I got this camera from my friend’s parents. They said that it has been in the family for many decades and I could have it in one condition; I’m not allowed to throw it away or sell it. I thank them and promised to keep in for myself and of course take it for a test drive!
When I got this, I was amazed by its beauty. The little round body with metal and black finish was a real eye candy for me. I heard that it has been serving as a toy for the last 15 years, so I didn’t think that it would work…and at first it didn’t. First, I tried the film winder, but it didn’t move. The shutter release didn’t work either. I went to the internet and managed to find the manual, but it wasn’t that useful. Winder was still stuck and I didn’t dare to put all of my strength to it, I didn’t want to break it more. Luckily my girlfriend was fearless and just forced the winder to move and the camera came alive!
I was excited and the first thing next morning, I went shopping for some film. I found two interesting new things for me; shutter button is attached to the lens and there was a top viewfinder, just like in TLR cameras. The shutter button is great, it’s easy to use and it’s right where your finger is when you hold the camera. Maybe that’s why they put a safety switch to this camera, so you won’t accidentally take a shot while handling the camera. I didn’t like top viewfinder that much, I’m just more used to the regular one.
The whole camera is full manual. You can set your ISO from 25 to 400 and shutter speeds go from 1/30s to 1/175s. I wouldn’t mind having faster shutter speeds, because on a clear sunny day, ISO400 loaded 1/175s will get you overexposed shots. There’s also bulb mode, a standard tripod socket, and a socket for a shutter release cable. The only thing missing is a flash hot shoe. You can use a PC-sync cord to fire your flash, but I didn’t have any PC-cords. The lens is 50mm f2.8-22 Meyer-Optik. The only special thing about it is the built-in shutter release button.
The photos came out okay, but I was hoping for little more sharper results. The camera feels really good in your hand and seems to be well made. Exa A1 is fun to use and the quite extreme weight (727g!) helps to keep the camera in place when taking pictures. The best thing is the good looks and the camera is now sitting on top of the bookshelf in my living room. It really looks that good!