The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The Author

My aim for years has been to obtain the highest possible image quality, within the limits of reasonable expenditure of money and time.  Both of the latter have precluded my using my 5 × 4 system more than on a few occasions.

My first camera (apart from one that I used on a couple of occasions as a child) was bought when I was a virtually penniless undergraduate in 1967.  I went to a camera shop and said that I wanted a 35mm camera, as I had heard that they were good.  The shop sold me a Penti half frame camera, which used 35mm film in Rapid cassettes.  Each image was 18 × 24mm.

With it I shot slides on Agfa film, and black and white film, teaching myself with the help of “Amateur Photographer” magazine to develop film and make prints, using the university darkroom.

My “graduation” to a “serious” camera occurred in 1970.  With a beautiful girlfriend (to whom I am still married!), I wanted to take better photographs, and bought a 35mm SLR – a Minolta SRT 101.  A year later I added a 135mm Rokkor telephoto lens, and in 1972 the 35mm f/1.8 fast wide angle.  I was hooked on producing beautiful colour slides of places as well as people, and black and white prints, which I printed up to 16" × 20".  In 1973 I started printing in colour.


Snapped by a friend while “in action” with the Exakta 66 in Spain.
The photographic backpack carries further lenses, film, etc – naturally!
It was inevitable that I would soon find that I was hitting the limits of the film resolution and grain with a negative or slide just 24mm × 36mm, and so the search began for something larger.  My research (detailed elsewhere on this website) led me to choose the Pentacon Six, a decision that I have not yet regretted.  (Coincidentally, this camera comes from the same manufacturers as that 35mm half-frame Penti!)

In the late 1970s and early 80s I was repeatedly able to visit Jena, Dresden and some other cities in the GDR (the self-styled German Democratic (!) Republic – simply known as East Germany to many in the English-speaking world).  I bought accessories in the official government-owned camera shops, and on one occasion was able to arrange an extensive interview with a knowledgeable member of staff at Carl Zeiss Jena – both of us under close surveillance throughout by a party member who knew nothing about Carl Zeiss lenses, but served us coffee, smiled exaggeratedly and listened to every word that each of us said.  (I was just genuinely interested in Carl Zeiss lenses, and didn’t have any subversive agenda at all!)

In 1984 I sold my Minolta outfit, and with the proceeds got a much more comprehensive second-hand Praktica VLC outfit, which I still use as my principal 35mm camera.  (Many of the equipment shots on this website were taken with that camera.)  As well as taking a wide range of Carl Zeiss Jena and Pentacon 35mm format lenses, it also accepts, via an adapter, lenses made for the Pentacon Six by the same manufacturers.

I bought my first Exakta 66 in Germany in 1989, and my first Kiev 60 in Moscow in 1990.

My equipment has had moderate-to-heavy amateur use, and has proved remarkably reliable.  I have also been the “official” photographer at a number of weddings, using the Pentacon Six and Exakta 66 to produce results that were to the complete satisfaction of the clients.

I now often scan negatives/slides into my computer, and have many A3 prints, some of them from small sections of the 6 × 6 frame.  In our dining room we currently have two 60cm × 60cm colour prints, one taken on the Pentacon Six, the other on the Exakta 66.

Apart from spending my time on photography and my family, I am actively involved in a local church.

New February 2007:An interview with Mr Pentacon Six here.


© TRA November 2005, February 2007