The Faulty Part with the Pentacon Six
The Pentacon Six sold for less than many 35mm cameras, and much less than other Medium Format cameras. Profit margins on sales of the Pentacon Six were therefore lower, and many retailers did not want to sell it. Often they tried to justify this decision by saying that it was unreliable. This argument helped them to persuade buyers looking for a Pentacon Six to buy a different brand of camera, one that was stocked by their shop!
Kissing and the Pentacon Six
To back up this claim of unreliability, there were stories of Pentacon Six cameras where the frame spacing was irregular, and where there were sometimes overlapping frames. These stories continue to the present day, and it is clear that some users have had and now still do have problems with over-lapping frames, or at least what some users call “kissing frames”: frames where the edges of the images on the film touch each other, not leaving enough space to cut the film into strips while still leaving an edge to be gripped by the film holder in the enlarger or scanner. In consequence, various modifications of the Pentacon Six have been proposed, to “cure” this “problem”.
There have been two principal routes to effect this cure:
1) Add a red window
to the camera back
2) Add a film advance
Why have you not had a problem?
The question must of course be asked, “Why have you, TRA, not had film spacing problems?”
Remember, I do not make these cameras. I do not
repair or service them. I very rarely sell one of them (though my
wife wishes that I would sell a few of the many that I have!).
So what is going on?
The faulty part with the Pentacon Six
I think that the answer was provided by an e-mail that
I received from a Pentacon Six user recently. He wrote this:
Last year the specialist repairer of Pentacon Sixes (and
many other fine brands of cameras), Tom Page, kindly let me browse some
of his repairs records from the past thirty years or more. I noticed
that when he received a Pentacon Six with “spacing” or “frame overlapping”
problems, he first checked everything and carried out a full test with
film in the camera. On his record card he often then wrote “N.F.F.”.
So what is going on?
The key to accurate frame spacing with the Pentacon Six
(+TL) and the Exakta 66 is the spindle that feels the film
and is turned by the film as it advances. This is the equivalent
of the sprocket wheels on 35mm cameras. Unfortunately (?),
120 and 220 format films do not have sprocket holes. Yet the Pentacon
Six and Exakta 66 can give perfectly spaced frames.
For this, the film must be loaded very tightly. Just
follow my loading instructions and it is highly probable that you
will have no problems. If you do have
a spacing problem, it would appear that you have a camera fault that with
these cameras is extremely rare. Once you have
had the failed or damaged part repaired, the camera should work
faultlessly for decades. At least, mine have.
Another problem that surprised me with Tom’s records was the times I saw the phrase “Camera has been tampered with.” When I asked him about this, he said that he believed that the tampering had often been done by “camera repairers” who were not familiar with the camera. In fact, a significant proportion of the cameras that he repaired had been sent on to him by other repairers! You see why I recommend that you send your camera to Tom Page if you are in the UK, or indeed in some other parts of the world, or to Pentacon Service in Dresden (who are the only people who offer their MLU upgrade). There are, of course, also some other repairers in various parts of the world who are familiar with the Pentacon Six and Exakta 66, and will do a good service job on them. Some of them are listed here.
But, as a starting point, if you believe that you have spacing problems, first follow my loading instructions, here. You may discover the faulty part, and it may not be in the camera!
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© TRA January 2011