I think I want a Pentacon Six, is this a terrible idea?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    OK so I hear that this camera is horrible but I just looove the look of the 180mm f2.8 lens because it is soft and dreamy. So I'm getting this camera mainly because I want a lens of this focal length. I looked at flickr samples and the 180mm f4.5 on the Bronica SQ doesn't look very pleasant and the 180mm f4.0 on the Hasselblad looks decent but very expensive. Any thoughts on those who have used both the p6 and bronica/hasselblad 180mm?
     
  2. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    I used a Pentacon Six briefly many years ago. It's a very "clunky" beast, originally manufactured (I believe) in the old East Germany.
    With a 180mm lens fitted, you'd almost certainly need to have it on a tripod to get acceptable results, such, I recall, was the "heaviness" of the "mirror slap".

    They had a reputation for not being the most reliable of 6x6 SLR's. My own choice in this area is the Mamiyaflex, excellent value for money, vibration free leaf shutters take away the need for a tripod except for lenses of 180mm and above, Not the most attractive looking of cameras, but what do you want?..Something that turns in excellent results, or something that looks cool?
     
  3. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Plenty of people use the Pentacon without any problems, unfortunately those with unfortunate experiences usually cry the loudest. A proberly serviced Pentacon can be a good camera. Threat it with respect and it will work (just like any other camera).
    The CZJ Sonnar is not a soft or dreamy lens imho. The quality of the Hasselblad and the Bronica is of course superior to the Pentacon but they also cost a lot more to own and to service. Some people claim that the Kiev 60 is more failure resistant than the Pentacon and the lenses of the P6 can be used on the Kiev.

    The Mamiyaflex from C33 on with the 180mm lens is another good choice. They are not the sharpest but sharp enough and good out of focus rendering.

    Good Luck

    Dominik
     
  4. ath

    ath Member

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    I had one. It worked as specified. Film spacing was OK.
    I sold it because the camera design and system had several drawbacks I didn't like:
    1. no mirror lock up. The shutter is very massive and this is really a drawback. There are two ways to implement a workaround for $$$.
    2. the tripod mount is a bad joke.
    3. the visible area on the ground glass is too small.
    4. No meter, metered prism is quirky and shows even less (?)
    5. limited Zeiss lens selection, widest 50mm
    6. lenses are often bulky or heavy or expensive or any combination of this

    I wrote down what I wanted, compared several systems and finally got a Pentax 645N which is the right choice _for me_.

    That said if you are only after the Sonnar, that lens can be attached via adapter to almost any MF camera with focal plane shutter.
     
  5. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    It is a great idea - the Pentacon Six is a good camera - often unreasonably maligned.

    One problem is that the Kiev 60 is a copy (not a very close one) which shares the same mount and can therefore share lenses and also (with suitable mods and adapters) other parts as well.

    The Kiev 60 is an awful camera, mainly due to poor quality control. There are now companies that buy them from the Arsenal factory and strip and rebuild. They are supposed to be much better, maybe even better than an old P6, but I've not tried one (My original Kiev 60 was a disaster!)

    So... some of the Kiev 60 problems (film spacing, shutter problems) are often associated with the P6, without good reason. The P6 is much better engineered than the Kiev. Smaller and lighter, too.

    My P6 has proved a much better camera and there are quite a few technicians out there (I recommend Rolf Dieter) who can repair and CLA them. Pentacon / Practica still do factory repairs, too, so it is still fully supported.

    I agree with some of the criticisms by 'ath' - but you can buy a Kiev 60 prism and adaptor plate to fit the P6. The Kiev 60 prism is the best bit of the Kiev, it shows the full focusing screen of the P6, is brighter and has a meter. I have one - recommended.

    Apart from that you have a cheap medium format camera that has access to a lot of very nice lenses. All of the Kiev 60 lenses will fit - as well as the Pentecon P6 lenses, The Carl Zeiss Sonnar 180, Biometar 120 and 80, Tessar 80 and the Flektagon 50 mm and some Meyer Gorlitz lenses, too. The Zeiss lenses are superb, the Ukrainian lenses are... sometimes good, sometimes 'interesting'.

    There are, obviously, much better medium format cameras around, if you want to pay five times the price - but I reckon this is one of the best if you want access to good quality medium format optics for little money.


    PS. If you have a Sonnar that is soft and dreamy... it is faulty! :smile:
     
  6. ath

    ath Member

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    One question you have to ask yourself is if you want 6x6 or something else. If not there are quite a few 645 systems available today for equal or less money.
    Write down what you want, check prices and availability, add personal preferences and decide.
     
  7. ath

    ath Member

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    you probably mean Rolf Dieter Baier. He's THE guy for P6.
     
  8. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    Agreed. I sent my P6 to him for the film advance control mod. He also tested the shutter but fortunately it didn't need any work.

    I'd never have been able to build a medium format SLR system as cheaply unless I'd gone for a Kiev 60. My collection has a Flektogon 50, Biometar 80 and Biometar 120, a P6 body and non-metered prism finder. Prices seem to have jumped significantly in the last 4-5 years, but that seems to apply in general to a lot of used photographic gear.

    Ian
     
  9. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    Thanks for the replies! I'll have to look into this more.

    I was planning on using this as a tripod-only camera. I'm very happy with my 'Flex off the tripod and wouldn't consider using any MF SLR off the tripod. I didn't realize that there was no mirror lockup though. I've heard of the unreliability problems but I've also read that it's pretty much mandatory to get it serviced--I was going to go that route. Purchasing a serviced one. I had my doubts because the more modern MF SLR's are usually much more reliable and easy to sell. I didn't plan on an extensive system either. Just an 80mm and 180mm for portaits. I figured that everyone makes a good standard lens.

    I like the look of the Pentacon 6 180mm, but sometimes I feel that people shooting with "inferior" cameras yield better results on flickr. It might be that.
     
  10. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    If the 180 lens was to be my primary purpose the lack of MLU would be a deal killer for me.
     
  11. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I have never found a lack of mirror lock-up to be a problem.

    The problem with the shutter is that the grease gets old and sticky - and it does in most cameras. It is also very temperature dependent, being very thick in cold weather.

    Rolf Dieter Baier will CLA the camera, re-grease it with synthetic grease (much more temperature stable) and can also fit a mirror lock up for an extra Euros 98.

    Pentacon can also fit a MLU.

    What part of the world are you in? If you are in Europe you have the Choice of Baier, Pracktika/Pentacon Service in Dresden or Tom Page in the UK, so buying a used camera on eBeeGeeBay and sending to them is an option to consider. That way you know just when and where it was CLA'ed and have some warranty...

    Do have a look at TRA's site, especially the section "The Faulty Part".

    http://www.pentaconsix.com/fault.htm
     
  12. ath

    ath Member

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    Despite all my efforts I was never able to get a really sharp picture with the P6 and the 80 and 120 Biometar. That was with reinforced mounting on a tripod, careful focusing, stopping down and so on.
    On the contrary with my EOS50 and the 50/1,8 I just had to point it somewhere, fire the shutter and I had a picture with more details despite the smaller format.
    Even with mirror lock up you will find that the shutter curtains move quite a bit of mass which results in a turn around the vertical axis which simply cannot be absorbed by the mini triopd mount.
     
  13. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    > Despite all my efforts I was never able to get a really sharp picture with the P6 and the 80 and 120 Biometar.

    It is much easier to get a sharp image withot a tripod. I use from time to time my bicycle saddle as tripod vehice which works fine, even with the 180 mm Sonnar an 1/4 second. I always get sharp images form my P6. I use it nearly 10 years without any problems. It is important to get a decent camera and not a probematic obe. Problematic cases are accumulated on ebay.

    Vibrations are not damped with the help of a tripos, that is the problem.
     
  14. ath

    ath Member

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    Exactly. And the P6 has lots of them.
    If you want to take pictures from a tripod this is simply the wrong camera.
     
  15. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Don't forget that with the 180 mm Sonnar and most of the other longer lenses (I have the Pentacon 300/4 as well) the tripod mounting is on the lens, not the camera.

    Even so - I have never noticed a problem with vibration on a tripod in all the years I have had the camera. Maybe your camera was faulty?

    Some 120 roll film arrived in the post yesterday and the adapter I needed for the P 300/4 has arrived - so I'm keen to go and shoot with mine later today. If I get chance I'll take some test shots at slow shutter speeds with the camera on my tripod and report back. At the moment, though, the weather is diabolical :sad:
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That last part says it all.

    It's not a problem confined to the P6 rather it's typical for most MF SLRs. At slower speeds it's important to use the mirror lock when using the camera on a tripod it makes a very significant difference to sharpnes. Surprisingly the loss of sharpness is worst at speeds around 1/4 to 1/60.

    When you work handheld your body dampens the miror and shutter vibrations but not on a tripod.

    Going back to the 180mm Sonnar it is of course the more modern version of the pre WWII Olympic Sonnar, it will fit many cameras as the mount unscrews. It was sold with a variety of mounts and there's adaptors to allow the P6 mount to fit Mamiya 645's.

    Ian
     
  17. jnoir

    jnoir Member

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    I love this system. I bought the two that I own from Gejza Dunay, a reputed seller and repairman.

    [​IMG]

    I have nothing longer than the 180mm because it won't be useful for me, and I am parting with the second system just to raise funds for a CLA on my Linhof at M√ľnchen. Personally, I favor the 50 and the 120 over the other lenses, but that's just a matter of taste and needs I guess ;-)
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My first medium format. Nice lenses, especially the 50mm Flektagon, flaky film advance.
     
  19. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    I own both a Pentacon Six and a Kiev 6C (predecessor to the Kiev 60). I have managed to get decently sharp images hand held with both. I have even hand held the Kiev with the 180 mm lens (shutter at 1/500). The Pentacon feels more solidly built than the Kiev, but the film counter on the Pentacon stops counting at #6. My Kiev has a frame overlap problem with films like Tri-X (it works OK with Foma) which I have overcome by setting it for 220 film.
     
  20. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    Would the 180mm be a mess with a Manfrotto 055 tripod?
     
  21. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I'm not familiar with the manfrotto 055 - but the 180mm Sonnar tripod mount has a 1/4" thread and is positioned so as to keep the whole thing quite well balanced.
     
  22. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I've used the P6 with 180mm on a Manfrotto 055, and there's nothing wrong with the sharpness (or signs of camera shake). I've also had good results hand-held & braced.

    The film spacing is really only an issue if you don't read the manual and follow the instructions on how to load the camera. If you are still concerned, you can get an indicator fitted. The guy that serviced mine (a guy in Holland, whose name I forget), claimed the mirror was well braked, and that MLU (which he can fit) isn't as necessary as on the Kiev. I've never found its lack of MLU a problem.

    The lenses are pretty good, especially for the price - CZJ 50mm, 80mm, 120mm, 180mm and 300mm, plus you can get an Arsat 30mm without requiring a mortgage. Then there are all the other lenses out of the FSU and Eastern Block. Of them all, the one I've probably used the most is the 50mm, but the 120mm is really nice (and often overlooked).

    But remember, in the end the camera is several decades old, and like any mechanical camera of that age, it will likely benefit from a CLA.
     
  23. Jojje

    Jojje Member

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