This was my first manual focus lens. It might not be the greatest, but it is my eyeopener to old gear.
I bought this lens attached to a camera on Tradera (swedish ebay). It was about 20$, with the camera. A lot of old stuff is cheaper in Sweden then on international ebay, there are not so many buyers. Did I make a bargain? Well, lets find out…
The camera attached was a Praktica EE2. The reason I bought the kit was that I wanted some prime lens close to wide angle. I had mostly landscape photography in mind.
Pentacon Auto 29mm/2.8, the lens
This version is a M42 screwmount. As you might have noticed it’s an odd focal length, 29mm. The 1mm difference from the more usual 28mm is not something you notice much. On a crop-camera like my Canon EOS 350D this 29mm lens becomes a 46,6 mm lens.
Everything on the lens is manual, although there is a aperture-pin for some auto function on the Praktica. All in good condition, focus and aperture rings worked ok. The lens fitted my Canon-camera good.
The reputation for this line of lenses from Pentacon is not great (with the exception of the 135mm). But lets take a close look at this little 29mm-lens.
My impression of the lens
My first impression of this lens came from a portrait of my daughter, which was fantastic. It was shot indoors, in good light and from above (my daughter looking up). Sharp where it should be and soft bokeh, war colours.
When it came to landscapes my first test was in swedish forest with dark, hard contrast and some harsh backlight. The images was ok, but nothing special at all. It seemed it had a hard time dealing with the big contrast, but to be honest so did my new Sigma AF-zoom.
Later landscape images with lower contrast and more summer and colourful has turned out ok, I think. Higher performance then reputation lead me to believe.
+ Nice colours in right conditions
+ Sharpness achievable
+ Nice build quality
+ Good for warm and close-up portraits
– No real wideangle with sensor crop, closer to normal focal length.
- The aperturering is close to the camera, which can cause problems.
- Unreliable performer, sometimes dark colours go weird
If you can not get something really good in that range (like a Yashica ML), get this Pentacon instead an play with it for a while. Maybe it’ll surprise you.
The company Pentacon and Prakticas
VEB Pentacon was an East German camera- and lens maker formed in 1964 and was closed in 1991 after the fall of the east block. It made Praktica-cameras and a lot of them has Carl Zeiss-lenses (”aus Jena”) so keep an eye out for these cameras. My EE2-version has a very distinct ”klonk” when pressing the exposure-button, which is a little bit charming.