The Pentax Papers, part 1, 1919 to 1973: From the founding of Asahi Optical Co. to the last screw-mount Pentax

Thank you Jason, another great read.

Probably eight years ago or so, I stumbled across a close-to-mint black Spotmatic II with a 50/1.4 lens. It was at an antiques show and was sitting in the middle of a sea of black, plastic Point & Shoots on one table. The guy wanted $35.00 for it. I normally haggle, but not this time. I paid him the $35.00 and happily left. Later on, I learned that the 50/1.4 was the legendary 8-element version Asahi made for awhile. The camera works perfectly, even the meter. I use it when in the mood.

Jim B.
Good going! I bought my Spotmatic with 50mm f/1.4 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar years ago for about the same price, but it has the 7-element version of the lens. You can spot the (slightly sharper, smoother rendition) 8-element version by its IR mark on the DOF scale located to the right of the numeral 4 and it’s protruding rear element when you turn the focusing ring to infinity.
 
Pentax 85/4.5 Ultra-Achromatic Takumar, corrected for UV through to near-IR.



This lens is rare, was $1400 or so when new ~1970.
Nice! The 85mm f/4.5 Ultra-Achromatic Takumar is indeed a rare and awesome lens. I'd spring for one myself-except that they currently go for about $5K to $7K apiece in pristine condition!
 
Amazing what Pentax got up to back up n the day.

Indeed. They produced some amazing optics back in the day.

I sometimes wonder what might have happened if Pentax had introduced the K mount at the same time as the Spotmatic instead of sticking with the M42 screw mount for another ten years. Not that I think there is anything wrong with M42, but I think if Pentax had done so, they would have been in an even stronger position to compete against Canon, Olympus, and the other Japanese manufacturers and might have taken that strong second place spot behind Nikon in SLR cameras instead of Canon.
 
Indeed. They produced some amazing optics back in the day.

I sometimes wonder what might have happened if Pentax had introduced the K mount at the same time as the Spotmatic instead of sticking with the M42 screw mount for another ten years. Not that I think there is anything wrong with M42, but I think if Pentax had done so, they would have been in an even stronger position to compete against Canon, Olympus, and the other Japanese manufacturers and might have taken that strong second place spot behind Nikon in SLR cameras instead of Canon.
I'm not sure Pentax "might have been in a strong second place behind Nikon," but I agree they probably would have been in a stronger competitive position if they had switched to the K mount earlier. The M42 mount was a fine idea when Praktica introduced it in the '30s, and it became a de facto "universal" mount in the '60s, but bayonet mounts are superior in many ways, including speed of lens changing and precise positioning of mechanical couplings.
 
Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing! I am very much looking forward to reading more of your "The Pentax Papers". Hopefully you will cover the 645 and 6x7 medium format systems.
Thanks for your kind words. I'm currently researching Part 2 of the Pentax papers, which will cover the K-mount 35mm models. I'll eventually get around to covering the Pentax 645 and 6x7, but probably not until late fall or early winter 2024. Stay tuned.
 
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