Not Very Praktical

Close up of my (defunct) Praktica MTL5

I have been so enamored with my Pentax Spotmatic that I wanted to try another M42 mount camera.

The M42 mount is often called either the Pentax screw mount or the Praktica screw mount for the two cameras that arguably had the most success with it. Naturally it was my inclination to try out a Pentacon Praktica next.

I picked up two “as-is” Prakticas off eBay for about ten dollars just to check them out: a basic LB2 with a non-coupled selenium cell meter and a more advanced MTL5 with TTL metering.

I was really happy when I put a battery into the MTL5 and loaded it up with everything seeming to work just fine. However in a mere 15 exposures or so the film advance and mirror froze preventing me from shooting any further.

I loaded up the LB2 as well, but right from the start it’s film advance feels very rough and forced.

I can’t fault two “as-is” cameras for not working terribly well. However I have to say that both Prakticas have a very light and cheap feel to them, nothing as serious as my Spotmatic.

In fact they remind me of one of my other lower-quality vintage cameras which also happened to have its advance freeze on me…

The Prakticas also have the most annoying shutter release positioning I have ever experienced: It is placed angled forward sticking out of the front of the camera. It can be painful to use, especially with my middle finger getting wedged between the self-timer and lens.

The net result is I do not feel inclined to get another Praktica… I think I simply need a second Spotmatic for a backup body!

Df and A7r

My trusty Nikon FA… I think the Sony A7r looks more like it than the Nikon Df

I shoot plenty of digital photography with my D300, mostly of family things like kids sports or school events. But for other purposes I still shoot film; I haven’t yet found a digital camera that I enjoy shooting for the sake of enjoying photography.

I have been intrigued by the recent announcements of the Nikon Df and the Sony A7r. The Df is a “retro” DSLR while the A7r is the first full-frame (35mm sized) mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

I have historically been a Nikon fan, but I have mixed feelings about the Df. While I like the idea of retro styling, manual controls and support for the oldest Nikkor lenses, the Df seems like it has half a foot in history and half in the present without having the best of both.

The Df lacks a manual focusing screen as well as video shooting capabilities, so it isn’t as good as my film cameras for shooting manually nor is it as good as other (cheaper priced) DSLR’s at… well… being a modern digital camera.

Perhaps Matt Granger put it best in his Df spoof video: you can get an authentic manual photographic experience for a tiny fraction of the price if you simply buy good used film SLR.

The Sony A7r on the other hand looks to be a true breakthrough: a top-notch full-frame sensor, a small body with (I think) a nice look and selection of controls, and pretty much all the features you would anticipate from a high-end digital camera.

I am not in the market for a new high-end digital camera just now, but it look forward to checking both these out when they hit the stores.