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09-16-2020, 05:15 PM - 18 Likes   #1
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My grail, the original, the one and only, "AP" Asahi Pentax

Hello,

Am I dreaming? If I am, please don't wake me up!




In the car hobby, there is an old saying that says you are not an owner, just the current custodian of a historical piece.
Thanks to forum member Bill (Steamloco76) I am now the current custodian (new owner) of an ASAHI PENTAX. The first one. The original. The one and only. The camera that was so pivotal in the history of the company that it changed the name from Asahi Optical to Pentax as we know today.
I honestly did not think I would be able to get my hands on one of these. But good things happen to those who wait.
The Asahi Optical Company was literally destroyed during WWII. After the war, it was allowed to regroup and restart. In 1952, they introduced the Asahiflex camera with good success.
In 1957, they introduced this camera: The "Asahi Pentax", also known now as the "AP". It was not the first pentaprism camera, but it is considered the first successful pentaprism SLR camera with instant return mirror and rapid winding lever (instead of a knob) that set the basic layout for 35mm cameras for decades to come. Every SLR and DSLR today can trace their origins back to this camera. It started the revolution that ended the rangefinder dominance and established the SLR as the system of choice.
While the Asahiflex used the M37 mount, this new camera used the M42 mount. Again, it was not invented by them, but it became so popular that to this date it is usually called the Pentax Screw mount. In the US, Sears sold this camera under the name Tower 26.
This camera made a splash at the photography scene. The company even changed their name from Asahi Optical Company to Pentax.
According to my research, about 19,500 were made. It was followed by the S model in 1958 and then the K model later the same year ('58). I refer to these 3 as the "Trifecta".
The subsequent S (H) series of cameras (which I have documented elsewhere in this forum) was the continuation of the basic design of this one. Constantly improving but staying true to the original.
Can you tell I'm excited?

So this particular one has little signs of use. A few tiny scratches here and there and a little ding on top. But it still looks great! Keep in mind, it is about 63 years old!
But more important, it is in perfect working order!
The serial number identifies it as an early unit.
It is very clean and buttery smooth. Here are pictures of it as I received it. I will deep clean it as usual (as a maniac who never claimed to be normal) but there is not much more to improve.











A shoutout to Bill (steamloco76) for the excellent packing of the camera.

Not in the pictures but it also includes an original leather case.

This camera will serve dual purposes: It will be the centerpiece of my humble collection but it will also be respectfully used.
I think a Takumar 55 1.8 and a BW roll will soon join it.

Can you tell I'm excited?

Thanks!
Ismael


Last edited by ismaelg; 09-16-2020 at 05:29 PM.
09-16-2020, 05:24 PM   #2
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Congratulations! And Iím so pleased you plan on using it!
09-16-2020, 05:25 PM   #3
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Hi Ismaelg,

One thing is not clear to me, are you the owner or did you just borrow it? Anyway it is and remains an important piece in the history of photography, not only Pentax.
Take care of it.

Ciao Mario
09-16-2020, 05:28 PM   #4
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Original Poster
I'm the owner. It is just that it will most likely outlast me
I updated the post to be clear.

Thanks,

09-16-2020, 05:33 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Wow, fantastic story. Congrats.
09-16-2020, 05:34 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
the original
the Asahiflex?

nice camera - looks mint
09-16-2020, 05:37 PM - 4 Likes   #7
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A very well done tribute to the true great grandfather of the modern pentaprism DSLR! Thank you for the kind words too.

I was blessed by the gods of camera acquisition and completed my trifecta, The original Asahi Pentax and it’s two immediate successors, the S & K models ( NEVER thinking I’d own an S!!) Keeping an extra, clean, fully functional AP seemed to go against the camera karma which landed my copy of the ultra rare S model, so I moved this one on to a deserving new owner.
09-16-2020, 05:38 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
the Asahiflex?

nice camera - looks mint
The original M42. The original pentaprism. The original Pentax.

09-16-2020, 06:40 PM - 3 Likes   #9
GUB
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I got mine in July. Plus the original 58mm 2.4 M42 Takumar which is almost more unique than the body. But what a camera - utterly beautiful styling and quality build. My serial is 143795
I have just sold a 1961 Hasselblad 500con behalf of a friend and I believe the quality of build and feel of the Pentax is superior.
09-16-2020, 07:57 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Congratulations and I remember how that felt when I got mine too!

I superimposed mine in the magazine ad for the AP . . .




Oh and here are the two magazine articles covering the original Asahi Pentax from -> Modern and Popular Photography, January 1958
09-16-2020, 09:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
Hello,

Am I dreaming? If I am, please don't wake me up!




In the car hobby, there is an old saying that says you are not an owner, just the current custodian of a historical piece.
Thanks to forum member Bill (Steamloco76) I am now the current custodian (new owner) of an ASAHI PENTAX. The first one. The original. The one and only. The camera that was so pivotal in the history of the company that it changed the name from Asahi Optical to Pentax as we know today.
I honestly did not think I would be able to get my hands on one of these. But good things happen to those who wait.
The Asahi Optical Company was literally destroyed during WWII. After the war, it was allowed to regroup and restart. In 1952, they introduced the Asahiflex camera with good success.
In 1957, they introduced this camera: The "Asahi Pentax", also known now as the "AP". It was not the first pentaprism camera, but it is considered the first successful pentaprism SLR camera with instant return mirror and rapid winding lever (instead of a knob) that set the basic layout for 35mm cameras for decades to come. Every SLR and DSLR today can trace their origins back to this camera. It started the revolution that ended the rangefinder dominance and established the SLR as the system of choice.
While the Asahiflex used the M37 mount, this new camera used the M42 mount. Again, it was not invented by them, but it became so popular that to this date it is usually called the Pentax Screw mount. In the US, Sears sold this camera under the name Tower 26.
This camera made a splash at the photography scene. The company even changed their name from Asahi Optical Company to Pentax.
According to my research, about 19,500 were made. It was followed by the S model in 1958 and then the K model later the same year ('58). I refer to these 3 as the "Trifecta".
The subsequent S (H) series of cameras (which I have documented elsewhere in this forum) was the continuation of the basic design of this one. Constantly improving but staying true to the original.
Can you tell I'm excited?

So this particular one has little signs of use. A few tiny scratches here and there and a little ding on top. But it still looks great! Keep in mind, it is about 63 years old!
But more important, it is in perfect working order!
The serial number identifies it as an early unit.
It is very clean and buttery smooth. Here are pictures of it as I received it. I will deep clean it as usual (as a maniac who never claimed to be normal) but there is not much more to improve.











A shoutout to Bill (steamloco76) for the excellent packing of the camera.

Not in the pictures but it also includes an original leather case.

This camera will serve dual purposes: It will be the centerpiece of my humble collection but it will also be respectfully used.
I think a Takumar 55 1.8 and a BW roll will soon join it.

Can you tell I'm excited?

Thanks!
Ismael
Congratulations Ismael! Looks like a great find. Lovely photos!
09-16-2020, 09:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
Oh and here are the two magazine articles covering the original Asahi Pentax from -> Modern and Popular Photography, January 1958
Interesting that they only mention the 55mm 2.2. I wonder if the 58mm 2.4 was discontinued very early. Also interesting that the first magazine said their test camera had a lens supplied that was not going to be available in
the country. I wonder if it was the 58mm 2.4.
09-16-2020, 11:26 PM   #13
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Pleased for you....its looks beautiful
09-16-2020, 11:44 PM   #14
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Congratulations, Ismael! I've had my 'trifecta' for quite a few years now and still put film through the AP occasionally. It (and its Tak 58/f2.4) lives on the bookcase behind my desk, and I exercise the shutter often - still buttery smooth. It's still in gorgeous condition - I read somewhere that the 58/f2.4 was the only Heliar-design lens that Asahi ever made, and was replaced by the 55/f2.2 for the S model.

Given that there were fewer than 5,000 S models made, they're rarer than hen's teeth now. The shutter on mine is broken and unfixable, sadly.
09-17-2020, 05:54 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GUB Quote
Interesting that they only mention the 55mm 2.2. I wonder if the 58mm 2.4 was discontinued very early. Also interesting that the first magazine said their test camera had a lens supplied that was not going to be available in
the country. I wonder if it was the 58mm 2.4.
Remember that the 58mm f2.4 was the same design as the 58mm f2.4 sold with the Asahiflex. About 4 400 copies were made of the m42 version, vs 8-12 000 or so of the 55mm f2.2
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