This is a review of one of the latest additions to my collection of 35mm vintage cameras, the Praktica Nova 1B fitted with a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 prime lens. The Nova 1B was manufactured in the G.D.R. by the Pentacon company from between 1967 and 1975 although I can’t find any markings to indicate when my particular copy was made.
As with most of my 35mm camera collection, this was acquired from EBay UK. I paid the princely sum of £9-95 for this which included the camera and lens, a HOYA 1B skylight filter fitted to the lens and a Sigma zoom-K 100-200mm f/4.5 macro zoom in a leather case also with skylight filter. Although the pictures above may give the impression that the camera is quite mucky, it’s actually in pretty good nick and seems to function well apart from a few initial issues with the shutter (described below).
When I first opened the box it was packaged in and tried firing the shutter, there was a problem with some of the longer shutter speeds which is common with cameras of this age. As the shutter was fired I could hear the spring mechanism slow and then finally fire about 5 seconds later. To fix that I set the shutter speed to it’s fastest and fired the shutter a few times and then repeated that on each slower speed. Once I’d done that a few times the slower speeds seem about right.
In a similar way the aperture blades in the lens didn’t close when I initially fired the shutter, but by the time I’d completed my ‘shutter rehabilitation’ the lens blades were also working and seem to be fine at the moment. As it happens I have another Meyer-Optik Domiplan which has oily stuck blades which I am going to repair, so I may also take this one apart and clean it up.
The camera is very simple by today’s standards. There is no automation and the only part of the camera which is ‘electronic’ is the exposure meter, which is a simple ‘match needle’ selenium cell meter and therefore required no batteries. It’s probably this simplicity which has kept the camera in what seems to be good working order.
One difference I did notice compared to some other praktica cameras I own is that the focal plane shutter runs horizontally rather than vertically.
This is a list of the camera’s basic features:
- Lens mount M42 screw thread
- Shutter 1sec to 1/500sec + B and Flash sync
- Selenium cell exposure meter covering ASA 6-1600
- Angled shutter release with cable release and shutter lock
- 3 circle fresnel screen type focusing assist
- Tripod bush (mounted off-centre)
- F & X flash sync sockets
- Viewfinder red triangle warning when film needs advancing
- Film type reminder on wind on lever
- Rapid advance film wind
- Auto stop down during exposure
All in all this is a nice light 35mm SLR and was probably in the budget section of the market when initially made.