The Pentacon Six line were cameras made by VEB Pentacon Dresden in the former East German Democratic Republic from the late 1950's to 1990. A professional camera with many accessories and lenses, the bayonet mount and the design of the camera were copied inside and outside Warsaw pact countries. Lenses for the Pentacon Six were made by Carl Zeiss Jena and were outstanding in both design and performance, however the camera its self can be a different story all together.
A professional camera with many accessories and lenses, the bayonet mount and the design of the camera were copied inside and outside Warsaw pact countries (The Soviet built Kiev 60 and West German built Exakta 66.)
First of all, you’ve probably noticed the odd design for a 120 SLR camera, most of them run film top to bottom or vise versa; but on the Pentacon Six line, the film runs from left to right, like a 35mm camera; This novel feature results in a more conventional design but leads to one of the systems most annoying issue; Film spacing. If improperly loaded the Pentacon Six TL will have spacing issues, this is mostly due to the fact that the engineers designed the camera to fit 13 6×6cm exposures on 120 film, making the spacing small to begin with. Secondly the film advance lever is somewhat fragile, the biggest mistake you can do to a Pentacon Six is to let the film advance lever snap back after winding; gently guide it back to its resting position; not doing so will damage the gears inside the camera resulting in an inconvenient trip to a repair shop. Avoid early “Praktisix” models as these are the most unreliable of the entire Pentacon Six line, your best bet is to get your hands on the most recent and most reliable Pentacon Six TL.
The Pentacon Six TL is all in all a awesome chunk of East German engineering, it just feels well built in your hands, with its faux leather covering and brushed steel trim it looks the part too! (and weighs the part as well !)
The Pentacon Six TL is extremely capable of professional grade images and has a shutter range from 1 second all the way up to 1/1000th of a second ( along with B) , has available TTL metered prisms along with X flash synchronization, making this camera tremendously expandable and worthy of “serious photographers.” Of course the Pentacon Six TL is also a great asset to any “Non-serious” photographer as well as Lomographers.
Another great feature of the Pentacon Six TL is that you get Hasselblad quality pictures at a bargain basement price of around 200-300$ for a well maintained model, a great deal considering how any western built 120 SLR made by Bronica or Hasselblad can easily go for 500-1200$ depending on condition, so why pay more when you can get the same quality pictures out of a camera that has tons more charisma and character at a fraction of the price?
-Great quality pictures at a great price.
-Intelligent design with many features.
-Hundreds of lenses and prisms available for reasonable prices.
-World class quality lenses from Carl Zeiss Jena.
- Made in the DDR! How cool is that?!
- Large, heavy design.
- Can be tricky to load properly.
- Finicky advance mechanism.
- Quality issues on early models.
Pictures on this article we taken with a Pentacon Six TL with a Carl Zeiss Jena MC Biometar 2.8/80 lens. (not the camera picture itself however.)