The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The History of the Pentacon Six


There are many references to the Pentacon Six on the internet, but often more questions than answers – not to mention a substantial amount of inaccurate information.  Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account, so that you may have an authoritative source of information.

The gathering of data for this history began before I bought my first Pentacon Six in 1977.  Since then, I have visited both what were at the time East Germany (the “GDR”) and the Soviet Union, spoken with the manufacturers and with repairers, collectors and specialists in the camera in Germany and various other countries, and I have read everything that I could obtain concerning the Pentacon Six system in German or English (plus some information in some other languages).  I have personally handled most of the cameras described here and have photographed most of them (credits are given in the small number of cases where photographs were not taken by me).

I hope that this history will be of interest and will contribute to correcting some of the errors that circulate.  As always, I welcome comments that will help me to improve this section or any other part of the website.

01 A small amount of German history – as little as possible
02 The origins of the name Pentacon: the Contax I, II and III
03 The Contax S
04 The Contax D & E
05 A new name for the mirror Contax camera: The development of the name Pentacon
06 The inspiration for a “T-shaped” Medium Format SLR
     Noviflex II
07 Reflex Korelle
08 Reflex Korelle II
09 Reflex Korelle III
10 British copies of the Reflex Korelle I & II:
11 Agiflex II
12 Meister Korelle
13 British copy: Agiflex III
14 Detailed camera design principles and solutions – the Praktina
15 The new KW Medium Format SLR camera: choosing a name
16 Praktisix
17 Praktisix II
18 Praktisix IIA
19 Pentacon Six
20 Pentacon Six TL
21 Hanimex Praktica 66
22 Pentacon Six m
23 Pentacon Six TL-M
24 Pentacon Six TLs & Export cameras
25 Successors to the Pentacon Six
     Older “Exakta 66” cameras:
26 Exakta 66 (1980s on)
27 Exakta 66 Mk II
28 Exakta 66 Mk III
29 Kiev 6C
30 Kiev 60
31 Arax 60 and 645
32 Kiev 90
     Kiev 645
33 The end of production
34 What might have been
35 Reasons why development stopped
36 A half-hearted attempt at revival
37 Notes on camera serial numbers
38 Disclaimer
39 Bibliography

A note on dates and camera models

It is impossible to be totally certain of the dates of introduction or final production of certain cameras, since even apparently well-informed and reliable sources frequently contradict each other.  Furthermore, camera manufacturers frequently introduced a series of modifications to their cameras gradually over a period of time, before using a new name-plate on the camera.  Thus, some of the features described as having been introduced with a certain model may in fact have appeared on later cameras bearing the previous name or model number.

To navigate this section

Click on the title in the above box that interests you to be taken straight to that section, or start with this page and then click on the link at the end of each page to be taken to the beginning of the next one, without missing anything out.

To see how the country of origin was specified on photographic equipment and literature produced in East Germany between 1945 and 1990, see here.

To go on to the next section, click below.
A small amount of history – as little as possible

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© TRA June 2010, revised March 2016