Praktica mat

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In 1965 VEB Pentacon introduced a revolutionary model in the Nova series: the Praktica mat.

This model is the first Praktica with TTL metering. Besides the fact that it is the first, it is also a very complex metering system, very different from the later models. It is equipped with a large CdS cell, constructed with a split-beam, metering off the entire surface of the focusing screen. This beam splitter only works one way, making it possible that light entering through the viewfinder does not affect the actual reading. The meter is coupled, and activated by pressing the DOF-preview button on the front. A match needle in the viewfinder provides the readout. All of the later Praktica models with M42 thread mount were equipped with a simplified metering system with a small CdS cell reading off the front surface of the pentaprism.

This complex construction also has a downside: the viewfinder of the Praktica mat is quite dark compared to other Nova models.

Another novelty of the mat is the shutter mechanism. The dial wheel is not on the right side, but on the left, around the rewind crank, combined with the ISO settings. Unlike the other models, the mat has a non-rotating speed dial and provides speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 plus a Bulb setting.

It takes the obsolete PX625 battery, but it's electronic circuit is of the Wheatstone type in which any battery that fits can be used, small voltage differences will not affect metering.

All in all this is a very interesting model in the Praktica line-up. There is a rumor that the mat received a Photokina award in 1964 or 1965, but that is not confirmed. It is being said that the Praktica mat was considered a professional model, with the higher standard specifications taken into account this could be true but there is no mention of this anywhere.

As you can see on the pictures it also carries the Pentacon "1Q" mark. This mark was also used on Pentacon, Carl Zeiss Jena and Meyer lenses, it means "Erste Qualität", first quality. These marks usually appeared on export products, giving the idea that they were selected items with a higher grade of precision and quality control.

There were only 25.000 units made of the mat, not much compared to the 264.000 Nova models produced, excluding the PL models of which another 822.000 pieces were sold.

Praktica mat
images by René Maly (Image rights)