The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

What does the film type dial on top of the shutter speed dial do?

Q: I just bought a Pentacon six TL and shot my first roll yesterday. I was using a 220 film and I noticed that after shot no. 12 the film advance lever is locked and I had to use the locking release lever to release the lock and continue to expose rest of the film.  Is this the way it is suppose to be or am I missing something?  Also there is a film type reminder  with marking for 12 and 24.  Is this supposed to cause the film advance lever stop at 12 or 24? or is it just a reminder?  I could not make sense of the signs on it anyway.  Which sign should be in front of number 24?

A: Hello 
Thank you for your e-mail.  Congratulations on buying a Pentacon six TL.  If it is in good working order, it will give you many years of reliable service.

What you have described is not a fault or problem with your camera.  The lever advance always locks after the 12th exposure.  You did the right thing to pull back the locking catch so that you could wind on to nos 13-24.  After the 24th exposure, it locks again, and again you have to pull back on the catch, in order to wind on and fire several times (usually about 4) in order to wind the film fully onto the take-up spool.

The film type reminder dial
  here showing that a 12-exposure roll 
of transparency film 
balanced for tungsten light has been loaded
The film type reminder is only that: a reminder.  It doesn't change anything in the camera.  I usually ignore it, and tuck the end of the film carton into the camera case at the front, so that I can just see it, in case I have a film in the camera for a long time and might forget what was there.

The signs on the film type reminder are meant to show black & white film, and then four types of colour film: positive (i.e. slide) film balanced for daylight (the sun) or artificial light (the bulb), and negative film also with balance for daylight and artificial light.  In fact, there are no longer any negative films that I am aware of balanced for different light sources, so the symbols are fairly meaningless.  The idea is that you line up the right symbol exactly opposite the 12 or 24, depending on whether you're using 120 or 220 film.  It has been cleverly thought out so that only one symbol is aligned against one of the numbers  but I don't really find it very useful.

I suggest you view it as some attractive (historical?) artwork adorning the camera, and keep a note in the case of the film that you are using.

The film speed reminder dial is just that, too:
it reminds you what speed film you have loaded,
but doesn't change anything in the camera or the meter
Enjoy your camera!

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© TRA December 2005