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Praktica L2 - Second Generation L basic camera

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:02 p.m.

The L series is a very high quality camera of rugged construction, following the nadir of DDR camera quality in the nova and IV series*. Old meters, of course are less likely to still be working, but with a bridge circuit, the L series will work fine with alkaline 625 batteries with no worry about matching voltages or weakening charge. These also have a very ingenious and capable auto-load system.

"The important novelty of this generation was the Praktica EE2, introduced at the Photokina 1976 and on the Photo World '77 (Birmingham) as a camera with "fully electronic, full aperture TTL metering SLR" or "camera-computer". This camera was a combination of an stepless electronic time control between 1 sec and 1/1000s and electronic aperture simulation. These camera was used in the space on board of Salut 6 in September 1978 by Bykowsky (USSR) and Jähn (GDR)." (Mike Otto (http://www.praktica-collector.de/Praktica_L_2nd_generation.html

This one is the basic model with no meter at all (Hummel Nr. 192, Kadlubek Nr. KWE 1600) (http://www.praktica-collector.de/192_Praktica_L2.htm). In production from December 1975 to January 1980 with 161,240 cameras produced. This is very much a rival to this day to the screw-mount Pentaxes as a beginner film camera, and with its extremely rugged vertical metal shutter, it is likely to still be operating perfectly--perhaps, if right out of the closet, with a little exercise first.

I tried it with a "full" outfit of the time: A Pentacon auto 50mm f/1.8, an older-than-L Meyer Lydith 30mm f/3.5 stop-down lens, and a contemporary Pentacon auto 135mm f/2.8. When it was made, the Lydith was an "ultrawide" since wide-angle designs were still struggling to fit the rear of the lens into mirror clearance.

The film was appropriately enough an Indian rebranding of exactly the film to shoot in an old Praktica - the old ORWO NP22 rebranded in India as Nova SilverPlus (ISO 125) [thanks again to Subbarayan Pressana for making this possible.] ORWO was the old Agfa plant in the DDR and a major supplier of film to the Second World.

I processed it in D-76 for 8 minutes with Photographers' Formulary Archival Fixer (no stop bath needed). Of course it's always a little hard to show the results when the images are necessarily scanned in, but this time the film produced rich tones with good shadow and highlight detail.


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JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:06 p.m.

Here the pictures. The first one shows scenes at my favorite- the Campus Lake. Top taken with the Meyer Lydith 30mm, the bottom with the Pentacon auto 50mm.

Top taken with the Meyer Lydith 30mm, the bottom with the Pentacon auto 50mm.

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:08 p.m.

The second shots are a small fountain from the early days of the school and a shot of some magnolia leaves in my front yard. Both taken with the Pentacon 50mm. We are far enough south here, though in Illinois, for magnolia to thrive.

Fountain from early days at our school, Magnolia leaves to show bokeh

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:11 p.m.

Finally, a weather recording instrument taken with the Pentacon auto 135mm f/2.8, and a useful reminder at the lake of proper pet procedures (Pentacon 50mm)

135mm--weather instrument/50mm pet reminder (waste not...)

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:15 p.m.

Correction, I noticed it too late to correct it, but SP's name of course is Subbarayan Prasanna. My apologies.

Rick Drawbridge , Apr 22, 2010; 06:52 p.m.

Ah, one of my favourites...I've always considered Praktica "L" series to be archetypal cameras, and a leap forward in design from their predecessors. I like their clean, practical lines, and their solid feel, and the integrity of their design and construction. I also like the fact that they seem to be utterly reliable; I have a couple of copies which have suffered major neglect in cosmetic terms, yet are still dependable.

Nice monochromes, JDM, that combination of film and developer seems to work well, and thanks for an informative post.

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 06:59 p.m.

Another correction- that first link to Dr. Otto's site is correct in text, but not in linkage -- it should be http://www.praktica-collector.de/Praktica_L_2nd_generation.html

Louis Meluso , Apr 22, 2010; 08:16 p.m.

Nice looking kit. That's beautiful tonality your getting with that film/dev combo. Boy, the 50mm really has nice "pop". Thanks for showcasing this outfit so well.

Raymond Caprio , Apr 22, 2010; 08:53 p.m.

Nice JDM, love the tones also. I have an LB and MTL3. With three lenses that work. The Pentacon auto 50 f/1.8 that I have has some gunk on the aperture blades. Looks like rust. I got the LB with one of zebra lenses pictured in that ad. I prefer the LB to the MTL3. A guy at work gave me his Hanimar Auto "S" 135 f/2.8. He used to have a Praktica, however his son took it to school and somebody stole it.

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 22, 2010; 09:05 p.m.

Thanks all.

You know, a funny thing about that tonality--many of the pictures on the roll have the foliage looking almost like the film is infrared. Obviously, this is young spring yellow-green vegetation still, but I was a little surprised by how white some leaves turned out.

ORWO these days makes "technical" films and I wonder if there is something going on here in terms of the sensitivity of the film to the full spectrum. SP?

New leaves in my backyard - another bokeh test for the 50mm.

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