Pentacon Six TL (Medium format camera)(Review)

Pentacon Six TL

Discovering and then shortly after buying a Pentacon Six TL camera then P6 lenses

Katie trying out Pentacon Six  on me

Model (Katie) trying my Pentacon Six TL camera!

My Film Photography

First – Contax 645

I started to get into film properly in the autumn of 2012. I decided to buy a Contax 645 medium format 6×4.5 film camera to obtain super shallow DOF using the Carl Zeiss 80mm f2 T lens. The original plan was to purchase a digital back until I saw the cost. I realised that the film look is more to my taste than the sterile digital look and it would save me adding aging textures to my photos to get the looked I desired.  After looking at more and more film photos on Flickr I decided within about 2 weeks of ordering the Contax that I already wanted more.

Next – 6×6 Film Love

The Contax had not even arrived I was starting to develop a love for the 6×6 square format of Hasselblads (and other brands).  The long late nights of research commenced once again. Back to the forums, Flickr, youtube and then of course finally…eBay!

Pentacon Six Price!

I could not get over how cheap Pentacon Six cameras were compared to the Contax I had just bought and the Digital D800/D700 I was custom too.  It was about the same price as a spare film back for the Contax!  I had to get one to try.  I knew enough that there would be a lot of rubbish on eBay with overlap issues and the like so I bought a ‘mint’ condition one in a hope worked OK.

Pentacon Six TL Arrives!


“Proper” film camera! – Arrival!

Arrival! When it arrived it felt and looked like a ‘proper’ film camera and not like the DSLR-like  Contax.  I loved the lack of electronics and the waist level finder.  It is both quite weighty and large but feels solid to hold.  The lens it came with was a standard Carl Zeiss Biometer 80mm/f2.8 which equates to around 50mm on a 35mm sensor.

Pentacon Six TL – Test Roll!

Test roll!  I had planned to lab develop my film and C41 processing was the cheapest so bought 10 rolls of Ilford XP2 Super C41 B&W film.  I had read many reviews on how to load film correctly so watched a youtube video to remind myself as I did so.  I had also read that you can get 13 exposures from a 120 film so took that into account also and loaded the film with the arrow perhaps 2 inches before the arrow marker.  I’m a Model Photographer so tried the Pentacon Six first on a shoot with Katie near Reading.  Here are some samples:

Pentacon Six Portraits

Katie with the 6x6 Pentacon Six TL + Biotar 80/2.8
Katie with Pentacon Six
Katie also tried using the Pentacon Six to get a photo of me taking a photo of her with my Nikon D800!:
6x6 Me! :)  ..with Pentacon Six TL
I thought I had shot the entire roll so opened the camera film back to see it was not actually finished so closed it back up again.  As a result light got in (as you saw above) but also more so here:
Harriett with Pentacon Six
The overlapping also resulted in a few interesting images!
Harriett with Pentacon Six
I was keen to solve the overlap issue so spoke to an old camera shop in Liverpool that a Flickr friend recommended.  The guy on the phone suggested I tried taping 3-4inches of backing paper to start of each new roll before loading the film so the spool has more film wrapped around to ‘bite’ on.  I did so and had no further overlap problems.

Pentacon Six Lenses

Over the next few months I bought more lenses.  See examples with each:

P6 + Carl Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f2.8 – for super shallow DOF:

Katie with Pentacon Six TL
Sarah with Pentacon Six TL + CZ Sonnar 180/2.8
Katie with CZ Sonnar 180/2.8 on Pentacon Six TL

P6 + Russian Mir 26b, 45mm f3.5 a wider view:

History brushed away..
Katie with Pentacon Six TL
Katie with Mir-26b on Pentacon Six

I kept buying lenses but also cameras and the next chapter in my Film Photography began.

The arrival of the 6×6 ARAX-CM!  (Kiev88 or ‘Hasselbladski’!).

*ARAX-CM and Contax645  reviews (plus others) coming soon.
**Pentacon Six TL now for sale. It comes with a mint condition leather case and 80mm f2.8 Biometer lens (stuck open at f2.8).

I bought it like this and like to always shoot wide open so was great for my needs.

My Flickr Pentacon Six TL set: Flickr Images – Pentacon Six


Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

13 thoughts on “Pentacon Six TL (Medium format camera)(Review)”

  1. Pingback: Smart Photography | Sarah with Pentacon Six TL (with bokeh-meter notes!)
  2. Pingback: Smart Photography | Gina with Contax 645
  3. Whoa. Katie takes a good photo. Well exposed, good moment captured. Actually, I like the one she took of you the best on this page. Maybe you should encourage her to take it up seriously. Haha. No disrespect, bro. Yours just have a different look, that’s all. I’m waiting for mine to arrive this week. The Pentacon, that is.

    1. Hi, yes Katie was my #1 model for quite a while. I setup the one she took and developed the same so not sure why it looks different but i’ll pass on your complement! 🙂 Enjoy the P6. It’s a great camera and offers exceptional value for money for medium format film.

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