Praktica made a whole series of tough, dependable, solid cameras in the 1960s, 70s and 80s which sold in large numbers. The subject of this post, the Praktica TL3, is no exception and the fact that it’s still working well some 30 odd years after it was made.
My Praktica TL3 Camera
There is a certain similarity to most of the Praktica series of 35mm cameras, so I got the distinct feeling I’d seen this camera before when I picked it up a couple of weeks ago. It turns out, I actually own the Super TL3 model, which is very similar, but even so I actually find it difficult to tell the differences between many of the models because they all seem to be so similar. For that reason, I probably wouldn’t have bought this camera except it was included with a number of other cameras in a sale.
The actual camera I wanted to purchase was a TLR which I bought as a job lot along with a couple of other cameras and this Praktica. I only spent about £8 on all four cameras which, as it turned out, was enough as the TLR was just a shell with no mirror and a rusted solid shutter.
The camera came with quite a nice lens attached, a Sigma-xq multi-coated 39 – 80mm macro zoom. It’s a constant aperture f/3.5 lens with a very short focus ring movement and separate ring to enable macro mode. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of fungus built up on some of the inner surfaces so I’ll need to see if I can clean that off.
The camera itself seems to be fully working mechanically as far as I can tell, but there is no battery fitted so I haven’t checked the metering. The V625 mercury cell which these cameras use is no longer available. It is possible to modify the camera to use a slightly higher voltage modern cell instead but I probably won’t bother because this camera will be a collection model rather than a ‘shooter’.
As I said mechanically the camera seems sound – the shutter speeds all work and seem to be about the right times, and the normal failure mode on a camera this old, the self timer, isn’t fitted to this model.
There are a few areas with cosmetic damage; a small dent on the top of the prism housing, a rough area on the lens mount plate and the light seals are gone but other than replacing the light seals the camera could be used as it is.
Praktica TL3 Description
This will be a short description because there really isn’t much difference between this model and the Super TL3 which I’ve covered here.
As with all Praktica cameras the TL3 is a solid, heavy, dependable camera with a typical Praktica thud to the mirror and shutter. In operation, the Praktica models are actually very usable – the position of the metering lever, just above the shutter release is ideally placed and can be easily pulled forward to take a reading and the released with the trigger finger placed above the shutter release.
The shutter range is absolutely typical for a camera of this vintage covering the standard set of speeds from 1sec to 1/1000 sec using a control on the top plate of the camera. This is one of the differences with the Super TL3, which had a top speed of 1/500sec, which I remember at the time of my review thinking was slightly limited. The ISO is set on the same control, by pulling the outside of the control up and twisting it until the desired film speed is shown in the small window at the top.
The other notable difference that I can find is that the Super TL3 had an external flash sync socket which is missing from this camera.
Praktica TL3 Specifications
- Praktica TL3 35mm slr
- Manufactured between 1984 and 1986
- Vertical metal shutter with speeds of 1 sec to 1/1000sec + B and flash setting
- TTL match needle stop down metering
- ‘Shutter not cocked’ warning flag in viewfinder
- Horizontal split image rangefinder focus aid
- Micro prism and ground glass viewfinder
- ISO 12 to 1600
- Hot shoe flash contact
- Auto reset frame counter
- M42 lens mount
- Stop down lever next to shutter release
- Front mounted shutter release with cable thread
- Tripod mount under lens plate
- Single V625 cell for light meter
- Manual for MTL-3 available here (seems to be the same camera with self-timer)