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S2 - super?


Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 13:51
Good afternoon all.

A question for all you knowledgeable Pentaxians out there. I just obtained a really good condition S2 - which may well be one of those rare Japanese-circulated S2 Super models that were made between 1962 and 1968. As you can see from the picture, it has a marked 1/1000 shutter speed setting whereas the standard S2 only went up to a marked speed of 1/500. There's very little information available online about the S2 Super but the research I've done indicates that the frame counter reset was automatic (mine is manual) and the serial numbers were 7 digits starting with a '1' - mine's 6 digits. But it has the marked 1/1000 shutter speed.

Given the fact that Asahi didn't so much market new models in the late 50s and early 60s, so much as continually evolve the same model which occasionally had different names put onto the top plates, could this be an early rather than late S2 Super? Serial numbers are not easily rationalised with Asahi bodies, but based on what I've put together, My rationale is:

- Serial numbers for the standard H2/S2 stopped at around 350000 at the end of production in 1963, whereas the S3 started at 295001 in 1961 when production commenced. The S2 Super initiated production in 1962, between these dates. The serial number of 406295 would therefore correspond to around 1963/1964 - unless S2 Super production continued directly on from the end of the 'standard' series. In any case, this would still be towards the front end of production than the back end.

- The H2/S2 and S3 had manually-reset film counters; the auto versions came in with the S1a and SV. Models with manual and auto film counters were produced at the same time from 1962 (S1a/SV auto) to 1968 (S3 manual). It's therefore feasible that the earlier models had manual film counter resets while the later ones were 'improved' by adding the SV-type auto film counter, in typical Asahi fashion.

- S2 Supers with auto film number resets also had the seven-digit serial number starting with '1', whereas this one seems to fall around the S2/S3 switchover.

- This S2 came with a lens attached, which is an AutoTak 55/2 with the chromed front ring and cocking lever; this is the same lens as the standard S2. The S3 came with a newer all-black AutoTak with an auto/manual switch that looks like the later SuperTak. If this is the camera's original lens, it might be another indicator that it's an early S2 Super.

Of course, there could be other scenarios as well: camera might be a S3 with its original top plate damaged, and repaired with a S2 top plate - but then how would that account for the serial number that's above what I've been able to find for highest that the standard S2 went up to?

Anybody have more information: what do you think?

K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy


Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 19:59
Fascinating question and interesting information but nothing I can say to add to it. Is there a possibility the shutter speed dial is not original? Did S2s have an unmarked speed above 500 as some other models did?

Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

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Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 21:23
Digging into my copy of:

Asahi Pentax and Pentax SLR 35mm Cameras 1952-1989
Danilo Cecchi
Hove Foto Books
ISBN 0-906447-62-3

This has several sections to describe the S2, S1a, Sv etc, although trying to understand the variations isn't straight forward. I have attempted to pick out relevent info below:

Page 49: "Production of the S3 was sporadic and inconsistent. Cameras with even quite considerable differences had the designation S3."

Pages 50/51: A photo of an S3 with top speed of 1/500th (number 426160), the caption states that some examples labeled S3 had a top speed of only 1/500th.

Page 56: A photo reportedly of an S2 Super (engraved S2) with serial number 755920 and a caption stating it had an automatic counter like the SV. This photo shows the camera to have the 'windowed' type of frame counter unlike yours.

Page 56: The following paragraph about the S2 Super:
"Alongside the cheap Asahi Pentax S1a, a number of cameras were built which were identical to the S1a but were marked with the 1/1000th sec. shutter speed. The S1a with the 1/1000th sec. was mainly sold in Japan with the designation S2, idenical to that characterizing the initial 1959 production. These cameras gave up their position to the S1a and came out of production. In order to distinguish them from the first generation S2's, they were commonly known as the Asahi Pentax S2 Super, even if the word "Super" was not engraved on any part of the camera body."

Make of that what you will (I'm confused)!
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Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 22:34
Thanks for the feedback, Kris and John,

I suspect that there's no easy answer to this! The shutter speed dial doesn't look as if it's been removed and replaced: there are no marks on the grub screws holding it on. Also there's that serial number. I've done some more digging and came up with this quote from ( that contradicts the quote above:

"The S2 (1959) got all the shutter speeds on one dial, and was sold as an S1 with cheaper lens options. Changing the camera name when it was fitted with a different lens was a fine Pentax trick: a Super S2 was an S3 with a 55mm f/2 Auto-Takumar as standard, instead of a 55mm f/1.8 Super-Takumar, and was produced only for the Japanese market."

This quote (which I've only just found) describes mine pretty well: AutoTak 55/2 lens and manual counter (all S3s had manual counters), so maybe at least some S2 Supers were re-badged S3s.

How fascinating!

K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy


Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 22:50
Almost sounds like the camera was engraved in the shop after the buyer decided which lens he wanted

Sounds more likely that for a period between the S2 & S3 production, random bits ended up in random cameras (I had a Land-Rover like that)
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Link Posted 26/03/2012 - 23:06
I'll check this with my Screw Mount Guide sometime tomorrow, but at this moment part of the area I work in is being decorated and things have been shifted in the way!
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/03/2012 - 15:49
More and more interesting. Rooted out my old 'Pentax Way' by Herbert Keppler (9th ed, 1975) this morning, and it offers more information.

- H2 (aka original S2) introduced 1959, top speed 1/500, 55/2 AutoTak
- S3/S2/S1 all introduced 1961
S3: same as H2 by 1/1000 top speed, AutoTak 55/1.8
S2 (Super model - my brackets): modified version of original H2/S2, top speed 1/1000. Retained the AutoTak 55/2 even though 'some S2 bodies had fully automatic diaphragm mechanisms similar to S3'. (Japanese market only.)
S1: Essentially the original H2/S2 but with a cheaper lens, the AutoTak 55/2.2

The point about the diaphragm mechanism (and its development) sent me to my collection of early Pentaxes, and this is what came out.

ORIGINAL EARLY H2/S2 (this is my Heiland US variant):

The diaphragm mechanism in the early H2/S2s seen here is exactly the same as its predecessor, the K, where the actuator is not spring-released by the shutter, it is more primitive in that the shutter release is directly coupled to the actuator bar: pressing the release even when not wound on, causes the bar to move. (You can see the striker plate directly next to the screwhead on the matt black base of the mirror box). This gives the distinctive double-click when you press the shutter release on the K and early original H2/S2: the first click is the actuator stopping the semi-auto lens down, and the second is the shutter releasing.


Later on in production, the now-curved actuator bar is spring-loaded as part of the shutter-release mechanism. This must have been around in approximately 1961 as my early S3 has exactly the same bar.


In the S2 under discussion, the actuator is pivoted at its base, spring-loaded and activated by the shutter release mechanism. This is the same as on my short-lived S1 (1961-2) and very similar (but not identical to...


A minor variant of the one above, which now sports 'wings' on the actuator, presumably to be kinder to the lens diaphragm activating pin.

Interestingly, from what I've just seen in my collection, the S2 Super/S1 actuator bar was carried on into the SV, whereas the S3 winged bar was carried on into the S1a. Maybe there was a parallel assessment of which design was better? If so, the winged version won out, because it it this that's also found in the Spotmatics from the original up to the SP2 in my collection.

What does all this mean for the 'S2 Super'? Well, the mechanisms of the S3/S2 Super/S1 were very similar, with only the 'wings' differentiating them, maybe for parallel assessment purposes. However, these are different in design to the actuators in the original H2/S2, so that the S2 under discussion is unlikely to be an original H2/S2 with a replaced shutter speed control, as the diaphragm actuation mechanism is different, aligning it with the S3, and with Keppler's statement about the diaphragm mechanisms.


K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy
Last Edited by microlight2010 on 27/03/2012 - 15:50


Link Posted 27/03/2012 - 16:56
It looks like an S2 Super, from the early range of this model.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/03/2012 - 17:37
Thanks, John - that's what I thought too. That makes what I paid for it (£45) an absolute bargain, especially considering its condition.

K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy


Link Posted 27/03/2012 - 18:02
A nice aquisition then!
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/03/2012 - 23:25
At first glance I wasn't sure my S1a matched any of your photos, after much squinting, it looks like the third (definitely not the second or fourth). I really think the plate is the same as the first and the mechanism the same as the third (although it may be some shadows that are confusing me).
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