Pentacon Six System
How to check a
Pentacon Six before purchase
made and up-loaded two videos that show you
how to check a Pentacon Six prior to
purchase. I suggest that you work
through this description, clicking on the
links at the appropriate points to see the
Is this camera
I recently received the following e-mail from a visitor to
My reply, in part, said:
Can you help a P6 novice with some advice
I was at a market stall yesterday morning and
found a pair of Pentacon Sixes with lenses.
The stall holder said a customer had fiddled
with them until the film advance lever was
stuck. It was indeed immobile but I did not
know about the little de-blocking lever under
the advance lever: is it possible this is the
likely solution, unknown by the seller?
|Thank you for your
e-mail. I am glad to hear that you found my
website and surprised that you have found TWO
Pentacon Sixes on a market stall. It could
indeed be the case that a customer had wound and
fired the shutter until it automatically blocked
after the twelfth exposure. It could also be
the case that the cameras have been damaged by a
previous owner (or even the customer referred to),
and that is why they are on the market stall.
Of course, now you have discovered that little
film advance de-blocking lever, you can go back to
the market stall, pull it back with a fingernail
and see if the shutter lever will now advance.
If that is alright, you can (and should) then pull
down the little latch at the bottom on the
left-hand side (holding the cameras in taking
position) and open the back. The film
counter, visible under a small window in the film
advance lever, should immediately spring back to
its start position.
You will then be able to view one of the shutter
curtains. If the shutter is advanced, press
the shutter release button while the back is open
and the two curtains should move very fast to the
left, so that you end up seeing the other shutter
curtain. If you press the shutter release
button and nothing happens, the shutter is not
advanced (or the camera is faulty!). You
will be looking at the right-hand shutter
curtain. Gently advance the shutter lever
with the back open and you will see the two
shutter curtains move to the right, ending up with
the left-hand curtain fully covering the opening.
Return the film advance (and shutter-cocking)
lever to its rest position with your thumb - never
let it fly back on its own.
Check that there is no damage to either shutter
There must be no gap between the shutter curtains
while they are being advanced. Fire the
shutter with the back open, and the first shutter
will move to the left, followed by the second
one. Advance the shutter again, change the
shutter speed dial and fire the shutter
again. At speeds from 1/60 sec down to "B",
you should be able to see and hear the difference
between the shutter speeds. At the higher
speeds this difference is harder to see and hear,
but you should check them anyway, and make sure
that the shutter curtains travel smoothly without
sticking or slowing down at any point in their
If the cameras and the lenses are in excellent
cosmetic condition and the price is VERY low, it
could be worth buying them even if they are
faulty, but you may wish to check the cost of a
service first. All mechanical equipment
requires servicing from time to time, and if these
cameras have been left unused for years, they
probably need to stripped down and have the
internal grease removed, as it has probably
hardened, and then be relubricated and
adjusted. After that, with regular use they
should work faultlessly for years, possibly for
have now made two videos that show
me going through some basic checks
with two Pentacon Sixes.
checks before buying a Pentacon Six - Part I
video is here.
This is a late-production Pentacon Six
from 1989 or 1990
The second camera that I looked when making these
videos at was older and may have been made from
parts. The camera back had the old 1Q logo,
which was used with some of the Praktisixes and
possibly some earlier Pentacon Sixes.
However, the lens locking ring was the new,
larger, black ring that was introduced in about
1972. The "zebra" lens could have come with
the camera when it was new. See more
information on the dates of Zeiss lenses here.
Perhaps at that time the factory was still using
up old backs, or the older leatherette that had
the 1Q logo.
Also, the waist-level finder looked much newer
than the camera, which was why I thought that it
was not the original waist-level finder.
checks before buying a Pentacon Six -
second video is here.
My thanks to Tom Page for being my cameraman for the
shooting of these two videos!
This Pentacon Six probably dates from
between 1972 and 1974.
(2 days later)
Tom has just given me feedback on the second video.
Approximately one minute 30 seconds into the second
video, after I have fired the shutter, we can see
the second (right-hand) shutter curtain, which has
just travelled across the film gate from right to
Tom points out that we can still see the capping bar
of the right-hand curtain. I have labelled it
"A" on the image to the right. This means that
the second (right-hand) curtain hasn't fully
completed its travel, as the capping bar should have
completely disappeared within the left-hand opening
(where the left-hand curtain is accommodated after
In fact, I believe that I can even see a tiny gap to
the left of the curtain. I have labelled it
"B" on this photo. It may be a shadow that I
am seeing, not a gap, but in any case, the shutter
curtain should go all the way to the left, and it
has clearly not done so. This shutter needs a
To help you compare this with a correctly-working
shutter, here is a frame from the first video:
The right-hand curtain after
firing the shutter in a correctly-working Pentacon
The arrow shows the point where the shutter
curtain capping bar can be seen on the faulty
On this camera, it has fully completed its travel
and so can't be seen.
This frame is 4 minutes 18 seconds in from the
beginning on the first video.
Capping bar of right-hand curtain
writer also had a second question:
|On the second video, when I
heard the shutter fire on the 1/125 sec setting, I
said that it didn't sound right, and indeed it
didn't. I know, because I have been shooting
with Pentacon Sixes for years, and 1/125 sec is one of
the speeds that I use most frequently.
So what can you do to help you recognise if the
shutter sounds wrong?
I suggest that you listen to the shutter
in the first video (the one with the correctly-working
camera!), several times, to get used to what it should
sound like at different speeds. Then, when you
hear a shutter that is faulty, you are more likely to
notice the difference.
My reply was:
| My second question is
about the prism. The ones I handled had a fold-out
waist-level viewer. I wasn't looking for, but did
not see any metering mechanism. Do these models
require a separate hand-held meter? And can I
remove the WLF and replace with a metering prism?
Many thanks in advance. By the way, your video
tutorials are great and I'm going through them now
in the hope I can buy the Pentacons I saw
yesterday and start shooting!
waist-level finder is the standard finder.
There is no metering within any of these
cameras. They can be used with a hand-held
meter, and some people like to use them that
way, but I have added a metering prism to most
of my Pentacon Sixes. These are regularly
available on eBay.
I hope that this information helps you.
You could benefit from viewing some of my
videos, which are on YouTube, with links from my
website. These will give you some tips on
how to handle the camera.
"Mr Pentacon Six"
the above videos I also show you how to open
the waist-level finder and how to remove it.
To go back to the Frequently-asked Questions front page, click here.
To return to the instructions front page, click here.
To contact me, click here.
© TRA October 2013