The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The Pentacon Six that I have bought is faulty.
What should I do?

An as-new Pentacon Six

I occasionally receive an e-mail from someone who has bought a Pentacon Six and it turns out to be faulty.  I write a detailed reply every time, and have now decided that it would be helpful to publish a typical question and an answer that is typical of those that I generally write.


Hello Mr Pentacon Six,

I've got quite upset after coming back from the post office today.   The brand-new looking Pentacon Six that I purchased on ebay and looks like it has left the factory just last week shows a serious shutter speed inconsistency issue, especially when set to 125th and 250th of a second. As if this wasn't enough, the shutter curtain also shows inconsistency issues on basically all speeds below 60th of a second.  Sometimes it closes completely, sometimes it leaves a bit of a gap open.

Now I'm facing a dilemma: I'm luckily able to send it back and get a refund but this particular copy is sooooooo beautiful, in such a mint condition I have never seen before and probably never will again.

Do you think it's realistic to get it repaired for an affordable price? If yes, do you have any recommendation of a good service in Germany? I paid 199 euros for it, Biometar 80mm included.

Many, many thanks in advance for the amazing and inspiring work you keep doing throughout the years. You are basically an institution for all of us lovers of analogue photography!
Best regards from [...]

A: Hello [...]

Thank you for writing.  I am glad that you have got a Pentacon Six in such excellent condition.  The price also sounds very good for a working Pentacon Six!  However, I am not surprised at the problem that you have discovered.

It sounds as though the camera may never have been used, or only used very little, and many years ago.  The NEWEST Pentacon Sixes are now 28 years old.*  This is a precision mechanical instrument, and the moving parts need lubrication (oil or an equivalent synthetic product).  After 28 years – especially if the camera has been hardly used or not used at all! – the original oil will have hardened.  This causes the problem that you have observed.  The first speed that usually reveals the problem is 1/125 sec.  The camera that you have bought has been left years too long, and the lubrication problem is now affecting other speeds, perhaps all of them.

In addition, especially if the camera has been stored in a hot place, such as the loft of a house in the summer, the lubricant in the lens is likely to have "migrated" from the focussing helicoid to the aperture
blades.  This results in two problems:
1) turning the focussing ring is hard or difficult instead of smooth.
2) if the aperture blades have oil on them, they will stick to each other and not close down properly, or even not open at all.

The camera requires a routine service, in the English-speaking world sometimes called a
“CLA”, which means “Clean, Lubricate and Adjust”.
There are unlikely to be any other problems, and the shutter curtains are probably in good condition and so will not need replacing.  To some extent you can check this yourself, by visual inspection with the lens off and the back open.  With the shutter fired you will be able to examine the front and back of the second curtain, and also hold it up to a light source to make sure that there are no holes or other damage (unlikely).

Advance the shutter while looking in the front of the camera, as once the mirror has come fully down you will not be able to see the front of the first curtain fully.  Then examine it from the back.  I would expect both shutter curtains to be in very good condition.

The problems that you have encountered are not special
“Pentacon Six problems”.  They will apply to any mechanical camera of any brand and model after decades of non-use.

After a full service, the camera should work faultlessly for years, possibly for decades, if used regularly.  I think that the Pentacon Six that I use most of the time was serviced for the first and last time in about 2006, and it is still functioning perfectly.  (Latest film received back from processing a couple of weeks ago.)

Who should pay for the service?  That depends on the description.  If it was advertised as
“non-working” or “as is”, then clearly the buyer will have to pay.  If it was described as “in full working order”, then the vendor should pay – or give a full refund and take the camera back.  But by eBay rules, you will probably have to pay the return postage (as well as the postage that you paid to have the camera sent to you), so it
may be better to get it repaired, especially in the light of the apparently excellent cosmetic condition.  [Please be aware that I can assume no liability for my understanding of eBay rules, which may in any case change from time to time or be different in some countries, depending on local legislation or custom!]

If the vendor was a shop, I would suggest that you consult them about the possibility that they will get it repaired/serviced.  If the vendor was a private person, I suggest that you first get some estimates of the cost of a service/repair and then ask them to give you a partial refund to cover the cost.

I list some repairers here:  The first ones given are in Germany, but there probably are many other service workshops in Germany, especially in the area of the former DDR.  Kameraservice Ostkreuz in Berlin was recommended to me many years ago, but I have never used them personally.  If they no longer service the camera, they probably know someone who does.  You could also try calling Pentacon in Dresden.  (If so, please give my warmest greetings to Frau Angelika Schuster!)
You may wish to get an idea of the approximate date of manufacture of the camera body, from this page:

The following page tells you how to find out the exact date of manufacture of the lens (via a book):

I also recommend changing the standard focussing screen for one that is brighter.  My information on screens starts on this page:  A new, bright, Kiev screen cut to size for the Pentacon Six is probably easy to find on eBay, or from Arax or "grizzly33bear".  See this page:

I also recommend the original Pentacon Six metering prism.  Information on it is available on my instructions page: (with further information elsewhere on the website).  Via the page link on the instructions page you can also get to my YouTube videos on the metering prism, as well as on loading the camera and various other matters.

I hope that this will be helpful to you and that you will soon be the happy and proud owner of a fully-functioning Pentacon Six!

With best wishes

Mr Pentacon Six

* In 2018

You can read about fungus problems in lenses here:

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© TRA First published: October 2018