Pentacon Six System
The Pentacon tripod in its case
One accessory in the Pentacon catalogue
is often neglected by those interested in the Pentacon
Six: the Pentacon tripod. However, a tripod is
essential for some sorts of photography, and Pentacon’s
offering merits serious consideration.
The leg extenders were an optional extra,
but I would not advise anyone to buy one of these tripods
|This tripod is
usually supplied in a leather case with a strap
for carrying it by hand and an extension that
converts this into a shoulder strap. When
packed, it is quite small, and will even fit
inside some backpacks. That was how I
carried it for a number of days in Berlin in
However, unpacking the case
reveals a number of components:
The complete outfit. At
the back is the carrying case.
The bag on the left fits inside
it, and takes the three leg extenders, which
are in the middle.
On the right is the basic tripod
and to the right of it the extension section
for the carrying strap.
This gives an idea of the size
of the Pentacon tripod
when it is packed away in its
The basic tripod
Without the leg extenders, at
minimum extension you have a lovely table-top
that is 32.3 cm / 12¾" high.
There is a rising centre column
that increases this height to 45 cm / 17¾".
In this picture, the centre
column is here seen partially raised.
For the minimum height of this tripod, with
the legs splayed out, see here.
Heights of course depend
on how far out the legs are spread.
All height measurements on this
page were made with the angle of the legs as
in picture ptpd10.jpg (see picture below in
which the red floor tiles are visible).
For the other measurements, the
angle of the legs was not changed,
even though this may not
necessarily always correspond exactly to the
seen in the accompanying
|Extending the legs on this “mini
tripod” and raising the centre column to its
maximum height, you reach a height of 60.5 cm /
But if you examine the bottom of the legs
carefully, you see a knurled ring just above the rubber
feet. Does this take the rubber off and reveal
spikes? No. It extends the legs even
With only the
small legs, the tripod now reaches a height of
76.7 cm / 30¼".
(See image to the right)
However, it is with the leg
extenders that this “mini tripod” becomes a
full tripod. Unscrew the three legs,
screw the extenders in their place, and screw
the original legs on the end of the extenders
and you have a tripod that has a minimum
height of 64 cm / 25¼", with the legs fully
collapsed and the centre column down.
(See picture below)
With the leg extenders, but all
The basic tripod at maximum
|The leg extenders do themselves
extend (only once, as far as I can see!).
With the leg extenders extended, and the
original legs extended just once, the tripod
reaches a height of 1m 19.5 cm / 47", with the
centre column raised.
(See image to the left)
original legs are extended a second time and
the column is raised,
the tripod reaches a height of
1m 36cm / 53½".
The tripod will no longer fit on
my studio work surface,
with the sloping ceiling above.
(See image to the right)
But the flexibility and versatility of
this tripod does not end here. Two further
features extend its potential considerably:
- the centre column can be reversed,
so that the camera can be attached under it
- the legs can be spread out almost to
In this position you can copy documents
and photograph other two- and three-dimensional items,
even if you don’t have a copying stand.
The tripod head
Getting down to work. Here the
tripod has been set up to enable the Pentacon Six to
photograph a tiny plastic toy.
But it could be a bug, a flower, a frog
or anything that interests you.
This can be rotated horizontally, raised
and lowered. That’s all. There is no ball
head, no tilt and pan levers, no complicated
multi-locking; just one lockable bolt. However, in
practice, this provides virtually all the flexibility
that one could want with a 6×6 camera.
|How does one shoot
vertical shots with a 35mm camera, using
Raise the centre column, at least
a little, swing the head over so that the
mounting surface is vertical. Turn the
camera into vertical orientation and attach it
to the tripod head. It needs to be
attached tightly, or the front of the camera may
sag, especially with a long lens. You will
probably then need to turn the centre column (or
the whole tripod), so that you are back pointing
where you were before.
image to the right)
Switching between horizontal and
vertical is fiddly, but it works. All
such problems are of course avoided when using
a 6×6 camera like the Pentacon Six!
This really is 1950s technology at its
best: simple, solid and strong, with virtually nothing
that can go wrong. I have found this tripod more
than adequate for general photography with the Pentacon
Six. When everything is tightened up, it is solid
and stable. It should be fine with lenses up to
300mm, perhaps even up to 500mm, though I have not yet
tried that. If you plan to use the 1000mm mirror
lens, see a more suitable tripod for that lens here.
Just remember to check that the leg
extenders are included before buying one! (These
are called “Beinverlängerungen” in German.)
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© TRA November 2010
Latest revision: June 2023