Praktica B200 electronic 35mm camera review

The Praktica B200 was the first of the B series of cameras produced by Praktica in the late 1970’s. It offered manual and auto exposure, AE lock, ttl metering, exposure compensation, a new set of bayonet mount lenses and a new look compared to the earlier Praktica series.

My Praktica B200 Camera

I bought this camera to complement the B100 I own which is a simpler, auto only camera. The Praktica B series only consisted of the B200 and B100 so this purchase completes the series for me.

When my B200 arrived I found that it is in reasonable condition for a camera of this age (about 40 years) and a new battery confirmed that all the electronics are properly working. I did need to clean the battery contacts in the bottom of the camera initially because a film of insulating dirt was stopping proper contact, but that is a standard issue with old cameras.

The focus ring on lens on the other hand was almost totally frozen solid. After removing it and working it back a forth a few dozen times it has freed up to become almost usable, but I’ll need to strip it down and replace the old grease before it is properly usable.

Praktica B200 Description

In style the B series were a radical departure from tradition for the Praktica range. For a start the cameras were all in black whereas all the cameras produced up to that point by Praktica had been silver coloured. Although it is very much a matter of personal taste, to my mind the B series and the cameras that followed with their rounder bodies were much more attractive to look at than the rather blocky, earlier versions.

The finish on the B200 is a very pronounced square pattern and I think that is the one aspect that I don’t like as much as the smooth finish which Praktica moved to on later models like the BMS.

One other big change from the earlier models is the switch to the PB (Praktica Bayonet) mount for the lenses. Earlier models were all the M42 screw thread mount but many manufacturers had abandoned that mount for the convenience and speed a bayonet offered by the time the B200 was manufactured in 1979.

Praktica B200 control layout

The control layout of the B200 is quite well thought out. The shutter speed dial also doubles as a mode switch to select automatic exposure if that is required. Next to the shutter speed dial is the shutter release with a locking collar at the bottom and there is an easy to push depth of field preview button on the lens barrel just within ‘trigger finger’ range. On the other side of the top plate is the film speed dial which doubles as an exposure compensation dial with a locking button.

Next to the compensation locking button is a exposure memory button which allows you to meter and lock the exposure on one part of the scene and then recompose and apply that metering. It’s slightly tricky to use because you need to hold down both the shutter button half way to get the metering working, and then hold the memory button as well as you recompose.

There is a self timer dial on the front panel and, to emphasise the point that the B200 was the top camera that Praktica made at the time, there is also a motor drive connector on the bottom plate.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder is another departure from the other, older Praktica cameras I own. They are all match needle metering, but the B series has LED indicators in the viewfinder to show the shutter speed selected in auto exposure mode. When in manual mode the LED’s indicate the suggested shutter speed and the selected speed blinks so it’s possible to see all the information you need.

The viewfinder also shows the aperture selected by way of a little window in the prism housing which lets you view the aperture dial on the lens. I think that is a really neat idea and works really well on this model, being brighter than many competitors models which tried to get that information into the viewfinder. Obviously it wouldn’t work in the dark, but you would probably be using flash then and set the aperture prior to composing.

There is a nice diagonal split prism focusing aid in the viewfinder, along with a micro prism and fresnel lens and with the f/1.8 standard lens the viewfinder is bright too.

General Features

The vertical focal plane shutter in the B200 is electronically controlled and needs the battery to be correctly timed. The shutter will fire without a battery but it will be at a single mechanical speed of 1/90 which is also the flash sync speed.

A flash hot shoe is fitted as well as a flash sync socket on the lens mount of the camera allowing it to be connected to studio flash units.

Praktica B200 specification

  • Praktica B200 manual focus 35mm slr
  • Aperture priority auto exposure and fully manual
  • TTL metering with sensor on the mirror
  • ASA 25 to 3200 film speed range
  • Single 6v 4LR44 battery
  • Shutter speeds 40sec to 1/1000sec + B in auto 1sec to 1/1000 in manual
  • 8 sec self timer
  • Shutter lock
  • Exposure metering memory button
  • +/- 2 stops compensation
  • Praktica PB bayonet mount
  • Hot shoe and flash sync socket
  • Motor drive available
  • Sync at 1/90sec
  • Body Ser No: 3071080
  • Lens Ser No: 2600684
  • Handbook is here

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • Pepijn Visser

    Hello Simon, thanks alot for this review! I just found some old camera’s that my grandfather used, and this one in particular really sparked my interest, i just have one question.. What kind of battery does it use?

    Thank you,
    Pepijn Visser.

    Reply
    • Hi Pepijn

      Thanks for the comment – I must say I haven’t used the B200 in a while and at the moment it is packed away so I did a quick google search to see if I could find out but I found my article is the top result in the search I did! However, a further search found this page http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/batteries.html which shows modern equivalents of old mercury batteries. The battery originally fitted to the B200 was a Mallory PX-28 by the way.

      Reply
  • Roel

    40 years old? Nah, your camera is built in 1983. Week 7. The B200 was and is an incredible step forward compared to the old-styled MTL3, SuperTL1000, MTL5, LTL3 and all their likes. Japanese NEC- technology (not communicated by Pentacon VEB), really loaded with goodies, looking smooth and sold way under real production costs. The ones that are still with us are the ones that were built well. BC1 came later (around 1985), same camera with minor improvements and several variations followed since. But Praktica was doomed when AF was the thing to offer, around 1986. When the wall fell Praktica / Pentacon was one of the companies in the GDR to be sold in parts and to be forgotten.

    Reply

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