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Some Praise for the Pentina


rick_drawbridge
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<p>The Pentina is not a camera that gets much good press, mainly due to the fact that it's very rare to find one that actually works. If they don't, they don't, and that's it; I've not found a technician willing to delve into the innards. However, by some strange quirk of fate a very new-looking example came my way, and it works just fine. I'm not going to bore you with too much detail as our Forum Pentina guru <strong>JDM von Weinberg</strong> has pretty much covered the bases with some excellent posts; I suggest you look at the following post for a fairly complete dossier:</p>

<p>http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00boE9?start=0</p>

<p>The leaf-shutter SLR was attempted by many of the major manufacturers, the biggest advantage of the system being unlimited flash synchronization, but many were fraught with technical problems, including the ill-fated Nikon Nikkorex that, as JDM points out, was a very close cousin of the Pentina, indeed... Anyway, I've had a couple of Pentinas with various ailments, but despite their frailties I consider them to be a very handsome camera. This model is the Pentina M from the second generation of Pentinas, distinguished from the earlier Pentina (in the background of the image above) by a split-image rangefinder spot in the viewfinder. The M was produced 1963-4 by VEB Kamera und Kinowerke in Dresden, later to become known as VEB Pentacon.</p><div>00cq4e-551202684.jpg.2932c6a7b6f9c8e2e9948ba4eed426fc.jpg</div>

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<p>The shutter is a Prestor-Reflex with speeds from 1 second thru 1/500 plus B, both shutter and aperture being coupled to a selenium light meter with a match-needle visible in the very uncluttered top deck. The bright viewfinder features an excellent central split-image spot, one of the best I've come across. The standard lens was the trusty 50mm CZJ f/2.8 Tessar, as fitted to this example. Ergonomically, the camera would be a delight for the left-handers amongst us, with both film wind and shutter release operated by the left hand, but it makes things a little clunky for those of us accustomed to supporting the camera and operating the shutter release with the right hand, and focusing with the left. The film wind lever is a poor piece of design, being small and quite sharp, swinging out from the back in an arc from below the viewfinder. All the other necessary bits and pieces are mounted on the base of the camera, including the very elegant little fold-out rewind handle.</p><div>00cq4j-551202984.jpg.672a7e9e8085dcadacc87b5f962d3f55.jpg</div>
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<p><br />The overall construction of the Pentina M is of nice quality, with slightly better finish than the couple of earlier Pentinas I have. The interior is especially tidy, with a back that detaches (rather too easily) for film loading. The film counter has to be reset, frame by frame, by jiggling the little lever just visible beneath the film wind lever in the photograph below, a slightly tedious procedure.</p><div>00cq4k-551203084.jpg.d487c762562e8909e6c32b9394f4751a.jpg</div>
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<p>I shot a couple of films with the Pentina, gradually feeling more at ease with the odd layout as I progressed; the viewfinder is great and the shutter release very smooth, and the Tessar turned in a typically good performance. I post a variety of images below; the military flavour came about with the re-enactment of the local troops from WWI marching through town and boarding the train that took them off to a military camp 50 miles up-country, prior to being shipped to the battlefields overseas. New Zealand had one of the highest military casualty rates per capita of any country involved in the Great War, with over 18000 killed and 40000 wounded. Such events were held nationally to mark the centenary of the opening of hostilities, and our local event was a moving occasion. I had to juggle several cameras, but managed to get a few pictures with the Pentina. Fuji Superia 200 for the colour with scans from the Fuji Frontier, Kentmere 100 for the B&W, scanned on an Epson V700 Photo.</p><div>00cq4m-551203284.jpg.945afbac5844bc0bc77fbd20fb900d0f.jpg</div>
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<p>I saw one of these along with a Minolta SR at a car boot sale a few years ago, and kind of rubbed my eyes in amazement as I'd never heard of them at the time. I wasn't into 35mm then, so passed over them sadly. Really good to see one still performing and providing such superb results. I like the shot of the poppies.</p>
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<p>Yeah, most any leaf shutter SLR (with fully interchangeable lenses, not components) has more "events" that must take place in proper sequence when the shutter is released. While potentially a good concept, many are troublesome and difficult to repair. I think in an earlier post someone actually outlined the sequence of events that occur when the shutter of a leaf shutter SLR is released. Again, it is gratifying to see a working leaf shutter SLR.</p>
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