About the camera

The Exakta Varex IIa was manufactured from 1957 to 1961.
Exakta is one of the first SLR-cameras, in the world! And, for me not unimportant: it was invented by a Dutch man, Johan Steenbergen.

First of all: It is a camera for lefties...
Everything you expect to be on the right-hand side is on the left-hand side: Shutter-button, winding-crank, speed-dial. Everything.
It beats me, I really don't know.
And, just to be as thoroughly as possible: I don't think it is handy...

Like I said: the shutter-button is on the left-hand side as well. Attached to the lens.
When pushed the button first closes the aperture to the chosen setting and then pushes the button on the body and releases the shutter.
The camera doesn't use batteries (in fact: it is a completely mechanical camera, no automation, everything is set manual. No, no metering either). The camera can be shut down though...
By sliding a little lever between the shutter button and the body you prevent yourself from take an image by mistake.

The Exakta Varex IIa is a system camera.
Lenses can be replaced, extension tubes can be added, viewfinders can be changed
Inserting extension tubes raised a challenge for it's inventors: How to release the shutter when the button is moved a few inches away from the body?
Guess what?
They came up with a metallic rod to place between the lens and the body!
I think it's just amazing! Hilarious! But then again: it works!
My camera came with two viewfinders: a prism viewfinder and a waist-level viewfinder.
Personally I like the waist-level viewfinder. It's great for street photography. On the other hand I must admit it's a little small. I prefer the large viewfinder on my Yashica 6x6.

Winding the film, cocking the shutter.
With the winding-crank you can almost make a 270 degree turn. It moves the film to the next frame and cocks the shutter.
Although this is not a Russian camera, you must handle it like it is. Meaning: always cock the shutter before you change shutter-speed. If you don't the shutter-curtain will get stuck.
I had this problem once with my Zenit-E (Russian). You can repair it by manually winding the curtain. Trust me: you don't want to go there...
The camera has shutter-speeds B, 1/25s, 1/50s, 1/100s, 1/200, 1/500 and 1/1000s. I think it's remarkable it can handle the speed of 1/1000s. Remember: this camera is from 1961!

Then, on the right-hand side, we see the self-timer. In order to use this you first set the speed-dial at T. Then you wind the dial of the self-timer clockwise. The further you turn it, the longer the shutter will be open...
No, this is not the way to take selfies! The self-timer is used for long exposures. As soon as you release the shutter the clock will "tick". And the end of its cycle the shutter closes again.

Film is expensive.
If you have the pictures and you have to rush to get them published, what to do if there are still more than 20 unexposed images left?
Come on now!

In fact, this is a no-brainer: just take the knife! Really, could you ever have thought of such a thing?
They actually put a knife in the camera! Just unscrew the little knob on the bottom and pull it outwards. By doing that you cut the film! Then, of course in a dark-room, you can take the exposed film out. Take te rest of the film to the take-up spool (you better have two of those) and close the camera. The exposed film can get developed and the unexposed is ready for your next shot!

I think it's great!

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