Medium Format Lenses with the Pentacon Six Mount
A comparative test
by TRA


[C373-19A: A comprehensive Exakta 66 outfit:
From the left: carrying strap & cradle with locking nut, 4 auto extension tubes
60mm Curtagon (at back) with 2× converter in front of it
75-150mm Variogon with 40mm Curtagon in front, 140-280mm Variogon with 80mm Biometar “III” in front
Mk III body with metering prism, angle finder, bellows and 80mm Xenotar MF lens, with two close-up
bellows lenses in front, Mk II body with plain prism and 80mm Exakta lens, with waist-level finder in front
On the far right: 250mm Tele-Xenar at the back, with 150mm Tele-Xenar in front
Front row: interchangeable focussing screen, eye cup, shutter extension, WLF lens and flash bracket]

Slight variations in design have led to some incompatibility problems. Taking the East German implementation of the Pentacon Six mount as the standard (they invented it! – for the Praktisix), both Schneider and Arsenal deviate slightly from the norm.  Lenses made in East Germany came from Carl Zeiss Jena and Meyer-Optik.  From some point in the mid to late 1970s, Meyer-Optik lenses were labelled Pentacon.

Joseph Schneider lenses

For users of the Exakta 66 with the TTL prism, only the Schneider lenses or 2× converter will actuate the meter on this camera.

[AperturePin: the pin indicated by the arrow 
transfers the maximum aperture of the lens
to the Exakta 66 TTL meter, and prevents 
mounting lenses with the pin on Brenner’s 
“Kiev B.i.G.-Six” – a Kiev 88 body 
with modified Pentacon Six mount.]

People with the Kiev 88 with Pentacon Six mount as sold by Brenner in Germany in 1995-97 (and possibly longer) will find that Schneider lenses OTHER THAN those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 (i.e., the 80mm lenses) will not fit on the camera, because of an extra pin that tells the Exakta TTL meter the maximum aperture of the lens. This pin sticks out at an angle, not into the throat, and the problem is actually caused by the non-standard implementation of the “Pentacon Six” mount on this camera. However, these lenses DO fit on the Pentacon Six and Kiev 60 without any problems.


For a full review of Brenner's Kiev “B.i.G.-Six” click here.

I am told that there are other Kiev 88s with Pentacon Six mounts that WILL take all the Schneider lenses.  See the Postscript to the Kiev B.i.G.-Six review.

For slight matching limitations with the Joseph Schneider 2× converter, see the section on the teleconverters.

Arsenal lenses

The design of the automatic diaphragm mechanism on Arsenal lenses is slightly different from the original Pentacon Six standard (which is fully implemented by Joseph Schneider). The pin on the back of all these the lenses (other than the 500mm and 600mm lenses ) should remain fully depressed when the shutter is cocked, for maximum viewing screen brightness and focussing accuracy. When the shutter is released, a lever in the camera moves back, allowing the pin to move out of the lens, stopping the lens down to the selected aperture.

In the Arsenal implementation, this pin seems to retract slightly as the lens is opened. In practice, this may mean that at an aperture 1 – 1 ½ stops before maximum, the pin is not long enough to be fully depressed by the lever in the body. The result? If you are using an f/2.8 lens at, say, f/8, the lever in the body may only open the lens to f/4, giving you a less bright viewfinder image.

A screw in this lever is adjustable in the Pentacon Six, Exakta 66 and Kiev 60 (with difficulty!), and with a lot of fiddling it may be possible to adjust this to give both full opening and full stopping-down with all lenses.

In my Kiev 88 with “Pentacon Six mount”, the pin on the lenses rests of a curved arc just in front of the mirror. I can’t see how to adjust this. Worse, some Kiev 88 users have experienced problems with the pin pushing back the lever, which in turn pushes back the mirror, resulting in a focusing error. I have not experienced this particular problem with my camera.

Carl Zeiss Jena lenses

The “flange” or “register” distance is the distance between the front face of a camera against which a lens mates and the film.  For the Hasselblad 1600/1000F and the Kiev 88 based on it, this distance is reported to be 82.10 mm.  The flange distance for the Pentacon Six and therefore of all lenses designed to be used on it is reported to be 8mm less: 74.10 mm.  (According to some reports, the Pentacon Six flange register distance is 74.90mm, but in either case, the same problem will remain.)  The flange register distances do not include components which pass freely inside the “throat” of the mount, such as the ring which holds the three tabs on Pentacon Six lenses.

Therefore, when the Kiev 88 camera is modified to take Pentacon Six lenses, the new mount is recessed within the front of the camera body.  Though – by definition – Kiev 88 cameras with Pentacon Six lens mounts take Pentacon Six lenses, this does not mean that there won’t be problems, as explained above in the case of Joseph Schneider lenses for the Exakta 66 – although in that case the cause of the problem was the modification of the Pentacon Six mount specification by Schneider, when they added the maximum aperture pin for the TTL meter.

However, there can even be a problem for some Carl Zeiss Jena lenses!  The depth-of-field lever on the 50mm and 65mm Flektogon lenses is very small and located right at the back of the lens.  This lever is easily accessible when these lenses are mounted on the Pentacon Six, the Exakta 66 or the Kiev 60.  But when they are mounted on a Kiev 88 it is at best difficult to reach and at worst may rub with the camera mount or even make mounting the lens difficult.  See further information on this and possible solutions here.

For the same reason, it is reported that it is not possible to mount the 1000mm Carl Zeiss Jena mirror lens onto the Kiev 88CM.  See more information here.

Incompatibility problems with tilt and shift lenses

There are also some incompatibilities when using tilt and shift lenses with the Pentacon Six and Exakta 66.  See details here.

Getting the right lens mount

All Pentacon Six  and Exakta 66 lenses from Carl Zeiss Jena, Pentacon and Schneider-Kreuznach will fit the Pentacon Six.  Extreme care must be taken when buying lenses from Arsenal, Ukraine (former USSR), as they made their medium format lenses available in two different, mutually-incompatible mounts!  To make matters worse, the differences between the Cyrillic alphabet used for Russian and the Roman or Latin alphabet used for English and (with additions) other western languages, can lead to serious errors.  The following table explains:

You can find more information on this here.

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© TRA January 2002, latest revision: January 2016