Pentacon six TL

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. Pentacon six TL

    Kadlubek Nr KWE 1080 or so.

    This camera was born ca. 1957 in what became the Kombinat VEB Pentacon Dresden, first as the Praktisix, then the Praktisix II and finally the Pentacon six TL. Camerapedia ( ) indicates production ceased in 1990. The distinctive “P6” lens mount is also used by the Kiev camera which looks similar, but may be rather different internally.

    Pentacon is still in business ( ), but it is, of course, no longer a “People’s Owned Enterprise” ( Volkseigener Betrieb=VEB, a detailed history of the incorporations, including former Kamera Werkstätten, into what became VEB Pentacon Dresden, etc., can be found in Blumtritt, H: Geschichte der Dresdner Fotoindustrie. Lindemanns Verlag, Stuttgart 2000 - also a chart at ).
  2. The camera was likely at least inspired by the pre-war Dresden Reflex Korelle (, of 1935. There was post-war construction of the Reflex Korelle up to 1951 by VEB WEFO and to 1952 at VEB Welta.

    The Pentacon/Praktisix was itself very likely a source of inspiration for the later Asahi Pentax 6×7 of 1969.

    The lenses for the P6 are a very distinguished group coming from the original Zeiss production in the Jena area, and latter from a number of other sources ( ).

    The Zeiss lenses were

    50 mm f/4 Flektogon
    65 mm f/2.8 Flektogon
    80 mm f/2.8 Tessar
    80 mm f/2.8 Biometar (standard lens)
    120 mm f/2.8 Biometar
    180 mm f/2.8 Sonnar (direct descendent of the famed pre-war Olympia Sonnar)
    300 mm f/4 Sonnar
    1000 mm f/5.6 (catadioptric mirror)

    Most of these were adaptable to East German 35mm cameras, if a little bulky.

    There were also a large number of Soviet-made lenses for this mount, built for the Kiev/Arsat 6cm cameras.
    There were also various lenses from West German producers (see the above link).

    Here is part of my assemblage of P6 equipment. Not shown is my Soviet MIR f/4 45mm. To the left of the camera is the 180mm f/2.8 Sonnar, on the camera, the 80mm f/2.8 Biometar, to the front right, the !20mm f/2.8 Biometar, and in the rear, the 50mm f/4 Flektogon.

  3. There have been famous users of this camera.
  4. Not only are the lenses easily adapted to older film 35mm bodies, but they also work quite well on modern digital cameras. My adapter is a shift-only adapter, but tilt adapters are also available, but more pricey. I haven’t altogether decided what use to put an 80mm shift lens on a 35mm sensor.

  5. That’s the background.
    I shot a roll of Reala 100 on the camera with its 80mm lens, all hand held to see how it was doing. One major motivation was also to test the quality and speed of Dwayne’s, since I can no longer get 120 C-41 film processed locally). I mailed the film, process only, together with a roll of 135 film, on a Thursday afternoon, and got both rolls back in a single package on Wednesday morning. Moreover, both films were considerably cleaner than I have got used to.

    Here is the conversion of our former lake beach to an ‘earthwork’.
  6. The question always arises, somehow.

  7. Frankly, I just didn’t feel like carrying additional lenses along the mile or so walk, since I was already packing by red FED-2.
    And of course, no tour of the campus lake would be complete without my traditional leaf shot. I think the Biometer 80 f/2.8 has very nice ‘bokeh’.

  8. Although this warning label was created for Soviet 6cm cameras, it applies pretty well (except for the smell warning) to DDR medium format.
  9. Here are some additional test shots done with other lenses.
    First the MIR 26B

  10. Then the classic Olympia Sonnar from Zeiss Jena
  11. S0, should you buy a Pentacon six TL?

    Of course you should! [sounds of maniacal giggles fading as I stumble away]
  12. Oh, one difficulty with this camera is a tendency for unequal and even overlapping images. Much of the problem comes from insufficient tension on the film as it is being loaded. However, in this shoot the spacing was absolutely even, albeit with roughly 2-3cm spacing -- I got only 10 images on the roll of film. :(
    This is something I need to work on.
  13. Thanks for an informative post, JDM. And nice images too. I've never shot any images with any of the Pentacon six cameras, but maybe one day, if I can get one at a good price I just might.
  14. The Carl Zeiss Jena (East German) lenses are good generally quality, cover 6x6, and there are adapters for Mamiya and Pentax 645 cameras. The Kiev 60 camera can also use the same lenses as the Pentacon 6 (same lens mount and film plane to lens mount distance) and has it own set of Kiev-made lenses, such as the Mir 45mm mentioned above.
    My personal experience, YMMV, is that the Pentacon 6 camera is a bit like an old British sports car - very complex, with lots of parts that have to be adjusted very precisely for the whole thing to work properly. The Ukrainian Kiev 60 camera is an original soviet design that is much simpler and more robust than the Pentacon 6, and much more reliable.
  15. I have one Pentacon six with just 120mm lens and bellows, so far it seemed working. - Haven't shot it in a while and the crucial thing accoreding to manual is to never let the winding lever snap back, always guide it slowly into that position. But OK, it is error prone.
    Some butcher offers a conversion to winding according red window as a fix for the issue.
    Since other bodies with the same mount were discussed: What about the (post German reunification) Exactas? Are they a real improvement or just updated cosmetics?
    As far as 80mm shift lenses for 35mm bodies go: Maybe they are the icing on product shot cake? - Whats the difference between a standing books shot from above with lens shifted or turned down? - Would it be too off topic to ask for an example, JDM?
    My biggest question: whose head did you place in front of the FDJ flag?
  16. That is a bust made from a life mask of Abraham Lincoln just before he grew his beard.
    As for FDJ, here is my take on that:
    Angela Merkel is a former member of the District Board and "Secretary for Agitprop" (Agitation and Propaganda) in the FDJ.

    I'm afraid I really haven't shot any shifted views, and I really bought the adapter just for adapting, not for the shift feature. The shift was merely lagniappe.
    I am tempted to get one of the swing adapters, because the longer focal length would be handy for product photography, but I really don't do much of that sort of work.
  17. A substantial shootin' iron. Nice stamp shot, too. One use for the shift lens, on digital camera, is to provide a set of aligned images, right/left or top/bottom, for later stitching into a somewhat larger file perhaps to make a larger print. Landscape work seem a likely use.
  18. Nice outfit there, JDM. I hadn't fully appreciated the the Penacon Six experiences the same film wind problems as it's close cousin the Kiev 60. I've made a couple of attempts at importing Pentacon Six bodies from Eastern Europe, but in both instances the cameras were faulty and were returned. Mind you, it took a couple of attempts to get a good Kiev 60... As Ross observed, my impressions gained from these experiences was that the Kiev was considerably more robust, and I certainly have no quibbles about the Russian lenses.
  19. I agree with Ross and Rick about the Kiev 60 being more reliable than the Pentacon Six. I REALLY wanted to like the Pentacon Six TL. I've always admired them, since I first saw a Praktisix in the early '60s. About ten years ago I bought one from a well-known dealer in the Slovak Republic. Actually, I received three, in sequence, using that dealer's warranty, took them to Eddie Smolov, and had him pick the best to repair. The dealer credited me with the cost of repair and, instead of returning the two defective bodies I arranged for a sale to someone on the "Kiev Report" user list.
    The repaired Pentacon took good pictures and spaced the frames properly whenever I loaded it EXACTLY right. However, when I used it without the ER case it had the annoying tendency of having the back latch snag frequently when I pulled it out of my bag, ruining a frame and, more important, re-setting the counter. I eventually bought an Arax 60 kit, minus the Ukrainian normal lens, so that I could continue using the 80mm Zeiss Jena Biometar, from the Pentacon, along with the 180 mm Sonnar and 50 mm Flektogon I had purchased for the E. German camera. I've found the Arax/Kiev far more reliable and have also added three Ukrainian lenses, a 30 mm Arsat fisheye, a 120 mm Vega, and a 65 mm Hartblei shift lens, all of which are excellent.
  20. JDM,
    Thank you for the history info and some nice images. The Pentacon 6 with the 50, 80 and 180 is my goto MF camera. I also have and use adapters to M42 and K-mount. With great winding care I have had no overlap problems todate.
  21. Wot? No mention of the late unlamented Exakta 66, a Pentacon 66 in West German clothing?
  22. Dan,
    Not from this quarter.
    The only Exakta 6cm I lust for is the Exakta 6x6 ( ).
  23. Nice one JDM, love that heavy metal...and the warning label is a hoot! My favourite lens for Pentacon is that lovely 180mm works so well.
  24. JDM, nice article. I love my Pentacon 6TL and its newer Wolf-in-Sheep-Rubber dress: Exakta 66 MK3.
    My favorite lenses for the Pentacon 6TL are the non-MC and MC version of the 50mm Flektogon, 80mm Biometar, 120mm MC, and the 180mm. Another lens not cover is the hard to find Arsat 55mm F4.5 PCS. Very SHARP..

Share This Page