|Praktina IIA with CZJ Flexon 2.0/50.|
image by David Broglin (Image rights)
The Praktina is a 35mm SLR film camera launched in 1952 by KW in Dresden, East Germany, the cradle of modern camera industry and optics. KW was the first manufacturer to make the SLR camera a practical proposition for the advanced amateur, by introducing the Praktiflex in 1939. The giant Zeiss Ikon certainly entertained the idea at that time, but it was never realised as originally envisaged. Some ten years had to pass before the KW Praktica and Contax S emerged from Dresden. The Praktina followed shortly after; but this camera was far ahead of the competition, with a new breech-lock lens mount, solving many of the problems related to the lens mount precision and wear. However, the new lens mount required special Praktina lenses. The interchangeable pentaprism finder was an integral design feature, while the seemingly redundant direct vision optical finder would be helpful under special conditions, such as when a waist level finder is fitted, or a manual preset lens.. The shape of the camera body is obviously obtained directly from the Contax S, but the back is not hinged for easy attachment of the Bulk Film Magazine for 400 exposures.
Several remarkable features, apart from those already mentioned, are associated with this camera. It was the first SLR camera prepared for a motor drive, at first a spring driven one for some twenty frames was offered, but later a battery powered electric motor drive was available.
The original Praktina was replaced within a year by the improved Praktina FX. It has automatic stop-down upon shutter release, and two standard PC sync contacts replaced the original three contacts. A wide range of all kinds of accessories was available.
For the remaining part of the 1950s, the future for the Praktina looked bright, but a new era in camera history emerged; the introduction of the slightly improved Praktina IIA in 1958 had little effect.
- Advertising literature states this is a Newton finder, and was provided for 'fast action and available light' photography