East German 16mm

Pentacon AK16/Pentaflex 16: Both exactly the same design as each other, just the cosmetically different.  Early Pentacon AK16 cameras were black enameled, later in the production series the camera's changed name to Pentaflex 16 and gained plastic/vinyl coatings in various colours, grey, black, sometimes green.  The cameras have a unique lens mount, no lens adapters are known of.  This is not overly bad, as the stock lenses that came with the cameras were very good, and still are suitable for the modern film maker.  A list of lenses commonly available is below.  All magazines and motors interchangeable.  Some magazines are designed for 96 fps filming, these are marked "96" There are other magazines designed for reverse, these are labelled "R" Accessories can be shared across all the cameras regardless of colour.  These include a spring wound motor that attaches to the same port as the electric motor.  There is also a high speed motor with gearbox to allow 96fps.  The standard motor allows multiple speeds, 12,16,20,24, and 32.  There is also available a motor attachment that plugs into mains power and will run the camera at 25fps.  All the battery operated motors can run off a car or motorcycle battery.  

The camera also features a synchronised aperture design, this means regardless of which lens is rotated on the turret, they all keep the same exposure setting.  This saves the operator from re-setting each lens as needed.  The Pentaflex/Pentacon camera is very well designed, and for the 1950's, was very advanced.  The ability to "hot" load magazines of varying film stock capacity, the standard high quality lenses available, and the camera's sturdiness, make this camera ideal for 16mm film shooting.  The cameras were widely used across socialist countries, mostly in television studios as the purchase cost was high: 3000 rubles approximately.   

The Pentacon / Pentaflex was designed for journalist and studio use, it is a non-silent camera. (very noisy) The camera is quite heavy, a solid tripod is needed or big arms.  The camera is easy to work on/service.  Some have complained of the film path in the film cassette, however, accurate film loading is very important.  

Below are some excerpts from a review written by Gerhard Fromm, the full version is translated and can be downloaded below.

"She is really not beautiful, she is not small either, as a lightweight one can cannot say, nor running-quietly, ...was produced in the early 50s. Clean mechanics, the camera and the motors are beautifully crafted ... are from the Pentaflex 16 program and stand out in terms of workmanship and appearance. When the name changed around 1960, the look of the camera was also changed. Instead of leather, a matte-greyish plastic and elastic material was used and the camera was painted in grey hammered finish... A loud camera that seems neither suited for hand-held or on-the-shoulder, just designed for a tripod. An unwieldy black box, so to speak, where you can start one of the even more unmanageable motors at the bottom or right side and insert a cassette at the top" Original Website address

website detailing a "quick" service HERE

website detailing refurbishment of a motor HERE

Pentaflex AK16 Operation Manual.pdf Pentaflex AK16 Operation Manual.pdf
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Copy of a German manual
English translation of manual
Pentaflex AK16.pdf Pentaflex AK16.pdf
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Copy of original German manual
Pentaflex 16mm Review by Gerhard Fromm.pdf Pentaflex 16mm Review by Gerhard Fromm.pdf
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Trailer of a feature film shot with two Pentaflex 16mm cameras -more info below
Pentaflex / Pentacon lenses

Carl Zeiss Jena wide angle 2.8 12.5mm

Carl Zeiss Jena standard lens 1.4 25mm

Carl Zeiss Jena standard lens 1.4 50mm

Carl Zeiss Jena telephoto 2.8 80mm

Carl Zeiss Jena telephoto 4.0 135mm

Pentovar 16 Kombi 2.8 15-60mm or 5.6 15-20mm (This is a variable focal length lens)

Pentaflex website links:
Vesab.de Very informative site about Pentaflex AK16, detailed info available via translated site.
kinofototeh Russian camera blog, good info on the Pentaflex camera

Jeff L'Heureux Film director, used two Pentaflex 16mm cameras to shoot a feature on FujiFilm.  To view the trailer, follow LINK.  There is also a Facebook page with many stills from the shoot: HERE
Anna & Terry Vacani Website detailing a private collection, handy info on Pentaflex

Pentaflex Wikipedia site A popular site for starting research into the little known camera. Useful links and history of the camera.

Hans Albrecht Contains a technical information doc on the Pentaflex 16mm camera.  An English translation can be downloaded HERE 

Pentaflex AK16 Basic instruction page on applying lubricant and general "look over" of a Pentaflex camera.  Also includes details on refurbishing the electric motor.
Cine-Collectors An interesting site detailing personal and informative reeviews of many cameras, here: the Pentaflex AK 16


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