Pentona II 35mm, a simple viewfinder camera

The Pentona II is a very simple viewfinder camera made in Germany in the early 1960’s by a company called KW, which was one of the companies which later became part of the Pentacon brand.

Pentaona II Images

My Pentona II Camera

I actually have two copies of this camera which I purchased for a total of £6 because they were both sold as faulty because the shutters didn’t work. As it happens, the camera is one of that type which needs a film fitted in order to cock the shutter, and both work well.

I actually bought them simply because both cameras looked in really good condition and, not knowing the fact that they both actually worked, I assumed I could get one good working camera from the two faulty ones.

When I received the units, I found that one camera is in slightly better cosmetic condition than the other and so I refurbished that unit by replacing its slightly corroded film wind lever with the lever off the other camera. With this done the unit I have is in pretty good condition.

Pentona II description

The Pentona II is a very simple camera. It was obviously made to provide a snapshot camera for folk who didn’t want to spend too much money on it, and to be frank it shows! The materials used are fairly thin metal plate for the top of the camera and the front plate which the lens and shutter mounts on. The bottom of the camera, which is removable to load the film, is plastic with a thin tin plate locking mechanism.

Another clue as to the simplicity of the camera is the fact that the film itself is used to provide the traction to cock the shutter. As the film is wound out of the canister on to the the take up reel, the sprocket holes, which are normally used to drive the film, are being used to provide the force to cock the shutter. Although a similar system was used by some really good viewfinder cameras like the Voigtlander Vito, this is a much less well engineered system than that camera used.

The shutter is a simple 3 speed Priomat unit (well, 4 if you include bulb) which covers 1/30, 1/60 and 1/125 sec and the aperture is adjustable from f/3.5 to f/22 without click stops. On the bottom of the lens is a scale which relates meters to aperture numbers which I haven’t been able to work out its purpose. I thought initially it may be to do with depth of field, but that scale is inscribed around the focus scale as usual. I suspect the scale on the bottom is probably to do with setting the exposure when using flash.

Focusing the Meyer-Optik Trioplan 45mm lens is with a simple scale on the focusing element. In common with a lot of simple cameras there is a ‘red dot’ setting for snapshot use. This sets the shutter to 1/60, the aperture to f/8 and the focus to about 15ft and this means that everything will be in focus from about 10ft to infinity. The idea is that if you leave the camera on these settings you will be ready to take the majority of pictures as you walk about with the camera.

The viewfinder is a simple rectangle but it has the advantage of being very bright and big.

Although I haven’t loaded a film in the camera to test it, the Meyer-Optik lens should perform quite well, and a quick search on Flickr suggests that may be so.

Pentona II specifications

  • Pentona II 35mm viewfinder camera
  • Simple manual exposure
  • Priomat shutter 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 + bulb
  • Meyer Optik Trioplan 45mm f/3.5 lens
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/22
  • Flash sync via socket on lens
  • Accessory shoe fitted to top plate
  • Simple user settable frame counter
  • Camera needs film loaded to cock the shutter

4 Replies to “Pentona II 35mm, a simple viewfinder camera”

  1. When I was a teen and in Poland about 1965, i bought this amazing and simple to use 35 mm Praktica camera. The most notable thing about the camera was the lens-it was in a cone that turned to various light conditions (manually) like bright sun, cloudy, etc. I lost the camera years ago but would like to find another one. If you have any ideas around the model or any other identifier that I can google, I’d certainly appreciate it. Cheers.

  2. “On the bottom of the lens is a scale which relates meters to aperture numbers which I haven’t been able to work out its purpose.”
    It is an ingenious calculator for taking photos with a flash. One just needs to set the distance (red numbers) against the flash guide number (black numbers, in metres) and the correct aperture is set.

  3. One more notice – the Priomat is an everset shutter, thus the sprocket does not actually cock the shutter, just unlocks the shutter release button (which is locked after releasing the shutter as a double exposure safety).

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