Brief Love Story
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Brief Love Story
by J. Ramón Palacios

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And so it began
  Medium format
» 35mm SLR
  The Exakta's
  The first Nikon's
  Her ...
  The kids
and the Exaktas
  The Nikkormats
  The FE2
  Into the land of Nikon
  The MD-12s
  Upgrading ...
The F4s and beyond
An endless
love story ...
Adventures in the Sierra Madre

35mm SLR ...

The Rolleis from Franke & Heidecke Fabrik Photographischer Prazisionsapparate were portentous with their twin 75mm focal length lenses: the lower one actually took the picture, the upper one allowed for viewing, focusing and compose the image.

But the Germans also produced the first single lens reflex in the world of 35mm, at Dresden: the Exakta and her inexpensive little sister Exa of Ihagge (I.H.G.). 
The Exa Ia camera
Exa Ia - Ihagge - Dresden, Germany
Of course, my father had one of the first (Exa Ia) and he let me use it. The names of the machined and hand polished lenses -one at the time- of Carl Zeiss Jena are indelible: Tessar, Biogon, Biotar, Plannar, Flektogon, Pancolar, as well as the astounding images they produced.

As soon as the first pentaprism appeared we installed it immediately. It was ecstasy.

The use of contrasting textures (the smoothness of a skin against the rugosity of a tree cortex, for example) and composition, seemed natural to me.

Without knowing it I had learned it at home since childhood. From how my mother arranged furniture, pictures and mirrors; her porcelain, fine china and cut glass in the cabinets of the dinning room; to the untiringly peering over the pages of the German Photography Annuals, those of Life magazine and many other specialized magazines and books my father continuously gave me. 

We traveled much and each visit to a city implied compulsory sessions at the best coffee houses, colonial public buildings, convents and museums, always a class of aesthetic appreciation, amenable conversation fully loaded with anecdotes of its founders, architects, painters, sculptors, government and military rulers.

Several years, thousands of feet of film and thousands of miles later, at home appeared the Exakta.

Ihagee logo Exakta Varex IIa camera

Shutter speed had increased from the top 1/150 of a second in the Exa to a 1/1000; the possibilities for action pictures were now infinite.

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