The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The History of the Pentacon Six

The Pentacon Six TLs & Praktisix/Pentacon Six export models

Pentacon Six TLs

Dates: apparently 1983/84 on

This version of the Pentacon Six TL incorporated modifications of standard Pentacon Six TL cameras.

I assume that the mask (right) supplied with the Pentacon Six TLs facilitated the contact printing of the negatives onto paper.


The modification was produced for the Czechoslovak (as they were at that time) police as an ID photo camera.  It was probably modified in Czechoslovakia and as such is not a variation produced by the Pentacon factory.

It produced sixteen (I believe!) vertical images with nominal dimensions of 4 × 6 cm.  The “film advance lever” was decoupled from film advance and only served to cock the shutter, lower the mirror and open the lens aperture to maximum.  The film was advanced by a knob that replaced the right-hand film spool knob (viewed from behind), and the correct spacing was determined by using a red window in the back of the camera.  The lever wind does not block after the 12th (and 24th) frame, as on standard Pentacon Six cameras, but after 18 frames.  However, this number includes the initial winding and firing before the first frame, so perhaps the actual usable number of frames is fifteen.  The lever wind block is released by a new, smaller, unblocking lever in the same position as the original lever (for the purpose of winding the film fully onto the take-up spool before opening the back).

Note the differences that have been incorporated in this modified version of the Pentacion Six TL:
  • Reduced-size film gate
  • New frame counter (red section visible in the above image)
  • Film is advanced by turning the black knob (arrowed) under the right-hand (take-up) film chamber
  • Film spacing is determined by viewing the numbers on the backing paper through a red window added to the camera back (with a hole in the pressure plate)

  • A consequence of this is that it is not possible to use 220 film with the Pentacon Six TLs

Export models

The various Praktisix models and the Pentacon Six (+TL) were exported to many countries around the world.  Most of the exported cameras were the standard model of the day, but some of them had a special feature.

The special export versions of these cameras of which I am currently aware were:

Dual flash sockets cameras

A Praktisix/Pentacon Six collector reports

"I consider most of the dual flash socket models to be export models to the US.  Almost all of these are found in the US, including a very rare late Praktisix (Model I).  The Pentacon Sixes with the "low TL" on the face plate are the most prominent of these."

The other principal model of the Pentacon Six with the dual flash socket was the Hanimex Praktica 66, which is described in detail here.

I am grateful to the same expert for some of the further information on this page.

Pentacon Six TL Italia
Date(s): ? – 1987 – ?

A very smart Pentacon Six TL Italia.
I am surprised that this one was supplied with a plain prism – but then, professionals have often preferred to work with a hand-held meter.
The lens left the production line on 15th May 1987.
I note that it has an “export ring”, labelled “aus JENA” instead of “Carl Zeiss Jena” and “Bm” instead of “Biometar”.
However, the East German régime was increasingly confident, politically, boasting that the “country” was “internationally recognised”.
Accordingly, the lens is labelled “DDR”.

This was a version of the Pentacon Six TL that was marketed in Italy.  It appears to be an unmodified Pentacon Six TL that had presumably undergone an additional quality control by the distributors, who applied to the front of the camera (lower right, with the camera facing you) a smart blue Pentacon logo with the words “ITALIA PENTACON ITALIA”.  The camera illustrated, which was presumably manufactured in 1987, also has the shiny shutter release button without the concentric circles that had been seen on this button since the Praktisix was first introduced in 1956/57.

This version of the camera seems to be extremely rare, and I have only ever seen the one illustrated here and one other example.  According to other reports, the “ITALIA PENTACON ITALIA” logo was only applied to Praktica, that is 35mm, cameras.  However, this was clearly not the case.  At the same time, a guarantee sticker was put in the left-hand spool chamber.  This sticker enables one to see the date of sale of the camera.  As the above camera does not belong to me, I can’t easily check if the guarantee sticker is in it.

Versions with Italian logos

Over time, all three sticker variations had been used on Pentacon Six TL cameras:

  • Cattaneo (old)
  • Cattaneo (new)
  • Pentacon Italia.

Swiss Versions

  • Praktisix IIa with decal SP F Switzerland
  • Pentacon Six with decal SP F Switzerland.

Both Cattaneos and the SP Fs are extremely rare (one of each known).  The Italias are scarce.  The "low TL" and the Hanimex are almost common.  None of the export cameras are modified against the original cameras.

For more information on Praktisix and Pentacon cameras in Italy, see here.

To go to the Bibliography, click here.

To go on to the next section, click below.
25 Similar cameras from other manufacturers, based on the Pentacon Six

To go to the beginning of the history section, click here.

To go to introduction to the cameras, click here.

To choose other options, click below.

© TRA First published: August 2010, Revised: October 2015