Exakta Prism Finders


As seen on my previous page, Ihagee introduced interchangeable finder capability with the release of the Exakta Varex (V) camera in 1950. In the succeeding years, quite a few revisions were made to the prism finders, in both aesthetics and ruggedness. Eventually, a prism finder was released having a built-in selenium cell exposure meter and several years later, two prisms, with meters that had through-the-lens (TTL) exposure measurement capabilities, were introduced.

A. Ihagee Prisms

Version 1

The first prism finder introduced with the Exakta Varex is rather uncommon today, particularly in collector quality condition. The top plate , in the first few versions of the prism, was constructed of a relatively soft, matte-finished chromium that was particularly susceptible to bruises. On the prism front, the words "Ihagee" and "Dresden" were engraved and on the rear, above the eyepiece the word "Varex". On the black textured finish base front, the words"Made in Germany" were engraved. Several variations exist.


Version 2

Appearing very similar to the Version 1 prism, the Version 2 no longer had the word "Varex" engraved on the rear above the eyepiece. Instead the word "Ihagee" was engraved. On the front of the prism base plate where the word "Germany" appeared on the version 1 prism, the base now was engraved "VX" in the center with a serial number on the left and "Germany" on the right. As noted with the version 1, the soft metal used in the top plate made this model too, susceptible to dings and dents. Again, variations do exist.  

No Name Version

Found on some late Varex and V cameras and early VX's was an unmarked prism finder with only the word "Germany" engraved on the front of the top plate. Neither the word "Varex" nor "Ihagee" was engraved on the rear of the top plate as in the two preceding versions. This model is not listed in the A&R book. Most likely this model was manufactured in West Germany. Many variations exist in the engravings.  


Version 3

With the base of this prism very similar to the Version 2 prism above, the top plate was modified . There are now two pieces of leather inset into the top plate. The peak on the top plate of this model prisms was still prone to dents.  

Version 4

On Version 4 prisms, the top plate is similar to that used on the Version 3. On the rear of the top plate, the appearance of the word "Ihagee" was changed. One previous models "Ihagee" was engraved into the metal; on Version 4 prisms, the word "Ihagee" is now raised and set in relief. There are at least 5 variations in the engravings on the baseplate on Version 4 prisms. I have seen them with only a serial number engraved, with only "Ihagee Dresden" engraved, with no serial number and with "Germany" engraved and a serial number, with a serial number and "Germany - USSR Occupied" stamped on the front finder flashing and finally with a serial number and just "USSR Occupied" on the flashing. As with all previous model prisms, the peak on Version 4 prisms was still susceptible to dents. Two photos are displayed; the first shows the prism from the rear and the second shows three variations.  

Version 5

The Version 5 prism was a redesign. The shape of the top housing was flattened somewhat and each of the three top surfaces now had leather inserts. Baseplates can be found in both crinkle and glossy black finishes. The front of the baseplate has "Ihagee" engraved on the left side and "Dresden" on the right. Another variation shows a serial number engraved below the word "IHAGEE"  

Jubilee Version Prism

The most beautiful of the Exakta Prisms is the Jubilee model. Essentially a Version 5, the leather of the top and lateral faces was replaced with plastic inserts. The lateral faces got glossy black panels while the top got an "Art Deco" plastic panel colored black with white stripes. As with the Jubilee Hooded finder discussed on the previous page, Jubilee prisms are in high demand today!!!  

Version 6

Introduced with the Exakta VX1000, this new hood now had a single piece of leather covering the entire top. The base was finished in glossy black and on some (those furnished with the VX1000) the words "Ihagee Dresden" were engraved.



 Exa 1C (and late all black 1B) Prism

Offered as an option with the Exa 1C and the late model all Black Exa 1B, the black prism displayed on the left had a black plastic top and metal base.  

Ihagee Cell Prism

The Ihagee Cell Prism was the only prism manufactured by Ihagee with a built-in exposure meter. A selenium cell meter was incorporated into the prism. The meter was a completely manual affair. Once a reading was obtained on the meter, It had to be manually transferred to the camera shutter speed dial and lens aperture ring. The meter has two operating ranges, high and low and utilized a slotted cover that had to be raised on the selenium cell for low readings. An incident light attachment, quite rare, (shown in the photo foreground), was also available. The Cell Prism used the same focusing screens as the other prisms

In addition to the meter, a built in optical viewfinder was also included in the prism. The viewfinder covered approximately the view of an Exakta 50-58mm standard lens. As the Praktina FX and IIa cameras incorporated a similar finder into their bodies, it is most likely that Ihagee wanted to offer the same feature without having to re-design their camera bodies.

A fitted leather case for the Cell Prism was also available.


The cell prism can also be found without a serial number.


RTL 1000 Prism

The standard prism viewfinder for the Exakta RTL 1000 was an all black, glossy finished prism having interchangeable focusing screens. The Praktica VLC used a similar prism, but was finished in a satin rather than a glossy black finish. It is not uncommon to see an RTL with the Praktica prism or a Praktica with a RTL prism. The glossy RTL Prism was very susceptible to wear marks.

The photo on the right shows the RTL Prism (glossy finish) on the left and the VLC Prism (flat satin finish) on the right.



RTL 1000 Cell Prism

There were two versions of this through-the-lens meter prism for the Exakta RTL 1000. The first version had the words "ON" and "OFF" engraved by the meter switch; the second version the "ON" and "OFF" were replaced by green and red dots. This prism required that a battery be installed (a PX13).  

REAL Prism (Rare)

Made exclusively for the rare Exakta REAL, the prism finder was manufactured by Ihagee Berlin. On the baseplate, the words "Ihagee Berlin-West were engraved as was a serial number below it. The hood was matte-finished chrome while the base was finished in glossy black. A permanent accessory shoe was provided on the top of the prism.  


B. Other Maker's Prisms

Sperling Prism

Made in Germany by Sperling, this prism was generally finished in matte-chrome over brass. Most Sperling prisms show heavy wear. The top plates were made of soft metal that could very easily be bruised.

The one shown in black paint over brass is quite uncommon. The focusing screens on the Sperling Prisms were interchangeable.



Schacht Travemat Meter Prism

Introduced in 1966, by A. Schacht-Ulm, the Travemat was the first TTL (through-the-lens) meter for the Exakta. Three versions exist. Version 1 had an ASA film speed range of ASA 6 to 400. On Versions 2 and 3, the film speed range was increased to ASA 6 to 1600. The meter cell was a Cadmium Sulfide (CdS) type and needed a battery (PX13 or PX625) to operate. Version 2 and Version 3 meter prisms differed in that the Viewfinder eyepiece on the Version 2 had an inner disk (to prevent extraneous light from entering the eyepiece) and the version 3 did not.  

Harwix EXAMAT Meter Prism

Introduced a year later in 1967, Harwix (Berlin) introduced the Examat Meter prism for the Exakta. Finished in a glossy black enameled finish, the Examat had a sensitivity range from ASA 6 to 1600. Like the Travemat, it had a CdS meter and needed a battery (PX13 or PX625) to operate.  

Kalimar Prism

Looking at the Kalimar prism finder from the front, it appears to be a Version 2 Exakta prism. On the rear of the prism top plate the word "Kalimar" is engraved where the word "Ihagee" appears on a regular Ihagee made prism. Most Kalimar prisms encountered are in terrible condition. Their top plates were manufactured from soft metal.    

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