Pentacon six TL??
Hi, does anyone have any experience with the "Pentacon six TL"?
I know of one that is available (rather a high asking price) but, on searching the net, I seem to get the vibes that -though the lenses age good- the body (especially the gear train) is rather fragile and (loading film) is fussy, and the winder is not robust or dependable.
What do you think? Is it worth taking a risk -or not?
This is a very solid camera, and a large system of lenses and accessories is build around it. I have been using the camera for a while now, and there are only two disadvantages that I can think of:
- a specific film loading routine that needs to be followed (described in detail here),
- significant camera shake due to heavy mirror -- because of that, I never go below 1/60 without a tripod with this camera.
The first thing above is actually not an issue at all; all you have to do is learn the right loading procedure. The procedure needs to be followed simply because Pentacon Six places frames very close to one another, and if you do not follow the procedure, frames will overlap. The good thing about this tight spacing between frames is that you can usually fit 13th frame on a 12-frame film.
The second thing above can be fixed by modifying the camera to add the mirror lockup feature (a German shop does it, google it).
Other than the above, you should enjoy this excellent camera. Even though built in former Soviet bloc, the camera is up to Western standards in build quality, precision and handling.
It has very good lenses too. In particular, apart from the "kit" Biometar 2.8/80, try to find and buy the Sonnar 2.8/180. Some consider it one of the best portrait lenses ever created. Here is an example:
Pentacon Six TL, Sonnar 2.8/180, Portra 400VC
I had a Pentacon Six, sold it and bought a Pentax 645N.
For me the P6 has the following disadvantages:
- viewfinder does cover only a rather small portion of the frame; with prism it is even worse
- the shutter and mirror produce quite hefty vibrations
- the tripod connection is a bad joke
- the screen is plain matte and dim
- robust feeling but fragile inside
Some of these can be solved by upgrade e.g. at www.baierfoto.de, others not.
The lenses are reported to be quite good; but the widest (Zeiss) is a 50 and this one is rather expensive, heavy and bulky. This is valid for the 180 as well.
I sold it and never looked back.
P6 was a good system when more modern MFs were much more expensive. Times have changed.
I bought a Pentacon Six NEW in 1971 for £112-95 --- then I got a P6 bellows for £15 and had some adaptors made by a family company off Tottenham Court Road London so I could use a Kodak Aero-Ektar 178mm f 2.5 ex-RAF lens I was given and a 12" Dallmeyer I was given and got very good results until the shutter went ! Luckily,there was a man who was employed by the Pentacon importers for GB who knew all the 'tricks' for the P6 and put a new shutter in and greased everything properly and I have had no troubles since. I agree the viewfinder is very dark and flash sych at 1/20th is far too slow but I enjoy getting out my P6 gear and using it every so often.
An 'Old Dog still learning New Tricks !
Thank you all for responding so promptly, and especially Adam for your lovely photo.
(I now think they are asking far too much, for what it is)
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I've not used anything similar to compare, but love my P6. It has 50, 80, and 120 mm lenses, plus prism and waist level finders, and replacement split-prism focusing screen which is a lot brighter than the original - a good kit.
The winding mechanism is a little fragile. Following instructions on film loading and winding solved a lot of overlapping frame problems, but not all. The only real fix is Baier Photo's film advance control modification - I've had no problems since the upgrade, but it cost more than I paid for the camera. While away for the modification, it was also tested for shutter speed accuracy. Fortunately mine was fine, but that would have been another expensive piece of maintenance to resolve if not.
If you don't have any compatible kit already, it's definitely worth investigating more modern and reliable alternatives, or be prepared to spend GBP200+ on modifications and maintenance if you buy a P6.
I don't recall about the 635 in particular, but many of the older Yashica TLRs have really good Yashinon lenses. In that case, it is many large steps above a box brownie (don't take me wrong here, I love my box brownie). The Yashicas are fine cameras and the older ones especially are very good deals. The newer ones, especially the 124G have gotten kind of pricy, it seems.
Originally Posted by Galah
The "rather high asking price" would bother me quite a bit. I have one - a P6 TL, and I love it. Sure it's a little finicky, but so am I.
Originally Posted by Galah
It is not, however, a treasure to behold. It is a tool to be used. If the price is good, go for it and you'll have good tool. If the price is high, walk away. As much as I love mine, I cannot recommend you over pay. It's a good 50 year old design.
If you want one, look for one that you don't describe as "rather high" on the front end. You can almost expect you may end up paying for a CLA, and in my mind that's part of the price.
Good advice Michael.
Originally Posted by michaelbsc
Well, I've gone and done it!
I have purchased a Yashica 635 TLR (as cheap as they come ) with a set of #2 close-up lenses, in order to check out if MF is for me or not.
So far, I have run a roll of Fuji 120 400 H through it (with the help of a Gossen Lunasix-3) and it's with the processors as we speak (back Friday: I can't wait to see it )
So far, the experience has been quite pleasant: easy to load, all the controls are handy and intuitive. The shutter button is easy to access and release (easy to hand-hold) and the shutter is very quiet and quick (no long train of mirror lift, first shutter, second shutter, mirror down etc): just a barely audible click, and that's it!
Now waiting to see if it all worked