Praktica Nova mirror behaviour

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by gabrieleB, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. Hi, newbie here.

    A friend of mine gave me a Praktica Nova 1b PL that has a mirror stuck up in the upper position.
    In his own words, the mirror should come down only when the shutter is cocked.
    I can bring the mirror down by tilting a lever on the left side that keeps it locked in the up position, this can happen effectively only if the shutter is cocked.
    However I noticed that the same lever comes in to lock position after the shutter is released, effectively blocking the mirror in the upper position.

    I am a bit puzzled because I don't find on the net a clear explanation of the "normal" behaviour" of the mirror for such a camera model, let alone finding a service manual.
    The mirror is brought down by the sliding side-arms, the lever I speak of doesn't seem to be involved in the release, it doesn't make sense to me that it comes to the lock position.

    Any Praktica expert out there willing to hep me?
  2. The Praktica Nova cameras have an instant return mirror - it is the earlier models which lowered the mirror by winding on (except for the Praktica V). These earlier Prakticas have an unusual method for cocking the mirror - a cam above the film takeup spool drives a series of levers which cock the mirror. I'm not sure, however, if this is how the Nova models work.
    gabrieleB likes this.
  3. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    By no means an expert, but when I had a Nova 1 (back in 1969 !), the mirror did return automatically - I remember the salesperson at Dixons pointing this out as an advance on previous models.
    gabrieleB likes this.
  4. Precisely what I understood, I am no Praktica expert however and was reporting what my friend told me.
    I should assume that either the camera is a specific sample or has been broken all the time my friend owned it ;)
  5. I understand it will be a long trip fixing my friend's camera.

    Does anyone know if some technical or repair manual exists?
    What would be the best sequence to open the camera and reach the front mechanism?
  6. A google search will give you a number of posts, and some useful images. In Thomas Tomosy's "Camera Maintenance and Repair" (Book 1) there is a 2 page article on the Praktica Nova. This is the older model, which has a different shutter speed dial.
    gabrieleB likes this.
  7. I can also confirm that it is an instant return mirror. I asked the same question about a repair manual on this site a few years ago. I couldn't find any free repair manuals online although Butkus has free owners manuals.
    I found a site which has a repair manual (Praktica (VEB) Nova 1 B Printed Manual ( Your costs then start to spiral, and you have to ask yourself if the repair is worthwhile. If you want to improve your camera repair skills, there are some cheap parts only cameras around. Maybe you could source one and make one from two.
    Good Luck
    gabrieleB likes this.
  8. I have a "few" Prakticas, having collected a "representative sample" of them some years ago. However, in my personal opinion, the entire nova line is the nadir of the whole line. I do acknowledge that there are those who disagree who are also Praktica 'nuts'. You could find a working nova model of one kind or another on eBay for around US$30
    Even if you get a nova repaired or find a working model, I wouldn't bet on its dependability.

    An excellent site for anyone who is interested in these products of the "Workers' and Peasants' State" is at
    Mike's Praktica Home

    My personal favorite among the Prakticas are the L-series models. they have a superb shutter system, and they usually work right out of the eBay package. A body-only example usually costs around US $30, if you are careful and watch the sales. A few people ask incredible prices, but nobody in the know buys these. Often you can get a lens included in the price.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  9. Thanks John, I should get soon a copy of the book from a friend.
  10. Hi Greg,
    Indeed I found your post in my search before asking my question. I guess here the issue is not about convenience, rather understanding what happened to this camera out pure curiosity.
    Nevertheless, my friend will pick it back up next week, apparently he has other plans than repairing it (don't ask me).
  11. You are absolutely right. My interest is purely technical, given the camera is not mine. If I only had more information on the assembly I could have at least figured out what to do in case the owner wanted it to be fixed (he doesn't, apparently he doesn't trust my familiarity with fine-mechanisms ).

    I am back in to photography after a long hiatus and I discovered I am fascinated by German designs, no matter from which era or which side of the Iron Curtain they come.
  12. Here is some way that worked for me. Please look into the mirror chamber after removing the lens. To your left on the side wall of the chamber there are levers that operate the mirror. Try and shake their joints one by one. The mirror should come down on its own. In Prakticass and some Japanes cameras like Konica this is a problen due to some wrong alignment or tolerance. Good luck. SP
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  13. Thanks.
    I had a look at those levers but everything seems ok.
    The sequence is:
    Shutter uncocked: mirror stays up, the mirror levers keep it up by their own tension (see first picture).
    If I cock the shutter, a cam-rotated blocking lever (the one placed on the left wall, towards lens-side) blocks the frame of the mirror, it rotates innards (i.e. in the direction of the focal plane) and matches exactly a bump in the mirror's holding frame. See second picture.
    If I pull the blocking lever, the mirror comes down, sprung by its own levers (third picture).

    I am not really sure if it's a matter of levers being displaced. It seems that the blocking lever is there to keep the mirror up during shutter delay, it's just that it triggers at the wrong moment.

    It's a strange thing, without opening the camera I'll never know I guess.

    IMG_0805.jpeg IMG_0806.jpeg IMG_0807.jpeg
  14. It looks like a timing issue. In the older Prakicas, it was possible to upset the timing of the mirror by removing the wind knob, reassembling it incorrectly. In this picture, from a Praktica FX, the wind knob is removed. The shutter is wound by the lug on the gear, and the mirror by the pin through the shaft. It is possuble to turn the mirror winding shaft, independent of the winding gear.
    gabrieleB likes this.
  15. Well, that makes a lot of sense.
    I'll ask the owner if he wants me to check.
    Thank you for the lead!

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