Pentacon Six Review (Pentacon Six TL Camera)

Pentacon Six Review

Here is a short Pentacon Six Review after getting myself a Pentacon Six TL on eBay!  Soon after the purchase I was buying P6 lenses and that lead to the next camera, the P6 lens mount ARAX-CM (a modified Kiev 88 camera)

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!

Katie SOOC in front of the Pentacon Six

Pentacon Six Ebay- Cheap!

I could not get over the Pentacon Six eBay prices.  So cheap compared to the Contax 645 I had just bought and the Digital D800/D700 I was used too.  It was about the same price as a spare film back for the Contax 645!  I had to get one to try.  I knew enough that there would be a lot of rubbish on eBay and some Pentacon Six overlap issues and the like so I bought a ‘mint’ condition one and hoped it 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 Film Loading / 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 Flickr 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

Pentacon Six Film Overlap

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.

Andra with Pentacon Six

Pentacon Six Lenses (P6 Lenses)

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

Pentacon Six TL + 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

Pentacon Six + 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.

Arrival of the 6×6 ARAX-CM (Kiev88) aka ‘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 Film Crew!

Pentacon Six Review Summary

I enjoy using the Pentacon Six TL camera and especially the P6 mount lenses but found buying the ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) killed it off a little.  The ARAX-CM has the same Pentacon Six mount (P6 lens mount) but has all the benefits of a Hasselblad styled camera design. The ARAX-CM became my go to camera for the next few years.

More Film Photography Articles

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE
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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 Review (Pentacon Six TL Camera)”

  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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