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Pentax S2 (H2)

Reviews Views Date of last review
4 26,970 Sun November 10, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $42.34 8.25
Pentax S2 (H2)

Pentax S2 (H2)
Pentax S2 (H2)
Pentax S2 (H2)
Pentax S2 (H2)
Pentax S2 (H2)
Pentax S2 (H2)

The S2/H2 was released in 1959, a year after the 'K'. The S2/H2's top shutter speed was reduced from the K's 1/1000s to just 1/500s, but there were a number of advancements. The S2/H2 was the first Pentax to use a single speed dial and the camera included a Fresnel focusing screen. Also, unlike the previous models the shutter speed dial did not rotate when the shutter fired. Another improvement was a small window on the top plate which would turn red when the shutter was cocked.
During this period, Pentax traditionally released it's cameras within the North American market through a distributor. This was the first Pentax camera that the Heiland division of the Honeywell Corporation brought into North America, and the name 'H2' was presumably chosen for them. The camera was released as the S2 in other markets except South Africa where the camera was called 'Asahiflex H2' due to the name 'Pentax' being a trademark of another company.

Copies of the H2 exist with the film speed reminder dial calibrated in DIN rather than ASA (see last photo above).

In 1962 the S2 was upgraded and marketed as the Super S2 in select markets.

Asahi Pentax S2
Also marketed as
Asahi Pentax H2
Heiland Pentax H2
Asahiflex H2
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)
143 x 92 x 47mm
The 'S2' /'H2' model came in an early and a late model. The late type has coupling for a light meter on the shutter dial.
Price History:

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Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,433
Review Date: November 10, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax S2 (H2): Yes | Price: $4.67 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Plentiful, lots of versions for collectors
Cons: Many have laggy shutters

It's pretty much a standard S/H camera. If you're interested in a camera collecting challenge, this is a fun one to try and pursue all the versions of. These are the versions I know of:

- Asahi Pentax S2 in Japan (and internationally in general)
- Asahi Pentax SB, where B is the second letter in the alphabet, sold in Japanese military camps, note that the rare SB2 is a Pentax S3
- Asahiflex H2 in South Africa, and possibly Finland (though the older, printed sources I read only mention South Africa, and Iíve found no sources except online that indicate Finland was a possible market)
- Asahi Pentax H2 (multiple international markets, mostly Europe)
- Honeywell Heiland Pentax H2 (US)
- Honeywell Pentax H2 (also the US, but later)
- Asahi Pentar H2 (South Africa), also one of the rarest Pentax cameras collectors can pursue
- Penta Asahiflex H2 (South Africa)

Also, it was available in black and silver, so you can presumably double that list if you want one of each color. And there were production variations. Early examples had no clip-on meter interface on the shutter dials. Latter versions did. The S2 Super had the 1/1,000th shutter speed. Also, I've seen photos of latter S2 Super bodies that have a self-resetting fame counter whereas the H2 has a manual-resetting counter.
New Member

Registered: February, 2019
Posts: 12
Review Date: July 6, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax S2 (H2): Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: It does what it was designed to and it works
Cons: Often far too expensive

Why people buy old cameras and expect them to do (1) what they are not designed to do and (2) are expected to work 100% like a new camera are factors of the online photography review world that make me scream with annoyance sometimes.

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Queensland
Posts: 3,857

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 27, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax S2 (H2): Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Well made, still functional, and historical.
Cons: Missing many auto features now standard

I already had the SV and S1A which came after this model from 1959. It has no hot shoe, self-timer or auto reset of film counter. I checked under the base plate and the workings look a lot less complicated than later models. I love simplicity, and have now loaded a film into this model to check it out. Like the SV and S1A the body is a little smaller than the later Spotmatics which had to fit in the light meter.
The H2 (also known as S2) I have says Pentax on front. I understand it was the first Pentax to have all the speed on the one top dial, rather than having the slow speeds on front. Top speed is 1/500 sec. It used an Auto Tacumar lens which was manually opened for focusing but closed to the set aperture automatically.
I love the quality feel of these early Pentaxs, which was never surpassed in my opinion.

The S3 came later in 1960 with a 1.8 lens and 1/1000 sec speed
The S1 came after the S2 and 3, in 1961 as a cheaper S3 with 1/500 sec and Auto Tacumar f2.0
Later came the SV and S1A to which you could attach a nifty dedicated light meter.
Note: If you use a Super Tac. or SMC Tac, you should use the Manual setting on the lens, as the camera aperture lever was designed to trip the Auto Tac to it's pre selected aperture, and not calibrated for the pin depression to set the actual aperture.
When using the Auto Tac, and after opening the lens with the lever on the lens, the sequence is that as one pushes the release button halfway, the lens aperture is released to the preset position. At full depression, the shutter is tripped.

Market Morning

Here is the first film I got back which is on expired Fuji 200. There is no PP at all on this. Some of my shots were under exposed more than I expected, and I don't know if the age of the film had anything to do with it.
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,298
Review Date: May 16, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax S2 (H2): Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sleak

This is a sleak body and one in the succession of bodies following the AP-S-K triumvirate of 1957 and 1958 that set the 135 camera world on its head.
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