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Nick's Classic Corner - No 38 - Praktica VLC2 & 3

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've covered off KW/Pentacon's first attempt at a professional SLR, the Praktinas, but sadly, I can't cover their second, the magnificent Pentacon Super from 1968 - this was a camera that certainly rivalled the Nikon F in terms of specification and even system support, albeit with the M42 mount. It was used in the Soviet space programme, and I would dearly love one.
    However, sales were not great, and there was never another camera of quite so advanced a specification from Pentacon.

    However, the L series saw a nod towards some of this versatility with the VLC range. Like the LLC/PLC and EE ranges, this offered open aperture metering via extra electrical contacts on lenses and camera, featuring potentiometers in the lenses to pass aperture info to the meter. This relied on a PX21 battery in the base, had an open aperture/stop down metering switch around the rewind crank, and was triggered by partial pressure on the shutter button. Stop down metering requires that lenses are switched to manual aperture control. Almost everything was common with other models in the range, except that the VLC models had a choice of 3 interchangeable viefinders - a pentaprism, a waist level finder, and a magnifying finder. These are removed by pressing just one button on the left of the mirror housing, and the finder includes an interchangeable screen as part of the assembly. The metering is built into the body, rather than the finder, and the match needle is thus available no matter which finder is in use. The wound on indicator common to the L series is likewise in-camera.
    In use, the finders are rather good - the pentaprism is reasonable, the WLF absolutely outstanding thanks to the wonderful magnifier, and the magnifying hood great for critical work.
    None of the finders have an accessory shoe, so in best interchangeable finder tradition, there's an accessory hotshoe that slides under the rewind crank, and connects to the flash sync socket on the side by a very short (although still too long) cable.
    Screens are all surprisingly bright - well, the ones I've tried, anyway.

    Aside from that, it's pure L Praktica - built around the Swedish steel vertical travel focal plane shutter.

    It's no secret that I rather like L series Prakticas, and these are my favourites. I've a reasonable range of Electric lenses for it/them, from 20mm to 300mm, and a lot of accessories - they make it an extremely versatile kit, so long as you don't want to shoot fast action, as there's no winder available. Certainly they're not as well made as Nikons or Canons, but they're still going strong and are reliable tools, which ain't bad considering how cheap they were.

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