Pentacon Six Mount
Flash photography with
the Pentacon Six
The facts about
using fill-in flash
Some reviews emphasise that the low flash sync speed on cameras
with focal plane shutters is a problem for fill-in flash, and on
occasion this is true.
The Pentacon Six, Exakta 66, Kiev 60 and Kiev 88 all have a flash
sync in the region of 1/30 sec, as this is the fastest speed at
which the whole of the film is completely uncovered at the same
time by both curtains of the focal plane shutter.
Flash photography with these cameras works perfectly in a studio.
It also works perfectly in virtually all indoor environments.
In daylight it is difficult to use fill-in flash with most
cameras that have focal plane shutters, to lighten shadows, as
sunlight might call for 1/125 at f/11 (depending on the film
speed). This is equivalent to 1/30 at f/22, and few
flashguns are going to have the power to provide suitable
illumination at f/22 at most commonly-used distances, apart from
which, there are three other factors:
In practice, I do three things when shooting weddings (a
non-professional activity for friends only):
- for portraiture, you are likely to want to work at a larger
aperture than f/22, to throw the background out of focus, and so
you will need to use a faster shutter speed to compensate and
- at 1/30 second you may get “ghosting” – a second or shadow
image caused by the camera picking up some movement illuminated
by ambient lighting;
- on the plus side, your fill-in flash should not be set at the
same level as the ambient light, but ideally one or two stops
below it, which does reduce the problem – if the flashgun
provides illumination suitable for f/11, using a smaller
aperture will reduce its effect and prevent the flash lighting
from dominating the picture.
When the pictures come back from processing, I invariably find that
the Medium Format photographs taken without fill-in flash
are far better than the 35mm photographs taken with fill-in
flash. The following picture proved to be one of the bride and
groom's favourites, preferred over many of the 35mm (!)
pictures taken by the official photographer, who used fill-in flash:
- Use flash with my Medium Format cameras indoors if
appropriate, but no flash on the MF camera in bright daylight;
- Take Medium Format photographs outdoors without flash – this
usually results in better images, anyway;
- Have one of my 35mm Prakticas slung over my shoulder for fill
in flash to freeze the movement when the confetti is thrown, and
for a very few other shots. (This camera synchronises at
approximately 1/125 sec.)
[C241-15: Get the lighting right, and you can take
lovely outdoor shots without fill-in flash.
Picture taken with the Exakta 66 and the 75-150mm Variogon zoom
If you really must have flash sync at all speeds, a camera with a
focal plane shutter is not for you – or not for jobs requiring
flash sync at all speeds (unless you have an FP flashgun - see
here); you need a camera
with a leaf shutter built into the lens, such as most of the
Hasselblads. This does, however, have a number of down
Users of the Pentacon Six, Exakta 66, Kiev 60 and other Pentacon
Six-mount cameras realise that they have discovered a real bargain
that accepts probably the widest range of high quality Medium Format
lenses in the world, all at prices within the reach of the amateur
or small business.
- the initial cost of the camera is extremely high;
- each lens must have its own leaf shutter, which also pushes
up the cost and complexity of the lenses considerably;
- most leaf shutters have a maximum speed of 1/500 sec, as
opposed to the 1/1000 sec with the Pentacon Six “family” of
- it is virtually impossible to adapt older lenses or lenses
from other cameras for use with cameras that do not have a focal
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© TRA April 2002 Latest revision: December 2015