I think I want a Pentacon Six, is this a terrible idea?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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! :-)
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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.
you probably mean Rolf Dieter Baier. He's THE guy for P6.
Originally Posted by steven_e007
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.
Originally Posted by ath
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.
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.
If the 180 lens was to be my primary purpose the lack of MLU would be a deal killer for me.