Praktica Questions

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by funkag, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. My post about finding a nice camera/35mm lens combination gave me lots of things to explore, and I think I'm going to jump at a 1952 Praktica body. I have a couple of questions: 1. From what I have been able to find, the 52's took the universal m42 mount. If that is the case, I am assuming that my little Pentax Super Tak 35mm 3.5 will mount, focus to infinity, etc. Am I right? The lens has manual/automatic switch, and I'm assuming I will have to stop-down manually. 2. What kind of problems might I encounter - how rugged are the shutter, winding mechanism, etc.? 3. Any quirks I should know about? Thanks for any help, and thanks to all who replied to the last post, too.
  2. 1. Should be the case for each assumption.

    2. I'd be gentle. Practica's were pretty much in the middle of the quality pack. Not a Canon or Nikon, but not a Mamiya Sekor or Ricoh either.

    3. Don't know. I used one for about 1 roll of film, back in high school about 100110001001 years ago (binary encoded to protect the age of the poster).
  3. I had exactly the same camera, you should know that the chance to buy one that still has an accurate shutter speed is very slim. I could shoot at 1/50 and 1/100 approximately with mine. And you can't have it repaired excepted if you spend a lot for it. Yes it takes any m42 mount. You can't mount it on tripods, the screw doesn't fit.Focusing isn't simple as you have probably found already. Still it's a fun camera, heavy, bulky.
  4. Hi, Greg Well, mate, your Pentax lens will certainly fit your Praktica fine, and it will focuss perfectly too. The M42 thread is still known as the Praktica/Pentax thread in some circles, unsurprisingly.

    A word of caution though .......... Some Pentax lenses - maybe those for the Spotmatic F, but I'm not sure - have an additional little male sensor gizmo that slots into a corresponding female recess on the camera body. It's known that when these lenses are fitted to non-Pentax bodies, it's just possible that the male gizmo can engage with a screw recess and effectively jam. A friend of mine who once tried swapping lenses over from a KMZ Zenit E with his Spottie, found to his cost that the Pentax lens just wouldn't budge. He had to have some expensive dismantling done by a camera technician to get the lens off.

    Regarding the quality of early Prakticas, I've found them reliable although a bit basic. Their bad reputation seems to have come from the later Pentacon VEB's lowering of quality control, after taking over control of the company from KW.
  5. I have found that the earlier Prakticas were better built and the later Nova series are somewhat dodgy.

    They are mostly fairly simple cameras so no real problems except for maybe the shutter curtains that may wrinkle or stiffen with age.
    It's easy to check this with the back open.

    The viewfinders are quite dark by modern standards, but still easy to focus with the little magnifier. There is a prism, though they are a little hard to find and make the view even darker!

    Bolt on any super Takumar and you will have an awesome shooter.

  6. Hello,

    The only quality problems I have encountered with Prakticas is that the steel parts are not plated or painted, so the gears can rust and jam. Aside form this they are very well made with all steel and brass parts, no white/pot metal, nice fit and finish. They are very basic and should not cost that much to get fixed, so don't get taken on the cost of a CLA. When buying a lens, try to get the 50 f3.5 Tessar, or perhaps a 5,8cm Biotar (mine came from a Contax D), as these lenses are very good performers, the 2.8 Jena Tessar is a bit dodgy, and should be avoided. I have also found some very good 4cm f:3.5 Tessars that sell for under 75 dollars, and they will truly impress.
  7. I had a tessar Jena 2.8 with my Praktica for a cheap price, and it was a good lens... until the depth of field blades got stuck,, I met a person who had the same problem with the same lens... Be aware.
  8. I have used a Practika MTL3 for about 10 years as my first "real" camera. It was handed me down from my dad after years of use. I never paid any special attention to it and it always served me well. It has been dropped and abused by a 15 year old (me) and survived. I have no doubt it will survive me.

    Until I got eye trouble and couldn't focus correctly anymore. Then I went autofocus.
  9. As I have discussed in other posts, I have about a hundred of these cameras. My personal experience is that the IV through the Nova series are most often not functional. Earlier, usually good, although the fabric in the shutter is getting pretty old by now. My personal favorites for actually shooting are the L series, especially the L and L2 which had no meter and have the nice, later metal shutter that seems to be very durable (although older, long unused ones may need some exercise before coming back fully to tone). The earliest cameras have no provision for automatic diaphragm, but most of the later ones work just fine. Stay away from a Meyer Domiplan - the diaphragm mechanism is either already broken or is about to break.

    The best of a number of websites on these cameras is Dr. Mike's at

    Careful,though, a number of people have discovered this site only to awaken much later to find dozens of Prakticas on their shelves!
  10. Michael Axel, I dont know what Prakticas you are referring to but if you mean the later models like Nova, LTL, MTL etc. they were definitely near the bottom of the quality ratings, just above the Zenit and well below anything from Japan including Mamiya and Ricoh. They have plastic tops and bottoms and a plastic lens mount. Something even Zenit did not stoop to. The metal shutters are notoriously unreliable. The lenses are hit or miss, no consistency but with weak stop-down mechanisms and sub-standard lubricants used. They lose screws very easily and the self-timer levers, rewind levers and wind-on tips all break off. Believe me I have tried to find a good Praktica and have owned seven or eight of them - none was a reliable shooter. I can't speak for the earlier Pratikas since I have never owned one, maybe they were better.
  11. I have 3 Prakticas, the FX with waist level finder, a regular IV and a IVFB which is the same as the predecessor but with additional selenium meter on the prism housing. As Tony said and as Ivor Matanle recommends, up to the IV series the Prakticas were reliable cameras. Once VEB took over and made the factories properties of the state, all went to hell in terms of quality.

    What we have here(your picture above) appears to be very similar to my FX and I have found it a reliable camera. However it would not be my first choice camera: non instant return mirror, dim viewfinder etc etc. But in my opinion ther are robust cameras that can handle a little beating here and there. The should all work well with pentax, mamiya or ricoh M42 lenses. Good luck.
  12. I have an early model FX with the W/L finder (don't know what year) but it has a preset Tessar/2.8 and no auto-stopdown capability in the body. It looks just like the one in your posted photo.

    I tried to attach an auto-diaphragm 35/3.5 Super Takumar and found that the stop-down pin jams against the small box inside the bottom of the lens mount throat. The lens will not screw in all the way and the diaphragm stops-down half-way as the lens is screwed-in. I was told that the next later model corrected that clearance problem.

  13. All of the Prakticas after the immediate post-war ones cobbled together in the ruins, were People's Owned Enterprises (VEB), only later they were united into one, VEB Pentacon.

    As I said, my experience with the L series is quite different, and I have most of the significant models. You can't expect the meters to work, but that's true of my Nikkormat FTn and Nikon F meter prisms as well. If you work the shutter a little, it usually comes back to life, and in a pinch a little lighter fluid applied very carefully to the channels, not the shutter, will help loosen up old dirt, etc.
  14. Hi,

    I read a lot of bad comments about Praktica cameras. Strange as I bought several used and they were all fully functional (shutter, meter,no light leak, etc...). It is not the case of a lot of Jap cameras I own (or owned): Olympus, Pentax and co. all have trouble especially with meter (don't ask me why). But it should be a coincidence...

    The only complaint I have about Praktica is noice: really loud (vertical metal shutter).
  15. My PIV works like a charm, while my Nova instead has a bad curtain and seems not to be extremely reliable with the mirror return, but works. The camera mechanisms are not very complex, so you can open and peek inside, but they are well studied. Quality seems good to me.
    It is like a simple but well done camera. Not a complex badly made.

    And note to Mark Hansen: My Tessar 2.8/50 Jena from the early sixties (PIV) is excellent. I compared it against Nikkors, Miranda, Leitz Elmar and Summicrons. That underrated lens is up to the Tessar name: sharp and contrasty with a good bokeh. Even at 2.8 pretty good.
  16. I have the praktica nona I and it is really reliable with the cloth shutter. I have also 2 newer models with the metal shutter. Totally unreliable and most of the times I cannot cock the shutter properly. It is very obvious that the praktica company tried to save metal and other materials. The nova is a tank but it has a small problem. If you want to use it with the B setting you have to stop the lens manually because during the time the curtain is opened the lens in not completely stopped down. I find my zenits more reliable and sometimes more reliable than other japanese cameras. The chinon cs is a good solution for somebody who want a good solid leaf shutter camera with x-sync at 1/125sec. Totally reliable and dirty cheap. Much cheaper than the spotmatic. The memotron also is a very good and reliable camera with a lot of metal. The pentacon lenses are good not the bodies. With the money you pay for a pentacon lens you can get a praktica as a lens cap. That's how I got all these leaf shutter prakticas.

Share This Page