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Cameras


The original manufacturer of these cameras was Kamera Werkstätten in 1959 they became V E B Kamera and KinoWerke Dresden,in 1964 they became VEB Pentacon and finally in 1970 Kombinat VEB Pentacon. VEB (Volkseigner Betrieb) roughly translates as "People owned Industry". These changes of names were caused by the various reorganizations of the photographic industry by the East German government. Initially the cameras and accessories had a stylized "KW in a diamond" logo and later the "Pentacon tower" logo. Most of these cameras were produced as a source of hard currency and sold outside of East Germany. Six major variations were produced. The Praktisix, Praktisix II, Praktisix IIA, Pentacon six, Pentacon Six TL (early) and Pentacon Six TL (late). There was also a series of Pentacon Six cameras marked Hanimex Praktica 66 made for Hannes Import and Export of Australia. Obviously the Hanimex models are rare anywhere except Australia.

The cameras are really a series of improvements from the first Praktisix. Other than the name changes there are no major changes from model to model. This represents the normal progression in the communist world where new models were rarely introduced. The process was to continuously improve the present models or at least find a more economical method of manufacture.


{Group of Cameras}

Praktisix


The Praktisix looks like a 35 mm SLR on steroids. It is finished in black pebbled leatherette with burnished chrome. A few small items on the camera are finished in bright chrome. The front of the camera has "PRAKTISIX " in engraved and black filled letters on the chrome cover plate of the mirror box. Just below the name is a large aluminum bayonet ring. Approximately ½ inch back from the front on the sides of the mirror box are two bright chrome studs of which form the neck strap attachment. On the top right side is a bright chromed shutter release threaded in the center for a cable release and surrounded with a locking ring. On the bottom front below the shutter release is a bright chromed self-timer lever about ¾ inch long. On the top left deck is a large special setting dial that does not snap into the settings. There is a sync speed of 1/25 seconds for FP flash bulbs some of the other older flash bulbs could be used at slower speeds.

On the upper right deck is a large teardrop shaped film advance lever and a large button. The button is about the size of a pencil eraser and finished in brushed chrome and serves as the film advance stop(there are some early models without this stop). The film advance has a square hole for the film counter. Under the advance lever is a small semi circle that serves as a latch. In the middle of the back on export models is a "Q1 DDR" logo. This indicates that the camera is made to world wide quality standards. On the right is a film speed indicator marked in DIN and ASA. On the upper right corner is a little round chrome film counter reset button. The back is hinged on the right and has a slide latch on the left. This latch is one of the weaknesses of the camera because there is no secondary latch, it is very easy to accidentally open the back. The serial number is found inside the camera under the back on the bottom. Early cameras will be found marked "Germany USSR Occupied".

A folding viewfinder was standard on the cameras. The earliest viewfinder has a "KW" logo on the front and a Q1 logo on the bottom. Early models will also marked "Germany USSR Occupied". The viewfinder has a folding magnifier. There is a slide up frame in the rear and a flip up door in the front, which forms a "Sports Finder". The later production will have the Pentacon Tower Logo.


Comments: This camera is notoriously unreliable. The gears of the film transport were made of different metals and break easily. It also established the reputation that these cameras have for poor film frame spacing. Unfortunately it's reputation was so bad that it has colored the reputation of the Pentacon Six tl which is a far better camera. I recommend that you avoid this camera if you want to take pictures. It is not rare enough to rate as a collectable.


Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 11cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
weight: 1280 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 20830

{Front of Praktisix} {top of Praktisix}
{Everready Case for Praktisix} {Everready Case for Praktisix}

Praktisix II


Other than the engraving change the visible changes on the Praktisix II are really minor. A second PC socket for X size was added to the bottom of the mirror housing. The self-timer lever now has a little black knob on the end. The knob on the film advances is black and there is a black leatherette filler on the stop. The shutter speed dial now has positive detents. The waist level finder has the Pentacon Tower logo. The correct lens finished with this camera is a Type Two (2).

Comments: This camera is supposed to be an upgrade to the Praktisix.. Unfortunately it's reputation is just as bad. I recommend that you avoid this camera if you want to take pictures. It is not rare enough to rate as a collectable.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 11cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight: 1300 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 35305/38140

{Front of Praktisix II} {top of Praktisix II}

Praktisix IIA


This model represents a transition model in the progression to the Pentacon Six. It is by far the rarest model. The bottom of the camera now has the two (2) large buttons for the film spool releases and the long single film guides inside the back. However it still uses the pressure springs of the Praktisix for film tension and has the film reminder dial on the back. There is a plastic cover on film counter and when the counter has been reset the window is green. The camera has only one (1) flash PC socket for X-SYNC now with a locking collar. A latch for the viewfinder has been added next to the shutter speed dial and the reset button is still on the back. The correct lens is a Type 2.

In "Collecting and Using Classic SLRs" by Ivor Matanle there is a reference to a Praktisix IIb (perhaps he meant IIA) but I have been unable to get any other confirmation for the existence of this model. I have had a second source but no camera has been seen.

Comments: These cameras are very rare and little is known about the internal workings. I would avoid them and leave them to the collectors..

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 12.5cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight: 1320 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 39669

{ Praktisix IIA} {top of Praktisix IIA}

Pentacon six[Hanimex Praktica 66]


The changes in this first camera after the unification of the East German photo industry into VEB Pentacon show only a few external signs. The primary change is the name plate engraving and the Pentacon symbol on the waist level finder. These cameras have a rod with tiny teeth to control film spacing, while not foolproof they are better than the Praktisixes in this regard. Some time during production a second locking PC socket was added for FP flashbulbs.
The Hanimex Praktica 66 was a series these of cameras with a special engraving made for an Australian Photo firm. It turns out that they were the U.S. importer of these cameras during the 60s and 70s. Since these cameras were made in a Communist country they could not be imported into the U.S directly. Apparently indirect importation through Austrailia was ok. Another one of those strange Cold War Quirks.

In "Collecting and Using Classic SLRs" by Ivor Matanle there is a reference to a Pentacon Six without the self-timer but I have been unable to get any other confirmation for the existence of this model.

Comments: There appears to be little difference between this camera and the Pentacon six TL. This is the third best camera if you want a camera to take pictures.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 12.5cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight: 1360 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 3384/(H 22808

{Front of Pentacon Six} {top of Pentacon Six} {Front of Hanimex Praktica 66}
{Bottom of Hanimex Praktica 66} {top of Hanimex Praktica 66}
Pentacon six TL (early)
This camera is easy to identify as the TL is added to the nameplate one line down in a different font. With the advent of the TTL prism a new model was announced. Initially the TL was stamped into the standard Pentacon Six nameplate. The standard lens was a type 3. A film type indicator was added to the speed dial with a 12 or 24 exposure indicator. The easiest way to identify this camera is that the lens locking ring is bright aluminum

Comments: There appears to be little difference between this camera and the late Pentacon six TL. This is the second best camera if you want a camera to take pictures.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 12.5cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight: 1360 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 62925/13533

{Front of Pentacon Six TL Early} {top of Pentacon Six TL Early}
{Everready Case for Pentacon Six} {Everready Case for Pentacon Six}
Pentacon six TL (late)
There is a new engraved nameplate and a film speed indicator has been added to the advance lever. The FP Sync socket has been dropped and the standard lens is a type 4. This camera also has 2 small spring-loaded cylinders to keep the prisms from rattling. The easiest way to identify this camera is that the lens locking ring is black. The serial number can be found on the body just above the latch plate. Most of the cameras had it white filled but some do not and it is difficult to see. The last production cameras had a multicoated lens It is difficult to say what mechanical changes occurred through the different models. .

Comments: The original Praktisixo established the reputation that these cameras have for poor film frame spacing. Unfortunately it's reputation was so bad that it has colored the reputation of the Pentacon Six tl which is a far better camera. This is the best camera if you want a camera to take pictures.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 6X6 cm(2.25X2.25 in)
Dimensions:
height: 12.5cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight: 1425 gm
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no: 117015/173372/201996

{Front of Pentacon six TL} {top of Pentacon six TL}
Pentacon six TLs
This is a modified camera it is made specifically for making pictures for ID cards. They are very rare.


Comments: These cameras are very rare and little is known about the internal workings. I would avoid them and leave them to the collectors..

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 120
Image Size: 4X4.5 cm
Dimensions:
height: 12.5cm
width: 16.5 cm
depth: 12cm
Weight:
Normal lens: Biometar 80/2.8
Lens Mount: Praktisix Bayonet
Typical serial no:

{Front of Pentacon six Tls} {rear of Pentacon six Tls} {film gate of Pentacon six Tls}
{top of Pentacon six Tls} {bottom of Pentacon six Tls}

© Nathan Dayton 2000