|Praktica nova I with 50mm f2.8 Domiplan lens|
There are many references to the Praktica nova I online, which suggests that a large volume of cameras were produced - and that many are still being used today. On the Praktica-Collector website, the production for the nova I is listed as 136,400 units, over five years from 1967. My model came in a job lot with a number of other cameras - including the Vest Pocket Kodak and the Kodak No.2A Brownie which I have previously written about. My first impressions of the Praktica nova I were of an unremarkable SLR camera - and the partly obscured focus screen (see below) did not enthuse me to pick up the camera to use it at the time I acquired it.
|Praktica nova I with Domiplan lens|
The Praktica nova I is much earlier than the B-series cameras I was using then. The camera is an entirely manual 35mm single lens reflex with a cloth focal plane shutter. There was a model B version of the camera, which has a selenium light meter incorporated into the name plate. The shutter release is on the front of the body, and angled, not on the top, and is threaded for a cable release; this rotates to a lock position, with a small red dot to indicate this. The shutter speeds run from 1 second through to 1/500th, plus 'B'. It also has a distinct setting for flash and the longer shutter speed numerals are picked out in red. For flash, there are two PC sockets, marked F for flashbulbs and X for electronic flash. The manual states that the 1/30th shutter speed setting should be used with F, while X requires selecting the flash symbol setting: the manual states this to be 1/40th. There is no hot shoe (or accessory shoe) for flash, so using a flash requires an accessory mounting. On the advance lever, there's a film reminder with symbols for black and white and then four different types of colour film: daylight or tungsten in both transparency and negative. Around the rewind crank, where the exposure calculator on the nova I B model is located, is a reminder of the film speed, in ASA or DIN, to be matched up with the length of the film, 12, 20, or 36 exposures.
|Praktica nova I top view|
|Praktica nova I opened for loading|
|Praktica nova I focus screen with deposits|
|Praktica nova I with 50mm f1.8 Pentacon lens|
|Praktica nova I with Domiplan f2.8 50mm lens|
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon f1.8 50mm lens|
|Praktica nova I with Derek Gardner f2.8 28mm lens|
The Praktica nova I is a basic, manual, mechanical 35mm SLR camera, and the lack of a lightmeter wouldn't necessarily make it a perfect choice for a camera in its class - there are many better 'entry-level' mechanical SLR cameras, such as the Pentax K1000 for example. However, despite everything that could be placed against the Praktica nova I, in using the camera for a few rolls of film (and mostly using the 'sunny-16' rule for metering), I found the experience of it more positive than my first impressions. In use, the angled shutter release makes sense in terms of the position of one's fingers around the height of the camera's body, with the body design feeling quite ergonomically considered with its angled sides, and the stopping down on partially depressing the release fits naturally in the sequence of shooting; oddly, in using my camera, what feels unergonimic is that the metal advance lever is thin and as a result feels a little flimsy. This would have originally had a plastic tip covering the end of the lever, as one might imagine it should - looking at a number of images online of the Praktica nova cameras, it seems that this loss is not uncommon.
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford Mark V film|
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford Pan 100|
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford HP5 Plus|
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens (2x teleconverter) and Ilford HP5 Plus|
|Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford XP2 Super|
Praktica nova I page on Camera-Wiki
Praktica nova I on praktica-collector.de
Praktica nova I (with pricing information) on Marriotworld
Evolution of the Praktica SLR on Dresdener-Kamera (German)
Filmphotography.eu - Praktica nova I (German)
Collection-Appareils Sylvain Halgand page on the Praktica nova I (French)
From the Focal Plane to Infinity - Praktica nova I (Spanish)