The Pentacon Six System
The Pentacon Six is a great
camera. However, one of the silly
criticisms sometimes made is that it does not
have an interchangeable back. This is
silly for several reasons:
For a once-in-a-lifetime event or
trip, I know which I would prefer – not just a
film back but a whole backup camera.
(Having said that, no Pentacon Six has ever
failed on me – but a second body can reduce
lens-swapping when you need to work fast.)
- interchangeable backs (for
instance, for the Hasselblad) only
hold film – they don’t
provide a viewfinder, a mount for lenses, or
- interchangeable backs are
extremely expensive –
generally more than the cost of a Pentacon
Six camera body.
- so for less than the cost
of a film back you can have a
whole second Pentacon Six camera body
– which does provide a
viewfinder, a mount for lenses, and a
So for storage you may
require a camera body cap for that
second body. Until recently, a choice of
two was available. (A third option is
now available – see lower down this
|New caps for the
For a source of new
caps for the Pentacon Six, see
On the left is the Pentacon cap,
on the right the one from Kiev Arsenal
The inside face of the two body
caps, again with the Pentacon cap on the left
Either body cap does the job
adequately, but in my opinion there is a clear winner
here. It is the Kiev Arsenal cap.
Why? The Pentacon body cap just pushes into
place and is held there by friction. I have
never had one fall off, but it does not seem to me to
be that secure. The Arsenal body cap has a lug
which must be aligned with the slot at the top of the
camera body lens mount socket, and behind that lug
there is a sturdy raised strip. It looks like an
inverted “T” (with an extremely long horizontal bar)
in the above image on the right. So you put it
onto the body and then rotate the camera
body lens locking ring and it locks
the body cap into place, which gives me an impression
of much greater security. It is also thicker and
stronger than the Pentacon body cap.
Naturally, a camera body cap is also
essential to cover the front of a 2× converter when it
is not being used, and it is also strongly advised
that you use a body cap on the front of the bellows or
of a set of extension tubes for storage, to prevent
the possible entry of dust or fluff.
Another part of the camera body that
may need protecting is the viewfinder opening.
This is of course normally protected by the
waist-level finder, the magnifying head, the plain
prism or the metering prism. However, you may
not have a spare prism for a second body, or may wish
to avoid the weight of carrying two prisms when going
out to take photographs. As far as I have been
able to see over many years, every Pentacon Six was
supplied with a waist-level finder. However, if
you have a body without a waist-level finder, a top
cap may be a good, light-weight
alternative. It may also save a couple of
centimetres of height if storing a second body in a
tight camera bag.
The top cap is a simple plastic plate
that fits onto the four posts round the viewfinder
opening on the top of the camera and slides forward to
be held in place.
Top of the top cap. The raised plastic
struts no doubt provide rigidity. They also
make it easy to put the cap on and take it off.
The underside of the top cap. Notice the
additional hole (arrowed) that locates with the
locking pin on the top of the Praktisix IIA and
the Pentacon Six, to hold the cap firmly in place.
The top cap in use.
This view enables us to see that the locking pin
has engaged with the appropriate hole on the top
plate. I have arrowed the locking pin
release button on the top of the camera.
If it is necessary to send the camera
through the post, a top cap may be preferred to a
waist-level finder or prism, unless they need to be sent
too. Likewise, we should only send the lens if it,
too, is needed. So in the right-hand image I have
also put a front body cap on the camera – although I
have here used an Arsenal body front cap, rather than
the East German original, which cannot be locked in
place, as explained above.
Obviously, any lens that is not on a
camera body must always be stored with a lens
back cap. It always amazes me when a lens comes
up for sale without a back cap, as – apart from the
standard lens supplied with the camera body – every
lens is supplied with a back cap.
Of course, every lens is also supplied
with a front cap, although these appear to get lost
even more frequently, perhaps just falling off
un-noticed while the user is carrying the
camera. Fortunately, buying a replacement front
cap is easy, as they are readily available in a wide
range of standard sizes and styles, including
press-on, clip-on and, less commonly, screw-in.
We therefore do not need to concern ourselves here
with lens front caps.
There is a wide range of Pentacon Six
lens back caps, as every manufacturer that supplied a
lens with this mount also supplied a back cap, most of
them poor, as they easily fall off. However, for
many decades there have been four main lens back or
rear caps, all of which are illustrated and commented
This is the “old”, or original,
Arsenal lens back cap.
It is the worst of the four show here,
as it tends to fall off the lens.
Here are the other three principal
types of back cap.
From left to right: the new-style
Arsenal cap, the Pentacon cap and the Exakta 66 cap.
The letters “OTKP.” on the Arsenal cap
are an abbreviation for the Russian word “OPEN”,
followed by the top half of an arrow
to show the direction that the cap
needs to be turned to remove it from the lens.
The Exakta 66 cap appears to be a
standard Pentacon cap that has been given a matt
black finish on the outside.
Here is the inside face of the same
three lens back caps.
On the one on the left, the Arsenal
logo can be clearly seen.
The other two are obviously identical
on their inner surface.
Which one is the best? Or doesn’t
Well, again there is a clear winner,
but this time the roles are reversed: the Pentacon is
the best lens back cap, which of course means that the
Exakta 66 cap is equally good.
Why does it matter? The new
Arsenal cap is deeper than the old one, but it still
slightly presses constantly on the auto aperture pin
at the back of the lens, and although one should not
be unduly worried about this, it does seem
self-evident that it is better, long-term, for a
spring (as for a human being!) not to be under
The outer bottom edge of the Arsenal
cap (as seen in the bottom of the two pictures here)
is also much wider than the corresponding part of the
Pentacon and Exakta 66 caps. Not a major
difference, perhaps, but I notice it when trying to
fit lenses into pouches and the pouches into an outfit
I have where possible replaced the back
caps on my Arsenal lenses, whether the caps supplied
were the old or the new type, with Pentacon lens back
caps. Unfortunately, the Pentacon lens back caps
are generally hard to find. I therefore tend to
put the Arsenal caps on manual lenses (from Pentacon
or other manufacturers), as these do not have an
aperture pin that could be depressed.
You will also wish to use a lens back
cap on the back of extension tubes or the bellows for
storage, to prevent the possible entry of dust or
|New caps for the
Forster Pentacon Six Camera
Body caps, first version (June 2020)
when used lenses are sold, the front and
rear caps are often missing.
Getting new front caps is not generally
difficult, except in the largest sizes,
but rear lens caps for Pentacon Six
lenses are increasingly hard to find.
It is therefore excellent news that a
U.K. photographer, Simon Forster, is
manufacturing new rear caps for lenses
with the Pentacon Six mount!
Forster Lens caps,
first version (June 2020)
|New second version
in August 2023. For
details, see below.
image on the right here we see four
lens rear caps produced by Simon
(click on the name to go to the
website). From left to right,
the caps are on a very late production
Meyer-Optik 300mm lens (earlier called
“Orestegor”, and subsequently
“Pentacon”) and on three Carl Zeiss
Jena lenses in Pentacon Six mount, the
180mm Sonnar, the 80mm Biometar (at
the front) and the 50mm
Flektogon. The cap on the
Flektogon is luminous and so can be
found in the dark!
the image on the left, we have a
close-up view of three of
Forster’s Pentacon Six rear lens
These caps fit well and do not
fall off the lenses!
Not only does Forster
produce rear caps for lenses with the Pentacon
Six mount, he also manufactures Pentacon Six
camera body caps, items that are otherwise
equally difficult to find!
picture on the left here, we see a
Forster Pentacon Six body cap on the
camera, with another cap in front of it.
close-up view of the top of
Forster’s Pentacon Six body cap
shows the care and detail of the
design, with the vertical strut
(in this picture) that locates
in the slot at the top of the
camera’s lens mount.
The camera’s breech-lock ring is
rotated exactly as when mounting
a lens in order to lock the
three horizontal tabs on the
Forster Pentacon Six Camera Body
Cap into place, so that the cap
cannot fall off. As
explained above, this detail is
much better than the original
East German body cap, and the
Forster cap is held just as
securely as the cap from Kiev
view of the Forster Pentacon Six
camera body cap.
A selection of Forster’s caps
for various cameras, including
the Pentacon Six, can be seen here.
In the USA Forster’s caps are
made and sold by Ben Couto, who
sells them on eBay. (At
the time of writing, this
link goes to Ben
Couto’s eBay shop via
eBay.com.) Forster tells
me that the caps sold by Couto
“are marked with "US / UK" and
are made using the same design
and each cap is tested (like
mine) before dispatch.”
We congratulate Simon Forster
for producing these caps, which
will be welcomed by users of the
Pentacon Six system, both for
bodies and for lenses!
|Forster Pentacon Six
/ Kiev 60 lens rear caps and body caps, new
version, August 2023
In 2023 it is becoming harder and
harder to find Pentacon Six lens rear caps, and
so extremely high prices are frequently now
asked when such caps are offered, even if they
are in a somewhat worn state.
It is therefore pleasing to know that Simon
Forster still offers his caps. In fact, in
August 2023 he has new, improved versions!
Picture © Copyright Simon
the above image to see it larger.
On 31st July 2023 Simon wrote to me, “I am just
about to "launch" new versions of my Pentacon
Six lens and body caps. Cosmetically I've
updated them to my current scalloped design, but
I have also made functional modifications so
that the body caps fit a little more snug on a
P6 without getting too tight on a Kiev. The lens
caps have also seen a small modification that
make them a little less stiff to use for
The new caps are very attractive and very
comfortable to hold and to use. They also
have a smoother surface finish on the large flat
surface than the original version. They
are available in black and a wide range of other
I have tried out some of the new lens rear caps
on a Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar lens in
Pentacon Six mount and they are a good fit, in
fact, a smoother fit than the first version, as
the cap is rotated onto the rear of the
lens. They also stay safely in
place. Some lenses from some other
manufacturers did not implement the Pentacon Six
lens mount specification precisely enough, so
there might be some variations in the fit
with lenses from such manufacturers, but
the problem would be caused by the lens, not by
the Forster lens rear cap. However, it
would if necessary be possible to file a lens
rear cap slightly, if that improved the fit.
I have also tried some of the new Pentacon Six
body caps on a Pentacon Six. Once the
new-style body cap is in place, with the camera
locking ring rotated, it can be wiggled or
rotated slightly, but because of the design, it
cannot fall off, and it is much better than the
original East German Pentacon Six body
cap. The original version of the Simon
Forster Photographic body cap is a better fit on
the Pentacon Six.
As he indicated when he wrote, Simon has
designed the body caps so that they will also
fit the Kiev 60 and the Kiev 6C, and we know
that the original FSU implementation of the
Pentacon Six mount was not totally accurate, so
the fit may be a little different on these
bodies. I no longer have any Kiev 60
cameras (!), but do not doubt that the new caps
will be held firmly in place when the locking
ring on the body is rotated in the normal way to
hold them in place.
I observe that the above photograph also shows lens
front caps for the 30mm
Arsenal “Zodiak” fish-eye lens and for the 50mm
Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon in Pentacon Six
mount! These are large diameter caps,
which are sometimes difficult to source and/or
extremely expensive, so the Simon Forster
Photographic option is particularly welcome.
I hope to add further photographs to this page
12 August 2023
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© TRA December 2012,
Latest revision: August 2023