The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The History of the Pentacon Six

The Pentacon Six m

Date: 1968-1978

In 1968, a version of the Pentacon Six TL  that had been slightly modified by Zeiss (information from specialist collector CB) was used in a joint USSR-GDR manned space mission (“Fifty Years”, p. 35), with its standard lens and the 50mm Flektogon and 180mm Sonnar.  It was given the name “Pentacon-Six m”.  The report continues: “Since then, Pentacon and Praktica cameras have been included in the permanent equipment for Soviet space flights, and thousands of photos have been taken from orbit with them, by cosmonauts from the Soviet Union, France and other nations.”

In August 1978 a Pentacon Six TL was taken to the Soviet space station Soyuz 6, and used to take pictures for the biosphere experiment (Jehmlich, p. 188). 

In the picture on the right, the Pentacon Six TL is seen with the 50mm wide-angle Flektogon lens and the 180mm short telephoto Sonnar lens.

The short-lived but top-specification 35mm Pentacon Super camera can also be seen, with an f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Jena 55mm Pancolar lens.  The Pentacon Super was available from approximately 1968 until 1972 (Hummel, p. 225).  In January 1969 the Pentacon Super was the first Dresden camera in space, where it was used in the space ship Soyus 4 (Hummel, p.224).

The Praktica EE2 was an auto-exposure 35mm camera with an M42 lens mount, with electrical transfer of the lens aperture setting to the built-in meter.  It was produced between 1977 and 1979 (Hummel, p. 265).

At the front of this composite image can be seen a Praktica B200 35mm bayonet mount camera with two lens.  It was manufactured between 1979 and 1982 (Hummel, p. 278).

Unfortunately, as Jehmlich points out (p. 188), apart from a few well-displayed images in Trade Fairs and exhibitions, there was no systematic publication of such images, and no advertising campaigns built on these exceptional uses of the equipment – undoubtedly a missed advertising opportunity (in contrast to the massive publicity given to Hasselblad in space and on the moon, and to images taken with it).  In fact, most Pentacon Six users probably never heard of its use in space – not to mention a vast market that might have been persuaded to consider a Pentacon Six as an alternative to a (hugely expensive) Hasselblad.


Picture from Photography: 150 Years, p. 32
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23 The Pentacon Six TL – M

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© TRA August 2010