The Pentacon Six System
The History of the Pentacon Six
The Exakta 66 (1980s on)
Dates: 1984-1992 (?)
This camera was announced at Photokina in Cologne, West
Germany in 1984, but appears not to have been available to buy until 1986.
It remained in production until the year 2000, but with modifications for
Mk II and Mk III versions in subsequent years (see next two pages).
After more than 20 years of continuous use, this camera,
which was bought new in 1989, not surprisingly shows some signs of
The Exakta 66 was based on a Pentacon Six chassis manufactured
in Dresden, and used the glass from pentaprisms produced by Carl Zeiss
Jena for the Pentacon Six.
Improvements/changes from the Pentacon Six were:
A completely different cosmetic appearance, with a black
finish and a thick rubber coating for most of the body, apparently inspired
by the shock-resistant coverings applied at the time to binoculars designed
for use by the military
A metering prism with all-new electronic design, with LCD
readouts within the prism and on its top surface outside
Electrical contacts on the body to transfer shutter speeds
to the metering pentaprism
Lenses from Joseph Schneider of Bad Kreuznach in (then) West
Germany that transmitted their aperture values to the metering prism
An allegedly-improved two-position film pressure plate for
120 and 220 film
A brighter (but smaller!) focussing screen
A film-type reminder holder on the camera back.
Note in both photographs the rectangular release buttons on each side
of the metering prism.
The transfer of lens apertures and shutter speeds to the
metering prism was a major advance that speeded up open-aperture metering
enormously. Coupled with Schneider Kreuznach lenses of outstanding
quality, the Exakta 66 offered a Medium Format camera with fast handling
and the potential to produce images whose quality matched that of any other
Medium Format camera on the market.
Some internet sources claim that the metering prism was
only available with the Mk II version of the camera, but this is incorrect.
The metering prism was not available until late in 1986, possibly for Photokina
in the autumn, but the original version of the camera (i.e., “Mk I”) was
in any case not generally available until earlier in the same year.
I bought my first Exakta 66 new, together with a metering prism, before
the Mk II version of the camera became available.
|This misunderstanding may have arisen from the
illustration only in some of the advertising for the camera in
later years – without paying attention to the text. See
the illustration from 1990 to the right here, which shows the original
Exakta 66 with a waist-level finder and the “Mod 2” version with the metering
prism. However, the text says:
1 Exakta 66. 6×6 Single Lens Reflex camera
for 120 roll film (12 exp) and 220 (24 exp). Lenses from Schneider
Kreuznach from 60 to 280mm. Interchangeable viewfinder systems: folding
finder, prism finder and TTL prism finder. Manual focal plane shutter
1 – 1/1000 sec, B and X-synchronisation 1/30 sec. Comprehensive system
2 Exakta 66 MOD 2. Same features as Exakta
66, with in additon a larger viewing image and self-locking back as well
as an ergonomically-designed advance lever.
Claiming that the TTL prism was not available for the
original version of the camera also does not take into account the change
in the design of the release buttons on the metering prism, introduced
only once the Mk II version of the camera was launched. For details
of that version, see the next page.
Information in “Internationaler Foto Katalog ’90”, page 52
The catalogue is dated April 1990
The same advertisement was still being run in the 1992 catalogue, at
To go to the Bibliography, click here.
To go on to the next section, click below.
27 The Exakta 66 Mk II
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© TRA August 2010, revised October 2010