|Praktica VF (Pentacon) , 35mm SLR camera, c1964|
Praktica VF, an East German made 35mm SLR. The Praktica VF traces it's ancestry back to the Praktica IV with angular body styling cues borrowed from Contax. Based around a die cast metal chassis, this relatively early pentaprism equipped SLR features a bottom mounted advance lever and removavble back. The frame counter needs to be set at the beginning of the film and counts up. The horizontal running cloth shutter is protected by the mirror which resets after each exposure and an advance reminder is visible in the viewfinder to let the user know the camera has not been wound on. These early pentaprism Prakticas had a noticeably taller housing than later models. Fewer than 9000 Praktica VFs were made during 1962 and 1964.
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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