Thursday, March 13, 2014
The Praktica was a very early SLR first introduced in 1949. The best I can tell the one here was probably made around 1951. I imagine that at the time it was introduced that being able to see the same view as the lens was still sort of a wonder. Although the view through the Praktica's waist-level finder for me leaves a lot to be desired. The only way I could hope to focus was by using the built-in magnifier. It wasn't a quick process to compose and focus an image with the Praktica. I imagine that with practice it would get better, however looking down at such a small image in the viewfinder would take some getting used to.
Another thing that might be unfamiliar to someone who has only used more modern SLRs is that the Praktica does not have auto mirror return. After taking a picture the viewfinder goes dark until the film is wound. That could be a problem in trying to follow continuous action. The shutter requires that you make a choice of using either the fast speeds or the slow speeds. Unlike on more modern cameras there isn't a continuous progression from slow to fast. I would also guess that like with most older cameras that you need to make sure that the shutter is cocked before changing shutter speeds.
I would like to be able to say that my experience with using the Praktica was a pleasure. And at least I might have been able to say that if the camera hadn't torn my film toward the end of the roll. It did this so smoothly that I didn't suspect that it had happened and only found out when I opened the back of the camera and saw my film exposed to the light. Unfortunately, I had violated one of my usual practices of only opening these old cameras in a dark bag. Anyway I do not have pictures to show from my time spent with the Praktica. And my level of enjoyment of the camera wasn't such as to make me want to quickly repeat the experience.
I am glad that I have this early Praktica. It is certainly interesting to look at. And the Praktica does have a place in history as the first camera to use the M42 mount. When it comes to lenses my Praktica came with a very good one, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f/1.9. So far I have only used this lens on digital which I wrote about a while back. I thought the results were excellent and I remember at the time I said I was looking forward to trying the lens out with film using the Praktica. I still am looking forward to using the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f/1.9 with film, however I think that when I do it will be with a different M42 camera than the Praktica.