Exa 1a, manufactured across two decades from the 60’s to the 70’s, is a full mechanical SLR camera body with collapsible top-view finder. It’s equipped with the standard M42 mount and thus good to couple with many vintage lenses.
The operation of Exa 1a is somewhat a blend of a SLR and a TLR ones, it uses the common 35mm film yet you need to composite and focus using a top-view finder, as if you are working with a classic Rolleiflex. Focusing is not easy especially while using large apertures. If you have a good sense of camera distance, pre-focusing is a good option for you to take great pictures with it.
Let alone the fact that this full-manual camera is of very limited features, it’s fun to work with it. Using a top-view finder simply means you will shoot pictures with a perspective different from the common eye-level ones. The strong “POP” sound while the shutter is released also creates a shooting experience different from other film cameras.
Since the highest shutter speed is only 1/175s, most of the time I use medium to small apertures for taking outdoor pictures. And in fact, while you guess the shutter/aperture combination right, the pictures’ quality can be daunting.