The Penti camera was manufactured by Welta, a company based in East Germany, starting in the late 1950s and early 1960’s. Welta was known for producing a range of cameras during that time, and the Penti was one of their notable offerings.
In 1961, Pentacon (a state conglomerate of factories that incorporated Welta) released the Penti I and II cameras. Both models introduced a slight modification to the camera body, replacing the top-center viewfinder window with an elongated one that incorporated a selenium light meter. The Penti I differs from the II only in that it lacks the exposure meter, so their external appearance is identical.
The Penti was a compact 35mm film camera designed for amateur photographers. It featured a sturdy build quality and a simple, user-friendly design. The Penti is equipped with a Meyer Optik Domiplan 1:3.5 F=30mm lens, with aperture settings from 3.5 to 22. The shutter offers speeds from 1/30 to 1/125, as well as a Bulb mode. Around the lens, there are three concentric rings. The innermost ring is the speed selector, the center one is the aperture selector, and the outermost one is used to focus the camera from one meter to infinity. Each ring has a black pivot that facilitates rotation.
This is a compact and lightweight camera, featuring an attractive design in black and gold or silver. However, it was also manufactured in white, red, and blue. The camera is straightforward to operate.
One of the distinctive features of the Penti was its built-in selenium light meter. This light meter helped photographers determine the appropriate exposure settings for their shots by measuring the available light. This feature was particularly useful for photographers who were still learning the intricacies of manual exposure control.
The Penti’s most unusual feature was the long film advance button. Once pushed into the camera the film was advanced to the next frame. After exposure the button appeared again in full length so that forgetting film advance was never an issue with this camera.
This camera has manual controls for aperture and shutter speed, allowing users to have greater control over their exposures. Although the Penti was not a high-end or technologically advanced camera, it gained popularity due to its affordability, simplicity, and reliable performance. It appealed to amateur photographers who wanted a reliable and straightforward camera for their everyday photography needs.
It’s worth noting that Welta, the manufacturer of the Penti, had a long history of producing cameras in Germany, starting in the early 20th century. The company faced various challenges due to the geopolitical situation at the time, as East Germany was under communist rule. Despite these circumstances, Welta managed to produce cameras like the Penti, which have since become collectibles for vintage camera enthusiasts.
The camera was being developed by Walter Henning at VEB Zeiss Icon company from 1956. The Penti may have been the finest compact camera for the later SL film load system.
Overall, the Penti by Welta represents a piece of photographic history from East Germany, showcasing the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the era. It remains a charming option for photographers and collectors interested in experiencing or preserving the photographic heritage of that time.
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