I was just in Bratislava, Slovakia with my wife Michaela, visiting her family. Michaela was born there and lived there until she was about 10, but hasn’t been back in something like 15 years… This was my first trip to Slovakia and the first time meeting her family over there. They couldn’t speak much English and I can’t speak a word of Slovakian, but one thing they could figure out with out talking to me, was that I was into photography. After Michaela’s uncle saw the little red logo on my Leica D-Lux 3, he could tell I was into cameras.
After a lot of pointing and translating from Michaela, her uncle had pulled out a few old cameras. One was a medium format Flexaret camera that used to belong to Michaela’s grandfather and the other was a Praktica Super TL 35mm camera. Both cameras are not really worth that much, but if you know me, you know I’m into old cameras, especially if they have family history. I didn’t have any medium format film with me, but I did have some 35mm, so I loaded up the Praktica and headed out for a day of wondering. I had shot a bunch of digital photos in Bratislava the day before, but I really wanted to get some film shots and I was also very curious to how the photos from the Praktica would turn out.
Praktica cameras were manufactured by Pentacon in Germany and the Super TL model came out in 1968. I’ve been doing a little research and through Wikipedia I discovered that “Pentacon is the modern-day successor to Dresden camera firms such as Zeiss Ikon, and for many years Dresden was the world’s largest producer of cameras.” Also Praktica was the first to introduce a 35mm single-lens reflex camera in 1936!
From my one day of shooting with the Praktica I felt pretty comfortable with it. It is setup very similar to any other 35mm SLR and it even has a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 lens on it. The one big difference to other 35mm camera’s I’ve used is the light meeter is triggered by a big button on the front of the camera, just to the right of the lens. The in-camera meter worked great, but due to the different placement of the metering button, I often found my self shooting with out adjusting the settings, just because I’m so used to pressing the shutter half way down to get a reading.
At the end of the day, I winded up my roll of film and handed the camera back, never expecting to shoot with it again. I’m not sure if it’s because the camera never gets used, or they could tell how much I was into it, but the following day, they brought the camera back and told me I could have it! They also had the original manual to go with it! I was extremely excited and very happy to have another wonderful addition to my random camera collection.
Below are a few shots that I took during my trip, as well as some photos of the camera and the manual.
If you are interested, you can find these cameras for pretty cheap on ebay!