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10-05-2010, 07:35 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Asahi Pentax 'AP' (Tower 26)

The Asahi Optical Company released the 'Asahi Pentax' (AP) in 1957 as the replacement for their Asahiflex line of cameras. While not the first Pentaprism camera to be produced, the AP is considered by many to be the start of the modern 35mm SLR format still used today. The camera incorporated a number of features which were not typically found during this era. This was the first camera to combine eye level through the lens focusing, an instant return mirror and a right hand film advance/shutter cocking wind lever. The camera was so successful that the company eventually changed its name from Asahi Optical to Pentax.

Asahi Pentax
Also marketed as
Tower 26
Year introduced
Year discontinued
Automatic aperture stop down
No light meter
Exposure modes
Manual, B
Shutter speeds (auto)
Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual)
B, 1 - 1/500s, X
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
B, 1 - 1/500s, X
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Not applicable
Multiple exposures
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
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
None at the time of production. Available through switch on later lenses
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Size (W x H x D)
145 x 92 x 50mm
The first Pentax SLR with pentaprism viewfinder. The camera had no engraved model designation but was later referred to as 'AP'.
The camera had two shutter speed dials. The one on the top plate sets the fast speeds: 1/500, 1/200, 1/100, and 1/50s, the one on the front the slow speeds (controlled by a timer): 1/25, 1/10, 1/5, 1/2, and 1s.

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Last edited by Ole; 10-10-2010 at 03:59 PM.
10-11-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Sparwood, BC, Canada
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Asahi Pentax 'AP' (Tower 26) Camera Review

Pros All mechanical - hardly anything to break.
Cons All mechanical. Shutter curtains no longer available when they wear through.
Rating 6
Price (U.S. Dollars) I think I paid around Cdn$80, but really have no idea any more.
Years Owned I no longer own it, but bought it in 1961 and used it through 1976

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
The value of this camera to me was huge. I bought it used in 1961 for less than $100 in a pawn shop in Vancouver, BC. It taught me the basics of exposure, how to use light, how to meter with an external meter. Compared to modern cameras, it was a great big heavy tank. The durability of the camera was amazing - it was the main camera I used right up until 1976 when I replaced it with a KX because the shutters were worn out.

Camera Review
My first SLR, and I loved it. I almost bought one that came up for sale in Calgary for C$295 last year (2009) complete with the 55/2.2 preset lens. I did not buy it because it would have just been a trophy to sit on a shelf and collect dust, despite the love I had for this camera. In 1957, and even in 1961, this was a rather advanced camera. Instant return mirror, pentaprism, the whole ball of wax. I have boxes and boxes of slides and negatives of images taken with this camera. Note the durability of the camera. 19 years and counting from new when I replaced it. Even then I tried to find someone to replace the shutters and could not.
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