The heritage of the Praktica cameras is divided between the Zeiss Ikon Contax S, and the KW Praktica. After the war ZEISS IKON was divided between East and West Germany. While West German Zeiss Ikon continued the production of rangefinder Contax cameras, Zeiss Ikon Dresden introduced the first camera with a built-in pentaprism. It used the M42 lens mount, that was being developed by KW for the Praktica.

The 1949 Contax S. The first SLR with a built-in Pentaprism. Note the shutter release in the front of the camera body, a feature used in Prakticas until 1989.

-Contax/Pentacon Cameras (until 1959)

Contax S type Cameras

 Model  Comments  Year
Contax S The original Contax S. The ancestor of the modern day 35mm SLRs. 1949
Contax D Labeled Contax but with a "D"(Dresden) under the Zeiss Ikon symbol. Flash sync socket moved to the top of the camera. Shutter less noisy. 1954
Contax D Labeled Contax D with "VEB" under the Zeiss Ikon symbol. 1952
Contax E Contax D with built-in meter. 1955
Contax F Pentacon symbol instead of Zeiss Ikon. Automatic diaphragm (using same system as the Praktica FX2). 1958
 In 1958 due to trademark issues with Zeiss Ikon West Germany, Zeiss Ikon Dresden changed the name of the cameras to Pentacon, meaning Pentaprism Contax.

Pentacon Cameras

 Model  Comments  Year
Pentacon F The same has Contax F. Automatic diaphragm. 1959
Pentacon FM The same as Pentacon F, with split image rangefinder. Automatic diaphragm. 1959
Pentacon FB Same as Contax E. Automatic diaphragm. 1959

 In 1959 Zeiss Ikon Dresden was merged with four other Dresden camera factories, in the VEB Kamera und Kinowerk Dresden. One of those companies was KW that for years produced some excellent cameras: the Praktisix, the Praktinas and the Prakticas.

-KW/Praktica cameras (until 1959)

 KW (Kamera-Werkst├Ątten Guthe & Thorsch Dresden) was founded in 1919, in 1937 it was bought by the Charles A. Noble of Detroit USA. In 1939 KW introduced the Praktiflex, sharing with the Kine-Exakta the title of being the first 35mm single lens reflex camera.


 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
KW Praktiflex One of the first SLR cameras. First to use a prism (removable). 40mm screw mount lenses. 1939

 In 1949 the Praktiflex was improved, and called Praktica. It used, for the first time, and in conjunction with the Contax S, the M42x1 lens mount.

The original Praktica.

Praktica series

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
KW Praktica SLR camera, optional Pentaprism (rare). The first to use M42 lens mount. The first to use the name "Praktica". Together with the Contax S, it is the ancestor of all Prakticas to come. 1949
KW Praktica FX The same as the Praktica. Addition of flash sync in most models. Many versions were made. Later models had an improved design viewfinder, similar to one of the FX2. 1951
KW Praktica FX2 The first camera in the world to use automatic diaphragm, the diaphragm was set to the working aperture when the shutter was released. Improved viewfinder. 1956
KW Praktica FX3 Same as FX2(?) 1956

 As the original Praktica model began ageing, KW developed a top of the line camera the Praktina.
The Praktina was a competitor to the more advanced cameras from Exakta and Pentacon/Zeiss Ikon. It had many accessories like an auto winder and a film back, it was a "scientific" camera opposed to the "amateur" status of the Praktica. Unlike the Praktica it was sold with a Pentaprism. It used a bayonet lens mount, this mount prevented the Praktina from being as popular as the Prakticas, as few manufacturers produced lenses to the Praktina.

Praktina series

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
KW Praktina FX Top of the line camera. Removable Pentaprism. Breech lock lens mount. One model was made with a built-in meter. 1956
Pentacon/KW Praktina IIa Improved Praktina FX. 1959

 In 1959 KW updated their range of Praktica cameras. The Praktica design was becoming old, so KW incorporated a built-in pentaprism, and a winder lever. The Praktica IV was born. But that was not enough, Japanese competition was growing. So in 1959 KW was merged with Zeiss Ikon Dresden, the new company was called Pentacon.

Praktica IV

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
KW/Pentacon    Praktica IV  Classic Praktica body design with built-in pentaprism.     1959

Praktica/Pentacon cameras (after 1959)

After the unification of KW and Zeiss Ikon. The East German camera production was reorganized. The Praktina range was progressively phased out. The Praktica range was once again improved. The Pentacon Super would become the top of the line camera. Among the East German camera manufacturers only Exakta continued, for now, independent.

Praktica IV series

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
Pentacon Praktica IV M Split Image Rangefinder. Pentacon version of the Pentacon IV. 1961
Pentacon Praktica IV B Built-in meter. 1961
Pentacon Praktica IV BM Split Image Rangefinder. Built-in meter. 1961
Pentacon Praktica IV F Ground glass focusing, Split Image Rangefinder 1962
Pentacon Praktica IV FB Ground glass focusing, Split Image Rangefinder. Built-in meter. 1963

 In 1964 pentacon produced another first, the rapid return mirror. This feature was again, adapted to the same Praktica body design.

Praktica V series

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
Pentacon Praktica V Split Image Rangefinder. Built-in Pentaprism. First SLR in the world to have a rapid return mirror. 1964
Pentacon Praktica VF The same as Praktica V with ground glass focusing. 1964
Pentacon Praktica V BM Praktica VF with built-in meter. 1964

 In 1965 after many years of production, the Praktica design was changed.
A new model, the Praktica Nova (New) appeared, it had features reflecting the heritage of Pentacon. The camera had the traditional Zeiss Ikon Dresden angled shutter release. But it maintained the shutter mechanism of the KW Prakticas, to be replaced in the Praktica mat.
But innovation didn't stop there, at the same time Pentacon launched the Praktica mat, the first European camera with TTL metering.
 In 1966, another first, the Praktica Electronic, was the first camera with an electronic controlled shutter.. The design of shutter was very similar to the one used many years later in the Praktica B200. The Praktica electronic never entered production.  Overall, the new cameras were smaller, had a better finish and the winder lever was placed in the top of the camera.

Praktica Nova series

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
Pentacon Praktica Nova Completly new design. Only the shutter mechanism was mantained. 1965
Pentacon Praktica Nova B Praktica Nova with meter. 1965
Pentacon Praktica mat The first European camera with TTL metering. 1965
entacon Praktica Electronic The first camera in the world with an electronic shutter. Never entered production. 1966
Pentacon Praktica Nova I Praktica Nova, with new shutter mecahnism. 1967
Pentacon Praktica Nova IB Praktica Nova I with built-in meter. 1967
Pentacon Pentaflex SL Budget version of Praktica Nova I. Prism housed in a plastic(?) cover. It didn't have the Praktica name on it. 1967
Pentacon Praktica Super TL Simplified version of Praktica mat. 1968

Note1: The Praktica Nova line of cameras, was sold in the USA by HANIMEX.

Note2: There were also the Praktica Super TL2,TL3,TL500 and TL1000, they were produced until 1981,they were L series cameras supplied OEM.

 In 1966 Pentacon launched is top of the line camera, the Pentacon Super.
 It replaced the Praktina range of cameras, it had bulk film backs motor drive and other accessories of a profissional camera.
 It used a special kind of M42x1 lenses with two pins, to transfer aperture information to the camera. It was one of the first cameras to have aperture information in the viewfinder.
 It used the shutter that would later be used in the L series Prakticas.

Pentacon Super

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
Pentacon Pentacon Super Top of the line camera. Removable Pentaprism. 1966

 In 1969 the Ihagee Kamerawerk, was being integrated in the Pentacon Kombinat.
Their cameras were too expensive to manufacture, and it was suffering from Japanese competition.
So a camera was jointly developed by Ihagee and Pentacon. It used the efficient manufacturing techniques, which were being developed for the Praktica L series of cameras. The shutter was the one of the Pentacon Super; the lens mount was the traditional Exakta mount. Exakta enthusiasts have a little "disdain", for the Exakta RTL1000 so it must have a space in this page.

Exakta RTL1000

 Manufacturer  Model  Comments  Year
Ihagee/Pentacon Exakta RTL1000 One of the last 35mm Exaktas. Ancestor of the Praktica VLC. 1969

 In 1970 the VEB Pentacon, launched the Praktica L. The Praktica L was the first of a line of cameras that were made, until German reunification. The biggest innovation, from previous Praktica cameras, was the excellent vertical focal-plane shutter. The Praktica L shutter was first used in the Pentacon Super and in the Exakta RTL1000. The reason why there are still so many screw mount Prakticas in use is this excellent piece of engineering.

L Type Cameras

 Model  Meter  Electric Lenses  Comments  Year
Praktica L No No The basic model no meter 1970
Praktica LLC TTL Yes TTL metering. Full aperture metering with electric lenses. 1971
Praktica LTL TTL No TTL metering. Step down metering 1972
Praktica LB Non TTL No Uncoupled, non TTL meter 1972
Praktica VLC TTL Yes LLC with removable viewfinder. Viewfinder compatible with Exakta RTL1000 1974
Praktica L2 No No Improved Praktica L. Multi Coated lenses. 1975
Praktica LTL2 TTL No Improved Praktica LTL. Multi Coated lenses. 1975
Praktica PLC2 TTL Yes Improved Praktica LLC. Multi Coated lenses 1975
Praktica VLC2 TTL Yes Improved Praktica VLC. Multi Coated lenses. 1975
Praktica EE2 TTL Yes Aperture priority with electric lenses. Top of the line camera. 1977
Praktica MTL3 TTL No Third generation LTL 1978
Praktica PLC3 TTL Yes Third generation LLC 1978
Praktica VLC3 TTL Yes Third generation VLC 1978
Praktica EE3 TTL Yes Same as EE2.Aperture priority with electric lenses. 1978
Praktica MTL5 TTL No Fourth(?) generation LTL 1983
Praktica MTL5b TTL No Fifth(?) generation LTL 1985
Praktica MTL50 TTL No Led information in the viewfinder. Otherwise the same as the MTL5b. The last of the screw mount Prakticas 1985

Note1: There were several OEM L series Prakticas, sold mainly in the UK, such as the STL3 and the TL3.

Note2: All Praktica L cameras could use both the electric and non-electric lenses.

M42 mount lenses made in East Germany
 Design  Type  Focal length  f-stop  Electric  ├ś  Weight
Zeiss Flektogon 20 4 N 77mm ?
Zeiss Flektogon 20 2.8 Y 67mm 350g
Pentacon Meyer - 29 2.8 Y 55mm 240g
Pentacon/Meyer - 30 3.5 N 49mm 175g
Zeiss Flektogon 35 2.4 Y 49mm 250g
Pentacon/Meyer Oreston 50 1.8 Y 49mm 250g
Zeiss Pancolar 50 1.8 Y 49mm 225g
Zeiss Tessar 50 2.8 N 49mm 175g
Zeiss Pancolar 80 1.8 Y 58mm 310g
Pentacon/Meyer - 135 2.8 Y 55mm 470g
Zeiss Sonnar 135 3.5 Y 49mm 430g
Zeiss Olympia Sonnar 180 2.8 Y 86mm 1.365Kg
Pentacon/Meyer - 200 4 Y 58mm 670g
Zeiss Sonnar 200 2.8 Y 77mm 1.2Kg
Zeiss Sonnar 300 4 Y 86mm 2.08Kg
Zeiss - 1000 5.6 N - 12Kg

 Note: It's almost impossible to make an accurate list of the lenses made in East Germany for Contax S/Pentacon/Praktica cameras. The lenses were upgraded over the years, so you can find the same lens with different finishes. Besides that the lenses were made with different features, such as electric mounts and 2 pin mounts to transfer aperture information to the camera. There were multi coated and non multi coated versions of the same lens.

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