Praktica MTL 50

A friend gave me this camera to try…but mainly as a lens cap for a 135mm Zeiss Jena lens which he wanted me to try. It is an M42 mount so I could have put it on a few cameras I already have, but hey…a new camera to try. This camera was Praktica’s last M42 mount camera, after this one they switched to the bayonet mount.

The actual camera felt like many of the other Prakticas I have tried, heavy and solid with the shutter button on the front. The light meter on this example didn’t work or rather it did…all the time. Being constantly on it drained the battery, but on manual, it worked fine. Usually, the light meter displays up and down arrows in the viewfinder to give the right exposure. There was also a depth of field button just to the side of the shutter button. I found it moved and was sometimes obstructed by my finger during the shutter action. You can find more technical details about this late 1980s camera here.

I loaded my loaner with a roll of Ilford delta 400 and headed to Manchester for a playdate. When first attempting to load the camera I had a bit of an issue, I hadn’t seen this system before and decided to use a spare roll that I keep for just this purpose. As you can see in the photos, my first attempt wasn’t great. The film has to go behind the little plastic tab.

Once I did that, I found the system quite easy. Kosmofoto said this in their review of this camera…

Pentacon also developed a special loading mechanism that helped make sure films were loaded safely. The film was placed behind a small plastic tab in the film chamber, and then fed onto the roll underneath two wires that help clamp down on the film as it’s wound on. It’s a pretty ingenious system, and one that makes mis-loading a Praktica pretty difficult.

Though not foolproof as I found out.

I found using the 135mm lens a little tricky at first, I was always far too close to the subject and had to keep taking steps back. Plus it was a dull day and the f3.5 minimum aperture wasn’t quite right for the light. But, it was the only lens I took with me to Manchester and it forced me to adapt to it. I used half the roll and slowly the light faded even more. I put the camera away to use another day. These are some of the shots from that event.

As you can see, a friend and I were joined by a lovely model who helped us play with our cameras. The lens suited this kind of subject well. Researching the lens led me to this website which stated it is has a reputation of being the best M42 135mm lens ever made. Oooooh. As the conditions were dull and fading, there was no chance of a light flare so I didn’t notice the slide up lens hood which was inside the grip. I only found that after I finished the film. I did that on another walk with a different friend. This time on a bit of a brighter day. She happily posed for a couple of shots and a total stranger asked me to take his photo. When I got home, I had a couple of shots spare for my father, a somewhat happy model.

On shots like the last one, the shallow depth of field made getting a sharp image a bit trickier. I was so happy with some of the results that once I handed back the set up I looked online for a lens of my own. I have a Sony A37 and an M42 adapter so I want to try it on that. They are actually a lot cheaper than I expected so I felt it was a good investment.

As for the MLT50, well I didn’t find that anything special or different. In fact, I have another Praktica to try and can use the lens on that camera when I get around to it.

7 thoughts on “Praktica MTL 50

  1. Toby says:

    Glad you liked the lens….so much you bought one. As for best ever M42 lens….think that site might be stretching it a bit, undoubtedly it’s very very good but there are so many great M42 lenses. However, best value for money M42 lens….now I could go with that.
    Oh if you ever have cause to service it be careful. The screws on East German and Soviet lenses of this period I find they have……well let’s just say there are cheeses with more torsional strength!!!

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