Kine Exakta "Varex"?

A previously unknown and advanced early Exakta that has survived only on paper.


Here for the first time I would like to introduce an unknown Kine Exakta design that had been previously lost in the Ihagee archives since 1945. This Exakta is different in many aspects to the well known Kine Exakta in that it anticipated the future Exakta Varex and Exakta Varex VX by many years in several construction details.

These design drawings are dated, beginning with 18.6.1945. Considering that all Ihagee’s records from before and during the war were destroyed in the bombing of the factory it is hard to believe that the surviving workers could have designed such a completely new and advanced camera in such a short time. This brings to question: was this an earlier design begun by Karl Nüchterlein (the designer of the original Kine Exakta)? Was his design reconstructed from memory of those Ihagee workers who survived the war? When you stop and think about the fact of how complex the task of constructing a new camera is, and the short time between the wars end and the date of this design, this theory becomes more realistic!

Richard Hummel wrote in his book "Spiegelreflexkameras aus Dresden", that all records and technical drawings had been lost during the bombing of the Ihagee factory and because of that, the reconstruction of needed technical drawings took place from mid-May 1945 and was finished by the end of that year. What Richard Hummel was writing about was the technical drawings for the well known postwar Kine Exakta, which were used for starting production again. But he does not mention the paper work for the Kine Exakta "Varex" (this is a name I have given this camera).

The drawing B100 was displayed in the Dresden Technical Museum for the 60th anniversary exhibition of the Kine Exakta, the complete set of drawings is in the museum archives. It seems likely that Hummel would have known about the existence of this camera design. The drawings had been part of the Ihagee technical archive and Richard Hummel had dedicated many years to investigating and securing the technical and historical details of Ihagee, so why he would not have mentioned this camera is unknown.

Because of the destruction of all records, the re-writing of the technical papers (for the Kine Exakta and for the Kine Exakta "Varex") could have only been accomplished with the help of existing cameras, or parts from them, from former production samples or prototypes. This conclusion would prove that the Kine Exakta "Varex" was designed and made as a prototype long before the year 1943. Hummel stated in his book that from 1940 war production had the absolute priority and that from that time up to 1943 only about 400 cameras had been made and those were only for reporters. So it is very likely that the Kine Exakta "Varex" was designed and constructed by Nüchterlein. This leads to the question: what did Ihagee plan for postwar production besides the Exa and the unfortunate Exakta 66?

One outstanding feature of this camera is there is a button for removing the waist level finder. It does not show in the documents if this was made for a planned prism or another special viewing system. But the simple changing of the thick glass magnifier with the mate screen for a different screen can‘t be the reason because two screws under the front plate fix it. That is only one of the differences between the Kine Exakta "Varex" and the known construction details of the production Kine Exakta.

These following details also differ:

There are more technical differences, but these shown are the main ones. This camera was designed after 1936 and it is likely that a prototype was made. Because of some unknown financial or factory-political reason it was decided to go on producing the former Kine Exakta with only minor modifications.

Also in 1945, when both sets of drawings of the Kine Exakta and the Kine Exakta "Varex" were reconstructed, again the decision was made in favour of the original Kine Exakta. Surely again because of financial reasons. There had been many prewar parts left that had survived the bombing of Dresden (they had been stored out of Dresden) and surely it was easier to make a new start with the earlier wellknown and reliable design.

But work on the design drawings of the Kine Exakta "Varex" did not stop. The drawings had been partly revised through 1947, 1948 and partly in 1949. For example, the drawing of the inner base plate "8.2.1946" (which was never used in a production camera) was revised at the"13.1.1948" for the last time.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to guess why nothing is known about the Kine Exakta "Varex". I can only speculate about the history of this early unique design, but I want to leave that up to everyone else!

With this article, I would like to create a small and late memorial for Karl Nüchterlein, who, in my opinion, was also the inventer of the Exakta Varex.

I want to thank my friends Klaus Arnhardt and Rainer Dierchen, who encouraged me to write this article. And thanks to all the others, who gave me their support for this writing.