Praktica Super TL

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KW / Pentacon Praktica Super TL

Some camera models keep me puzzled, whereas there are few information sources to chew upon, printed or online. The Praktica Super TL is a sterling example. Made by Pentacon in 1968, it has a tiny Pentacon symbol at the bottom; perhaps they knew there was nothing here to brag about.

The camera seems to be a transitional model, away from the earlier slick and well-built V models, in line with the Nova models. It is the first Praktica with TTL measuring, yet an old CdS technology.

The Super TL was rebranded in Germany by Photo Quelle and Photo Porst; and in the US under Hanimex and Cavalier; see below. I am sure there are more siblings around that I missed.

A few further models use the Super TL name: the Super TL 2 and the Super TL 3. Neither carry any resemblance to the Super TL. Both models seem identical to the Praktica MTL 3, an entirely different camera of a later generation. Others are Super TL 1000 and Super TL 500, I think name variants of the MTL.

The Praktica Super TL is not a great camera. It is still an old concept Praktica, made of punched sheet metal, unlike the later models that were cast and machined. The intestines do not seem to be better. I have three units on my bench, each differently crippled; I could barely make one to work out of it.

Some peculiarities:

  • The battery cover is (very) tough to remove. It is not stuck; just made too tight. I had to grind a large screwdriver to fit the odd-sized slot.
  • Winding is rough on all three, which seems to do with the film’s easy-load system that gets in the way.
  • The trigger knob seems unfinished, with a knurled end. It is made so on purpose, as a turn locks the trigger.
  • The winder travel is long. Being used to shorter travel, I tended to stop halfway and then push it to the end. Guess it takes getting used to it. Further, once the shutter is cocked, the lever is still freewheeling. Not sure if it is a fault, as all three bodies behave this way.
  • A toy-like bubble at the front, under the trigger, activates the meter and, with an ‘auto’ lens, stops down the aperture.
  • Underexposure marked by a triangle on the viewer’s left, the shutter would not fire.

Not many Super TL units were sold on eBay; the few that were had either a better lens or had gone at a meager price.

List number 9566
Brand KW / Pentacon
Model Praktica Super TL
Manual Butkus
Format 35mm
Introduced 1968
AKA Cavalier STL-1; Pentor Super
Country DDR
Qty made 509000
Initial price
Type Compact SLR
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 610 gr,  Body only
Class average weight 620 gr,  Body only
ASA range 6-1600
Kit lens 1,8/50
Lens make Pentacon Auto
Filter size 49 mm
Lens mount Thread
Mount size M42x1
shutter Focal plane cloth horizontal
shutter make
Light meter TTL, lever activated
Winder Lever
Lock Yes, on trigger.
Speeds B, 1-500
Mirror Auto return
DOF preview Yes, with ‘auto’ lens
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe No, accessory available.
External sync X/F
Sync speed 30
Timer No
Battery 625
Battery style Buton
Battery voltage 1.35
Integral flash None

1 Response

  1. It is maybe worth mentioning that the TTL meter uses a Wheatstone bridge. The “zero” reading (which indicates proper exposure) is always correct regardless of battery voltage. So the (unavailable) Mercury oxide battery can be replaced by a cheap 1.5 V alkaline battery without loss of meter accuracy.

    The red triangle in the upper left corner of the viewfinder indicates that the shutter is not cocked. That’s why it won’t fire.

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