Praktica L2 - Second Generation L basic camera

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. The L series is a very high quality camera of rugged construction, following the nadir of DDR camera quality in the nova and IV series*. Old meters, of course are less likely to still be working, but with a bridge circuit, the L series will work fine with alkaline 625 batteries with no worry about matching voltages or weakening charge. These also have a very ingenious and capable auto-load system.

    "The important novelty of this generation was the Praktica EE2, introduced at the Photokina 1976 and on the Photo World '77 (Birmingham) as a camera with "fully electronic, full aperture TTL metering SLR" or "camera-computer". This camera was a combination of an stepless electronic time control between 1 sec and 1/1000s and electronic aperture simulation. These camera was used in the space on board of Salut 6 in September 1978 by Bykowsky (USSR) and Jähn (GDR)." (Mike Otto (http://www.praktica-collector.de/Praktica_L_2nd_generation.html
    This one is the basic model with no meter at all (Hummel Nr. 192, Kadlubek Nr. KWE 1600) (http://www.praktica-collector.de/192_Praktica_L2.htm). In production from December 1975 to January 1980 with 161,240 cameras produced. This is very much a rival to this day to the screw-mount Pentaxes as a beginner film camera, and with its extremely rugged vertical metal shutter, it is likely to still be operating perfectly--perhaps, if right out of the closet, with a little exercise first.

    I tried it with a "full" outfit of the time: A Pentacon auto 50mm f/1.8, an older-than-L Meyer Lydith 30mm f/3.5 stop-down lens, and a contemporary Pentacon auto 135mm f/2.8. When it was made, the Lydith was an "ultrawide" since wide-angle designs were still struggling to fit the rear of the lens into mirror clearance.


    The film was appropriately enough an Indian rebranding of exactly the film to shoot in an old Praktica - the old ORWO NP22 rebranded in India as Nova SilverPlus (ISO 125) [thanks again to Subbarayan Pressana for making this possible.] ORWO was the old Agfa plant in the DDR and a major supplier of film to the Second World.

    I processed it in D-76 for 8 minutes with Photographers' Formulary Archival Fixer (no stop bath needed). Of course it's always a little hard to show the results when the images are necessarily scanned in, but this time the film produced rich tones with good shadow and highlight detail.


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  2. Here the pictures. The first one shows scenes at my favorite- the Campus Lake. Top taken with the Meyer Lydith 30mm, the bottom with the Pentacon auto 50mm.
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  3. The second shots are a small fountain from the early days of the school and a shot of some magnolia leaves in my front yard. Both taken with the Pentacon 50mm. We are far enough south here, though in Illinois, for magnolia to thrive.
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  4. Finally, a weather recording instrument taken with the Pentacon auto 135mm f/2.8, and a useful reminder at the lake of proper pet procedures (Pentacon 50mm)
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  5. Correction, I noticed it too late to correct it, but SP's name of course is Subbarayan Prasanna. My apologies.
     
  6. Ah, one of my favourites...I've always considered Praktica "L" series to be archetypal cameras, and a leap forward in design from their predecessors. I like their clean, practical lines, and their solid feel, and the integrity of their design and construction. I also like the fact that they seem to be utterly reliable; I have a couple of copies which have suffered major neglect in cosmetic terms, yet are still dependable.
    Nice monochromes, JDM, that combination of film and developer seems to work well, and thanks for an informative post.
     
  7. Nice looking kit. That's beautiful tonality your getting with that film/dev combo. Boy, the 50mm really has nice "pop". Thanks for showcasing this outfit so well.
     
  8. Nice JDM, love the tones also. I have an LB and MTL3. With three lenses that work. The Pentacon auto 50 f/1.8 that I have has some gunk on the aperture blades. Looks like rust. I got the LB with one of zebra lenses pictured in that ad. I prefer the LB to the MTL3. A guy at work gave me his Hanimar Auto "S" 135 f/2.8. He used to have a Praktica, however his son took it to school and somebody stole it.
     
  9. Thanks all.
    You know, a funny thing about that tonality--many of the pictures on the roll have the foliage looking almost like the film is infrared. Obviously, this is young spring yellow-green vegetation still, but I was a little surprised by how white some leaves turned out.
    ORWO these days makes "technical" films and I wonder if there is something going on here in terms of the sensitivity of the film to the full spectrum. SP?
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  10. Interesting! Thanks...
     
  11. Yes JDM; the film does seem to have a limited range. I do get blanched out parts, now and then especially, with the tropical sun. But within 4 or 5 basic shades the film is good, as exemplified in your pictures especially of the fence [pet waste] and the bridge. The Silver plus did not have a long tenure on the market as the older NP22, which was on the market for over two decades! I have recently acquired some new film in a large roll of 400 feet from ORWO {Filmotech] in Wolfen. I shall try this one of these days and post some. I have to be careful opening it and re-spooling the same in small cassettes. I have had very good results with the Meyer lenses, especially the Oreston [Pentacom 50mm,later]for the past 40 years. I was often told that these were "just ordinary" lenses. But I rate the Oreston on a par with the Zeiss Pancolar and the KMZ Helios. The characteristics differ slightly, though. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed those pictures a lot. regards sp.
     
  12. Thanks for sharing. Great photos with wonderful sharpness.
     
  13. Those of you waiting for a translation of the add shall not be disappointed...
    "Big and very bright - that's what the viewfinder of the new Praktica L is. Focussing is done in accordance with this image. No more measuring or estimating the distance. The optimum focus point is evaluated very precisely and framing is done with the reflex viewfinder. Lenses with an advanced coating in precise cooperation with the components of the Praktica L will yield images with SLR sharpness . A new metal blade focal plane shutter which is tropical climate proof makes shutter speeds of 1/1000s to 1s and B. With these (shutter speeds) and the distinctly high sync speed of 1/125s all objects will be registered with pin-point sharpness."
    The remarks about the shutter speed refer to the new metal blade focal shutter (blade = Lamellen, hence the "L" designator WB), some kind of competition to the well-known vertical running metal blade "Copal Square" shutter. Forget about switching over and making extra cable connections when using a flash due to the hot shoe contact. Shooting with flash is very simple, just as inserting the film is."
    VEB Pentacon used a very nifty quick loading system which was much less complicated (and probably more reliable) than the sometimes overengineered systems in western cameras. All you can see of it is an extra spring-loaded bracket made from strong wire attached to the rear door (or to the take-up spool, I have seen this only a few times).
     
  14. Winfried, I tried to email you to thank you for some previous translations, but your email here on the site seems to be broken somehow. In any case, thanks very much. I'm afraid any translation I would do would be more literal and less accurate and readable than yours, especially in relation to technical terms.
    Vielen Dank!
    SP, looking forward to your latest batch of ORWO. Maybe the Nova brand film is a little more sensitive in the yellow/green? Some of the "waste sign" is in red so it doesn't act like ortho film anyhow.
     
  15. You`re welcome ... concerning the technical terms maybe it shows that many years ago I acquired a degree in precision engineering (but I learned very little about cameras on college) and tinkered a lot on many cameras some years ago - and that english is our second language at work.
    Concerning the translation, it got somewhat messed up with my own explanations. Here is the pure text again:
    "Big and very bright - that's what the viewfinder of the new Praktica L is. Focussing is done in accordance with this image. No more measuring or estimating the distance. The optimum focus point is evaluated very precisely and framing is done with the reflex viewfinder. Lenses with an advanced coating in precise cooperation with the components of the Praktica L will yield images with SLR sharpness . A new metal blade focal plane shutter which is tropical climate proof makes shutter speeds of 1/1000s to 1s and B. With these (shutter speeds) and the distinctly high sync speed of 1/125s all objects will be registered with pin-point sharpness. Forget about switching over and making extra cable connections when using a flash due to the hot shoe contact. Shooting with flash is very simple, just as inserting the film is."
     
  16. Interesting stuff, JDM.
    The most important feature of the Nova and later models, it seems to me, is the angled release button, inherited from the Contax S and its Pentacon successors. I feel certain that it's worth at least one and possibly, two stops of extra steadiness. I started serious photography with a Pentacon FM and was mystified as to why conventional wisdom stated that a 50mm lens couldn't be reliably hand-held at less than 1/60th. I regularly took shots at 1/15th and even at 1/8th (being limited to a 50/2.8) which enlarged quite nicely to 15x12.
    So far as I'm aware, only the Praktina and some Petri models shared this feature with VEB Pentacon's offerings. I've often wondered why, given its efficacy in obtaining a smooth release, it wasn't more widely emulated.
     
  17. In one sense, practically every digital SLR made today does have a front shutter release, so in that way VEB Pentacon siegt! Although not angled like the later ones, the post-model 1 Praktiflexes and Prakticas have a front mounted release not so different from the angled one, for that matter. As you say, it's a mystery why this superior system didn't catch on earlier.
     
  18. JDM, HP, Here is an example borrowed from Flickr.
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  19. There were a few more cameras with front shutter release. The german Edixa SLRs, for example, had a horizontal-pushing front shutter release. The Petri Racer rangefinders had a front shutter button at an angle of 45 deg. The russian Sokol rangefinders had a vertical pushing front shutter release.
    The reason why some designers preferred a horizontal or near-to-horizontal front shutter button was that there will be less camera shake, since usually you hold the camera against your forehead when shooting, and this position makes the camera somewhat stable horizontally. A pushing front shutter release will push the camera against your forehead when firing.
     
  20. JDM, I particularly like the shot of the brigde you have above. Nice work.
     
  21. Aha! Well spotted, Subbarayan, I didn't know about the Pentamatic. It looks like a very interesting piece of kit.
    I'm not convinced by the argument for true front releases, Winfried. I've tried a few and I found them to be the least stable of all. Of course, this will always be a matter of personal taste. I sometimes think my dream camera would be a Nikon F with an angled release. Oh, I forgot, VEB Pentacon tried selling one of those!
    :)))
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  22. That is one fine and well designed Camera HP, especially of that period. One of your cohorts from England has a blog on which he extols the Praktica Mat as equal to the Nikon and even sturdier and more durable. He uses both professionally! I think they did not follow up on the design with quality control and marketing. Of course, they were hindered by various forces, not many of them they had control or influence over. As a consequence I could buy one for just 99 BPence; must say that it works beautifully. Made in 1965; now 46 years later it is still good. Possibly its development and evolution was pursued in the Pentacon Super, which was their most elite camera of that period and lineage. They seem to have made less than 5000 numbers of that and closed that line. sp.
     
  23. The Pentacon Super was the camera I was referring to as a Nikon F equivalent, Subbarayan. I handled one when new, at a camera show. It was in a completely different class to the Praktica range. Its only problem was that, by the time it came out, VEB Pentacon had blotted their copybook with the Prakticas and there was understandable reluctance to spend the serious money required to purchase a Super.
    I have to say that, having owned and used both Prakticas and the Nikon F for many years, there really is no comparison. Even when the 'Mat is working, it doesn't really engender any confidence. My much more heavily used 'F' is still going strong and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for an important shot.
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  24. Okay, nobody has to hint more than once.
    Here, ta-ta, is a Pentacon Super. Not the most expensive camera I own, but the most expensive OLD camera I own.
    One of these days, I'll see about working up a post on it -- maybe with some of the ORWO film :)
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  25. And what are we thinking! Of course the Exakta had front releases back to before WWII. On the wrong side, of course (but if you're the first, who's to say it is wrong?). Only the last, the RTL 1000, went to the normal side but still had the normal (for Exakta) release too.
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  26. OK, JDM, I'm now officially jealous of you. My first serious camera being a Pentacon FM, I've always wanted a Super. Unfortunately for me, with prices being the way they are, I can't imagine it ever happening. I hope you take it out regularly and feed it plenty of film. It's a camera that deserves to be used.
    And, of course, it has that marvellous 45 degree release!
    :)))
     
  27. "The most important feature of the Nova and later models, it seems to me, is the angled release button, inherited from the Contax S and its Pentacon successors. I feel certain that it's worth at least one and possibly, two stops of extra steadiness."

    Interestingly enough, I found the opposite. I used to own a LTM (?) The one where you pushed a big black button on the front to activate the light meter. The fact that I had to push the shutter at an angle to the other forces on the camera (gravity, me holding it against gravity, me pushing it into my face) meant that I induced more camera shake than with a conventional vertical shutter release. That combined with the fact that you had to push the light meter button in another direction was all too much for me.

    Cheers

    Alan
     

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