Praktica F.X 2
The Praktica F.X 2 is a relatively early member of the Praktica family, a 35mm SLR introduced by KW in 1956. It accepts M42 lenses, but does not have a mechanism for internally stopping down later lenses such as those made for Pentax SLR's. It is named for its dual flash sync: "F." (a modified F-sync, for high speed bulbs) and X (for electronic shutters,) with corresponding PC sockets on the front of the camera. It is a follow-up to the 1952 FX, with the aforementioned modification to the F-sync and a substantially re-designed viewfinder hood. Several variations with different flash-sync are known, including the "FX2." (the period is part of the name.) One variant was sold in the export market as the FX3.
|Praktica F.X 2|
image by Jaap Schelvis (Image rights)
The Praktica F.X 2 is something of a departure from the preceding camera in appearance, but it is substantially the same body. The film advance is by a knob, which also doubles as a frame counter, and rewind is also by knob. The shutter is controlled by two dials: one selects a shutter speed, while a smaller, coaxial dial selects either the fast mechanism or the slow mechanism. Each shutter speed requires one mechanism or the other to be engaged to work properly, and two speeds, 1/20 and 1/2, share space on the larger dial. The rim of the larger dial lifts up and turns to select a shutter speed, while the entire dial turns when the shutter is cocked and again when the shutter is released. The shutter release is on the front of the camera body, and has threads for a cable release.
The waist-level finder is shielded by a spring-loaded, self-erecting hood, which is rather unlike the conventional TLR-style hood mounted on the FX: the front shield is large, with a curved panel that folds forward (rather than backwards as on the FX) to form a very crude sports-finder. The fine-focusing loupe is also attached to the front shield. The rear shield is spring-loaded and is very small, blocking very little light from the focusing screen. These changes are to accommodate the auxiliary pentaprism, which is much larger and clearer than the one supplied for the FX.
Lenses and optics
The camera has an early m42 mount, with no mechanical linkage between the camera and the lens. The camera can mount and use a very large variety of lenses, including later Pentax-style m42 lenses with pins for automatically stopping down the aperture, though these lenses must have controls to manually stop down the lens for full functionality. It is possible that some lenses protrude too far into the camera, and would possibly damage the mirror or the internal mechanism connected to the mirror. Even putting aside those that would damage the camera, there are an incredible number of lenses available for this camera, from very rudimentary and cheap to highly-sought after fast and sharp lenses of all focal lengths. The camera was usually sold with high quality Zeiss or Meyer Optik lenses, such as the fast Meyer Primoplan 58/1.9.
The viewfinder is bright and sharp, owing to a large condenser lens that sits over the focusing screen (in fact, it seems to be one piece of glass). The loupe is not always necessary to sharply focus the camera, as the image quality even without it is rather high.
The camera has a basic focal plane shutter, which is cocked by advancing the film. It has a top speed of 1/500 and a low speed of 1/2, plus bulb exposure. The mirror is not instant return. The shutter can be cocked without advancing the film by turning the shutter-speed selector until it locks, but this does not lower the mirror. Double exposure is more conveniently achieved as on later SLR's, by pressing the rewind-release button and turning the advance knob.
The camera has both "F. sync," a slight modification of F-sync, which fires slightly before the leading curtain opens, in order to allow an F-type bulb to reach peak output, and X sync, which is for electronic flashes, which reach peak instantly and require no buildup time. There are corresponding PC ports for each sync speed. Flash sync only functions correctly at specific speed (known in later camera parlance as the "x" speed,) which is indicated on the shutter-speed dial with a lightning bolt, not a number, although it is apparently 1/60.
|Praktica F.X 2 sport view finder|
image by Jaap Schelvis (Image rights)
While still not a truly full-featured SLR, the F.X 2 made a vital step in that direction by providing a bright, serviceable pentaprism. The camera still lacked lever advance, a flash shoe, quick-return mirror (although some would claim that this is in fact a positive feature, as it prevents the photographer from framing a perfect shot and losing it due to the camera being uncocked,) and automatic aperture.
A version of this model, sold in the U.S. as the FX3, would introduce a mechanism for automatically stopping down Pentax-type lenses, but was otherwise much the same as the F.X2. Not until the Praktica IV would the same basic camera receive a large, fixed pentaprism, and even then the lever advance was some years off.
- Type: 35mm SLR
- Manufacturer: Kamera Werkstätten Guthe & Thorsch (better known as "KW.")
- Lens mount: M42 screw mount, no aperture linkage (some variants have a linkage, which can be disengaged if an older lens interferes with it.)
- Shutter: Focal-plane
- Shutter speeds: 1/2 to 1/500 sec. + B.
- Film Transport: Knob, double exposure prevention.
- Metering: None.
- Exposure: Manual.
- Viewfinder: SLR, waist-level type, auxiliary sport finder.
- Flash: Dual PC sockets for "F." and X focal plane sync.