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Praktina and Praktina FX
The Prototypes

The VEB Kamera-Werkstätten VVB Optik presented the Praktina for the first time at the Photokina trade fair in Cologne in March 1952. At the Leipzig trade fair, in September 1952, the presentation of the Praktina camera together with many accessories marked the birth of the first professional 35mm SLR system.

The new camera aroused great interest due to the innovative features. Lens, finder, focusing screen and camera back are interchangeable. Furthermore, a winding coupler is located at the bottom of the camera body for connection with the spring winder or the electric motor drive. To mount the lenses on the camera body there was a breech-lock system. The lens is attached to the camera by means of a rotating ring, fixed to the body, which is used to tighten the lens to the camera by friction. The camera was fitted out with a horizontal-travel focal-plane shutter with cloth curtains and shutter speeds of 1 to 1/1,000 sec adjustable by a single ring, a self-timer, and an optical viewfinder.
Shortly afterwards a prototype with the semi-automatic control of the lens diaphragm was presented. The SLR cameras of that period were equipped with manual preset lenses. The difficulty of focusing and subsequently adjusting the diaphragm to the desired value was one of the weak points of the reflex cameras. The Praktina has overcome this problem. In the camera body was fitted a mechanism through which the diaphragm closes down automatically when the shutter is released.

The final version of the Praktina was presented at the Leipzig trade fair in September 1953. The 1952 prototype had been modified and improved. The three single-pole flash connectors were replaced by two coaxial PC connectors, the name was changed from "Praktina" to "Praktina FX", the KW logo and the word Germany were engraved on the top cover and the 1952 eye-level viewfinder was replaced by a new type with different look.

The KW had designed an advanced camera that needed special lenses to allow the semi-automatic control of the lens diaphragm. Unfortunately Carl Zeiss Jena made available these lenses only in 1954. Due to the lack of these lenses, the Praktina was marketed at the beginning and for about one year with manual preset lenses and without the internal trigger mechanism.

Praktina FX prototype

Manufacturer NameVEB Kamera-Werkstätten VVB Optik
ModelPrototype with serial No. 166
LensCarl Zeiss Jena preset Tessar 3.5/50 No.3574371, prototype
RemarksThis camera has two coaxial PC connectors for bulb and electronic flash and an internal mechanism to close the diaphragm to the pre-selected aperture of the semi-automatic lenses when the shutter release is pressed. The eye-level viewfinder looks a different leather covering.

Prototypes of Praktina cameras
Source: German magazines, 1952-1953


Prototypes of Praktina accessories at the Leipzig trade fair, September 1952
Source: "Die Fotografie", November 1952

Spring Winder

Electric Motor Drive
3x Portrait Finder

Bellows Attachment

Prototypes of Praktina accessories at the Leipzig trade fair, September 1953
Source: "Die Fotografie", October 1953

Spring Wnder

Bellows Attachment
6x High Magnification Waist-level Finder

Electric Motor Drive with 17m Magazine Back
Electronic Flash

Stereo Viewfinder and Carl Zeiss lens Attachment


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Last modified: December 16, 2019
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