The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

Other Accessories

The Baierfoto viewfinder adapter

What a pity that the Kiev and Pentacon prisms and other finders are not interchangeable between the different cameras!

But now they are, thanks to Rolf-Dieter Baier in Germany, who has made an adapter frame that enables the Kiev 60 TTL prism to be mounted on the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66!  This has many advantages:
  • unlike the Pentacon Six TTL prism, it is available new;
  • unlike the Exakta 66 TTL prism, it is relatively cheap;
  • unlike both of them, it shows the whole of the focussing screen on the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66 (but, strangely, not on the Kiev 60 for which it is designed!);
  • it is much brighter than either of them – this is equivalent to about two stops, a significant difference when shooting with smaller-aperture lenses or in low light;
  • with this prism on the Exakta 66, you can meter with any lens, while the Exakta 66 metering prism only works with the Schneider lenses designed for the Exakta 66,  the Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar in Exakta 66 livery, and the “Exakta” 80mm lens designed for the Exakta 66.
(Restriction  I hear from a someone who uses the Kiev 60 prism on a Pentacon Six via the Baierfoto adapter that if one wears spectacles, it is not possible to get close enough to the prism viewfinder to see the whole of the Pentacon Six focussing screen.)

[C309-6: The Pentacon Six with Kiev 60 TTL prism via the Baierfoto adapter]

[C309-7: The Exakta 66 with Kiev 60 TTL prism via the Baierfoto adapter]
These two images show two versions of the Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar:
on the left is a fairly late version produced for the Pentacon Six; on the right is the version in the Exakta 66 design.
This is the only version of any Carl Zeiss Jena lens that couples with the Exakta 66 metering prism.

With the Baierfoto adapter, you can fit more than just the TTL prism onto the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66; the Kiev 60 “waist level” finder – the best of the lot – fits either camera beautifully.

[C309-35: The Kiev 60 WLF fitted to the Pentacon Six via the Baierfoto adapter.
Here the front section has been folded down to provide the “sports finder” option
– see the detailed description of this, here.]

The only slight disadvantage is that when the Pentacon Six has a Kiev 60 prism, it isn’t possible to close the top of the ever-ready case.  The Baierfoto adapter is available from Rolf-Dieter Baier in Germany.  At the time of writing, he also has limited supplies of the Kiev 60 TTL prism, which he will calibrate at no cost to the focussing screen in your camera.

I do not advise using the Baierfoto adapter on the Praktisix or the Praktisix II, as these do not have the viewfinder locking pin that was introduced with the Praktisix IIA.  In consequence, the adapter, with its precious prism on top, could slide off the camera – unless you can find an alternative way of keeping it securely in place.  (The Pentacon Six metering prism will lock securely onto these older cameras, as it has its own internal locking clips.)

New information on using Kiev 60 viewfinders with the Pentacon Six.  (November 2011)

Peter from England writes, “I asked [Herr Baier] if the adapter will allow full use of the [Kiev] WLFs.
He wrote to say:
"The standard finder does not fit mechanically, the adapter would have to be shortened. The NT finder with the square ocular lens would fit, but in both cases the lens is too strong, so that you would not see a sharp image with the bigger distance from the focusing screen."

Well, I can use both old and new style Kiev WLF with the adapter but he is right in saying that the magnifying lens does not work very well. In bright conditions, the Kiev WLFs have a huge advantage over the Pentacon item in keeping out the lightSo they make composing easier but not focusing.”

This raises the fact that there are now two different waist level finders for the Kiev 60 - the original one and the “NT” version, which appeared on the market subsequent to the original composition of this page in February 2002.  It looks as though for use with the Pentacon Six  it is necessary to replace the magnifying lens within either of the Kiev waist level finders.

Thank you, Peter, for your input!

One of the advantages of the Exakta 66 waist level finder (described here) is that the magnifying lens is easily changeable to match the user’s eyesight.  More details are available here.

It might be possible to fit one of these Exakta 66 WLF magnifier lenses into a Kiev 60 waist level finder, but some adaption would be necessary and it would be difficultIt might even prove impossible without manufacturing a new holder for the magnifier.

Pentacon Six Special Pressure Plate
In the 1950s, when the Prakisix was launched onto the market, it was still fairly common to shoot with cameras that used photographic glass plates instead of film.  This had both advantages and disadvantages, compared with film as a recording medium:
Advantages Disadvantages
A glass plate is absolutely flat, which guarantees the sharpest-possible image which the lens being used can deliver. The glass plate has to be loaded in a totally dark environment, such as a photographic darkroom or a large changing bag.
It is possible to shoot a single image and process it, without having to expose a whole film - or even waste frames - in order to obtain results without delay. One needs to unload and re-load the camera after every shot.

Being able to use photographic glass plates was viewed as a major positive feature, and indeed it may perhaps have been used regularly in scientific laboratories and possibly even in photographic studios, especially those that specialised in product photography.  In either instance, a darkroom would have been to hand both for loading the camera and for processing the individual glass plates before proceeding to further exposures - a more sure and reliable result than making a Polaroid exposure (even if it had been available!), since a Polaroid exposure would be using different photographic material with a different speed rating and different image characteristics.

It was intended that plates sized 6 × 9 cm should be used.

As will be clear, photographic glass plates are thicker than photographic film, and so it was necessary to change the pressure plate in the Praktisix or Pentacon Six, for the purpose of which a “Spezialandruckplatte” or Special Pressure Plate was available - illustrated to the right with the paper in which it was supplied, from which the original order number can be seen.


Tripod bush adapters

The English and American standard for tripod screws has for over 60 years been ¼ inch.  The German and Former Soviet Union standard has on the whole been 3/8" (although the tripod socket on the base of the Pentacon Six and Exakta 66 is ¼ inch).  The Kiev 6C and the Kiev 60 have a 3/8" tripod socket on their base.  More important, regardless of the camera that you have, many longer lenses, including some from Pentacon and Schneider-Kreuznach have 3//8" sockets.  Your tripod is likely to have a ¼ inch screw only.  So an adapter is required.  These are usually called “tripod bush adapters”.  Any “old-fashioned” camera shop – if you can find one! – is likely to have them.

Notice the difference between these two tripod bush adapters.
The left-hand one was bought in England and has a “shoulder” at the top.  The right-hand one was bought from Ukraine, and lacks the shoulder.  Does it matter?  In my experience, it does.  The tripod socket in your camera or lens is usually far deeper than the adapter bush.  Screw in one without a shoulder and it goes in and in, appearing to disappear inside somewhere.  The attachment screw on your tripod may not even reach it!  So the adapter bushes with a shoulder are in my opinion better.  They go in and then lock when the shoulder is flush with the base of the unit.  Your tripod screw goes in nicely, and can extend slightly beyond the end of the bush if necessary without causing any damage to your equipment (many tripod screws have a method of adjusting the depth of the screw, so check this before turning it too hard!).
The tripod bush adapter should be screwed into your camera or lens with a very small coin.  Don’t use a hefty screwdriver, or you’re likely to shear off at least one of the shoulders!

Camera lens adapters

[C371-32A] Mamiya 645 & Canon EOS adapters

With a covering area over three times that of 35mm cameras, Pentacon Six lenses should perform well on 35mm cameras, where only the centre of the image (the sharpest part) will be used.  Experience shows that the adapter needs to be well designed, with adequate baffles, to prevent the unused image area projected by the lens bouncing around within the adpapter and/or camera mirror chamber and degrading the image recorded on film.

For years Carl Zeiss Jena produced adapters to mount the lenses on the Praktica range of 35mm cameras with the M42 screw mount.  The last version of this adaptor included a pin to engage with a connecting fork on the 180mm and 300mm Sonnar lenses and transfer the aperture value via the “EDC” electrical contacts on the LLC, PLC and VLC cameras.  With this adapter, the lens diaphragm was also stopped down automatically when firing the shutter on the Praktica 35mm camera.

Arsenal in Kiev also made adapters to use its Pentacon Six mount lenses on cameras with the Pentax K mount or the Nikon mount, both of which mounts were used in 35mm cameras produced by them.

More recently, adapters have become available from various sources for a wide range of cameras.  Given the large image circle produced by all Pentacon Six lenses when used on 35mm cameras, it is possible with a suitable mount to shift the lens or possibly even tilt it when mounted on a 35mm camera.  Ukrainian sources offer Pentacon Six lens shift adapters to a wide range of 35mm camera mounts, and Zörkendorfer in Germany make such adapters for a wide range of cameras (though not at Ukrainian prices!)

eBay seller grizzly33bear, who is based in Ukraine and has an excellent reputation, offers Pentacon Six to 35mm shift adapters in the following mounts:
Canon EOS 
Canon FD 
Minolta Dynax / Maxxum / AF / Sony Alpha
Minolta MD 
Pentax K 
Pentax M / Zenit / Praktica (m42)
Contax / Yashica 
Rolleiflex / Leica R

Zörkendorfer are based in Munich, Germany.  Their English-language website is here.

As the image area covered by lenses for the Pentacon Six is also substantially larger than the 6cm × 4.5cm format, these lenses can readily be adapted for use with some of these cameras, and (non-shift!) adapters exist for the Mamiya 645 (see image above), the Pentax 645, and possibly other cameras with this format.  These adapters do not permit the automatic aperture pin on the lens to be operated by the camera, so the lens has to be stopped down manually before firing the shutter.

Camera cases
Information on the Pentacon Six camera case and some information on straps for the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66 used to be on this page.  That information has now been expanded and moved to here.

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© TRA February 2002  Minor correction: March 2018