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02-26-2012, 03:41 PM   #1
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Black Asahi Pentax S

Hi to all.

Does anyone have a good method of find out how rare a black Asahi Pentax S actually is? from what I read, there are some 3600 AP S produced, and a few of these were black. Does anyone have a record or approximation on how many this would be?

02-26-2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Baard-Einar Quote
Hi to all.

Does anyone have a good method of find out how rare a black Asahi Pentax S actually is? from what I read, there are some 3600 AP S produced, and a few of these were black. Does anyone have a record or approximation on how many this would be?
I'm afraid I don't have the answer but there would be very few....do you have one to sell me?
02-26-2012, 05:50 PM   #3
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Asahi Pentax S

From an article "Asahi Pentax Original and Asahi Pentax S", Dario Bonazza, published in Spotmatic #14 October 1997, the magazine of the Asahi Optical Historical Club, referring to Fred Sherfy's seminal 1994 work ,

"A variation of the Asahi Pentax Original was the Asahi Pentax S. It was introduced in April 1958 and discontinued in May 1959. Visible differences between the Asahi Pentax and the Asahi Pentax S include the different progression of shutter speeds (with the latter featuring the modern near arithmetical progression of speeds) and a different film reminder dial. The film reminder dial was the same as that found on the next Asahi Pentax K (the third and last model of the first series of Asahi Pentax cameras). Since the Asahi Pentax S was sold at the same time as the Pentax K, it can be considered to be a budget version of the Pentax K. The Asahi Pentax S was also available in either satin chrome or all black finish, both being uncommon. The Asahi Pentax S also had the S model designation 'S' marked below the serial number. A few early bodies have been reported in the literature with no model designation at all. It is possible these examples represent damaged Asahi Pentax S cameras with top housing plates replaced with spare AP plates, bearing the AP lower serial numbers. Registered serial numbers for the Asahi Pentax S range from 150981 to 165354 (154000 to 162000 according to Mr.Sherfy) and a total production of less than 4,000 pcs has been estimated by Fred Sherfy in his book. The standard lenses for the Asahi Pentax S were the 55mm f/2.2 Takumar or the 55mm f/1.8 Takumar in Pentacon/Pentax M42x1 screw mount."

I know this doesn't directly answer your question but readers may be interested in the detail. It certainly suggests very few should remain extant today.
02-27-2012, 12:11 PM   #4
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well its well known that the S is the rarest; by numbers, model manufactured, and since its safe to say that a lot fewer black painted models were made vs the satin chrome, I would venture to guess that a black paint S would then be the rarest production model Pentax ever made. but I honestly don't think anyone, even Pentax has all the records available to say just how many may have been produced, so I'm not sure anyone can actually answer that question. wasn't there a black S on ebay just recently? I thought I saw one in a lot with two other pre-spotmatic black paint bodies. I didn't bother watching the auction though, as I figured the price would go sky high.

02-27-2012, 04:27 PM   #5
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production numbers

It is strange that the Janpanese, who are som strong on details, didn't keep records. I lived in Japan for 6 years and everything was 100% perfect all around. Well, guess nobody imagined that someone would want this sometime in the future.

I should have bought loads of old Pentax stuff while living there, but beeing a teen all I bought was a brand new LX with motor drive, sports finder and a second hand MX with a motor.
02-28-2012, 08:33 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Baard-Einar Quote
It is strange that the Janpanese, who are som strong on details, didn't keep records.
So true. Some of the biggest mysteries in photographia relate to who in Japan made what. The Germans were very good about that sort of thing. The Soviets, a little less so, but still much better than the Japanese. Sometimes I imagine Japan in the 50s and 60s as being a vast parts bin for camera and lens assembly with makers picking and choosing depending on the day of the week and with most of the components being more or less comparable. (Case in point would be the Tomioka lenses that were badged to multiple camera brands.)


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02-28-2012, 10:06 AM   #7
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It does sound like quite an informal time during the early 1950s. and it sounds like the cameras were generally developed and initially produced by pretty small groups. The Asahi history suggests that the Asahiflex was basically developed by two individuals, as a sideline to the company's main business. Back in the 30s, Canon was started by 3 people (with help from Nippon Kogaku for optics). Orion (Miranda - the first pentaprism 35 in Japan) was started by 2 engineers. It appears that Orion, Asahi, and Nicca (Leica copy rangefinder) had some cross-pollination of ideas and parts as they grew their businesses. Remember, the whole country was trying to recover from the war, cameras played a big part in export products, and there was probably more cooperation than modern company attitudes would expect.
02-29-2012, 07:51 AM   #8
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It was indeed a crazy time in Japan. I wasn't there but my folks moved to Japan in 1955 and spent the next 38 years here before retiring and returning to the U.S.
The economic catch up game was absolutely huge, with results to prove it. And consider that at the close of WWII almost all major cities had large sections that lie in ruins; burnt to the ground. Scrambling for supplies and facilities was common place. But for the entrepreneur the opportunities were huge. Almost every mechanical or engineering production facility had been forced to work for the war effort and suddenly all of that was gone. Manufacturers could return to what they had done before the war, or in many cases try new things based on the experience and technology they had gained during the war. I love digging through my dad's old photos from his early years in Japan.

The fact that so many wonderful cameras were designed, developed, manufactured and sold in those years is a testimonial to the incredible ingenuity and work ethic of these people! I guess it's only natural that I love my old Pentax, Bronica and Mamiya cameras so much!

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