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09-04-2011, 01:47 PM   #1
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Pentax, Asahi, or Honeywell

I'm a bit confused about the Honeywell 35 mm film camera. Who is it made by? Why the Honeywell name on it? Why is it a Spotmatic ?

09-04-2011, 01:50 PM   #2
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09-04-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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I do believe it goes something like this... Importers and public perception and Honeywell name was American friendly. The same say Spotmatic would sell elsewhere as Asahi. Over time the Asahi part was dropped to make a single brand name more publicly memorable. Many imported Japanese product first came under the name of Tower... Sears I think?
09-04-2011, 01:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by atupdate Quote
Thanks atupdate

09-04-2011, 01:56 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MysteryOnion Quote
I do believe it goes something like this... Importers and public perception and Honeywell name was American friendly. The same say Spotmatic would sell elsewhere as Asahi. Over time the Asahi part was dropped to make a single brand name more publicly memorable. Many imported Japanese product first came under the name of Tower... Sears I think?
Thanks, MysteryOnion
09-04-2011, 04:13 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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The Asahi Optical Company was formed back in the twenties, I believe, to make lenses for other companies to use in microscopes.

In 1952, Asahi introduced their first camera, the Asahiflex I. This was a 35mm SLR with a waistlevel viewfinder and a non-return mirror. It used a 37mm screw mount lens.

This camera and its immediate followers were sold, both under the Asahi name in camera stores, and under the Sears house-brand, Tower.

In 1957, Asahi introduced the Pentax. At that time, Pentax was simply a model name, not the name of the company. The camera was officially, the Asahi Pentax. This was the first to use the 42mm M42 screwmount lens mount that became known as the Pentax mount, although it was by no means exclusive to Pentax.

Sometime around 1960, the Heiland photographic division of the Honeywell Corp. became the sole US importer for Asahi products. The name of the Japanese maker remained Asahi Optical Co., or AOC.

There were a series of M42 cameras, beginning with the Asahi S2 (identical to the Heiland H2), and the S1, S1a, S3 and SV (Honeywell H1, H1a, H3 and H3v). In 1964, they introduced the now-famous Spotmatic, which went through several model changes until the last version, the Spotmatic F in about 1973.

In about 1974 or 1975, Honeywell ceased to be the US importer. Asahi formed their own subsidiary and, from that point on, the cameras were branded as Asahi Pentax cameras, worldwide. I'm not sure of the details of the Honeywell departure. Was it Honeywell's desire to get out of the photo business or Asahi's desire to take control of the US market. In any event, the Honeywell name disappeared from the photo business at that time.

I don't believe that any K-mount cameras were ever sold with the Honeywell name on them. Whether they were imported by Honeywell or not, I don't know.

The name remained Asahi Optical until 1997, I believe, when the corporation changed its name to Pentax Corporation. There was no change of ownership at that time.

About three or four years ago, Hoya bought controlling interest in Pentax Corp. The then merged Pentax into Hoya Corp., and the Pentax Corp. ceased to exist. At that point, Pentax was once again, only a brand name, rather than a corporate name.

On July 1, 2011, Hoya announced that it was selling the Pentax photo-imaging business, along with the intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc.) to Ricoh. This deal has not yet closed. That is scheduled to happen on Oct. 1, 2011.

In short, the cameras were made by AOP from 1952 until the name change in 1997, after which they were made by Pentax corp. until the Hoya takeover. Between about 1960 and 1975, Honeywell was the US importer. Everywhere else in the world, the cameras were virtually always sold under Asahi Pentax brand.

After the first few years, during which the cameras were sold by sears under the Tower brand, I don't believe that Pentax has ever made a camera using anyone else's name.
09-04-2011, 04:49 PM   #7
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thanks, noblepa - great info.
09-04-2011, 05:33 PM   #8
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+1 noblepa!

Pretty soon, if all goes according to plan, we'll have to roll the Ricoh history in with this. Ricoh has a long involvement with Pentax, making M42 and PK Pentax-compatible lenses and bodies, sold under Ricoh and other names -- especially Sears and Focal (K-Mart) in USA. Together, Pentax and Ricoh have a rich history and a propitious future.

09-04-2011, 07:03 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by noblepa Quote
In about 1974 or 1975, Honeywell ceased to be the US importer. Asahi formed their own subsidiary and, from that point on, the cameras were branded as Asahi Pentax cameras, worldwide. I'm not sure of the details of the Honeywell departure. Was it Honeywell's desire to get out of the photo business or Asahi's desire to take control of the US market. In any event, the Honeywell name disappeared from the photo business at that time.

I don't believe that any K-mount cameras were ever sold with the Honeywell name on them. Whether they were imported by Honeywell or not, I don't know.
Excellent summary! I have a Honeywell Photo products guide from August 1975, just after the "K" Series was released. It has the “Honeywell Pentax” branded Spotmatic/ES cameras and the “Asahi Pentax” branded K series cameras listed.

I believe Honeywell stopped being the US importer of Pentax shortly after that and yes no “K” series bodies were ever branded “Honeywell Pentax”.

Phil.
09-04-2011, 08:28 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by atupdate Quote
Actually, Honeywell also imported some other 35mm cameras as well, especially a fixed lens rangefinder that was actually made by Mamiya. So while there is a high probability that it was an Asahi Optical made Pentax, there wasn't enough information. Plus, not all Pentax 35mm bodies distributed by Honeywell were Spotmatics because there were several pre-Spotties as well distributed by Honeywell. Wikipedia isn't a completely vetted peer reviewed source.

Edit: The Asahi Optical Historical Club as a list of Asahi Optical model names and corresponding names for the Honeywell distributed models.

http://www.aohc.it/slr02e.htm

Edit: In addition to the honeywell 35mm rangefinders, other gear distributed by Honeywell that was independent of Pentax/Asahi Optical was the Honeywell Strobonar flashes.
09-04-2011, 09:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Edit: In addition to the honeywell 35mm rangefinders, other gear distributed by Honeywell that was independent of Pentax/Asahi Optical was the Honeywell Strobonar flashes.
The Strobonar flashes were made by Rollie, in Germany.

That is why the Spotmatic IIa was a USA only model. It had a light sensor on the body to control the light output of the Strobonar 772 and 882. Since the Strobonar flashes were not made by Asahi, they did not sell the SP IIa outside the US.

I have a couple of Strobonar flashes, and they are great. Mine are the "potato masher" style.

Does anyone know if Rollei still makes flashes?
09-04-2011, 10:03 PM   #12
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Pentax released a flash unit called Autorobo in 1973/74, which was available in all markets except the USA. Honeywell blocked its import into the US, due to their line of Strobonar flashes.



Phil.
09-04-2011, 10:12 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by noblepa Quote
The Strobonar flashes were made by Rollie, in Germany.

That is why the Spotmatic IIa was a USA only model. It had a light sensor on the body to control the light output of the Strobonar 772 and 882. Since the Strobonar flashes were not made by Asahi, they did not sell the SP IIa outside the US.

I have a couple of Strobonar flashes, and they are great. Mine are the "potato masher" style.

Does anyone know if Rollei still makes flashes?
Best I can tell, the stopped making flashes in the 80s and had started making some of their stuff in Japan and Singapore.

Rollei professional flash strobes

Apparently, Honeywell liked to make "improvements" on gear and the SP IIa wasn't the only thing they had in mind.

The retired Honyewell guy joined PF a while back (about a month ago) and showed pics of this and tried to sell it but was out of bounds they way he went about it. Honeywell had worked up a couple of prototypes with a true spotmeter.

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09-04-2011, 10:14 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Pentax released a flash unit called Autorobo in 1973/74, which was available in all markets except the USA. Honeywell blocked its import into the US, due to their line of Strobonar flashes.



Phil.
That was probably one of the reasons that Pentax dropped Honeywell as the U.S.A. distributor when the K series was released.
09-04-2011, 10:56 PM   #15
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Thanks to all. I’m not confused now!!
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