The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

What viewfinder should I use with the Pentacon Six?


In March 2016 I received the following e-mail:

Q: I have read your site and still confused. At first I thought I needed to buy a camera with just a waist-level finder. But then considered a prism finder but read they are not good and that Kiev prism finders are better but need adapter. Then read about the Kiev waist-level finder but it needs an adapter, too.
 Cannot sort this out. Are original finders and prisms inferior? I don't want to buy a relatively inexpensive camera I can't use.....or worse have to send to Europe to be modded..

A: This is one of the many e-mails that I receive from people who are buying a Pentacon Six (+ TL) for the first time.  Here is the reply I sent:

Hello Keith

Thank you for your e-mail. The trouble is that there is almost TOO MUCH choice, and I try to cover all of it.

Choosing a viewfinder

I'll tell you my preferred set-up and would encourage you to copy it. It's easy and straight-forward, with no complications:

A Pentacon Six TL with an original (Zeiss-made) Pentacon Six metering prism, as seen on all my metering videos on YouTube (links via the instructions page on my website).

Choosing a focussing screen

I replace the original focussing screen, which is not very bright, with a much brighter screen. You have a choice of three, all of which are of about similar brightness to each other:
1) The screen that was fitted as standard with the Exakta 66 Mk 2 & Mk 3: the Rollei MKPG screen, which I think is the best. See here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/screens.htm
It is the most expensive of the three and needs to be purchased with the retaining wire kit. It is generally available from http://baierfoto.de/ and costs 90-99 Euros.

2) The original GDR Fresnel screen, featured on the same web page. It is generally quite cheap (perhaps 25 Euros), but is not seen frequently, so may be hard to find. There is a screen available on eBay right now
that may be it, but from the description I am not 100% certain if it is the fresnel screen. It also seems to be lacking the special retaining wire and clips that it requires. See that
wire and the clips here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/ViewAids.htm

3) A Kiev screen originally designed for the Kiev 60 but available cut down to the Pentacon Six size. I describe it here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/kvscreen.htm
It is available direct from http://araxfoto.com/, who are good people to deal with, and the price is low -- either direct from them or via their sales on eBay.

If you don't want to invest the extra expenditure in the Rollei screen from Baierfoto, the Kiev screen from Arax is probably the best way to go.

The image will be at least as bright and easy to focus us with any Hasselblad analogue SLR, brighter and easiser to focus than with many of them (and I have owned and used various Hasselblads and still own some).

I hope that this makes the choices clearer for you. Prisms are much better than waist-level finders and the Pentacon Six prism is the best of the lot, in spite of the slight cut-off round the edges of the viewfinder image, which is in fact a really useful safety factor.

Changing a focussing screen

My website explains how to change the focussing screens, here: http://www.pentaconsix.com/scrnchng.htm.
The main rule is not to touch either surface of the screen with your fingers, just hold it by the edges, change it in a clean environment (probably a kitchen table or office desk) and have some tweezers to hold the tiny screws and suitable small screwdrivers. It's a job that only needs doing once -- or an "old-fashioned" camera repairer should be able to do it for you in less than 10 minutes.

Enjoy photography with this great outfit!

Best regards

"Mr Pentacon Six"

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TRA First published: March 2016