The Penti was made in East Germany by Welta from c.1959. It was available with a white, red , black or blue body.

Once the East German optical industry introduced a 35mm film load system concurrent to Agfa's West German Rapid film. This SL-System (SL-System=Schnell-Lade-System : Fast Load System) used two equal cartridges, one loaded, the other empty. The film advance system shifted the film via the image plane from one cartridge into the other, image by image.

The Penti may have been the finest compact camera for this film load system, a viewfinder camera with a complete set of manual setting controls, all as rings around the lens: one for distance, one for aperture, and one for shutter speed. It could make 24 18×24mm exposures on one strip of 35mm film loaded in special cassettes. There was a 1:3.5/30 lens, a Meyer Domiplan or a Meyer Trioplan, and a flash synchronized leaf shutter (the synchronisation was adjusted for bulb flashes only!). Its speciality was the long film advance button. Once pushed into the camera the film was advanced to the next frame. After exposure the button appeared again in full length so that forgetting film advance was never an issue with this camera. The button can be seen pushed in, in the photo of the back, above. Voigtländer's Vitessa had a similar feature.

In 1961 the Penti II was introduced by Pentacon's predecessor VEB Kinowerke. This version made it a real classic, combining the uniquely designed full featured viewfinder camera with viewfinder-controlled coupled match-needle selenium meter. It was produced until 1977.
The Penti I was similar to the II, but without the meter. Both cameras are nearly identical externally - the Penti I still has fake "exposure meter" windows on both side of the viewfinder - so they can be easily confused. The Penti II bears however the "PENTI II" name below the lens. Both the Penti I and II could synchronise a bulb flash at 1/30 s and an electronic flash at any shutter speed. After the Penti I and II were introduced, the original Penti was sometimes called the Penti 0.


Classic Compact Cameras
Canon IXUS | Minox 35 | Olympus XA | Penti