Join the race for amazing prizes and everlasting glory and submit your finest photos to our ongoing competitions such as Road to Photokina 2016 - Constant Companions. Good luck!

Asahi Pentax S1A: Hidden Depths

2013-01-15 13

A bargain-bin at a Blue Mountains junk shop leads to starred-out lights, long exposures, and shallow depth-of-field.

Hello LomoFriends! Say hello to Gladys.

When I chose the name, I was thinking of a tough-as-nails nun, the kind that smoked behind the rectory, fixed the parish bus & took absolutely no backtalk. (and, without realising it, stuck with my theme of choosing women’s names starting with G: Glory, Gretl, Gladys…)

In October last year, my parents-in-law, my wife & I were in Blackheath, New South Wales, in the depths of the Australian Blue Mountains, in an antique shop/junk shop. I busied myself taking a whole bunch of pictures.:

Credits: lokified

My wife was looking for vases, and I stumbled onto a treasure trove of old cameras, a few in a glass case (with exhorbitant prices) and many, many others jumbled together every which way:

After an incautious touch caused the entire pile to slide to the floor, I set about sorting through them. I quickly found a Pentax P30, and a beat-up-looking SLR, an Asahi Pentax S1A with a Super-Takumar 55mm/1.2 lens:

Both had “$68 w/o lens” written on the tag. I took them to the counter, and was greeted with a stern “You know we make no promises that the cameras are working, and we don’t do refunds!”

Okey-doke, thought I, then I won’t tell you the lenses weren’t meant to be included.

The Pentax P30 came with me, and the old SLR was squirreled away by my parents-in-law until Christmas. As it’s the New Year, I’ve had a go, and wow! Very impressed.

Credits: lokified

The Asahi Pentax S1A was Asahi Pentax’s attempt to make a consumer-level version of their S, S2, S1 & S3 professional SLR range in 1963. Their rather counter-productive way of accomplishing this was to remove the mark for the 1/1000 shutter speed (it’s still there, it’s just not marked, you just dial one past 1/500).

“This one goes to eleven. It’s one higher.”

Also, no light meter (once upon a time you could buy a clip-on, but no more). For this roll, I downloaded a light meter app on my iPhone, and took a general reading before I started shooting at each place.

The lens is very sharp, with quite a shallow depth of field, and is very precise in close-up. It also has an Auto setting, which allows you to view with full-aperture, or you can set it to manual and watch your view darken or lighten as you change settings. The best thing about the lens, though, is the triangular etching on the glass:

This leads to direct lights becoming spectacular starbursts in the photos. Wow!

Credits: lokified

Where I did run into some trouble was when I turned the shutter speed dial below 1/30, the prism seemed to stick, blocking the viewfinder completely. I gave the camera a shake, which seemed to knock it back. I didn’t know at the time, but this was due to all the shutter speeds below 30 being exponentially slower than they should be (30 was 15, 15 was 4, 8 was 2, and 1 was a whopping 9 seconds. This lead to some wacky long exposures and streaking lights:

Credits: lokified

So in conclusion, Gladys, and her sort are workhorses, still in good order, despite their years. If you can spot one, pick it up.

written by lokified on 2013-01-15 #gear #s1a #review #asahi #pentax #camera #slr

13 Comments

  1. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Excellent article and gallery!!

  2. stratski
    stratski ·

    I'm jealous of that built-in starburst thingy! Though, on second glance, isn't it in fact a filter screwed onto the lens? Well, whatever, I love it.

  3. alburnkat
    alburnkat ·

    Congrats on such a great find and really nice article. And I love the photo caption “This one goes to eleven. It’s one higher.” I just heard a song from The Tap on the radio last night.

  4. emilios
    emilios ·

    Great gallery and camera. I have the Pentax 67 and the image quality is superb.

  5. alex34
    alex34 ·

    This camera probably just needs a good clean, inside and out. A good CLA should get those shutter speeds closer to where they should be. I suggest it would be definitely worth it.

  6. lokified
    lokified ·

    @stratski You're absolutely right! It just came off when I unscrewed it and now I can use the effect on any of my 49mm screw-thread cameras (except my OM 50mm 1.8 because the screw thread was dented when I dropped the camera). What's the official name for this kind of filter anyhow?
    @alburnkat One of my favourites. :D
    @alex34 I'll check with my local guy!

  7. alburnkat
    alburnkat ·

    I think it might be a CS - Cross Screen

  8. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Nice write up - makes me nostalgic for the Pentax Spotmatic I had 25 years ago... :-)

  9. lokified
    lokified ·

    @stratski @alburnkat Gadzooks! It seems it actually came with 2 filters! One is a Hoya UV(0), and the other is a Marumi 6X-Cross. Go figure!

  10. stratski
    stratski ·

    @lokified: Haha, lucky you!

  11. gregoriobruning
    gregoriobruning ·

    @lokified, congrats for the find! I got a Pentax Spotmatic F a few months ago and it had the same problem: mirror stuck on low shutter speeds. The tecnician just had to increase shutter´s curtain pression and now it´s working perfectly fine!

  12. photozz
    photozz ·

    I believe they were called starburst filters when I was selling them. There are plenty of old screw mount lenses still available for these cameras as well.

  13. inawur
    inawur ·

    Hi! I'm new to using film cameras and i recently got the asahi pentax s1 (55mm) which is very similar to yours! I was just wondering whether you could tell me what film you used? I'm really new to this and its really hard finding out where to start! Thank you for your insight I have learnt alot about this camera!!

More Interesting Articles

  • Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 10 - Long Exposures

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-22 #gear #tutorials
    Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 10 - Long Exposures

    Light painting is one of the funnest (and simplest!) ways to experiment with long exposures. Set your Lomo'Instant Wide to the B mode and start shooting long exposures to your heart's content!

    2015-10-22
  • A Secret of the Cosmos: Launching the Newest Lomography Product

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-19 #news #gear
    A Secret of the Cosmos: Launching the Newest Lomography Product

    Shh! We've got a secret matter at hand, and it's coming at you at the speed of light! We're being as mysterious as the Cosmos about our new out-of-this world product, constantly orbiting around our big reveal. But the eclipse will pass and soon the stars will align. Until then, there must be some questions floating around in the universe, right? Well, there's no need to look to the stars to find your answer! Stay on Lomography's wavelength as we kick into hyperdrive. Let your imagination skyrocket and see if you can decipher our otherworldly clues!

    2016-01-19 19
  • Lomo'Instant Wide Gallery: Bulb Mode

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-16 #news #gear
    Lomo'Instant Wide Gallery: Bulb Mode

    Don’t just let the night drive by! Record it on long exposure and take home a print of neon lights swinging past.

  • Shop News

    LomoLab: Panoramic & Sprocket Development Services

    LomoLab: Panoramic & Sprocket Development Services

    Panoramic shots are here ready to be processed by our dedicated team experts! Development, prints and scans included. (Service availability depends on your markets)

  • Blue for Hue: Day and Night Visions on Kono! Donau Film

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-19 #news #gear
    Blue for Hue: Day and Night Visions on Kono! Donau Film

    Not all photographs are meant to be seen in vibrant, saturated colors, and neither are they always suitable for in black and white. Lomography welcomes yet another innovation from KONO! The Reanimated Film. Without diminishing the aesthetic value of images, KONO! Donau 35mm Film casts a distinct blue tone to photos. It is ultra-low ISO film that is best used for long exposure shots. Check out this fine selection of uniquely tinted images.

    2015-10-19
  • Brilliant Low Light and Nighttime Shots Courtesy of the Lomography Color Negative 800 (35mm)

    written by lomography on 2015-10-11 #news #gear
    Brilliant Low Light and Nighttime Shots Courtesy of the Lomography Color Negative 800 (35mm)

    Have a look at our handpicked selection of lovely photographs shot in low light and at night with the Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO for 35mm cameras. While you're at it, find out how you can earn piggies and have your own photos be featured on the Online Shop!

    2015-10-11
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 9 - Using Remote Control

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-21 #gear #tutorials
    Lomo’Instant Wide Tip No. 9 - Using Remote Control

    Not only does the lens cap protect your Lomo'Instant Wide's lens from outside threats, it also doubles as a handy shutter remote control! Try it out on your long exposures, portraits, and — of course — selfies.

    2015-10-21
  • Shop News

    20% Off on Selected editions of the La Sardina

    20% Off on Selected editions of the La Sardina

    Bring your own unique happy snapper to all of this summer's festivals and dance the night away! Grab La Sardina editions at 20% off!

  • Long Exposures Around Europe with the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    written by antoniocastello on 2015-12-10 #gear #places
    Long Exposures Around Europe with the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    One of the things I like the most about the Minitar-1 Art lens is how sharp the focus can be when you shoot with a small aperture. So if you are one of those that like to shoot at night, get a tripod, add this to a late dark winter afternoon, and you will end up with a bunch of beautiful long exposures. This is what I did on my last trip to Europe.

    2015-12-10 4
  • Lomography X The Gap: A Competition for Mountaineers

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-15 #news
    Lomography X The Gap: A Competition for Mountaineers

    Snow-capped or covered in lush greenery, monumental or of smaller proportions, mountains create the most picturesque natural landscapes. The folks at The Gap Magazine are no stranger to their beauty and will showcase such visual splendor in their next issue. Do you have a scenic photo of mountains? Share your pictures with us and get featured in the December issue of The Gap.

    2015-10-15 3
  • Afterimage: When Abstraction Meets Light Painting

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-02-21 #news
    Afterimage: When Abstraction Meets Light Painting

    A flash here, a flicker there. An afterimage is an optical illusion and reoccurring phenomenon resulting from a brief exposure to a bright light source, such as a camera flash. What's even more fascinating than experiencing this illusion is discovering that your camera is able to mimic its effect! Check out these mysterious afterimage-like light paintings from our online community.

    2016-02-21
  • Shop News

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    The ultra-lightweight, low-maintenance 35mm camera that fits perfectly in your hand for some wild and spontaneous shooting!

  • New in the Shop: Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135 Films

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-09-08 #news #gear
    New in the Shop: Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135 Films

    Planning to head out to the streets or to the great outdoors? Take advantage of your adventure by testing out a new film! We recommend the Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135, now available at the Online Shop.

    2015-09-08 16
  • Creative Snaps Captured with the Lomo'Instant

    written by lomography on 2015-11-22 #news #gear
    Creative Snaps Captured with the Lomo'Instant

    Have a gander at our gallery of handpicked Lomo'Instant snaps from the community, and while you're at it, find out how you can earn piggies and have your own photos be featured on the Online Shop!

    2015-11-22
  • Spring Into Action with the Lomo LC-Wide

    written by Lomography on 2016-02-18 #gear
    Spring Into Action with the Lomo LC-Wide

    With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, it's a perfect time to bring out your Lomo LC-Wide for those road trips with friends, adventures at the skate park, and lazy picnics at the park! Those spring scenes are bursting with warm light and captivating colors, the perfect subject for this versatile 35mm camera. Check out some of our favourite spring-themed community shots taken with the Lomo LC-Wide!

    2016-02-18