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Ihagee Exa

Style, film format 35mm SLR interchangeable-lens system

Lens, shutter f/2.8 50mm Tessar, sector shutter

Photo quality untested

Ergonomics Left-side front-mounted shutter release

This is the junior model to the Ihagee Exakta cameras, using a simplified shutter that offers a narrow range of speeds. The body is a mirror of the Exaktas in that the front is flat while the back is sloped on the sides.

The camera includes an interchangeable waist-level finder with a pop-up magnifier that is larger than the small lens that you usually get. Construction and fit and finish are quite good.

The left-handed shutter release can be a bit tricky for most photographers, especially those who are used to holding the camera in a more traditional manner.

The release is mounted on the front of the camera and is perpendicular to the film plane. The action of the release is suitably smooth.

The shutter is an arc-shaped flap that swings upward when it opens. It's known as a sector shutter. For an SLR, the noise level is surprisingly low. The non-return mirror jumps up but doesn't slap, helping keep the racket to a minimum.

Available speeds are limited to B, 25, 50, 100 and 150, ruling out the use of high-speed emulsions or low-light handheld photography.

The older lenses, though nicely made, suffer from the same problem as most aluminum-mount glass. It needs to be cleaned and lubricated to return it to its silky-smooth state.

The Exa shares the same bayonet mount as the Exakta, meaning that lenses can be shared between the two cameras. It's a nice touch.