Praktiflex, 1st generation-4th change- 11th model Hummel-Nr. 078 Schulz-version:11 Kadlubek KWE 0264 made by Kamera-Werkstätten Charles A Noble Niedersedlitz from Dec 1940 to February 1946. The first Praktiflex was introduced in March 1939 and continued up to September 1949, when it was transmogrified into the Praktica.* The first Prakticas were the first mass-market SLR camera (or so KW hoped), designed by KW to sell at a price point nicely below the older Ihagee Exakta. Instead of the bayonet-type mounts used by Exakta or Contax, KW chose to use a Leica-like screw mount, but in this case 40x1 rather than the LTM 39mm diameter mount. Unlike subsequent cameras in the KW and descendant lines, the shutter release was on top of the camera. The second generation (1947-1949) of Praktiflex was mostly M40 mount, and the shutter release was moved to the front right side of the camera where it would remain. The 1949 late models of the Praktiflex may have included some with M42x1 mounts, but these may have been later piece-together production out of left over parts - In the waste-not conditions of socialist production, few left-over parts were discarded, so many hybrids can occur. The various variants listed for these cameras are created by differences in camera speeds, markings, size of knobs, and other minutiae of import to mothers and lovers. There is more history of the Praktiflex at http://www.praktica-collector.de/Praktiflex_SLR.htm There was no automatic or even pre-stop aperture. They were generally outfitted with a small Tessar 5cm f/3.5 or with the E. Ludwig Anastigmat-Victar 5cm f/2.9, not highly considered. Both these lenses were also made in Exakta mount (see http://captjack.exaktaphile.com/Ludwig%20Page.htm) Oh yes, one other little feature was introduced in this Rodney Dangerfield of cameras: a mirror that flipped up when the picture was taken, and then was spring-loaded to return to its original location. Asahi has long been given, and even claimed, credit for introducing this feature in 1955 on their Asahiflex camera (see Pop Photo honoring them for it below). By some strange coincidence, the Asahiflex even looks virtually identical to a pre-war Praktiflex, except for a Praktina-like (VW, 1952) optical viewfinder tacked on to the upper deck. Hmm. (My broaching of this topic sometime back stirred very heated discussion: http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00Lver). I was even called an "idiot" for peddling inaccuracy (disagreeing with Ivor Matanle - gasp! What audacity! [Matanle is sort of the Ken Rockwell of old European cameras†]). Besides, it wasn't _really_ an "instant return mirror" anyhow, right? It was just one on which the mirror returned to full focus position really quickly. Despite the war in Europe starting in September of 1939, some 1st generation Praktiflexes were marketed in the USA, despite the start of the the war in Europe. Olden Camera (one of the B&H or Adoramas of its day) in NYC was offering the Praktiflex still in January of 1941, and one was also offered by them as early as April of 1945. Those were probably new old stock, Nearly all of the immediate post-war production went to the USSR as war reparations. However people at Olden some other NYC stores may have been able to resurrect some of their pre-war connections, because there were Praktiflex generation 1 cameras that came in after the war. They were probably unofficially (read: black-market) diverted from the reparations production. They share a common signature literally, a crudely scribed "Germany" next to the rewind lever. Every example I have seen is scribed by the same hand, perhaps the NY importer? Anyhow, my copy of this 1940-46 camera is almost likely a post-war specimen. It certainly has that hand-scribed 'Germany' on it. I have shot it here with both the Victar and the Tessar M40 lenses. I was trying to get a post-war version because my collecting interest in these was in the SBZ (Soviet Occupied Zone and DDR period. Aside from the features already mentioned, there are more specifications and discussion at http://www.praktica-collector.de/078_Praktiflex_11th.htm . The ground glass is decently bright even brighter than you'd expect stopped down. Unfortunately, it is small enough so that it is very difficult to see whether things are in focus or not. It is essentially impossible with reflections in the open light. I ended up focusing by zones, using hyperfocal distance, and the fold-up sport finder. ___________ *The name Praktiflex FX was briefly used in the 1950s for a USA export name for a version of the Praktica FX. I am not sure why, but it may have had to do with there being several different holders of US trademarks on Dresden camera production. This Praktiflex FX is NOT a true Praktiflex, of course. †I'd gladly contribute a number of examples of Matanle's much-wondered-at accuracy, but not here. Start another thread and I'll come armed for bear.