Praktica PL electronic

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The Praktica PL electronic is a milestone SLR featuring the first electronically controlled shutter. The body was essentially the same as the Praktica PL nova I. The camera was produced from March 1968 to sometime in 1969, with only about 3400 units made. It can be regarded a feasibility study for the shutter only as other electronic features like built-in metering were missing, although a battery was present. SLRs with electronically controlled shutters became popular shortly after, mainly from Japanese producers (eg. Yashica TL Electro-X), while it took Pentacon to return to the concept until 1977 with the Praktica EE2.


The very first patent concerning a electronically controlled shutter was filed by Paul Fahlenberg already in 1956 [2]. He worked for Compur-Werk Friedrich Deckel, a company belonging to the Carl Zeiss group. Zeiss Ikon AG used this invention to implement an electronic shutter in its Contarex SE, a camera which appeared on the market in late 1968, about 6 months after the Praktica, but often is wrongly named the first with an electronic shutter. The East-German team around Hubertus Reimann, Siegfried Müller and Fritz Lindner definetely knew about the Deckel patent and supposedly were seeking a licensing agreement with Compur. However, due to the German separation they had no concerns to file for own DDR patents as well as to produce the camera for the East-German market even without such agreement. The Praktica PL electronic was rather a pilot study for the shutter than a huge technical break through. Despite the fact that just one speed controller was able to address the huge range from 30s down to 1/500s (not possible with a single mechanical escapement), there was not a direct advantage for the photographer. It was rather a disadvantage as he has to always take care about a working battery. The biggest advantage electronic shutters were able to offer (despite their relative simplicity compared to mechanical systems), was the possibility to connect it with light metering, which leads to Aperture priority auto exposure control. This was actually mentioned in both referenced patents. Starting from 1969 almost every year one of the relevant SLR makers offered a new camera with an elctronically controlled shutter, most of them had an "E" in their name: Pentax ES (1971), Nikkormat EL (1972), Minolta XE (1974).

Gallery Images

Technical Details

  • First 35mm SLR with electronically controlled shutter
  • M42mount
  • horizontal cloth focal plane shutter
  • B, 30s to 1/500s
  • flash sockets for FP and X, sync at 1/60s
  • advancing image counter
  • tripod mount 1/4
  • dimensions: 150x95x47mm, 636g (with battery, w/o lens)