Pentacon Six System
Six that I have bought is faulty.
What should I do?
An as-new Pentacon
I occasionally receive an e-mail
from someone who has bought a Pentacon Six and it
turns out to be faulty. I write a detailed reply
every time, and have now decided that it would be
helpful to publish a typical question and an answer
that is typical of those that I generally write.
Hello Mr Pentacon Six,
I've got quite upset after coming back from the
post office today. The brand-new
looking Pentacon Six that I purchased on ebay
and looks like it has left the factory just last
week shows a serious shutter speed inconsistency
issue, especially when set to 125th and 250th of
a second. As if this wasn't enough, the shutter
curtain also shows inconsistency issues on
basically all speeds below 60th of a
second. Sometimes it closes completely,
sometimes it leaves a bit of a gap open.
Now I'm facing a dilemma: I'm luckily able to
send it back and get a refund but this
particular copy is sooooooo beautiful, in such a
mint condition I have never seen before and
probably never will again.
Do you think it's realistic to get it repaired
for an affordable price? If yes, do you have any
recommendation of a good service in Germany? I
paid 199 euros for it, Biometar 80mm included.
Many, many thanks in advance for the amazing and
inspiring work you keep doing throughout the
years. You are basically an institution for all
of us lovers of analogue photography!
Best regards from [...] ”
Thank you for
writing. I am glad that you have got a
Pentacon Six in such excellent condition. The
price also sounds very good for a working
Pentacon Six! However, I am
not surprised at the problem that you have
It sounds as though the camera may never have been
used, or only used very little, and many years
ago. The NEWEST Pentacon Sixes are now 28
years old.* This is a precision
mechanical instrument, and the moving parts need
lubrication (oil or an equivalent synthetic
product). After 28 years – especially if the
camera has been hardly used or not used at all! –
the original oil will have hardened. This
causes the problem that you have observed. The
first speed that usually reveals the problem is
1/125 sec. The camera that you have bought has
been left years too long, and the lubrication
problem is now affecting other speeds, perhaps all
In addition, especially if the camera has been
stored in a hot place, such as the loft of a house
in the summer, the lubricant in the lens is likely
to have "migrated" from the focussing helicoid to
blades. This results in two problems:
1) turning the focussing ring is hard or difficult
instead of smooth.
2) if the aperture blades have oil on them, they
will stick to each other and not close down
properly, or even not open at all.
The camera requires a routine service, in the
English-speaking world sometimes called a “CLA”, which means “Clean, Lubricate and Adjust”.
There are unlikely to be any other problems, and the
shutter curtains are probably in good condition and
so will not need replacing. To some extent you
can check this yourself, by visual inspection with
the lens off and the back open. With the
shutter fired you will be able to examine the front
and back of the second curtain, and also hold it up
to a light source to make sure that there are no
holes or other damage (unlikely).
Advance the shutter while
looking in the front of the camera, as once the
mirror has come fully down you will not be able to
see the front of the first curtain fully. Then
examine it from the back. I would expect both
shutter curtains to be in very good condition.
The problems that you have encountered are not
special “Pentacon Six problems”. They will apply to any
mechanical camera of any brand and model after
decades of non-use.
After a full service, the camera should work
faultlessly for years, possibly for decades, if used
regularly. I think that the Pentacon Six that
I use most of the time was serviced for the first
and last time in about 2006, and it is still
functioning perfectly. (Latest film received
back from processing a couple of weeks ago.)
Who should pay for the service? That depends
on the description. If it was advertised as “non-working” or “as is”, then clearly the buyer will have
to pay. If it was described as “in full working order”, then the vendor should pay – or
give a full refund and take the camera back.
But by eBay rules, you will probably have to pay the
return postage (as well as the postage that you paid
to have the camera sent to you), so it
may be better to get it repaired, especially in the
light of the apparently excellent cosmetic
condition. [Please be aware that I can
assume no liability for my understanding of eBay
rules, which may in any case change from time to
time or be different in some countries, depending
on local legislation or custom!]
If the vendor was a shop, I would suggest that you
consult them about the possibility that they will
get it repaired/serviced. If the vendor was a
private person, I suggest that you first get some
estimates of the cost of a service/repair and then
ask them to give you a partial refund to cover the
I list some repairers here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/repairers.htm.
The first ones given are in Germany, but there
probably are many other service workshops in
Germany, especially in the area of the former
DDR. Kameraservice Ostkreuz in Berlin was
recommended to me many years ago, but I have never
used them personally. If they no longer
service the camera, they probably know someone who
does. You could also try calling Pentacon in
Dresden. (If so, please give my warmest
greetings to Frau Angelika Schuster!)
You may wish to get an idea of the approximate date
of manufacture of the camera body, from this page: http://www.pentaconsix.com/37serial.htm.
The following page tells you how to find out the
exact date of manufacture of the lens (via a book):
I also recommend changing the standard focussing
screen for one that is brighter. My
information on screens starts on this page: http://www.pentaconsix.com/screens.htm.
A new, bright, Kiev screen cut to size for the
Pentacon Six is probably easy to find on eBay, or
from Arax or "grizzly33bear". See this page: http://www.pentaconsix.com/kvscreen.htm.
I also recommend the original Pentacon Six metering
prism. Information on it is available on my
instructions page: http://www.pentaconsix.com/instrs.htm
(with further information elsewhere on the
website). Via the page link on the
instructions page you can also get to my YouTube
videos on the metering prism, as well as on loading
the camera and various other matters.
I hope that this will be helpful to you and that you
will soon be the happy and proud owner of a
fully-functioning Pentacon Six!
With best wishes
* In 2018
You can read about fungus
problems in lenses here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/fungus.htm.
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© TRA First published: October 2018