What’s the fascination with the Praktica LLC?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I guess it is the fact that this camera was an innovative departure for Praktica in that it had a vertical, metal, focal plane shutter unlike its predecessors that had cloth shutters and perhaps more importantly, its open-aperture, through the lens (TTL) metering system.
Getting What I Wished For!
I have owned a Praktica LLC for a little while now. No! Not the one in the above picture but a silver one fitted with a Pentacon F2.8/29mm “electric”‘” lens. I have been very pleased with it but always fancied a black version with the standard Pentacon f1.8/50mm ‘electric’ lens. I wasn’t going to be rushed and kept patiently searching. Eventually I found one in Slovakia that met my requirements. That’s the one in the photo above!
What’s an ‘electric’ Lens?
This is the electric version of the Pentacon auto 1.8/50. This lens has 3 contacts which connect to the camera body. These 3 contacts tell the camera the selected aperture, and allows it to function automatically in an aperture priority mode. The lens has a stop-down switch which makes it backward compatible with the other bodies that use stop-down metering. It will also fit bodies with M42 mounts even with no metering.
The Praktica LLC was produced from 1969 until 1975. When it comes to design, I guess that utilitarian probably best describes it. I don’t suppose that the Praktica LLC will win any beauty contests but I find it simple to use. It is heavy but no more so than a number of other SLRs from the same era.
If I wanted to single out the most prominent feature of the LLC, it would be the open-aperture TTL meter system. Although this system is electronic, the camera is fully functional without a battery because the shutter itself and the stop-down mechanism are both mechanical. The battery is only required for metering.
The “electric” lens is essential for the open-aperture TTL metering. If there is a downside to the LLC it would have to be the battery. The original 4.5 volt battery is almost impossible to find nowadays. However a solution is readily available in the form of an adaptor that takes 3 x LR44 batteries (or equivalent). The adaptors are available on eBay at a modest cost.
There are two options for metering which are controlled by a circular switch at the base of the film rewind knob. The switch shows an open circle and solid circle position.
With the open circle selected, it is possible to meter with manual aperture lenses. ie not an “electric” lens. The magic occurs with an “electric” lens fitted and the solid circle selected on the metering switch. If you look through the viewfinder with an “electric” lens fitted you can select a suitable combination of aperture and shutter speed by ensuring that moving needle is centred in the circular needle.
The shutter release is situated at the front right of the camera on an angle, which I personally find very convenient. I am used to this arrangement that is not uncommon on Prakticas and other Soviet cameras. It also incorporates a shutter lock. I accept that others may not like this arrangement! Present in the viewfinder is a triangular indicator that if visible on the left, shows that the film has not been advanced and the shutter is not cocked.
- Type: SLR camera body
- Manufacturer: Pentacon
- Year of launch: 1969
- Film: 35mm with speeds 12 to 1600 ASA
- Shutter: Focal plane shutter made of steel, with speeds 1 sec. to 1/1000 sec.
- Lens mount: M42 screw mount with aperture release shifter and electrical contacts for aperture value transmission
- Meter: coupled TTL meter helps with its match-needle “scale” in the viewfinder to adjust shutter speed and aperture
- Viewfinder: Pentaprism finder, fresnel lens focus screen, in the middle a microprism area, and a triangle that appears when the camera is not cocked for the next shot
- Film advance: single stroke rapid lever with exposure counter, fast film load system
- Flash support: shutter flash synchronized up to speed 1/125 sec., bulb flashguns for speed 1/30 sec.; hot shoe
I have many Praktica cameras and I must confess to particularly liking the LLC. I am not entirely sure why it has held such a fascination for me. Perhaps it is the fact that it was something of a ground-breaker with full aperture TTL metering and the vertical metal Copal shutter.
The LLC is a solid camera which I find comfortable to use. I was impressed with my original silver LLC and I guess that it is confession time! I also have another black LLC but this did not sport an “electric” lens. Further, the metering switch was broken. I considered sending it off for repair but that is not easy in Greece. (I send my cameras to Bulgaria for repair.) By the time I had paid for return shipping plus the repair, always assuming that the part was available, it would have doubled what I had paid for the camera.
In the end, my persistence paid off and after keeping my eyes open, I now have a fully working black LLC with an “electric” f1.8/50mm lens that I am very pleased with.