Ihagee Varex VX IIa

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Ihagee Varex VX IIa

After the success of the Exakta Varex VX and its variants, Ihagee introduced the Varex VX IIa. No model was branded as ‘II’, perhaps not to confuse it with the Kine Exakta II. This model is almost identical to the Varex VX, except for minor changes.

  • Redesigned the pesky slow speed / self-time dial. Instead of round, now it is octagonal with deep grooves, which is much easier to control.
  • The film memo dial is friendlier than the Varex VX, although it still makes little sense. Markings are:
    C black, slide film daylight
    C red, Slide film artificial light
    C. red, negative daylight
    N.C. black, negative artificial light.
    While there are ASA values as well, they are disregarded in this selection.
  • There are three synch ports for different sync times, elaborately detailed in the user manual.
  • Instead of a smooth surface, the redesigned pressure plate has bumps assuming for better grip on the film.
  • Flash synch, here are three settings, X, M, F, with a detailed table in the manual referring to the bulb manufacturer. All obsolete now.
  • An easter egg, for double exposure, cock the shutter using the speed dial without lifting it and fire.

But, the most noteworthy change is the user manual, a main one and a supplement. The English version manual of Varex VX was poorly done; here, it is clear and concise, although there is an error on page 10.

Using the right dial, self-timer and slow speeds selector is still confusing, the same as it was on its predecessor:

  • There are two sets of markings, in black for slow speeds, 1/5 to 12 seconds, and in red for self-timer, up to 12 seconds, or at least that’s what I assume.
  • The slow speed / self-timer dial must be cocked to activate it. Turn the dial to the right, against a spring, till it stops.
  • For using slow speeds, pull up the dial and set the desired speed, marked black, against the dot in the inner dial. The spring within the dial will enable the slow speeds, which are really slow, up to 12 seconds. As stated above, the main speed dial must be set to either T or B.
  • For the self-timer, cock the dial and set the outer dial delay value, in red, against the dot. Select the desired speed on the main dial, and you are good to go.
  • As it is understood, the slow speeds and the self-timer cannot be used together. Either or.

There were several versions, hardly indistinguishable, of the Varex IIa. How many – depends on whom you ask. The first model had a speed of 150, which was eliminated in later models. Other differences in the early models were cosmetic only, where the name markings were either punched or engraved, or both. Later versions, from 1961 onwards, saw the body style deviates from the unique Exakta high forehead styling towards a traditional design, later repeated on the Exakta VX 500 and VX 1000.

The VX IIa had a good run, selling 182,000 units between 1958 and 1963, almost all in export markets. The short-lived VX IIb followed it, and then the VX 1000 and VX 500. These models ended the independent Ihagee, where later Exaktas out of Pentacon looked like typical Praktica models.

The U.S. market saw a model engraved with “Germany, U.S.S.R. occupied”, assumingly as the U.S. did not recognize the D.D.R. it had to have a country of origin.

List number 32126
Brand Ihagee
Model Exakta Varex IIa
Manual Manual
Value camdex.ca
Format 35mm
Introduced 1957
Country DDR
Qty made 182000
Initial price
Type Compact SLR
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 740 gr,  Body only
Class average weight 610 gr,  Body only
ASA range 6-400, memo only
Kit lens NA
Lens make NA
Filter size NA
Lens mount Proprietary
Mount size Exakta bayonet
Aperture NA
Shutter Focal plane cloth horizontal
Shutter make
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds T, B, 25-1000. early models also 150. Slow speeds /5, /2/, 1-12
Mirror None auto return
Viewer Interchangeable, prism or waist
DOF preview Yes, with auto lens
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe No
External sync X/F/M
Sync speed 30, 60
Timer Yes, mechanical, /5, 1-6 sec.
Battery N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links camerlog.com
More The Ihagee story
Beyond Aperture

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