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03-09-2012, 12:06 PM   #1
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Early Pentax advise ?

After a long time searching I got a Takumar 58/2 and now I am looking for an early Pentax to use this lens with. I tested it on my LX, all fine. But there's something not quite right about the combination, same goes for the Spotmatic F with this lens. I guess I should try a Pentax S3 or SV or one from this period, and I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about this? I do not mind guessing the light metering, as I print myself and can compensate mistakes easily. If there are differences in viewfinders, or screens, of course my eyes like the brighter ones better. I guess what I am also asking is to hear pros and cons about those early models, the S and H models . . . thanks !

03-09-2012, 12:41 PM   #2
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While the finders on the earlier models are a bit dimmer, I find them generally easier to focus due to the ground-glass texture. My favorite screen is the "Original Pentax" or AP of about 1957. It has no microprism area, just plain groundglass in the center. The S1 (and S1a or H1a) has a diagonal-slash microprism that is large and covers most of the center part of the finder. The SV has a slightly smaller cross-hatch microprism spot, but not as small as the Spotmatics.
Since your 58 f2.0 should be a preset lens, I'd suggest the AP or "Original Pentax" as the plain finder would work well with it, and it is simpler mechanically without the auto stop-down mechanism of later models. They are harder to find, but I finally found a nice one (and ended up with a second body as well) at a fair price. Eric will still service these, even replacing the curtains as they have tended to stiffen over time.
Of course, the SV has all the refinements, and is much more common and cheaper.
03-09-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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well, a lot of us here, myself certainly included can easily recommend the SV. and its a great starting point. the thing to understand about the pre-spotmatic cameras is that their bodies are based directly off of the original Asahiflex. this goes for every model from the 1957 Asahi Pentax to the 1962 S1a. this is quite different than a Spotmatic on many levels and thus gives a completely different feel and overall experience in use, despite not really being vastly different than the spotmatic i overall control layout.

now, your lens was originally offered in 1957, and was discontinued that same year. that means that the most historically accurate body to use this lens on would be the original 1957 'Asahi Pentax' 'AP'. But I would strongly caution against seeking out this model for several reasons:

cost, rarity (closely associated with cost) dual shutter speed dials and a maximum shutter speed of only 1/500, dimmer less magnified viewfinder.

there are two other earlier bodies that would be a good fit, but they are more rare and usually more expensive than even the 'AP'. that would be the 'S' and the 'K'.

the recommendations you are going to get the most are likely to be the S2/H2, S3/H3, S1/H1, SV/H3v and S1a/H1a. any one of these cameras are a good choice, but some of them I think are better options than others. if you don't mind the 'Honeywell' Pentax versions you can usually save some money in acquiring a particular model (these being the 'H' models as appeased to the Asahi 'S' models.

the S2 (Honeywell Heiland H2) was the first of the 'S' models, 1959-1961. (model II 1961-1963) top shutter speed 1/500. later models have notch in ss dial for external meter coupling.

the S3 (Honeywell Heiland H3) was the second model, 1961-1969. top shutter speed 1/1000, notch in ss dial for meter coupling. new "cross areal microcosm" focusing rangefinder.

the S1 (Honeywell H1) the third model, 1961-1963. top shutter speed 1/1000 , notch in ss dial for meter coupling.

the SV (Honeywell Pentax H3v) the fourth model, 1962-1968, top shutter speed 1/1000, top plate mounted self timer (the first model to include a built in self timer) self zeroing exposure counter, improved back door lock mechanism, later models featured a modified aperture diaphragm to accept the takumar 50mm 1,4, notch in ss dial for meter coupling.

the S1a (Honeywell H1a) the fifth and final model, 1962-1968, top shutter speed 1/500, exactly the same as the SV but lacking the self-timer and 1/1000 shutter speed selection.

all of these models have similar focusing screens, but changes were made throughout the series. the introduction of crossed diagonal lines in the micro prism focusing in the S3. the fresnel focusing around the micro prism was enlarged from 8 to 11mm in 1964. the early screens are darker but I find them easier to focus without the microprosm center such as on the SV. user preference though I suppose.

my 0.02, for what its worth, is that the best choice is easily the SV. it will give you the same look and feel of the period correct body of this lens, but give you all the advancements made throughout the series leading up to the Spotmatic. no compromises, the best of both worlds. early Pentax look and feel, more modern Pentax engineering. you can also track down an original Pentax top mounted meter and not have to worry about the need for a hand held meter or going without. plus, that 1/1000 will come in might handy since most of todays films are faster than what was typically used back then. and you get the only body with a self-timer if that matters.

here is my SV and Takumar 55 2.2 (also a standard lens for the 'AP' from 1957)

Last edited by séamuis; 03-09-2012 at 01:16 PM.
03-09-2012, 01:22 PM   #4
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FWIW, I will list for sale this weekend three period camera bodies that have been recently CLA'ed by Eric - "K" and Zebra AT 55/1.8 lens (with accessories); SV; H1a. These are wonderful cameras but my vision has recently dramatically changed for the worse and I've undergone several surgeries. For that reason I cannot effectively use them any longer and it doesn't make sense to have so many film bodies on my shelf.

If you have any interest PM me and I'll gice you first crack.

03-09-2012, 02:48 PM   #5
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Thanks a lot for all your thoughts and information. How can one tell an SV is made suitable to accept the Takumar 50/1.4 ? I have the first version of that one . . .

Seamuis, thanks for your detailed input, very kind! Lovely camera you got there!
03-09-2012, 03:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hilo Quote
Thanks a lot for all your thoughts and information. How can one tell an SV is made suitable to accept the Takumar 50/1.4 ? I have the first version of that one . . .

Seamuis, thanks for your detailed input, very kind! Lovely camera you got there!
as far as I know, there are no directly visible signs inside the mirror box or to the aperture diaphragm to indicate that it will accept the takumar 50 1,4. the usual method for assuring that is to simply get a later model. it was typical for Asahi Opt. to distinguish between early model and late model of a series (though I don't know why or when Asahi Opt. decided to make the switch. i.e. what was the factory designation for 'late model') but they marked the change by changing the colour of the 'R' on the rewind knob from green to orange. there may be other tell tale signs such a change in the font used for the lettering on the controls dials. (usually an early model has wider or thinner lettering) or in some models by the placement of screws. (though I cat say wether that signifies late or early) some SV's had body screws on either side of the viewfinder, and some didn't. (my late model for example does) your best bet is really to seek out a model with an orange 'R' and you should be ok. if you are unsure you could show a photo of a model you bought or are thinking of buying and we could likely identify it as early or late.
03-09-2012, 04:04 PM   #7
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S series Lens Compatibility

As Seamuis mentioned, the main change to watch for on SV bodies is the change to allow use of the 50 f1.4 lens, indicated by the change from a green R on the rewind to an orange R. Here's how to spot the difference internally:
First the Green R aperture stop-down:
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Next the Orange R stop down:
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The difference is slight, but recognizable. I have a few bodies of each version, and it is consistent.
Curious, but my 1957 AP bodies both have an orange R on the rewind knob; but then they don't have this mechanism at all!
03-09-2012, 04:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
The difference is slight, but recognizable. I have a few bodies of each version, and it is consistent.
Curious, but my 1957 AP bodies both have an orange R on the rewind knob; but then they don't have this mechanism at all!
the AP was designed to be used with preset lenses. the first body to include an aperture diaphragm lever was I believe the 'K' as it was the first model to be used with the 'Auto-Takumar' lenses, which were the first non preset lenses Asahi Opt. produced. the 'S' apparently had a more primitive version of the lever but I've never seen one to be sure. the change from green R's to orange R's was something Asahi Opt. did on nearly all models, and only indicates a change from early to late model (as far as anyone knows) and not a specific change to a particular model.

03-09-2012, 06:10 PM   #9
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Earliest auto-diaphragm

Since you brought it up, here is the earlier "S" mechanism for stopping down the diaphragm. It's a longer, narrower band that moves more linearly front-back than pivoting like the later models. This is from my Heiland H1 that has the (Semi) auto 2.2 lens. This lens is manually cocked by lever on the lens, then the camera just releases it with a gentle push on the pin. It looks like the later mechanism (SV through Spotmatic) has more mechanical advantage, as it has to overcome the spring that re-opens the diaphragm.
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03-09-2012, 06:44 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
Since you brought it up, here is the earlier "S" mechanism for stopping down the diaphragm. It's a longer, narrower band that moves more linearly front-back than pivoting like the later models. This is from my Heiland H1 that has the (Semi) auto 2.2 lens. This lens is manually cocked by lever on the lens, then the camera just releases it with a gentle push on the pin. It looks like the later mechanism (SV through Spotmatic) has more mechanical advantage, as it has to overcome the spring that re-opens the diaphragm.
Attachment 120544
you are correct. this is basically the same as the lever on the 'K'. and that is indeed all the lever is for. to release the pin, which closes the aperture back down to the set aperture at the moment of exposure. you had to then recock the lens to open it back up for focusing. the diaphragm on the SV is designed to work on the automatic aperture Super-Takumar's. I have an early S2 from 1960 or 1961, that has the same type lever pictured in your photo and and a late model S2 that has the same type diaphragm as the early SV. an H2 "Store Demonstrator" from early 1962 with the same type diaphragm as the early SV, and my late model 1968 SV has the same type diaphragm found on the spotmatics. I don't know when the switch was actually made to the newer style diaphragm, but my guess would be late 1961, ahead of the introduction of the SV.

Last edited by séamuis; 03-09-2012 at 06:57 PM.
03-09-2012, 08:18 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
that means that the most historically accurate body to use this lens on would be the original 1957 'Asahi Pentax' 'AP'. But I would strongly caution against seeking out this model for several reasons: cost, rarity (closely associated with cost) dual shutter speed dials and a maximum shutter speed of only 1/500, dimmer less magnified viewfinder.
here is my SV and Takumar 55 2.2 (also a standard lens for the 'AP' from 1957)
I am working on qualifying a finder's brightness but my Original is plenty bright enough to clearly achieve very good focus without a split screen. Of course this is to be expected after it comes back from Eric!

The Original's manual states lifesize at 58mm and the SV's manual states lifesize at 55mm. It is not likely you will notice this difference.

Testing the magnification is easy enough by putting it to one eye (portrait mode), focusing and comparing to the view from your other eye. Cameras with finders that are "eyeglass friendly" typically offer considerably less magnification and the difference between these are very obvious. Looking in my Pentax collection, it seems you will have to go to another brand to find one with a miniscule finder. If you want to see the most marvelous finder try this with an MX!

I have an AP original combination as shown in the ads of the day with a 55mm f2.2 preset . . .

Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/6B741E87E8A950D/orig.jpg
03-09-2012, 08:25 PM   #12
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BTW, I started a thread on the AP at -> https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-film-slr-discussion/157099-asahi-p...ew-1958-a.html and in it I posted a copy of the magazine reviews of it. Modern Photography states, "There's a fresnel field lens which intensifies the light under the ground glass of the penta-prism finder, giving an exceptionally bright corner to corner image. Instead of split rangefinder, there is a clear spot in the center of the ground glass which makes critical focusing more certain."
03-09-2012, 08:35 PM   #13
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That's a fine looking SV setup you have there séamuis!
03-10-2012, 06:28 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
That's a fine looking SV setup you have there séamuis!
thanks mate, but that SV can be found wearing a modern Zeiss most of the time, not a Takumar. blasphemous I know, but true.
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