Exakta 35-70mm 3.5 – 4.8

Front view of an Exakta lens.
Front view of an Exakta lens.
Exatka 35-70mm 3.5 - 4.8

Focal Lenght: 35mm – 70mm
Max Apeture 3.5-4.8
Lens Mount: Minolta MD (various others too)
Min. Focus: 0.4 mm
Filter Size: 55mm
Weight: Whoops, I did it again, forgot to weigh a lens.

LENS STORY

I’m not sure where this lens came from. I recall picking it up either at a flea market or from a camera store that had a “sale” bin. I remember glancing at it every few months, not really excited about it but just noticing it. 

Part of why I didn’t like or want to use this name was it’s name. Silly, right? Exakta carries such a rich history of excellent photographic gear. Closely tied to Carl Zeiss, Ihagee Dresden, Meyer Optik Gorlitz. I usually associate Exakta or EXA with precision, good build quality and a fiddly aperture pin and lens mount. Oh and an adapter that took too long to find.

Just seeing the name Exakta on this shoddy looking lens annoyed me. It was like having “Frankenstein” be the name of a monster in a mobile game. The letters were there but they carried no meaning, history or significance. 

(This lens was made in Japan by a third-party manufacturer that used the name Exakta.)

I swallowed my prejudice and shot with it for a week.

HANDLING

I initially thought the build quality was terrible, but I have to say, upon further inspection it’s okay. My copy is in good condition, focus is smooth and easy to use, aperture clicks nicely. 

The zoom ring that adjusts the focal length is a bit bothersome. I kept turning it instead of the aperture ring, since they’re close. If this was a push-pull zoom it’d be a lot better in my opinion.

The macro function is unlocked by pressing a button and sliding the zoom ring beyond minimum focus distance. It was nifty. (not like a fifty)

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

I was surprised when I started using the lens. I expected horrid, blurry, unusable photos. (I’ve not seen many lenses without any merit at the right moment though.) What I got was average to above average performance. 

Sharpness was okay wide open in the center, stopping down improved the corners as well. 

I enjoyed the colors, slightly on the warm side to my eyes. I was really into B&W for a while, so most of the pictures had no color, which suited the lens well.

Going for macro shots is always fun, especially with a zoom lens, so props for that, I really enjoy the flexibility.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This isn’t a lens you’ll see people search out and wait for months to get. It’s not a “cult-classic”, “legend” or whatever they’re called these days. 

But it is a good performed that deserves a chance. If you picked it up by accident or have one at home, just gathering dust, take it out for a whirl, you might be surprised.