|Praktica Nova B (Pentacon) , 35mm SLR camera, c1965|
Praktica Nova B, an East German made 35mm SLR. The Praktica Nova series adopted the angled shutter release from the Contax S and still retains styling cues from the 1949 Contax D. This Praktica Nova B was an item of blackmail. If you pass your physics exam, they said, we'll buy you a new camera, they said. So blackmail pays apparently, this is the result, okay it was secondhand - but I was happy. So it was that this Praktica displaced the Dacora and set me on my way to a house full of old photographica. It's a tough one too, it's been dropped from appalling heights and bounced, protected by the robust carrying case it was supplied with. It never missed a beat until the shutter blind split and that, regrettably, was that. Although repaired it was never quite the same again, and was retired, being succeeded by our faithful Pentax K1000.
The history of Praktica is complex to say the least, but Praktica 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 the 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. Consequently the Prakticas 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, unable to compete, the Praktica silently faded away in 1990.
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