Praktica MTL 5B | review of a film camera

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The Praktica MTL 5B film camera is a small format single-lens reflex camera manufactured in the German Democratic Republic at the VEB Pentacon plant.

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The Praktica MTL 5B camera is an M42 reflex camera that has the same threaded connection with contemporary camera lenses. Optics from this camera can be painlessly used on modern digital cameras through an adapter from the M42 thread. Read the article about adapters. The film camera Praktica MTL 5B has TTL-exponometer, metering is performed at working aperture values ​​(the metering system is switched on by a remote lever combined with a diaphragm repeater), lamellar gate horizontal travel, self-timer, shoe for connecting electronic flash units Praktica (sync speed 1/125 sec).

Standard lens - Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 (Soviet analogues according to the scheme - Industar lenses), met with Pentacon auto 50mm f1.8 M42. Developed under the guidance of designer Rolf Noack. It is possible to install almost any lenses with M42 thread.

Specifications Praktica MTL 5B

Issue Kombinat veb pentacon dresden Chief Designer Rolf Noack
Production period
December 1985 - December 1989 Total produced 567,831
Shutter Mechanical vertical travel with metal shutter focal plane shutter Available excerpts shutter
B, 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250,1/500, 1/1000
Viewfinder Pentaprism, fixed at the corner of the eyes, matte screen with focusing area, display of shutter speed and exposure meter readings Mirror Returnable
Film feed tape winding of the film, activated by a button on the bottom of the device, self-resetting frame counter when the lid is opened Bayonet mount M42x1
Self-descent Mechanical, up to 10 sec Battery 625, LR44
Metering system
TTL-metering (stopped-down - at working value f), depth of field preview using a button on the body Flash external, shoe over pentaprism
Flash indication
no Aperture display in viewfinder
Notes compact size, body made of injection molded plastic with leatherette finish


Praktica MTL 5B in action

Case, build quality Praktica MTL 5B

Good, pleasant in hands, film camera. Glossy, the lower part of the camera is trimmed with leatherette. The camera was supplied with a plastic case. The body of the camera is molded from metallized plastic. In this regard, cameras are more afraid of mechanical influences than those very Zeniths. The chassis is made by injection molding. The subsequent processing of the case took only 45 seconds, for this a special machine was used, which could simultaneously perform 50-60 operations. This device could drill, countersink, thread, etc. from all six sides of the chamber. Up, down, forward, back, left, right.


Management represented by

  • Exposure disc
  • Viewfinder
  • A battery-powered light meter with metering through the lens.
  • DOF preview button

Iris control

Manual. Exposed on the lens, taken into account by the exposure meter during preview by pressing the shutter button halfway down, clamped directly during the shutter release shutter.

Sighting through the viewfinder

Silver-plated pentaprism, now often you come across options with a destroyed coating. It is restored either by applying an aluminum layer in an electrovacuum chamber, or by the reaction of a "silver mirror". For ease of focusing, the viewfinder displays a matte, micro-raster screen. The viewfinder is lighter than the ZenithTTL, coverage is greater (97%).


Unlike most contemporary cameras, Praktica cameras did not use Copal shutters. In fact, the shutter was developed by Pentacon independently in the 1960s, and is accordingly patented.

The development of the steel blade focal plane shutter, which has been used in the Praktica L series since 1969, has a long history. The Konica F (born 1960) was the first camera with such a shutter, with which Konica was able to achieve some success in the Japanese market, and within a year Dresden engineers filed the first patent applications in this area. According to GDR document No. 27 434 of May 4, 1961, the basic principle of the later Horst Strehle scissor-lever lock is already recognizable.

Lamella scissor lock (1961) In this variant, the scissor lock consisted of only two slats per shade. Such an implementation would result in a rather unwieldy design that could hardly fit into a compact camera.

The problem with this arrangement lies in the fact that the lamellas, arranged one above the other in a fan-like manner, lie parallel to each other both in the folded and in the unfolded state. The Japanese Copal uses Hi Synchro in its shutter, the so-called parallel crank guide. In it, metal bars are attached to two parallel arms of the lever. The solutions inherent in this design became especially popular when the more compact single-lens reflex cameras began to be produced (from the mid-1970s). Such a shutter allowed the use in light cameras due to the minimum of vibrations created during operation. In addition, such a design accelerated to unthinkable shutter speeds and was very reliable. Almost all blade shutters today use the Hi Synchro shutter principle. Even the leading Japanese camera makers have almost completely abandoned their own shutter designs and source their shutters from Copal or Seicosha.

Pentacon's own design worked not with parallel, but with crossed drive plates, like scissors.

The shutter according to patent No. 27434 has a rather bulky design. In addition, it was feared that such a design would not provide the necessary high speeds. The shutter was modernized in such a way that only one lamella was used, which only partially covered the frame window. The rest was occupied by a flexible rubberized fabric that is wound around a spring roller. This combination was used in 1967 in the Pentacon Super professional camera. This made it possible to achieve a very fast shutter speed of 1/500, which remains accurate even half a century later. The disadvantage, however, was the bulkiness of the solution and the complexity of its maintenance.

A new generation of cameras was developed in Dresden, which, thanks to three main features, was to ensure the survival of local camera production for the next 20 years. The Praktica L series was modern both in design and technical solutions. The cameras used a scissor shutter, registered in 1968.

This solution was used in the Praktica L series cameras for the next 10 years, and five million units of cameras. However, during the development of cameras, the Praktica B200 caused significant problems, and, nevertheless, it was replaced by the Copal Hi Synchro shutter, which is more common among competitors.

Exposure control

Manual. The shutter speed range is from V and 1s to 1/1000 s.

Flash sync

Via hot shoe for Praktica electronic flash units.

Light meter and exposure metering in Praktica MTL 5B

On the bottom of the camera there is a connector for the exposure meter batteries. The exposure meter readings are indicated in the viewfinder by moving the arrow (+, -). Next to the shutter button shutter there is a lever for previewing the grip, coupled with the pusher of the lens diaphragm repeater and turning on the exposure meter. The exposure meter can be corrected by changing the DIN value. To make corrections to the exposure meter, there are trimming resistors under the bottom cover tightened with screws. For power supply, batteries of the Soviet type RC-53 1,35V were used (modern foreign analogue - elements of type 625, slightly smaller in size, voltage 1,5V), LR-44 (AG12) are also suitable.

Convenience of work

The convenience of working with the Praktica MTL 5B from the 80s is, of course. But Praktica MTL 5B is more convenient to use than Zenits. A device for unhurried shooting and thoughtful positioning of objects in the frame.

Working with film

Film rewinding is of a roulette type, the rewinding mode is switched on by a mechanical button on the bottom of the apparatus. The frame counter is located on the top cover and has an automatic reset when the cover is opened.

What kind of film is needed for a Praktica camera?

For Praktica cameras, any 135 type (35mm) film is suitable, in standard spools. You can use both black and white and color, you can wind the film yourself. Can be bought from masters... A budget hobbyist color film from Fujifilm or Kodak, black and white Tasma, works well. Films c ISO 400 are suitable for low light conditions, and on films with ISO 200 is best for shooting outdoors in clear or slightly cloudy weather.
Examples of photos on film can be viewed here.


Praktica MTL 5B works quieter than Zenits. Not strange, and it is.


Praktica MTL 5B is more reliable than devices with focal-plane slit shuttermi simply due to the lamellar metal shutter. The dream of an advanced Soviet amateur photographer. Well, just because Japanese cameras were completely inaccessible.

Gallery of images. Praktica MTL 5B

Sample photos on Praktica MTL 5B

Photo author - Katerina Pichugina


Praktica MTL 5B is a pleasant to use, solid film camera. An excellent camera for the novice amateur photographer. In the secondary market, you can find it at a cost of up to 3000 rubles, in perfect condition. Actually, it is functionally a copy of Praktika LTL. Differences in finishes and coatings of the optical system.


Adapters for cameras and lenses

Sometimes I buy photographic equipment from the USSR and not only. You can offer your write me. Help the project: 5469 1200 1062 4624. Comments can be left without registration and SMS

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