Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Exakta on eBay

A couple of recent eBay auctions had Exakta bodies and lenses I would once have given my eye teeth for. A Varex IIb with four lenses: Flektogon 35 mm f2.8; Pancolor 50 mm f2; Sonnar 135 mm f4; Schneider-Kreuznach Tele Xenar 200 mm f5.5 plus a set of extension tubes. That lot went for £172.75.
A few days later a Varex went with an Enna Lithagon 35 mm f3.5, a Zeiss Jena 58 mm f1.2 (no name given), a Meyer Trioplan 199 mm f2.8 and a Dallmeyer 6” f5.6 plus a few odds and ends for £139.00.
I wonder whether bidders wanted the lenses for digital cameras, to use with the bodies or as collectors items.
I had an Exakta Varex IIb with f2 Pancolor, pentaprism, extension tubes and the release rod that went with them. I could only afford a cheap 135 mm lens which was unbelievably soft. I made the wrong choice though. The Pentax VX or Spotmatic would have been better. I chose a system that was on its way out in 1966; Pentax was on the way in.
The machining of the extension tubes was pretty crude with sharp edges on the locking levers. Setting up the external linkage between the diaphragm of the lens at the front and the body release at the back was a pain. The tightness of fit of the rings was poor such that when I had a lens on the end it drooped at an alarming angle. Some features of the Varex IIB were useful (the knife for cutting a partly-exposed film - but not for Kodachrome and the like, the left-hand release for a left-hander) but the Pancolor lens I had seemed to lack contrast compared with Japanese lenses of the time and I was not sorry to sell the camera lens and close-up accessories to Campkins in Cambridge.