This was one of my better buys from Ebay. I have two BC1 bodies, a Prakticar 50mm lens and two straps for £5.00. With one camera, the internal meter agrees with my hand-held Ikophot light meter. The other is six stops or so out. It is quite possible that this is down to dirt on the meter sensor. As the meter is not accessible without removing the top plate and the controls on there, I shall not be having a look.
|The printed disc is missing from the shutter speed selector|
Almost centrally is the pentaprism hump. On top of this is the accessory shoe with ‘hot shoe’ electrical contacts. This has the standard central contact and a second, smaller, contact for the Praktica computerised flash gun. Connecting the Praktica flash automatically sets the shutter to 1/90 seconds. Cold shoe flash guns will also work as there is a PC socket as well as the hot shoe connector.
On the front of the camera are various items. Towards the top on either end are lugs for attaching a neck strap. More or less centrally, is the lens mount. This is a three bayonet mount with three electric contacts for reading the aperture setting (I assume this is in Octal giving a range of eight possible f/stops).
|lens mount showing the three electrical contacts|
To the right of the lens mount is the lens release button. This is black with a prominent red dot. To fit a lens, the red dot on the lens is aligned with this red dot and the lens inserted into the mount and turned clockwise. To remove the lens, this button is depressed and the lens turned anti-clockwise for removal. Above the lens release button is a slider that moves vertically. Pushing this lever up closes the lens diaphragm so the photographer can see the depth of field of his selected aperture. This lever works by engaging with a lever on the lens which is used by the camera to stop down the lens when taking a picture. Right by the lens mount is a second lever. This one turns rather than slides and rotates anti-clockwise to set the self-timer. The timer to actuated by pressing the small black button on the middle of the lever. This gives a delay of 6 seconds on my camera. On the left side of the lens mount is the PC socket for a ‘cold shoe’ flash gun.
There are also several items on the base plate. Almost centrally, is the ubiquitous tripod boss – 1/4 inch Whitworth/UNC. In front of this is the battery compartment. This takes a A544 6v battery – still readily available. On the right-hand end of the camera is a connector for a motor-drive. This consists of a mechanical screw connector, two electrodes and a locating hole. As I do not have the motor-drive, I can say no more about this.
The lens that came with the camera is a Pentacon Prakticar lens. Its focal length is 50mm – so ‘normal’ for 35 mm photography (ie se pretty much the same view as a human eye) and its maximum aperture is f/1.8. Its minimum aperture is f/16. The focal range is from 0.45 metres to infinity. As was usual with film cameras, there is a DOF scale printed on the lens which, among other things, makes hyperfocal focusing much easier than it is with modern digital lenses. The throw of the focusing helical is somewhere around 300 degrees – ie you need to turn the focus ring through 300 degrees to go from minimum to maximum. This makes it easy to focus accurately but hard to focus quickly. There is also an infra-red marker. If you are using infra-red film, focus is not quite the same as with visible light so you have to focus normally and then move the focus marking to the red dot. For instance, if you are focused on 8 metres move the 8 from the usual red line to the red dot. Both the line and the dot are visible on the photo below. The lens is multi-coated which is as we would expect from any lens from this period.
I have now completed my test film. I am impressed with this camera. Exposure and focus are both spot on (it is manual focus but the focus aids in the viewfinder are working well). The only fault is that there is a curved pale line at the top of the frame in every shot. As the defect is at the top of the image, it must be at the bottom of the film gate – there is nothing visible to my naked eye that could cause this. My only thought is that there might be a small nick in the black paint on the metal shutter blades that is causing a slight reflection as the shutter fully opens (it opens downwards).