Praktica BMS 35mm electronic camera
This is a sister camera to another Praktica camera in my collection that I posted about a while ago, the Praktica B100 electronic. Whereas that camera was an attempt at a fully automatic camera, on this one the exposure is set completely manually.
I obtained this camera, as with most of my vintage camera collection, from eBay uk for a very reasonable £5.73 + £4.90 p&p. It seems to be in just about perfect condition cosmetically with hardly a mark on it. It was supplied with a 50mm f/1.8 Praktica PB bayonet mount lens, and I also have a 28mm wide angle and 135mm portrait telephoto lens which I’ve included in the pictures above.
Although unmarked cosmetically, there seems to be a problem with the in viewfinder exposure display information. The LED’s which show the shutter speed work, but the under exposure LED is always illuminated and the solid LED which shows the correct exposure is not illuminated at all. This could be a fault with the camera, but since it is in such good condition cosmetically, I think it is probably the battery which needs replacing. There is a battery check switch but this doesn’t seem to do much at all – and the description of what it should do in the handbook is fairly confusing as well. At some point I’ll buy a new battery to check it out. In the meantime the description below describes how the camera should work.
It’s a reasonably heavy camera to carry about, as was it’s sister automatic version the B100 indicating it is made in the same way using probably the same solid components. Certainly the lens mount is metal and pretty solid, and the whole camera feels well made and comfortable to use because of the nicely padded covering.
Setting the correct exposure is made by way of matching a flashing LED in the viewfinder with a solidly lit LED. The LED’s line up against a list of shutter speeds which the camera can be set to so it’s possible to determine if the camera can be hand held or needs to be on a tripod. There are also under and over exposure markings which show the photographer when to shift the aperture if necessary.
This is in effect match needle metering with the solid LED being the measured value and the flashing LED being the camera setting, and therefore can be used to set either parameter to get the exposure correct. These days I always think of the ‘exposure triangle’ and include the ISO, but of course with film one part of the triangle is fixed – the film speed – so this system allows you to adjust either shutter speed or aperture to get the correct exposure.
Within the viewfinder it is possible to see both of those parameters because of a neat little trick to allow the aperture to be viewed. The front of the prism housing has a small window in which shows the aperture the lens is set to in a small viewport at the bottom of the viewfinder.
The light cell is fitted under the mirror in this camera and that is in common with several cameras of a similar vintage. My Miranda Sensomat does the same thing, and the Topcon RE Auto has a very sophisticated pattern of light measuring cells.
As well as the aforementioned shutter speeds in the viewfinder and the aperture setting, there is the usual 45deg split image focus assist in the centre of the viewfinder. I say usual, because a lot of the praktica cameras had this arrangement, and it’s a good idea because it works with most subjects in both portrait and landscape mode. There is also a microprism circle and the normal ground glass screen surrounding it.
The Pentacon lenses which I have for use with this camera are nice looking lenses with good levels of multicoating. In one way it’s a bit of a shame that Praktica didn’t use the Pentax K mount for their cameras because it would make it much easier to try them on my Sony Nex as I own a K mount adapter. Mind you I would guess that it is the fact that they are a more obscure mount which makes them so cheap to buy. I thing the 135mm lens cost £2 and the 28mm was about £5. I might invest in a PB to Nex adapter to give them a work out.
All the lenses are 6 blade apertures, and feature auto stop down and electonic contacts to communicate the aperture.
- Praktica BMS 35mm SLR
- Match LED metering system
- Shutter speeds 4sec to 1/1000sec + B
- Shutter release lock
- ISO 12 to 3200
- Self timer
- Praktica PB bayonet mount
- Ser No 0215305
- 50mm f/1.8 ser no 8101430
- 28mm f/2.8 ser no 1050486
- 135mm f/2.8 ser no 1013452
- Manual available on line here