The Baierfoto viewfinder adapter
What a pity that the Kiev and Pentacon prisms and other finders are not interchangeable between the different cameras!
But now they are, thanks to Rolf-Dieter Baier in Germany, who has made
an adapter frame that enables the Kiev 60 TTL prism to be mounted on the
Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66! This has many advantages:
With the Baierfoto adapter, you can fit more than just the TTL prism onto the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66; the Kiev 60 “waist level” finder – the best of the lot – fits either camera beautifully.
[C309-35: The Kiev 60 WLF fitted to the Pentacon Six via the Baierfoto adapter.
Here the front section has been folded down to provide the “sports finder” option
– see the detailed description of this, here.]
The only slight disadvantage is that when the Pentacon Six has a Kiev 60 prism, it isn’t possible to close the top of the ever-ready case. The Baierfoto adapter is available from Rolf-Dieter Baier in Germany. At the time of writing, he also has limited supplies of the Kiev 60 TTL prism, which he will calibrate at no cost to the focussing screen in your camera.
I do not advise using the Baierfoto adapter on the Praktisix
or the Praktisix II, as these do not have the viewfinder locking pin that
was introduced with the Praktisix IIA. In consequence, the adapter,
with its precious prism on top, could slide off the camera – unless you
can find an alternative way of keeping it securely in place. (The
Pentacon Six metering prism will lock securely onto these older
cameras, as it has its own internal locking clips.)
|New information on using Kiev 60 viewfinders with the Pentacon Six.
Peter from England writes, “I asked [Herr Baier] if the adapter will
allow full use of the [Kiev] WLFs.
Well, I can use both old and new style Kiev WLF with the adapter but he is right in saying that the magnifying lens does not work very well. In bright conditions, the Kiev WLFs have a huge advantage over the Pentacon item in keeping out the light. So they make composing easier but not focusing.”
This raises the fact that there are now two different waist level finders for the Kiev 60 - the original one and the “NT” version, which appeared on the market subsequent to the original composition of this page in February 2002. It looks as though for use with the Pentacon Six it is necessary to replace the magnifying lens within either of the Kiev waist level finders.
Thank you, Peter, for your input!
One of the advantages of the Exakta 66 waist level finder (described below) is that the magnifying lens is easily changeable to match the user’s eyesight. More details are available here.
It might be possible to fit one of these Exakta 66 WLF magnifier lenses into a Kiev 60 waist level finder, but some adaption would be necessary and it would be difficult. It might even prove impossible without manufacturing a new holder for the magnifier.
Pentacon Six Special Pressure
|In the 1950s, when the Prakisix was launched onto the market, it was
still fairly common to shoot with cameras that used photographic glass
plates instead of film. This had both advantages and disadvantages,
compared with film as a recording medium:
Being able to use photographic glass plates was viewed as a major positive feature, and indeed it may perhaps have been used regularly in scientific laboratories and possibly even in photographic studios, especially those that specialised in product photography. In either instance, a darkroom would have been to hand both for loading the camera and for processing the individual glass plates before proceeding to further exposures - a more sure and reliable result than making a Polaroid exposure (even if it had been available!), since a Polaroid exposure would be using different photographic material with a different speed rating and different image characteristics.
It was intended that plates sized 6 × 9 cm should be used.
As will be clear, photographic glass plates are thicker than photographic film, and so it was necessary to change the pressure plate in the Praktisix or Pentacon Six, for the purpose of which a “Spezialandruckplatte” or Special Pressure Plate was available - illustrated to the right with the paper in which it was supplied, from which the original order number can be seen.
Exakta 66 shutter release extension
in front of the waist level finder,
to give an indication of scale
|The designers of the Exakta 66 system decided that the strap cradle might make access to the shutter difficult, so they designed an optional shutter release extension – a little black tube that screwed into the shutter release and could be easily pressed with the forefinger. Another careful detail that was thought of was that this shutter release extension had its own cable release socket. I have one of these extensions, but in fact do not find that the position of the carrying strap cradle causes a problem.|
||A strap is available to fit in the lugs on the front of the Pentacon
Six body. However, I was told by someone that the metal can cut into
the lugs, eventually causing them to fail. I welcome a refutation
of this from anyone who has used one of these straps on the body lugs for
In practice, I prefer to carry the camera permanently in the bottom
of the case, which has its own strap and has the advantage of protecting
the camera body and eliminating any chance of catching the back-opening
lever on anything and accidentally opening the back.
||The strap lugs are missing from the throat of the Exakta 66, as they
would foul the casing of the metering prism. However, Exakta GmbH
came up with a brilliant solution: a tough carbon fibre cradle to which
a broad woven strap is attached.
The cradle fits to the curved front of the camera, and is held in place by a strong metal nut that screws into the tripod mounting socket and has its own socket underneath. Lugs in the cradle fit tightly into a slot on each side of the camera throat. One of these slots is visible in this image.
In practice, this has proved totally reliable, in my experience over the past 18 (!) years with my Exakta 66.
There is a lot more information on Pentacon Six straps
And, for use with the strap of your choice, there is a detailed report
of a test of strap connectors here.
|Another clever feature of the Exakta 66 strap – pictured on the left
here – is that the two Variogon zoom lenses have been designed with a diameter
identical to that of the camera throat at that point on the lens where
mounting the strap onto the lens instead of the camera results in the combination
of the camera and the lens being perfectly balaced, as in this photograph
– a stroke of genius by the designer!
Under the strap in this photograph you can see the retaining nut, which acts as a third “foot” (with the two retractable spool holders), enabling the camera to be placed flat on any horizontal surface.
The retaining nut screws through the cradle into the ¼ inch tripod socket on the base of the camera. On its base it has the larger 3/8 inch socket, into which you can screw an adapter bush if required. See more details on tripod bush adapters lower down on this page.
There is only one loss to the camera design with this cradle: the flash socket locking wheel of the Pentacon Six has had to be sacrificed, as it would not be accessible – although a hole in the cradle facilitates easy insertion of the flash cable. (In reality, I have never known a flash cable to come out of a flash socket, which is probably why no other cameras that I am aware of ever had a flash socket locking wheel.)
||The Pentacon Six was usually supplied with a large leather case, designed
to accommodate the camera complete with its metering prism, and I keep
my case permanently on my camera whenever I am using it. As well
as providing a strap and protecting the camera, it gives me a place where
I can slip a piece of paper (between the camera back and the case) with
notes on what I have photographed and exposure information (lens used,
shutter speed and aperture).
In this image you can see the Ernemann Tower Pentacon Symbol on the front of the case.
||The only defect of this case is that after a number of years the stitching
disintegrates. Re-stitching the case (using the original holes!)
is the only solution – a laborious and finger-hurting exercise!
Here is the worst case (!) I have seen – one of mine! (subsequently re-stitched by me and now stronger than when new!)
No case was ever marketed for the Exakta 66, although their first glossy
brochure shows a suitcase-style metal case with the name “Exakta 66” printed
on it. A Billingham soft leather case bearing a cotton or nylon tab
with the name “Exakta 66” was sold on eBay, but Billingham never seem to
have had a case with this label in their official product range.
The designers of the Exakta 66 reasoned that with its heavy rubber coating
(inspired, apparently, by military binoculars), no case was necessary.
|A few people (apart from me!) must have occasionally caught the little
catch that opens the back, when removing their Exakta 66 from a soft bag,
as Mk II of the camera added a spring to the back opening catch, making
accidental opening somewhat more unlikely.
In the images on the right, “A” shows the camera back release catch. With the back open on the Pentacon Six, the catch is in the “down” position, whereas a spring within the locking mechanism of the Exakta 66 Mk II and Mk III back maintains the catch in the “up” – locked! – position. It is unfortunately not possible just to add a spring to the existing catch; a whole new back is needed, which is why my Pentacon Sixes do not have the spring.
However, as I always carry my Pentacon Sixes in at least the base portion of the case, this prevents the back opening catch from getting caught on anything.
In passing, “B” on the same images above shows where the serial number is located on the body of the Pentacon Six and the Exakta 66.
Note that with the Praktisix, Praktisix II and Praktisix IIA the serial number is not located here. Open the back and look underneath the camera. You will see the serial number on the bottom of the base plate in a position that is covered when the back is closed. With the II and IIA the number is usually filled with white paint, which makes it easier to see.
Tripod bush adapters
The English and American standard for tripod screws has for over 60
years been ¼ inch. The German and Former Soviet Union standard
has on the whole been 3/8" (although the tripod socket on the base of the
Pentacon Six and Exakta 66 is ¼ inch). The Kiev 6C and the
Kiev 60 have a 3/8" tripod socket on their base. More important,
regardless of the camera that you have, many longer lenses, including some
from Pentacon and Schneider-Kreuznach have 3//8" sockets. Your tripod
is likely to have a ¼ inch screw only. So an adapter is required.
These are usually called “tripod bush adapters”. Any “old-fashioned”
camera shop – if you can find one! – is likely to have them.
|Notice the difference between these two tripod bush adapters.
The left-hand one was bought in England and has a “shoulder” at the top. The right-hand one was bought from Ukraine, and lacks the shoulder. Does it matter? In my experience, it does. The tripod socket in your camera or lens is usually far deeper than the adapter bush. Screw in one without a shoulder and it goes in and in, appearing to disappear inside somewhere. The attachment screw on your tripod may not even reach it! So the adapter bushes with a shoulder are in my opinion better. They go in and then lock when the shoulder is flush with the base of the unit. Your tripod screw goes in nicely, and can extend slightly beyond the end of the bush if necessary without causing any damage to your equipment (many tripod screws have a method of adjusting the depth of the screw, so check this before turning it too hard!).
The tripod bush adapter should be screwed into your camera or lens with a very small coin. Don’t use a hefty screwdriver, or you’re likely to shear off at least one of the shoulders!
Camera lens adapters
||With a covering area over three times that of 35mm cameras, Pentacon
Six lenses should perform well on 35mm cameras, where only the centre of
the image (the sharpest part) will be used. Experience shows that
the adapter needs to be well designed, with adequate baffles, to prevent
the unused image area projected by the lens bouncing around within the
adpapter and/or camera mirror chamber and degrading the image recorded
For years Carl Zeiss Jena produced adapters to mount the lenses on the Praktica range of 35mm cameras with the M42 screw mount. The last version of this adaptor included a pin to engage with a connecting fork on the 180mm and 300mm Sonnar lenses and transfer the aperture value via the “EDC” electrical contacts on the LLC, PLC and VLC cameras. With this adapter, the lens diaphragm was also stopped down automatically when firing the shutter on the Praktica 35mm camera.
Arsenal in Kiev also made adapters to use its Pentacon Six mount lenses on cameras with the Pentax K mount or the Nikon mount, both of which mounts were used in 35mm cameras produced by them.
More recently, adapters have become available from various sources for
a wide range of cameras. Given the large image circle produced by
all Pentacon Six lenses when used on 35mm cameras, it is possible with
a suitable mount to shift the lens or possibly
even tilt it when mounted on a 35mm camera. Ukrainian sources offer
Pentacon Six lens shift adapters to a wide range of 35mm camera mounts,
and Zörkendorfer in Germany make such adapters for a wide range of
cameras (though not at Ukrainian prices!)
|eBay seller grizzly33bear, who is based in Ukraine and has an
excellent reputation, offers Pentacon Six to 35mm shift adapters in the
Minolta Dynax / Maxxum / AF / Sony Alpha
Pentax M / Zenit / Praktica (m42)
Contax / Yashica
Rolleiflex / Leica R
Zörkendorfer are based in Munich, Germany. Their English-language website is here.
As the image area covered by lenses for the Pentacon Six is also substantially larger than the 6cm × 4.5cm format, these lenses can readily be adapted for use with some of these cameras, and (non-shift!) adapters exist for the Mamiya 645 (see image above), the Pentax 645, and possibly other cameras with this format. These adapters do not permit the automatic aperture pin on the lens to be operated by the camera, so the lens has to be stopped down manually before firing the shutter.
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© TRA February 2002, January 2012