|Pentacon Praktisix, 120 roll film SLR camera, c1957-62|
The Praktisix is a decidedly chunky East German made 6 x 6cm SLR. Praktisix is just the name applied to the camera, the company behind it was an amalgamation of many of Dresden's long standing optical factories. Dresden was the centre of much of Germany's fabulous camera production prior to World War 2. This was thrown into turmoil, first by the war itself, then allied bombing all but destroyed the city and finally what was left became part of East Germany, occupied by Soviet Russia who put camera factories back to work. This caused a few legal issues as some Zeiss factories ended up in East Germany, whilst others remained in the West making closely related products. The various famous Dresden camera makers were gradually amalgamated by the Soviets and by 1964 the conglomeration was known as VEB Pentacon Dresden. The name Pentacon being obtained by combining the words Pentaprism and Contax. The expertise and some of the surviving staff of Zeiss, Ihagee, Certo and others would wind up making Prakticas and this Praktisix. Consequently the cameras were well made, often displaying elements of their pre Pentacon history. Pentacon went on to build thousands of popular and well selling cameras up to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Sadly Pentacon couldn't survive in market driven reunified Germany.
Designed to incorporate the benefits of an SLR with the extra definition afforded by a 120 sized negative. Later versions were available under the Pentacon Six name. These cameras are characterized by a weakness in the wind on mechanism. The wind on lever has a travel of 270deg, this requires gearing up the transport to enable sufficient film to be advanced when winding on. Owing to the stresses this imposes on the gears and their relative softness, they can be stripped quite easily. However the Praktisix will be very usable if you find a good one. Loading one is an art, get this aspect wrong and the camera will give all the appearances of being defective, frame spacing being the most obvious apparent fault. Having said that the museum's present example (we are on our third, the first, serial No.27217 went missing in Slovakia, the second was a dog and the third seems to be a hybrid) does have a frame spacing problem, with each frame overlapping the previous one by 3mm, we solve this by adding an extra leader to the take up spool, effectively increasing the diameter of the spindle.
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