This is a solid piece of a manual SLR 35mm film camera manufactured by East German VEB Pentacon from Dresden, and produced from November 1975 to March 1978. Prakticas in general are well-designed and built to last.
This is the last of the LTL series, and while it lacks some of the refined feel of the MTL3 it predates, it’s a great user and said to be an improvement of the previous LTL.
Like other Prakticas it has what I think is an innovative film loading system (“PL”): the wind spool has two spring-loaded bars on it that clamp down on the film as it turns, just like the guard bar on a rollercoaster. All you do is line up the sprockets, wind on, and close the back. No threading at all! Very nice. You do have to make sure to slip the leader over a little guide at the bottom of the film plane, you’ll see it.
I should probably mention if you couldn’t tell from the picture that the shutter release is on the front of the camera rather than the top. Very ergonomic. And here’s a good one – there is a reminder tab in the viewfinder that pops up to indicate that the shutter needs to be cocked!
As with the other later Prakticas, this camera’s best feature is the super-strong shutter. It’s a vertical focal plane metal blade shutter with a very unique and sturdy wind stroke. It’s hard to describe without doing it for yourself but let’s say it feels like a mechanism that knows exactly what it’s supposed to do and does it. With feeling.
Nevertheless, this camera is mentioned by many elder and experienced photographers as “a solid workhorse” and “a serious player”, so it has been recommended (to me and everyone else) as a perfect starting point for someone who wants to learn how to shoot good photos. And I can surely say it is, mostly because it’s very demanding in a sense you have to be in constant control and always check all settings, but the final result makes it all worth it. Personally, I still haven’t put the battery in, so I set everything manually. But this experience is exactly what taught me basics and everything one should know about analog cameras. That, and my great friend, of whom some may already know – Klickovic – she gave me my very first Praktica.
And off course, this camera is meant only for the strong; the special ones who can carry the weight of this classic piece. After all, it weights almost one kilo! Imagine that hanging around your neck! So, if you are serious as this player, bring this camera along and make extraordinary photographs. If you are into flawless sharpness and great depths – this camera should be your choice.
Special thanks to Klickovic, Lomography and Matt Denton Praktica review.