Film Fridays: The Space Age-looking East German autofocus SLR that nearly was

An early engineering model of the autofocus-capable Praktica BY60.Photo: Praktica Collector During much of the Cold War, Praktica-brand cameras – manufactured in the East German city of Dresden by camera conglomerate Pentacon – were ubiquitous among Soviet photography enthusiasts and budget-conscious western hobbyists. But as the 1980's rolled around, one key feature that Prakticas noticeably lacked was autofocus. All that was set to change by the late 1980's, with the planned introduction of the Praktica BY60, the first East German-made AF-capable SLR. With millions spent in research and development and an impressive list of features beyond just AF technology – including a 1/2000 sec max shutter speed, auto flash exposure, and a DX code reading system – the camera was meant to compete with the best SLRs the West had to offer. But alas, it never came to fruition – just before its planned launch, the Berlin Wall came down and the camera was permanently shelved. So what became of the technology behind the BY60? Our friends at KosmoFoto have the answers... Read - KosmoFoto: East Germany’s plans for a Space Age autofocus SLR About Film Fridays: We recently launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we'll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at KosmoFoto and 35mmc.

Film Fridays: The Space Age-looking East German autofocus SLR that nearly was
An early engineering model of the autofocus-capable Praktica BY60.
Photo: Praktica Collector

During much of the Cold War, Praktica-brand cameras – manufactured in the East German city of Dresden by camera conglomerate Pentacon – were ubiquitous among Soviet photography enthusiasts and budget-conscious western hobbyists. But as the 1980's rolled around, one key feature that Prakticas noticeably lacked was autofocus.

All that was set to change by the late 1980's, with the planned introduction of the Praktica BY60, the first East German-made AF-capable SLR. With millions spent in research and development and an impressive list of features beyond just AF technology – including a 1/2000 sec max shutter speed, auto flash exposure, and a DX code reading system – the camera was meant to compete with the best SLRs the West had to offer.

But alas, it never came to fruition – just before its planned launch, the Berlin Wall came down and the camera was permanently shelved. So what became of the technology behind the BY60? Our friends at KosmoFoto have the answers...

Read - KosmoFoto: East Germany’s plans for a Space Age autofocus SLR

About Film Fridays: We recently launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we'll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at KosmoFoto and 35mmc.