Praktica is a brand of camera manufactured by Pentacon in Dresden in eastern Germany, formerly within the GDR prior to German reunification in 1990. Pentacon is the modern-day successor to Dresden camera firms such as Zeiss Ikon; for many years Dresden was the world's largest producer of cameras. Currently Praktica is the only brand sold by the company; previous ones included Zeiss Ikon, Contax (now owned by the Carl Zeiss company), Exakta, Pentacon, and many more.
The firm collapsed after German reunification but was resurrected in partnership with Schneider Kreuznach. Praktica today produces many products under various brands such as auto industry products, 3D LCD screens, and still cameras and lenses under their own Praktica brand and also more known international brands.
One of the first inventions of the firm, which is still known today, was the roll film SLR camera in 1936. In the Eastern bloc countries, the firm's products were more known than in the western world. They currently produce both budget lenses (mostly small, not very durable, and having manual focus, but good in optical quality) and higher priced products. They also produce optical equipment for the space programs of the US, Western Europe, and Russia.
Older company history
- 1887 Richard Hüttig founded the first camera manufacturing company in Dresden.
- 1896 Zeus-mirror reflex camera with plate magazine as first single-lens reflex camera from Dresden by the company Richard Hüttig & Sohn.
- 1897-98 Foundation of the Aktiengesellschaft für Camera-Fabrikation Heinrich Ernemann in Dresden; Foundation of the Aktiengesellschaft für photographische Industrie Emil Wünsche in Dresden.
- 1903 Bosco mirror camera for 9×9 roll films by the Wünsche AG.
- 1903 The Ernemann-Kino movie camera uses 17.5 mm One-hole filmstrips for taking and displaying movies. The word Kino (cinema) had been born.
- 1906 Hüttig-AG becomes the biggest camera manufacturer in Europe with more than 800 employees.
- 1912 Foundation of the Industrie- und Handelsgesellschaft m.b. H., named Ihagee Kamerawerk GmbH since 1914.
- 1919 Foundation of the camera shop of Benno Thorsch and Paul Guthe.
- 1923 Inauguration of the 48 m high tower building of the Ernemann AG (see photography on the Pentacon GmbH page).
- 1924 The high-speed Ernostar lens designed by Ludwig Bertele of Ernemann AG, was first made in f/2, then in f/1.8 maximum aperture. Its unprecedented speed made available-light photography possible for the first time. While it was supplied to a number of other cameras, it was best known on Ernemann's own Er-Nox (later called Ermanox) cameras.
- 1926 With the help of the Carl Zeiss Stiftung, four German camera manufacturers - Contessa-Nettel (Stuttgart), Ernemann and ICA (both Dresden), and C.P. Goerz (Berlin) were merged to form Zeiss-Ikon AG, and became the largest camera manufacturer in Europe with 3400 employees.
- 1933 EXAKTA 4×6.5, a small roll-film single-lens reflex camera using 127 film, was introduced by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co.
- 1935 Contaflex: first 35 mm twin-lens reflex camera with interchangeable lens and the first camera with built-in exposure meter was introduced by Zeiss-Ikon AG.
- 1936 Kine-Exakta: first 35 mm single-lens reflex camera introduced by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co.
- 1939 Praktiflex introduced by K.W. AG, Dresden-Niedersedlitz
- 1945 Heavy destruction of the 'Dresdner Kamerabetriebe' (Camera Manufacturing of Dresden) through aerial bombing on February, 13th-14th 1945
- 1949 Contax S: first 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with built-in pentaprism viewfinder (world novelty), offering an unreversed viewfinder image, introduced by MECHANIK Zeiss Ikon VEB, at that time a 'state-owned' company. It also introduced the M42 screw lens mount for interchangeable lenses.
- 1949 PRAKTICA single-lens reflex camera with M42 lens mount
- 1950 EXAKTA Varex by Ihagee Kamerawerk AG is the first single-lens reflex camera with interchangeable view-finders
- 1956 PRAKTICA FX2 by VEB Kamera-Werke Dresden-Niedersedlitz is the first 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with diaphragm stop-down actuation mechanism built inside the lens mount
- 1959 Merger of the 'Dresdner Kamerabetriebe' (Camera Manufacturing of Dresden) to 'VEB Kamera- und Kinowerke Dresden' (VEB Pentacon Dresden since 1964).
- 1965 PRAKTICA mat by VEB Pentacon Dresden is the first 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with TTL exposure measurement in Europe.
- 1969 PRAKTICA LLC is the first 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with electrical diaphragm simulation between interchangeable lenses and camera body by the VEB Pentacon (Dresden).
Media related to Praktica cameras at Wikimedia Commons