic cameras, with an exceedingly wide choice of twenty shutter speeds available (from 12 seconds to 1/1000 s, with delayed action in 14 of the speeds).
The 24 x 36 mm Ihagee Kine Exakta cameras (whose first model was the Kine Exakta Round Magnifier from 1936, followed by the Kine Exakta II with Rectangular Magnifier in 1937) were a highly succesful saga which held sway over the single lens reflex camera photographic market between mid thirties and 1949, something which increased even more from 1950 onwards with the launching into market of the likewise groundbreaking Exakta Varex (which meant a turning point in the development of the concept, on boasting interchangeable waist-level and eye-level viewfinders — the latter ones with roof prism devised by Willy Teubner and his team —, the first SLR camera with that capability) and other subsequent models like the Exakta Varex VX, the Exakta Varex IIA, the Exakta Varex IIB, the Exakta VX 1000, the Exakta VX 500 etc, which were built until 1972.
Therefore, the 24 x 36 mm Exakta single lens reflex cameras reigned supreme as a common choice among dentists, physicians, scientists, astronomers, micro and macro photographers, etc, who used them daily in their fields, taking advantage of the fact that unlike the 24 x 36 mm format rangefinder cameras, they lacked parallax error and offered much better framing accuracy.
It´s no wonder that Kine Exakta cameras became the queens of the most prestigious universities like Heidelberg, LMU, Harvard, MIT, Berkely, Yale, Cornell, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, La Sorbonne, ETH of Zurich, Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Leipzig University, Freie Universität Berlin, the Berlin Humboldt University and others as standard equipment for their research work.
This camera is really in a great condition, as proved by this selective enlargement of the back area in which we can see that incredibly both the embossed winsome Ihagee letters and the black leather are almost intact.
This Kine Exakta Round Magnifier serial number 483850 from 1936 is a top class very scarce item not only for collectors but also for users, since the camera works perfectly at every shutter speed and aperture, with a majestic mechanical sound.
Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza