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Nick's Classic Corner - No 29 - Praktica B200

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    So in the late 70s, the Praktica L series was really looking a bit old-fashioned - hardly anyone still used the M42 screw thread, and there were a very wide range of options in terms of improved features at relatively reasonable prices - mostly aperture prority/manual models
    In 1978 at Photokina, Praktica announced the B200. This was nothing like the L series - instead, it was very competitively specified, with aperture priority and manual exposure, an electronic shutter, LED shutter readout, autowinder capability and the use of some plastics - and a new bayonet mount, retaining the electric contacts for metering info. I remember it got a lot of coverage in AP at the time, not least because of a trip to see the camera being made, which provided quite a few pages.

    The body looks less angular and more modern, but the covering is unusal - large dimples. I quite like it, but it's a bit odd.
    Around the rewind knob is the film speed dial, which doubles as a (locakble) exposure compensation dial. Next to it is a memory hold button. To the right of the prism (housing a simple hotshoe, no dedicated flash) is the shutter speed dial - 1-1/1000 in manual, plus B and a mechanical flash sync speed of 1/90. And an Automatic setting for aperture priority exposure - with slow speeds to an amazing 40s. Other items on the topplate are the shutter buttone (with locking collar) and windon lever and frame counter.
    On the front, on the left side of the mirror box is a flash sync socket. On the other side are a DOF lever and lens release button, and on the front is the self timer lever.

    On the base are the winder contacts, rewind release button, tripod bush, and battery compartment for a PX28.

    The viewfinder has a reasonably bright screen, with triple-wedge diagonal split screen, microprism collar and ground glass circle for focusing. Aperture is displayed at the bottom via a Judas window. Shutter speeds are marked on the right of the screen, sadly in the image area, and are indicated by red LEDs outside the screen area. In auto, the set speed is shown; in manual, the set speed is indicated by a steady LED, the "correct" setting by a flashing one. If the speed is between two settings, both will light.

    A wide range of bayonet lenses were available, branded Prakticar - the most common were former Hugo Meyer lenses, branded "Pentacon Prakticar", and Carl Zeiss Jena lenses, branded "Car Zeiss Jena Prakticar". Most zooms were made by Sigma; however, there were some truly excellent genuine Carl Zeiss Jena zooms available, although most zooms (and non-Praktica mount primes) so branded were cheap Cosina lenses.
    Plenty of other accessories were available, including an excellent bellows unit, and an M42 converter to allow screw thread lenses to be mounted and used in stop-down mode. ISTR that there was also an electric version of the adaptor, but I've never seen one in the flesh, and can't even find reference to it.

    So in use, what's it like? Well, rather good - the shutter sound is not the best, there's a bit of mirror slap, and the windon isn't the smothest, but it's a very functional camera that uses decent lenses. It's not all that light, despite the use of plastics for top and bottom plate, but it's also pretty solid.

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