Pentacon Six System
Wouldn’t it be
better to use a digital camera?
Thoughts in March 2022
In March 2022 Hermann wrote to me from
I just studied your incredible Pentaconsix site
and thought I should make some comment.
I do have a Rolleiflex camera and a
Pentaconsix together with 50mm Flektogon, 80mm
Biometar and the 180 mm Sonnar and some useful
equipment including a studio tripod.
Since 2010 I work digital. I invested about
10,000 € My last camera is a Olympus OM1III with
the 12-40mm 2.8 pro and 75mm 1.8 lens plus a
professional printer PRO-200.
With this photographic equipment I never
experienced those problems wrote about in site.
Of course I can "only" print A3+ and not 2m
or larger but in stupendous quality.
And I do not have to carry almost 10 kg but
only 1.5 kg.
Nevertheless the medium format cameras are
fine to work with. I just prefer the digital
equipment almost exclusively.
Here is the reply that I
Thank you for writing. I congratulate
you on the excellent photographs that you have
attached. I see that you have made a large
investment in high quality equipment, including an
The world of digital cameras has made
massive advances over the past 20+ years, making
delays in firing the shutter insignificant with
the best cameras and improving image resolution
significantly, especially if one is able to spend
a large sum of money, generally several thousand
Euros for a new digital camera, especially if it
is in the digital "medium format", which is of
course a lot smaller than film medium format
I occasionally use digital cameras, but
almost always with lenses from the pre-digital
era, mostly from Carl Zeiss Jena and Arsenal
Kiev. This gives me much greater control of
the image, including depth of field, and provides
shift possibilities for architectural photography
and tilt possibilities for product photography,
either by using lenses that have these
possibilities or by using a shift or tilt adapter.
Putting a medium format shift lens onto a
tilt adapter, or a medium format tilt lens onto a
shift adapter also gives me the possibility of
combining both of these features when taking
certain sorts of photographs. With a shift
lens or a shift adapter, for certain types of
photography I can combine two or more images in
software, to give a wider angle of view and higher
You may wish to explore some of these
possibilities with your Flektogon, Biometar and
Sonnar lenses. I have found them to give
excellent results on the "full frame" Sony A7Rii
and on the "medium format" Fujifilm GFX 50S, using
the adapters supplied by Sergey of Hartblei, which
are exceptionally good. In contrast, my
Foto**** Pro adapter is very poor, as the lock
does not work adequately, so the lens slides down,
sags or droops (tilts) forward while being used,
no matter how much I tighten it up.
I wish you success and enjoyment in your
With best wishes
Mr Pentacon Six”
Let us now look in more detail at that
option of using Pentacon Six lenses on digital cameras. The development
of mirrorless digital cameras with interchangeable
lenses makes using Pentacon Six lenses and even lenses
from 35mm SLR cameras easy: there is almost always
enough space for an adapter between the back of the lens
and the camera.
We must remember that the formats of sensors in
digital cameras are usually different from the film
formats of the pre-digital era.
Common Digital Formats
Medium Format 6 × 6
|25.1. × 16.7 mm)
24 × 36mm
54 × 54mm
|25.1 × 16.7 mm2
24 × 36mm
43.8 × 32.9mm3
1 Not that common in analogue format;
introduced along with several other small formats towards
the end of the 20th century
According to Wikipedia here
3 Here I give the dimensions for the Fujifilm
GFX series of cameras. There are other cameras that
designate themselves as being “Medium Format” that have
sensors of other sizes.
These differences in sensor sizes
have advantages and disadvantages:
sensor size is smaller than the film format for
which the lens was designed:
- it will not show the full
image captured by the lens.
- This is a particular
disadvantage when shooting landscapes,
interiors or other scenes where a wide angle
lens gives the best coverage.
|If the sensor size is
smaller than the film format for which the lens
- the image captured will
normally be from the central area of the lens,
which is generally the sharpest zone.
- The extra area covered by the
lens will enable it to be used shifted
and/or tilted, via suitable adapters.
for using Pentacon Six Lenses on Digital Cameras
For “Full Frame” mirrorless cameras such as
the Sony E cameras, it is easy to find mounts both for
“analogue era” M42 lenses designed for 35mm cameras and
for Pentacon Six lenses.
Two “no name” lens adapters for
Sony E mount cameras:
on the left, for M42 lenses, on the right for
lenses with the Pentacon Six mount
camera I have covered over the manufacturer’s name
to prevent it from being reflected on the subject
in close-up and macro photographs.
A Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm Tessar lens
in M42 mount for Praktica cameras on a Sony “Full
This lens gives superb results and is regularly
used for “product shots” on this website.
A Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar lens
in Pentacon Six mount on a Sony “Full Frame”
On the 24 × 36mm format, this lens is ideal for
portraits, but also has many other uses. Its
quality is well known from its use taking pictures
on the Pentacon Six.
Using Pentacon Six lenses on a
“Medium Format” digital camera
Lenses designed for the Pentacon Six are
of course ideal for the newer “Medium Format” digital
cameras. In the world of digital photography, this
title is claimed by any manufacturer of a camera that has
a sensor larger than the “Full Frame” 24 × 36mm
format. As indicated above, the Fujifilm GFX cameras
have a sensor that is 43.8mm wide × 32.9mm high.
Fujifilm currently has five cameras in this range:
- the Fujifilm GFX 50R, the design of
which is inspired by rangefinder cameras
- the Fujifilm GFX 50S, the design of
which is inspired by SLR cameras, therefore with a
viewfinder of approximately pentaprism shape (although
it is electronic and does not contain a
pentaprism). These two cameras generate images
that are approximately 51 Megapixels in size.
- the Fujifilm GFX 50S II, which is a
newer version of the above camera
- the Fujifilm GFX 100S has a built-in
vertical grip and generates images that are
approximately 102 Megapixels in size
- the Fujifilm GFX 100S II, which is a
newer version of the above camera, without the
vertical grip and somewhat smaller, partly due to the
use of smaller batteries.
|The name Hartblei
will probably be well known to visitors to this
website. About the turn of the century, this
name appeared on cameras that were highly upgraded
versions of the Kiev 60 and Kiev 88 cameras. As
reported here, Wiese
Fototechnik in Hamburg, Germany, worked closely
with Hartblei for a number of years and sold
Hartblei products re-badged under the Wiese or
The camera shown here is a much-improved
You can see more about this camera here.
- Flocking (see here) has been
added to the back of the mirror plate and the
bottom of the camera throat, to eliminate the
infamous reflections that sometimes ruin
pictures taken with an unmodified Kiev 60.
- A mirror pre-release has been
added, and using this is simpler and faster
than the option offered for the Pentacon Six
and the Exakta 66 Mk III (see here). What
is more, a lever has been added, to bring the
mirror back down without firing and cocking
the shutter, if circumstances change.
- A new focussing screen has
been installed, incorporating split-image
- Finally, a cosmetic
improvement: the top and bottom plates of the
camera, which are normally chrome, have been
produced a series of lenses in Pentacon Six mount,
based on Kiev Arsenal lenses for the Kiev 60, but
with vastly-improved barrels, multi-coating and
silky-smooth lubrication. For reports on
some of these lenses, see the links on the data
page on Pentacon Six lenses, here.
Click on the
image to the right to see it larger.
45mm Super-Rotator Shift-Tilt lens
For a number of years, Hartblei, based in Kiev (now
known by the Ukraininan name of Kyiv), has also produced
superb lens adapters. We will mention a few of them
here. The first adapters of which I am aware were to
enable Pentacon Six and M42 lenses to be used on various
cameras. My experience is limited to their adapters
for Fujifilm GFX cameras, which are superb. They
also now produce fantastic adapters to enable Mamiya
RB67/RZ67 lenses to be used on the Fujifilm GFX series
“Basic” Hartblei adapters for the
|Hartblei make simple
but strong adapters to enable Pentacon Six lenses
to be used on Fujifilm GFX cameras. The
results should be superb, as Pentacon Six lenses
are designed to cover a larger format than the
Fujifilm GFX 43.8 × 32.9mm sensor.
What is perhaps surprising is that Hartblei also
also make an adapter for mounting M42 lenses onto
the Fujifilm GFX cameras. This may be
unexpected, as M42 lenses are not designed to
cover the size of the GFX sensor. However,
some of them do cover it. In fact quite a
few lenses for 35mm SLR cameras perform
excellently on the Fujifilm GFX cameras.
Quite a few, but not all, so it is advisable to do
some tests before using a given 35mm camera lens
on the GFX. One needs to check especially
for vignetting (darkening of the corners) and
resolution outside the original intended area of
24mm × 36mmm.
Generally, wide angle lenses are not good
at covering the larger sensor size, but lenses for
35mm cameras that I have tested with a focal
length from about 100mm on have performed
extremely well on the GFX.
On the left, an
adapter to use M42 lenses and on the right to
use Pentacon Six lenses on the Fujifilm “Medium
Format” GFX digital cameras
M42 lenses on the
Here we see a
135mm Zeiss f/3.5 Sonnar lens – the best of all
the M42 lenses that I tested! It could be
a great portrait lens on this camera, and it is
small and light-weight.
Here we see
the Schneider-Kreuznach 28mm Super-Angulon
shift lens. Even though it is a
wideangle lens, its greater image circle
means that it does cover the GFX sensor
on the above two images to see them larger.
Pentacon Six lenses
on the GFX
The Carl Zeiss
Jena 80mm Biometar lens in Pentacon Six mount on
the Fujifilm GFX 50S, via the Hartblei adapter
The 120mm Vega lens from Arsenal is very
good on the Fuji GFX camera.
on the above two images to see them larger.
Hartblei Pentacon Six Lens Shift
and Tilt adapters for Fujifilm GFX cameras
We called the above
two Hartblei GFX adapters “Basic” Hartblei adapters for
the Fujifilm GFX, our term, not theirs. But we
have used it because Hartblei also make Shift
and Tilt Adapters for using Pentacon Six mount lenses on
Fujifilm GFX cameras. As we would expect from
Hartblei, these adapters are sturdily made and can take
any lens, no matter how heavy. They also
provide a strong tripod mount base that will take a
standard tripod screw, and they also incorporate an
Arca-Swiss compatible “Quick Release” plate.
Shift adapter for Pentacon Six lenses on Fuji
GFX cameras provides 12mm of shift, and as the
mount can be rotated through 360°, the shift
can be in any direction.
Tilt Adapter for Pentacon Six lenses on Fuji
GFX cameras provides
up to 8° of tilt, and as the mount can be
rotated through 360°, the tilt can be in any
direction, to increase
depth of field, or, used in the opposite
direction, to reduce it if required.
on the above two images to see them larger.
Here we show two examples of Carl Zeiss Jena lenses in
Pentacon Six mount used on a Fuji GFX50S via the Hartblei
Shift and Tilt adapters.
here fully shifted up
The results with this combination are SUPERB.
By shooting with the adapter shifted in various
directions, and stitching the images together,
one is able to obtain coverage equal to a lens
of approximately 32mm,
and the resolution of the composite picture is
For more on shift lenses see here and links
180mm Sonnar, here fully tilted
Again, both the cover and the resolution are
which will come as no surprise to those who have
used this lens.
It also performs faultlessly on the shift
adapter, fully covering the sensor even at
For more on tilt
lenses see here
and links from here.
on the above two images to see them larger.
Examples of the use of the Hartblei shift adapter for
Pentacon Six lenses on Fujifilm GFX cameras can be found here.
As I stated in my reply to Hermann above, putting a medium format shift
lens onto a tilt adapter, or a medium format tilt lens
onto a shift adapter also gives me the possibility of
combining both of these features when taking certain
sorts of photographs.
It is of course also possible to put a shift lens onto
the shift adapter and use the combined shift of both
items (for instance, 12mm + 12mm = 24mm of shift),
subject to the covering power of the lens.
Likewise, a tilt lens can be put onto the tilt adapter,
to increase the range of total tilt (often 8º + 8°), to
increase (or intentionally reduce!) the effective sharp
area of the image, again subject to the covering power
of the lens.
Using Pentacon Six lenses on the
Fujifilm GFX 50S
For the results of my initial tests of
using Pentacon Six and M42 mount lenses on the Fujifilm
GFX 50S, see here.
For more information on the covering
potential of lenses (their “image circle”), see
67 lens Adapter to Pentacon Six Bellows, with an
Adapter for Fujifilm GFX cameras
adapter set consists of two rings:
Using these two
adapter rings on Pentacon Six bellows permits
infinity focus for Mamiya RZ67 lenses on the
Fujifilm GFX – but not on the Pentacon Six, as
the combination of the Pentacon Six bellows and
the two adapter rings is longer than the
available space in front of the Pentacon Six
camera (the flange register distance of the
RB/RZ 67 lens). Nearly all of the RZ67
lenses do not have their own focussing
mechanism, using instead bellows that are built
into the camera. With these adapter rings
from Hartblei on the Pentacon Six bellows, a
very wide focussing range is possible on the GFX
- a Mamiya RZ67 lens mount to
the front of the Pentacon Six bellows
- a Pentacon Six lens mount to
the Fujifilm GFX camera, on the back of the
Pentacon Six bellows.
|The minimum extension of the
Pentacon Six bellows is 19mm, as
To achieve infinity focus with the RZ67
lens, the bellows are extended by three
millimetres, making a total extension
for infinity focus of 22mm, plus the
length of the two Hartblei adapter
This image was
captured on my phone. The poor quality
is immediately obvious, even when reproduced
small on this website. Nevertheless,
those who are curious can see a larger copy by
clicking on the image.
Hartblei also produces an extremely
sophisticated shift adapter to mount Mamiya 67 lenses on
Fuji GFX cameras. This adapter permits shift up to
12mm in any direction, and of course it includes a
focussing mechanism that can be adjusted by hand but is
best driven by a Follow Focus geared mechanism such as the
FOTGA DP500 2S or III.
apparent difference between the position of the
camera viewfinder in this image and in the
preceding one is due to the fact that here I have
added the Fuji Viewfinder Tilt Adapter between the
top of the camera and the viewfinder. This
enables the viewfinder to be raised up to 90° in
relation to the camera (effectively, an electronic
angle finder), as well as to be swivelled to the
left and to the right to permit easier viewing
when standing behind the camera is either not
possible or is not desirable (perhaps to avoid
casting a shadow onto the subject, for instance,
in macro work).
For an introduction to this system, see here.
The combination of Mamiya RZ67 75mm
lens, Hartblei focussing and shift adapter, Fotga
Follow Focus system and Fujifilm GFX camera
This is clearly designed to be used mounted on a
Click on the above image to see
can I buy Hartblei gear?
|The genius behind
Hartblei is Sergey Naumenko, a highly-skilled
engineer, to judge from the equipment that he
designs and manufactures.
His eBay seller name is “hartbleilens”.
His website is https://hartbleilens.com/
Click on the “business card” on the left to see
it a little larger.
Counting the Cost
The Hartblei adapters are not going to be cheap,
but nor are the Fujifilm lenses for these cameras.
One can expect to pay in the region of £1,500 for the
cheapest of Fujifilm’s GFX lenses, and many
lenses are in the range £2,200 – £2,500 each.
For the owner of lenses in the Pentacon Six mount, buying
one or more Hartblei adapters could well be
the best way to go.
And Hartblei adapters are at the pinnacle of
quality, with the best design features and no
internal reflections (in contrast with adapters from some
other well-known sources!). Lenses held in Hartblei
adapters don’t “droop”; they stay where you put
them. Remember that many lenses with a Pentacon Six
or Mamiya 67 mount are quite large and heavy.
Adapters from some other manufacturers are just not well
enough designed, nor are they strong enough to hold the
lenses where they are put. Their lack of an adequate
internal finish also causes internal reflections that
reduce contrast and often degrade the image to the point
where it is unusable.
Using the Mamiya RZ67 75mm lens with the Hartblei
adapter, it is possible to use the lens shift sideways and
the Hartblei shift up and down, to shoot nine images in
three rows of three, which Christopher Leggett calls
“DAS”, which stands for “Dual Axis Shift”. The
images then need to be stitched together on a
computer. At the time of writing (16th March 2022)
his video on using a prototype version of the above
outfit, entitled “GFX 100 Using HARTBLEI RBZ-S Adapter
with Mamiya 75mm RZ 67 Lens with DAS” can be seen on
YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg7BSal1ILw
It is highly recommended. See also his video “Macro
Old and New”, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3pNHVDHrao
(Last viewed on the same date)
One must remember that going
down the route of high-resolution digital capture is a
long journey with many implications, some of them quite
costly. In my short experience with this outfit, I
have found that when nine images shot on a “mere”
Fujifilm GFX 50S are stitched together, the resultant
image is a little over 500MB in size. So two
images will occupy more than a Gigabyte of computer
storage space. What is more, processing such large
files requires a powerful computer. Christopher Leggett
reports that his 2019 Mac Pro Desktop computer has the
Added to this will be suitable on-board
storage, external backup storage and possibly cloud
storage (quite a few Terabytes!). Many photographers
will also consider that a high-specification laptop will
be needed to go with them when taking photographs, so that
images can be processed on-site and the camera may even be
used tethered to the laptop. Christopher says,
“Tethering is a must if shooting DAS.”
- Processor: 2.5 GHz 28-core Intel Xeon
- RAM Memory: 512GB 2933 MHz DDR4
- Graphics card: AMD Radeon Pro Vega II
with 32 GB memory
Christopher gives some information on his computer
system and monitors here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB4uOXZRaZs&t=70s
(viewed on 18.3.22).
So have I stopped using the Pentacon Six
camera? Not at all! When I go on a trip, I
prefer to “travel light” with a Pentacon Six and a few
lenses! Likewise at home, I sometimes prefer the
simplicity of using a Pentacon Six and some of the superb
lenses made for it, when I don’t need a 500 Megapixel file
and can settle for an image that has a file size of a
“mere” 300 or so Megabytes, without any need to stitch
component images together!