The 1950s and 1960s were busy times for photography. Camera companies were churning out models and designs left and right, the industry was lively, and the competition was abundant. This was also the time when Kamera Werkstatten or KW (later known as Pentacon) developed and released their Praktisix medium format SLR camera line.
The Praktisix was a departure from the look of 120 cameras popularized by Rollei cameras. Instead of following the vertical orientation that most waist-level shooters had during the time, KW opted for a horizontal design. This was reminiscent of 35 mm format cameras and offered a sense of familiarity to users who are new to the square format. KW’s choice in camera design also became one of their brand’s selling points as their Praktisix line was basically a bigger version of 35 mm SLRs.
After being introduced at Photokina in 1956, the first Praktisix cameras rolled out of the factory in 1957. A second iteration was released in 1964 in the form of the Praktisix II, with a few upgrades like better film transport, redesigned film guide rails, and advance lever blocking disk that prevents winding, among other things. The last version was the Praktisix IIA that was introduced in 1966.
Praktisix cameras have that distinct 50s to 60s look to them. Their angular design and curious-looking leatherette panels can be compared to Brutalist architecture style, with bold patterns and shapes that complete the camera’s utilitarian look. It’s a basic-looking camera — no fancy bells and whistles, no garish adornments up front.
When it comes to image quality, the Praktisix was also able to carry its weight, thanks to its good quality glass optics. Its standard Meyer-Optik Primotar E 80 mm or Zeiss Tessar 80 mm lenses were capable of capturing crisp images on command. Color reproduction is also good, while effects can be achieved when desired. Some features that make the Praktisix cameras an exciting choice for a vintage 120 SLR are its interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, focusing screens, fast winding lever, and its ability to accept a wide range of accessories.
Photos Taken by Our Community Members
Praktisix Technical Specifications:
Lens: Jena Bm 80 mm f/2.8, Jena Tessar 80 mm f/2.8, Meyer Primotar E 80 mm f/3.5 lens
Film: 120/220 film, 6 × 6 cm images
Mount: Praktisix/Pentacon 6 Bayonet Breach lock
Aperture: f/2.8 - f/22
Focusing: via simple matte glass screen, interchangeable
Shutter: focal plane rubberized cloth shutter, horizontally-traveling, speeds from 1 to 1/1000 sec., Bulb
Viewfinder: waist-level finder, with a magnifying glass and two framed sports finder, interchangeable
Flash: PC socket
Construction: Metal body
Weight: 1366 g