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09-29-2010, 08:58 AM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Posts: 4,190
Pentax SV (H3v)

The SV was released in 1962, primarily as an upgrade from the H1/S1 to H3/S3 camera lines. A budget model of the SV, the S1a, was also released in 1962, although it lacked the timer found on the SV, was 'marketed' as being limited to 1/500s (but can be set to 1/1000s). The SV came equipped with a Super Takumar 55/1.8 lens while the S1a came with a slower 55/2 lens.

Asahi Pentax SV
Also marketed as
Honeywell Pentax H3v
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 - 1/1000s, X
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
T, B, 1 - 1/1000s, X
Self timer
Yes, 5 - 10s
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
The SV came in an early and a late type. The latter has an orange 'R' on the rewind knob which tells that the camera can use the 50mm f/1.4 lens (which protudes farther into the camera than all other 50mm lenses)

Attached Images

Last edited by Ole; 10-10-2010 at 04:18 PM.
12-06-2010, 02:04 PM   #2
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MysteryOnion's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: beantown
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Posts: 944
Pentax SV (H3v) Camera Review

Pros Improved over S1 or S3
Cons Early days of SLRs
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) 35.00
Years Owned 3

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Basically a solid mechanical camera. Of the SLR family I would say it is third generation of the SLR family just prior to the larger framed Spotties packing on-board metering. The SV still has the smaller compact body that is more from the era of Asahiflex and the other rangefinder sized bodies. It is a form that is comfortable to hold and the weight speaks more of the pure picture taking machine than scale tipping contests. With a decently bright pentaprism, the view of course is better when 1.8 or faster lenses are installed, it is simple, clean and dependable.

Camera Review
Now this camera is a fun one to write about. I will first point out that my two examples were acquired as "as-is" or "for repairs" bodies. They looked like new and sort of functioned, but age and climate had taken the "click" out of the cameras... it was more like a "zuff" as the shutter stops in mid cycle. Post CLA which I must say was a pleasure to do on such uncomplicated camera layouts. Be mindful that if you are looking to for one as a user, be aware of the shutter curtains. They get a little dried out and wrinkled. When tuned up the shutters fire reliably, but still get a little cranky in cold weather.

The SV and many of the series prior to the Spotmatics had smaller cowlings around the lens mount base. You then can really wrap your hand around it for a snug grip behind the lens. This is near the "sticks and cloth" days of SLRs and so you don't have built-in meters, ASA knobs or hot-shoes, but you do have the "X" and "FP" connections. So armed with Sunny 16 and a one of the superb Super-Takumars, you can do some serious picture taking.

The focus is aided by a microprism and is adequate for lenses until f4.5 and then it starts to get dark. The collar area around the microprism also starts to darken as well. However, you will be able to sort out the focus for most lenses. Viewing through, I've not noticed the difference from it and any other as far as focusing and some how the lack of numbers and needles and other bit that feels more like a being in the golden age of photography.

The film advance feels a little crude and my two examples seem to have some odd rubbing feel that did not go away with the cleaning and greasing. Otherwise, the advancing of the film was easy and allowed positive locking of the shutter.

The mirror is less dampened that later models and you can see the rapid few bounces before it settles down. It does not effect the picture and is minor enough that you would not care had it not been that I told you it was there... sorry. Another note, if you are looking to acquired an old SV, do check to see if the mirror foam is not sticky, decaying or missing, it is a common cause of jam issues.

The SV, in my opinion, has a wonderful old time click of the shutter. Some quick tests have shown that my SV's shutter has slowed a little with age, but it is consistent and I might bump up the shutter spring a notch if it does not throw off the span of the speeds. The pictures seemed exposed close to correct although I might not be so sure with slide films.

The SV has a self-timer located at the base of the rewind knob. To use is simply a turn to set and a small chrome button activates to give about 10 seconds, but you can of course turn it part way to get shorter speeds. The shorter 5 seconds is helpful for low speed shots, I would set the timer hang on and click.

A basic solid little SLR and when it is in well kept up, it will deliver as well as any other camera.

The un-official mirror lock-up:
I'm not sure if it can be done with others cameras of this era...
The best way I found to do this is to position the very tip of my finger at the edge of the release button and flick my finger off that edge. Just enough force to quickly make the button go down, but not hard or long enough to hit bottom and trigger the shutter. You will hear a soft click of the mirror going up and no slap of the shutter. If you look at the viewfinder, it is dark and the film advance is still locked meaning the shutter is still ready. Try it... with no film.

Last edited by MysteryOnion; 12-20-2010 at 09:11 AM.
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