The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

Advertisements for the Praktisix and the Pentacon Six


In the realm of advertising, it is impossible to hope for a comprehensive listing (unless one had access to the manufacturer’s archive!), so here I am limited to those advertisements that I have come across over the years.  As far as possible, I have sorted these in date order.  The absence of advertisements for a given year is not an indication that the camera was not advertised, merely a reflection of the random nature of the data that I have managed to gather, years after the dates when the advertisements first appeared, in most cases.

More detailed publicity material, brochures, etc from distributors in various countries and from an early East German export agency are found here.

1957




[1957_ad_01s.jpg]

“Kleinbild oder 6 × 6?” (“35mm camera or 6 × 6?”).  Full-page advertisement in a West German photographic magazine, reportedly in 1957, the first full year that the Praktisix was available.
Approximate dimensions:  195mm × 273mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

At the time, the 35mm Praktina was one of the leading 35mm SLR cameras, world-wide, particularly prized by scientists and professionals of all sorts, because of its features and reliability and the vast range of accessories offered for it.  Both the Praktina and the Praktisix were made by KW in Dresden.

  
 
[1957nov_P6_hobby_mags.jpg] 

 Full-page advertisement in the West German magazine “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, Stuttgart (West Germany), November 1957
Approximate dimensions: 150mm × 210mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

We note that the camera shown in this photograph is fitted with a 65mm f/2.8 Flektogon wide-angle lens.

The same advertisement appeared, again occupying a full page, in the December 1957 issue of the West German magazine
“POPULÄRE MECHANIK”.
Approximate dimensions: 150mm × 231mm
 
1958






[1958jans.jpg]

Full-page advertisement reportedly in the West German magazine “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, Stuttgart (West Germany), January 1958
Approximate dimensions: 150mm × 210mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Three cameras from KW are featured here: the market-leading 35mm Praktina (top of page, and middle), the much more economical 35mm Praktica FX 3, and then, at the bottom of the page, the Praktisix.  Interestingly, some prices are given.

The headline title is “Das überzeugende Mattscheibenbild”, which means “The convincing focussing-screen image”.  The following text refers to the lack of parallax problems and the uncomplicated way that one can work with all sorts of close-up photography.

The description of the Praktisix emphasises the fully-automatic diaphragm, interchangeable viewfinders, fast shutter advance, focal plane shutter up to 1/1000 sec and interchangeable lenses from 65mm to 400mm.  Interestingly, 400mm did not remain as a focal length for lenses manufactured in East Germany for the Praktisix and the Pentacon Six, although the West German Enna did offer a 400mm lens in this mount for many years.  (See report on that lens here.)


[1958Apr_P6_hobbys.jpg]

Half-page advertisement in the West German magazine “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, Stuttgart (West Germany) April 1958
Approximate dimensions: 75mm × 210mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

This appears to be the same photograph as in the previous advertisement.

[1958_BRDs_3.jpg]

Full-column advertisment from an unidentified West German magazine (clear from the advertisement on the other side of the page), reportedly from 1958, month not specified.
Approximate dimensions: 78mm × 205mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Again the Praktisix, the Praktica and the Praktina are featured, although this time the Praktisix is given top billing.

The text states, “The single lens reflex with parallax-free focussing screen focus, interchangeable lenses and focal plane shutter is the leading camera type today”.






1959






[1959apr_USAs.jpg]

Full-page advertisement in the April 1959 issue of the American photographic magazine “Modern Photography”.
Approximate dimensions: 204mm × 279mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Some items from other manufacturers are featured, but the emphasis is on the Praktisix (
“THE LONG AWAITED BIG SIX Big Pictures With Small Camera Ease”) and the Praktina IIA (“Already the World’s Finest 35mm Single-lens Mirror-Reflex”).



[1959_anciens-frss.jpg]

Full page-width advertisement in a French magazine, reportedly published in 1959.  The magazine is printed on high-quality glossy paper and the advertisements on the back of this page are for top-quality furniture, wallpaper, luxury soft furnishings and decoration, which suggest that this was not a photographic magazine but a publication aimed at comfortably-off members of society.
Approximate dimensions: 235mm × 150mm

Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The advertisement is for the Praktina IIA and the Praktisix and the headline text states “POUR LE PROFESSIONAL – POUR LE SCIENTIFIQUE – POUR L’AMATEUR ÉCLAIRÉ”, which means “FOR THE PROFESSIONAL – FOR THE SCIENTIST – FOR THE ENLIGHTENED AMATEUR”.

Interestingly, the cameras are priced in “anciens francs” (“old francs”).  For the “nouveau franc” (“new franc”), both  banknotes and coins were introduced on 1st January 1960.  100 anciens francs became one nouveau franc, but old and new denomination banknotes circulated side by side for years, their value being recognised by the pictures on them, since the notes with new franc values printed on them were identical in design to those with old franc values, and indeed French people continued to think in terms of “anciens francs” for at least a decade, especially for large sums of money, such as the price of houses or cars (and, no doubt, cameras!).

1962







[1962_Jul_USAs.jpg]

Another full-page advertisement from an American photographic magazine, probably again “Modern Photography”.
Approximate dimensions: 204mm × 279mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

This advertisement appears to have been placed by the distributor of these East German cameras, which has the name
“PRAKTI CAMERA COMPANY”.  It is based in New York.




1963






[1963_BRD_1s.jpg]

Half-page advertisement reportedly from 1963 in a West German magazine, probably “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, published in Stuttgart.
Approximate dimensions: 144mm × 205mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

This advertisement is in a highly-prominent position, on the Contents page, and I include the Contents column, which gives an indication of the type of magazine this is.


The main text says “Man sieht mehr im Lichtschacht”, which means, “One sees more in the waist-level finder”.  The main distributor for West Germany now appears to be the firm BEROLINA, although Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have their own distributor.


[1963_BRD_2s.jpg]

Half-page advertisement reportedly from 1963 in a West German magazine, probably “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, published in Stuttgart.
Approximate dimensions: 144mm × 205mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The main text says “Sie haben nur eine halbe Photoausrüstung”, which means, “You have only half a photographic outfit”.  The main distributor for West Germany continues to be the firm BEROLINA, while Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg continue with their own distributor.
1964






[1964_Frs.jpg]

A small French advertisement, reportedly from the magazine “Photo Ciné Revue” in 1964
Approximate dimensions: 71.4mm × 190.5mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The title text states,
“PRAKTISIX aussi maniable qu’un 24 × 36”, which means, “As easy to handle as a 35mm camera”.


[1964_BRD_1s.jpg

A small, foot-of-page advertisement reportedly from 1964 in a West German magazine, probably once more “hobby Das Magazin der Technik”, published in Stuttgart, to judge from the page format and the contents on the other side of the page.
Approximate dimensions: 144mm × 62mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The title, “EINE GANZ GROSSE”, means, “A TRULY GREAT ONE”.
1965






[1965_Jan_1s.jpg]

A whole-page advertisement from the U.K. magazine “Practical Photography”
Approximate dimensions: 204mm × 277mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Long before the arrival of the 21st century, I was wondering why the advertisers were seeking to limit their potential market to less than half the U.K. population, by advertising this Praktisix II as only being for “the discerning man!” (emphasis added, but exclamation mark original).

We note that the U K distributors at the time were J. J. Silber of London.

It is interesting to note the prices, as well as the features that are mentioned, although I am not quite sure what a “Click stop single pivot” is!




[1965_Frs.jpg]

A small French advertisement, reportedly from the magazine “Photo Ciné Revue” in 1965
Approximate dimensions: 71.4mm × 190.5mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.


Key features highlighted are “Well hand-holdable without needing a grip” and “rapid advance lever”.  We note that the plain prism is featured in the photograph.  (The metering prism wasn’t released until the following year.)  The advertisement also refers to the “silent and vibration-free focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 sec”.

Numerous lenses are also listed.  The name “Carl Zeiss” is not used, and the lenses are designated as “IENA”, using the standard French spelling of “Jena”, well-known in France from one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories, and commemorated in the name of a Paris Métro (underground train) station.  We note both wide-angle lenses, the 50mm and the 65mm, the 80mm and 120mm Biometars (referred to as “BM”) and the 180mm Sonnar, referred to as “S” (because of the dispute with Zeiss West Germany over the use of the name “Zeiss” and lens names such as “Sonnar”).  The 1000mm mirror lens is there, but not yet the 300mm Sonnar nor the 500mm Pentacon.  To fill the gap between 180mm and 1000mm, the advertisement lists the East German Meyer Optik f4.5 300mm “Télémégor” lens and the West German Enna f/4.5 400mm.
1966






[1966_May_USAs.jpg]

Another whole-page advertisement from the USA, this time from the May 1966 issue of “Popular PHOTOGRAPHY”
Approximate dimensions: 195mm × 265mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

A couple of things surprise us with this advertisement:
The Praktisix II is announced as being “For 220 and 120 Film!”  We have never seen a Praktisix that took 220 film, but in 1966 Pentacon Dresden had announced that the next version of the camera would take 220 film.  When that version was released, it had been given a new name: Pentacon Six.

The other suprise is that there is yet another change in the name of the USA distributor, which is now given as the “EXAKTA CAMERA COMPANY” of New York.


We notice that the same East German lenses are shown as those announced in the French advertisement of the previous year, above.


[1966_Oct_USAs.jpg]

The same whole-page advertisement was run in the October 1966 issue of “Popular PHOTOGRAPHY” (and perhaps in the intermediate months, too; I have no way of checking).
Approximate dimensions: 195mm × 265mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Why have I reproduced it again?  Because of one difference, which will only be visible from the full-sized copy of the ad: the price for the camera with Waist-Level Finder and 80mm “C.Z.” Biometar lens was US$279.50 in May; in October it was US$299.50.  (The prices of the four items at the bottom of the page have not changed.)


1967






[1967_Frs.jpg]

Apparently a whole-page advertisement, again reportedly from the French photographic magazine “Photo Ciné Revue”, this time from 1967, of which there can be little doubt, as the camera featured now has the new name: “PENTACON SIX”
Dimensions: uncertain, as I only have a reduced-size copy.
However, you can click on the image here to see a larger-sized version.



[1967_May_17_APs.jpg]

A whole-page advertisement from the popular U.K. weekly magazine “Amateur Photographer”
Approximate dimensions: 198mm × 265mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The page is conveniently dated for us: 17 May 1967.

As with the French advertisement reproduced to the left, the emphasis is on promoting the new camera name.  We note that in the U.K. the name “Carl Zeiss” can appear on the lenses and in the text of advertisements.

According to Barry M. Jones in his publication “From KW to Pentacon”, between 1966 and 1968 UK distribution of GDR cameras was transferred to a different UK company, C Z Optical Ltd, and then to C Z Scientific instruments Ltd, which took over completely from J J Silber.  (Published by Barry M Jones, 2014, pp. 41-42)

1971






[1971_Nov_03_AP_1s.jpg]

Here we reproduce two whole-page advertisements by U.K. photographic dealers, in the 3rd November 1971 issue of “Amateur Photographer”, as the Pentacon Six is featured in each of them, along with various accessories and lenses for it.
The first advertisement is from the London-based company TeleTape Photographic Ltd.
Approximate page dimensions: 208mm × 295mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

Readers may be interested to compare the prices for Pentacon Six items with those of some other cameras featured on this page.

TeleTape seems to list its “normal” (?!) prices on the left, in brackets, followed by their current prices.  TeleTape sends everything post free.


[1971_Nov_03AP_2s.jpg]

The second dealer advertisement from the 3rd November 1971 issue of U.K. magazine “Amateur Photographer” is from the companny ffordes Photographic Ltd, based in Basildon, Essex.
As before, approximate page dimensions are 208mm × 295mm.
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

ffordes also lists first prices that we assume are their “normal” prices, followed by their current prices.  ffordes charges 50p postage on each item, which, even then, was unlikely to cover the cost of sending the heavier items.

Comparing the prices from these two companies, we see that one of them would be cheaper on some items, while the other would be cheaper on others!  These days, most of us would be happy to pay the prices from either of these dealers to get new Pentacon Six cameras, lenses and accessories!


1972






[1972_Cambridges.jpg]

I clearly remember this advertisement, as it was in the October 1972 issue of the American magazine “Modern Photography”, which I bought in London in Autumn 1972 from one of the larger newsagents.  It was to be another four and a half years before I was able to buy my own Pentacon Six.

This is a half-page advertisement, approximate dimensions: 202mm × 156mm
Click on the image here to see the advertisement full size.

The camera is here called “The Pentacon Six TL”, although it is also referred to by a title apparently thought up by the advertiser: “The Pentacon Six TL 66”.  Apart from the 500mm Pentacon, not yet available, most East German Pentacon Six lenses are included, plus the 400mm Enna Tele Ennalyt and the 90mm Kilfitt Macro Kilar, these last two lenses being from West Germany.

The advertiser is Cambridge Camera Exchange, a company based in New York that specialised over many years in the East German Exakta 35mm camera system.

The Pentacon Six continued to be advertised in the U.K. until at least 1978, principally by one of the above companies, TeleTape Photographic Ltd, and was still being advertised in the USA by Cambridge Camera Exchange of New York up until at least 1990, if I remember correctly.














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© TRA August 2018