I bought this camera because as I previously mentioned here  I bought an M42 lens in an impulsive moment and needed a body to put it on.  After browsing for a suitable candidate I spotted this which was well under $30.  The seller said there was something wrong with the shutter (a crease in the curtain) but in another moment of impulsiveness I bought it anyway.


So this is a Pentacon FM (almost identical to the Contax D). Pentacon was the brandname that the post war East German version of Contax used for exports as they weren’t allowed to use Contax in Europe.  There name is a concatenation of the first half of Pentaprism and Contax (Penta-Con); some say the first part of the first word and the second half of the other would have been a better choice but who knows.

The camera body was bought in the UK so it took a while for friends to deliver it to me, the lens came from closer by and so I had to just look at it for some weeks.

I could not see the problem the seller mentioned and all appeared to be fine with it and I immediately put the lens on and tried it out.

Admittedly at first I didn’t think the two went to gether very well aesthetically but the more I play with it the more I like the look.


Operationally the camera is old school fully manual.  The mirror only drops into place when you wind-on which although slightly annoying at first I quickly got used to and actually liked, as you knew that when you could see through the viewfinder you were wound and ready to shoot; no missed shots.


This is the first time I have looked through a old school manual 35mm SLR film camera in years and it was a very pleasant experience.  I had forgotten what it was like.  The viewfinder on this is bright and allowed me to focus easily.  I did notice that the distance indicated didn’t exactly match the actual distance but I don’t think that matters (apart from at either the top or bottom end where you might run out of focus).

Make Model Film/format Year Lens Shutter Aperture
Pentacon (Contax) FM 35mm SLR C1949 Yashica Auto Yashinon DS 50mm f1.9 B, 1, ½ 1/5/ 1/10,1/20, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 and 1/1000 sec F1.9-16

There are some interesting little features like the fold down support on the bottom which if you have a heavy lens on the front makes it sit nicely.  The shutter speeds are divided into fast and slow with a switch on the back to set which range you are working in and then you adjust the dial.  The shutter release is on the front, it took a little while but I got used to that too.


I’m very happy with the lens it has a nice feel and is reasonably intuitive; the results are good too.


Regarding the pictures I used Kodak Ektar 100 and I am pretty pleased with the overall look. The scanned images are slightly off which I think is something to do with how the shop scanned them; maybe the frames are a slightly different size(?), anyway, I kind of like it as it adds an authentic film look.

There does appear to be some kind of flair in many of the shots which I’m not sure the origin of.

Some low light shots are slightly out of focus but I’m not too surprised by that.

For now at least I think this is a keeper though I may have to try the lens on another camera.

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