East German medium format 6x6 cm SLR system produced by VEB Kamerawerke Niedersedlitz, from 1959, part of the VEB Kamera- und Kinowerke Dresden, which in turn, became part of Kombinat VEB Pentacon in 1968.
The Praktisix series were basic cameras with a horizontal-travel focal plane shutter with speeds ranging from 1 to 1/1000th of a second, breech-lock bayonet mount with internal fully automatic diaphragm, and interchangeable finders (waist-level finder, magnifier and non-metering pentaprism). Models II and IIA were only minor updates. All Praktisix models handled like a somewhat overgrown 35mm camera as regards convenience, ease and rapidity of use, but had a bad reputation due to their unreliable film transport mechanism.
The Pentacon six series were revised cameras with the same basic specifications but with much more reliable mechanics, support for 220 film, and finish of a higher standard. An interchangeable TTL prism was available for the Pentacon six TL, the last camera in the system produced until 1990.
A fairly small line of optics was released for this system by manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss Jena and Meyer-Optik (Pentacon) - from the 50mm wide angle to the 1000mm mirror telephoto, up to 300mm with fully automatic diaphragm.
There was a choice of three standard lenses available: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 80/2.8, Meyer-Optik Primotar E 80/3.5, and Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80/2.8, the original inspiration for the Planar. The first two were quickly discontinued in favor of the Biometar.
The superb portrait telephoto Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180/2.8, famous since its creation for the Berlin Olympics in 1936, was available from the start, now with a fully automatic diaphragm.
In the Western Bloc market, Carl Zeiss Jena lenses were sold under the name "aus Jena" (which means "from Jena"), since the right to sell lenses under the Carl Zeiss trademark in this market was granted by the court to the West German company Carl Zeiss, located in Oberkochen.
Most lenses had a fixed mount, but models such as Orestegor 300/4, Pentacon 300/4, Orestegor 500/5.6 and Pentacon 500/5.6 had to be used with an interchangeable adapter. Meyer-Optik Primotar 135/3.5, Primotar 180/3.5 and Telemegor 400/5.5 lenses were produced with the Praktisix mount for only a very short time, unlike the Telemegor 300/4.5.
In 1984, Ihagee Kamerawerk announced the EXAKTA 66, which was mechanically based on the Pentacon six (including but not limited to the same breech-lock bayonet mount), but had a more modern and stylish design of the camera body. This camera was accompanied by its own line of optics produced by Schneider-Kreuznach (and this was the reason why we decided to dedicate a separate page to the EXAKTA 66 system).