Despite a number of potential problems, I bought a Pentacon Six medium format SLR earlier in 2021. I had wanted one for a while and the article by Ludwig Hegelstein here on Emulsive convinced me that, the problems were manageable. I bought one of these solid East German medium format cameras that look a lot like 35mm SLR devices. I took note of what Hagelstein had written and also looked at several other sources, including YouTube videos. Most problems seemed to come from film loading and old grease. These may lead to shutter problems which in turn produce shots that are double exposed.

The first roll did indeed give me a couple of shots like this. I persevered. Hagelstein had noted that lack of use may have been a cause of the grease problem. I noted that the second roll was better. I also wondered about the higher temperatures here in Thailand: warmer than Europe. I rotate the use of my cameras so it was a few weeks before I tried the Pentacon again. I ran a roll of ILFORD SFX 200 through it, one of my favourite films. Not only were there no problem double images, but I managed 13 images from the roll, something that can be achieved with care, or in my case, luck. There were a number of acceptable images from the roll and an interesting pair of images that are shown.

I often take shots at stations on the Bangkok metro system and staff are generally cooperative. I took these shots at the Siam Interchange station. The second and third of these images lined up well and I scanned them together to maintain the effect. The rural shots are a few hundred metres from my home. I had noticed the farmer turning the rich soil, which often brings wading birds. The next morning I walked over with the Pentacon, and my Nikon plus telephoto lens.

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Only two herons were digging for food. The fields are rich in nutrients and when flooded also have fish, including several species of eel. The pair were squabbling when I arrived but retired to a respectable distance: one to the left of the first image, one near the corner of the field. Behind the trees is the main railway line from Bangkok to the south. The farmer was on the other side of the field digging deep into the almost black soil. Within a few days this was flooded. In a month this will be rich green as the rice grows. I used a shelter to switch cameras and lenses. Nearby there was a food stall. There always is in Thailand.

The Pentacon is close to the weight of my Hasselblad, so nowadays I plan carefully with regard to the equipment I carry. This roll of always-reliable ILFORD SFX 200 showed me just what a good camera the Pentacon is with its 2.8/80 Carl Zeiss Jena lens.

~ Graham

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About the author

Avatar - Graham Rogers

Graham Rogers

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column...

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  1. Graham, thank you for your interesting article here, also bringing us some interesting aspects of rural life over there.
    I choose the Pentacon Six system to be my main 120 film system, I use several cameras and also earlier version.
    But I also have a number of Exakta 66, the somehow advanced Western version of this still original Pentacon Six. I also use Kiev 88 lenses with the small adapter on the P 6. Those are excellent too.
    One can have an extended outfit for a survivable price. For lenses from zeiss and Meyer, prices are ridiculously low. The Schneider lenses though require a premium instead.
    The Pentacon Six is a totally underrated camera, something which is now changing pretty fast.
    Also thanks to Ludwig Hegelstein´s so informative and excellent article.
    But in extension, I use all those lenses with adapters on my Leica S system where they perform outstandingly.
    Please gift us with more articles with and about your Pentacon Six.
    By the way; there is an excellent repair man especially for Pentacon Six here in Vienna.
    best regards from that beautiful city

  2. Nice write up! That Jena Biometar lens is one of my favorites – I don’t own a Pentacon Six but I do own that lens and use it with adapters on my Mamiya 645 ProTL and also on F-mount Nikons. Love the bokeh.