Tag Archives: 2

Ihagee Exa – Version 2

I was intrigued by this camera after I saw the top viewfinder on Instagram. A 35mm with a top viewfinder, beautiful. So I actively looked for one on eBay, a cheap one. Finally I found one that said untested so the price was cheap, a gamble.

When it first arrived the shutter button was sticking on all speeds. I added a little clock repair oil to that and just kept pressing. Eventually it didn’t stick any more. By looking through the exposure opening while firing I could see the shutter working. At the top speed the mirror seemed to cover the light entering a little and I wasn’t confident it was working at 1/150th. So when I loaded the camera with Fuji Acros, I left the speed on 1/100th for the test.

This is the second version of the Exa. I know for two reasons. Firstly, this site says the second version has a cover over the shutter button. Secondly, there was a sticker on the bottom saying ‘version 2 1953’.

Mine came with a f2.9 50mm lens, the lenses are interchangeable. This lens has an aperture stop function. You set the aperture you want by pushing the front towards the body and then move the red dot. You can then open up the aperture to aid focusing, then close it down again to take the shot. Once you fire the shutter the mirror moves up as the backside of the mirror acts as the shutter curtain. It is not a focal plane shutter. Once you wind on the film and cock the shutter the mirror returns to the original place. As you can see on the photos the shutter speed is set with the stick on the side of the viewfinder.

With the aperture wide open, the image in the viewfinder is very bright. There is a magnifier to help with focusing. But this didn’t help me, I really need a split screen or micro-prism. On my example the film counter did not work, but it would be set before hand manually, then it should count down.

I took the camera to Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall. The former can be reached easily by train, which I recommend as it can get quite busy. The latter can be reached by a local bus, which I also recommend as the walk is quite steep. I haven’t been to Heptonstall before and I thought it was fantastic. As the link says, it is a hidden treasure. I found it more photogenic than Howarth, with much fewer people. You are just missing the Brontes, but you gain a Plath.

So did my camera work?

I doubted it and felt kind of disappointed all day using it. But work it did.

As you can see I only took one photo in portrait mode because using the viewfinder on its side was a real pain in the butt. You can also see a light reflection on some shots.

The gentleman you see seems to be a real figure of Heptonstall. He was outside the museum and really interesting to talk to. He told us about himself, his cameras, and the history of the place.

Inside the museum was this display about Alice Longstaff. You can find out more about her here.

I think I will get this camera serviced at some point. It is too pretty to get rid of quickly. I would like to try it again to improve the focusing.

Kodak Brownie No.2

Let’s go back in time 100 years, what kind of camera would a regular, everyday person be using? Probably this one, the Box Brownie. This camera was in use around 1901-1935. There were five different models and was the first camera EVER to use 120 film. Mine seems to be model F which is from the very end of the production cycle.

I have found the balcony at the top of my stairs makes a perfect light box for taking photos of cameras. Well I like it anyway, and it was free ūüôā

I became interested in trying this camera after reading this great review. When I saw the photos Jim obtained I wanted to try one and kept looking on eBay for a decent example. They really do vary in prices, of course I wanted a very cheap one and eventually I got this. As you can see it is pretty good condition. It was light tight and the lens was clean. The viewfinders were not and I did have trouble framing my images.

There are two pull out tabs on the top. One changes the speed between roughly 1/50th to Bulb. The other tab lets you choose between three apertures f/11, f/22, and f/32. By the way, that link is also a fantastic review. Anyway, I kept both of my tabs pushed down as it was sunny and I was outside. The other choices are for inside or cloudy, which I might experiment with another time with the aid of a tripod as there is mount on the bottom.

I tried to load mine while waiting for my car to go through its MOT. As such I was sat on an uncomfortable chair with no surface spaces. I found it a bit tricky to load as the tension of the roll kept becoming loose. I ended up fogging the first frame. Basically I had the opposite experience to Jim.

I then got bored of waiting for the retest and decided to take a bus to Leeds and get some films developed. I waited for those by watching the Wimbledon women’s final on the Millennium Square big screen. Well, that only took an hour to finish, so back to pick up the photos then back to pick up the car. It was a day of waiting and filling in time. Also during that time I managed to finish the roll of film inside the Brownie. As it takes 6×9 images, you get 8 shots to a roll. So finishing it really didn’t take long. I was worried about camera shake so for a couple of shots I placed the camera on a wall and a bench. But looking at the other images I didn’t need to be worried, they were fine. Next time I won’t bother with that.

So what do photos from a 90ish year old camera look like…

I have no idea why I didn’t turn the camera to landscape view, there is a viewfinder on both sides. Maybe because it was the cleaner of the two viewfinders. Again, I will try landscape next time.

So for next time the list goes
1. Try landscape view
2. Try a different aperture
3. Try a tripod and bulb mode

I would say try colour, but I want to keep costs down and I don’t have any C41 chemicals yet. I think it would be too unpredictable for slide film.

I don’t feel these are the best photos I have ever taken, but there is potential. I may add some more photos later when I have tried it again. BUT what a camera, what a piece of history. I would compare this camera to the Barnack for its contribution to the photographic industry. For the first time a regular person like you and me could take photos out and about without too much hassle.

UPDATE: After reading Jim’s comment about cleaning it. I decided to have a look and it is indeed easy. Basically the front is just held on with two pressure points and can be prised off with a well placed screwdriver. So while watching the Tour de France highlight I did take the front off and used a standard lens cleaner to wipe the lenses and mirrors. In the end I decided to tackle it as the camera has lasted 90 years, it would surely last me giving it a quick clean.

I also gave the front and back of the actual lens a quick, gentle clean by using the bulb mode. The cleaning wipe came out very dirty after touching the mirrors, but was surprisingly clean after the lens. There was clearly 90 years of dust in the viewfinder. I just hope I didn’t scratch the actual lens. I will load it again with film and take some more shots…when the rain stops.

Fed 2

This is by far my favourite camera. I know I said in the past that the Olympus OM4 was my go to camera and it is, but this is the camera that “means” the most to me. This is due to the circumstances surrounding when I first used it.

At the very beginning of my journey back to film and when I only owned one other film camera, which I hadn’t even tried, I bought this camera on eBay. I did this mainly because at the time I knew nothing about film cameras other than a fully working one in Japan is quite expensive. I read some information and found this camera was a Russian copy of a Leica. I could not afford a Leica so this seemed a good alternative.¬†It was quite cheap and arrived from the Ukraine fairly quickly.

It was in great condition, coming with a box and case. I got a test roll through and was amazed by the results.

The photos had a quality about them that you just don’t get from a digital camera. Every shot was focused, sharp and had great levels of exposure.

Then I got an email calling me back to the UK. My mum, who was sick when I left, had suddenly got worse. A few days¬†later, there I was holding on to my camera sitting by her bed. I got into the habit of carry the camera almost everywhere. The people around me got use to seeing it so didn’t over pose and seemed fairly comfortable having it pointed at them. So the next sets of shots I got were very poignant.

This camera gave me something else to focus on rather than the very real situation I found myself in. Unfortunately there was no miracle, no magic pill and life took its intended path. I used the camera, and others I got along the way, to document mum’s journey. I also tried to¬†figure out how to use¬†ibooks so¬†we could¬†write¬†a small book ¬†together. Eventually, she was able to share it with the wonderful nurses. It gave us all¬†something to focus on and talk about. When mum wasn’t up to chatting I wandered around the grounds taking photos. We were very lucky to live very close to Wakefield Hospice¬†where mum stayed, which has beautiful grounds.


I found focusing on and learning about film calmed me. Now, when I am sad or feeling a bit down, I buy a camera or take a roll. I know this about myself, it was the reason for this blog. I feel I am almost over this habit. I have a few cameras left that I have yet to test and write about, but I intend to stop this blog on the anniversary of Mum’s passing. That is in about a month…so I better get cracking.

Ok, so the¬†Fed 2 – It’s a rangefinder with the two images needing to be aligned. The most important thing to know is to COCK THE SHUTTER before changing the film speeds. Otherwise you might break the thing. There are loads of technical details here. You will need to use a light meter as this camera is completely manual. No batteries required. No meter system. I use this one on my iphone or itouch. It has not let me down yet.

There is a solid weight to the Fed 2 and it exudes quality when you hold it. There is a self timer and a diopter adjustment lever, but that’s about it.

It is a pleasure to use and relatively easy. I would highly recommend this camera and think all film lovers should own one. I would also recommend sitting down with your family and making your end of life wishes known and clear, or finding out about their wishes. Don’t leave it until it is too late.

I know this is a camera blog, but here are some resources on this subject.
Five Tips for Families Facing End-of-Life Care