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Pentax S1 (H1)

Reviews Views Date of last review
3 15,994 Fri April 22, 2016
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
67% of reviewers $43.95 7.67
Pentax S1 (H1)

The Pentax S (H in the USA) model series of cameras were released out of sequential order, beginning with the S2/H2 in 1959, followed by the S3/H3 in 1960 and finally with this camera, the S1/H1 in 1961. The S1/H1 was targeted as a budget model to complement the more advanced S3/H3. In reality, the cameras were nearly identical, with the 1/1000th marking removed from the shutter speed dial. Pentax released this camera in North America through a distributor, the Heiland division of the Honeywell Corporation. The name 'H1' was presumably chosen in reference to the distributor. The camera was released as the S1 in other markets.

Asahi Pentax S1
Also marketed as
Heiland Pentax H1
Honeywell Pentax H1
Year introduced
Year discontinued
Automatic aperture stop down
No light meter
Exposure modes
Manual, B
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
T, B, 1 - 1/500s, X
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
T, B, 1 - 1/500s, X
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
Ratchet type rapid wind lever
Flash hot shoe
Built-in flash
TTL/P-TTL flash
Flash sync speed
FP and X terminals - 1/50s
Flash exposure comp
Not applicable
Viewfinder type
Pentaprism finder with Fresnel lens + microprism
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Through switch on lens where available
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Size (W x H x D)
140 x 92 x 50mm
Price History:

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Registered: August, 2012
Location: Queensland
Posts: 3,428
Review Date: April 22, 2016 I can recommend the Pentax S1 (H1): Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Part of the Pentax SLR early history.
Cons: A Super or SMC lens may give problems

I had my H2 (S2) shooting film before I got this this S1. Just what were the improvements over the S2 from the year before? The most obvious was facility for the special lightmeter. My model didn't work with a Super Tacumar (neither did H2 unless manual is selected)
Note: On H2 (S2) a Super-Takumar lens does not properly work on Auto stop down, because the camera trip lever doesn't push the lens pin fully closed, (about f8). Compose with lens in auto, switch to manual to shoot.)
[It seems to me that the S1 and S3 differ from the S2 (H2) in that they can use Auto lenses & light meter.
I would check the S1 because the camera trip lever may not push the lens pin correctly (see H2 above).
Just checked the S1 with a SMC 1.8 on auto. It worked on small f16 aperture but jammed at 5.6 because the pin doesn't go in far enough for the camera tripper lever, thus jams movement. OK on manual because pin is unrestricted. No adjustment on S1 for lever movement like H2]
My S3 has no problems with an 'auto' (super) lens, so I'm not sure if the S1 is limited to true Auto lenses.
All in all, the replacement S1A and SV solved the lens limitations of these early models and are more convenient to use with improved minor details such as auto counter resetting or timers.
Just remember when you use a genuine Auto or pre-set lens, there are two clicks. the first is the aperture slapping down, and the second is the shutter.
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Gotland
Posts: 103
Review Date: February 18, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax S1 (H1): Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Mine is black with some brassing. Fine design, none better looking. Compact. Reliable.
Cons: Diagraphm operation of original 55 lens is cumbersome.

I got this camera in 1961 as a gift. The camera is marked S1 and has number 323782. I used it many years. By around 1980, the shutter started to behave badly. I had it repaired (new shutter) for sentimental reasons and got 1/1000 exposure time as a bonus! No other repairs needed so far.

ADDENDUM: By April, 2018 I had the camera cleaned and adjusted. Now it looks, feels and sounds as great as ever!

This camera is 100% manual. No light metering, no autofocus. The kit lens has a somewhat cumbersome semi-auto diagraphm operation, later lenses are fully automatic.

I used the instructions printed on the film box to get correct exposure under normal circumstances and used a hand-held Seconic meter indoors or in the dusk. Focus? No problem, eyeball measurement was okay in most cases, you have to lean and do learn. A measuring tape worked in critical work. The standard 55mm f2,2 lens has excellent sharpness. In 1974 I used the camera to reproduce a series of exhibition posters and was amazed to find that even the small print was accurately reproduced.

A few years later I bought a 24mm f3,5 lens and a 105mm f2,8 lens. The 24 mm is a good one.

Registered: October, 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,387
Review Date: August 30, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax S1 (H1): No | Price: $27.90 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Quality construction, quiet and pleasing shutter sound, great focusing screen
Cons: Manual frame counter reset, 1/1,000th is unmarked and uncalibrated

Honestly, it's a fine camera and amply capable. I don't think it offers anything special in the S/H lineup as compared to the SV (H3V) or H1a. But it's also a stable camera design that began with the S (Tower 26), progressed into the S2 (H2), then to the S1 (H1), S1a (H1a), and finally into the Spotmatic SP 500. The DNA tracks closely down the cameras' lineage and the reason why is simple: These are easy to use, solid, reliable, and well made cameras. Yes, I would like a self-resetting frame counter. But then I'd have an H1a. So, taken as its own offering, I like the S1 (H1). If you're looking to complete an S/H collection, it's worth getting. If you're looking at getting an entry-level body to use from the S/H line, look at the H1A or spend a few extra bucks to get an H3V. (Actually, my H3V was 1/3 the cost of this camera.)

Were it not for the fact that this camera as the Fresnel focusing screen I like so much, I'd give it a 6. The focusing screen is worth the added point, no doubt.
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