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A tempting auction appeared online last night

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by John Farrell, Dec 7, 2021.

  1. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    and this morning I pulled the trigger. I've bought a first model Praktiflex...not one of the very early examples - this one was made in the late 1940s. It's pretty rough, but supposedly working, and it has an M42 lens mount. This must be a later modification, because the standard mount was M40. Here is one of the seller's pictures.

    Praktiflex.jpg
     
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    1948 onwards they had the M42 mount, I believe.

    One I'm after. An important camera.
     
  3. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    KW were still using the M40 mount when the second version Praktiflex was produced - the one with the release button on the front. Some of the last ones of those had the M42 mount.
     
  4. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    The camera arrived, and it does have an M42 mount - which does not look like a modification. The lens is a 5cm f2.9 Victar. It doesn't focus to infinity in the viewfinder, and neither does a Steinheil Cassar S lens I tried the camera with - the mirror position may be out. The Victar doesn't focus to infinity when tried on a later Praktica. There are mysteries to investigate here. The same seller has listed a Praktina FX camera (he's disposing of his collection). I have resisted the temptation to buy.

    IMG_2945s.jpg
     
  5. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    Keep us up to date on the mysteries as you uncover them, please!
     
    John Farrell likes this.
  6. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Quite possibly the lems renamed as the "Meritar". Although a 3 element lens it gave very pleasant results on my FM.
     
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  7. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I do like Praktinas. The original 35mm system SLRs, I have a clockwork motordrive for my two, and two rapid leverwind mechanisms that I bought NOS - one I use, the other remains unused. My FX came with the famous 58mm f2 Biogon, the IIa with the rather wonderful 50mm f2 , a Pancolar by an older name. Just wish that my other Praktina lenses weren't such a mix of dreadful and fungus-infested junk. ;)
     
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  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Would seem a reasonable bet. I find it hard to believe that Ludwig would have formulated an entirely new 50mm f2.9 lens.I revisited my Meritar after many years - bought with a dodgy Praktica Nova that bit the dust many years ago, and distinctly unloved at the time - and found that stopped down, it was rather sharp, but that I actually rather liked the results wide open, certainly more than the Domiplan.
     
  9. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I seem to recall that there was discussion on the letters pages of a couple of magazines about whether the Domiplan and the Meritar were the same optically. I don't recall any agreement being reached ;)
     
  10. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I think at some point, we had the same discussion here. They're certainly not radically dissimilar in terms of results, and it's more than possible that sample variation accounts for any difference. But I love the glow from the Meritar, which suggests to me it has more uncorrected spherical aberration than the Domiplan, so I'm of the opinion they aren't the same.

    My favourite triplet is the 75mm f4.5 Triotar on the Rolleicord Mk I - very impressionistic wide open, remarkably sharp at f11. But not quite so easy to adapt. ;)
     
  11. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    It looks like the Victar lens has an extra ring on the back, like an adapter for M42 - and I think it may be a rangefinder camera lens, so it is never going to focus to infinity on an SLR. The camera itself has the correct flange to pressure plate distance for Praktiflex - 44mm. The M42 distance is 45.46mm.
    The shutter on the camera works at all speeds, and fires most of the time. The mirror on this camera is lifted by pressure on the release button, and it returns when pressure is taken off the release - gravity assisted by a light spring. The shutter is fired when the mirror reaches the top of its travel, like a modern SLR.
     
  12. Simon Leung

    Simon Leung Well-Known Member

    I too was poking around Ebay between the Praktiflex (1940-45) with the 50mm f2.9 Victar lens and it's bigger brother the Praktisix (6x6) with Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f4 Flektogon. Having stayed up until 6 AM this morning at Pacific Standard Time, I decided it was best to go to sleep and not think about it. Finally I got curious this evening, as I researched more about the Praktiflex and what I realized was that the Post-War models had a spring that connected the mirror as opposed to the earlier version, where the mirror is connected by a string, still I didn't buy.
     
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  13. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    The earlier model (with the top mounted release button, and the string driving the mirror) was made for a short time after the war - mine is of this later type. Another camera which uses a string to drive the shutter is the Zenit S. I had to replace the string on my Zenit.
     
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  14. Simon Leung

    Simon Leung Well-Known Member

    Thank you, John for correcting me and a BIG congratulations on your new Praktiflex purchase. :)
     
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  15. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    The Russian occupation authorities in Germany wanted cameras as war reparations, but they weren't happy with the quality and reliability of the KW Praktiflex. They drafted in a talented engineer, who had been working on the Contax S at Zeiss Ikon, to redesign the Praktiflex. He brought out the second model, with the release button on the front, which a short time later became the Praktica. This engineer, Siegfried Böhm, then went on to design the Praktina camera for KW.
     
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  16. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Hadn't heard that before, but it makes perfect sense - I wondered how there had been adoption of several Contax S features into KW cameras at that time.
     
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