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Honeywell Pentax H1a
35mm SLR (1961-)
© 2014 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

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Honeywell Pentax H1a

Honeywell Pentax H1a and clip-on CdS meter (42mm Pentax/Contax screw mount, EPX625 cell, 25.7 oz./729g with meter, battery and and film, about $25 used) with Super-Takumar 55mm f/2. enlarge. I'd get it at this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay).

This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere. I get no government hand-outs and run no pledge drives to support my research, so please always use any of these links to approved sources for the best prices, service and selection whenever you get anything. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.


Honeywell Pentax H1a

Honeywell Pentax H1a, Super-Takumar 55mm f/2 and clip-on CdS meter. enlarge.


Honeywell Pentax H1a

Honeywell Pentax H1a and clip-on CdS meter with custom leather eyeshield. enlarge.


September 2014    Pentax   Minolta   Nikon   Canon   Fuji   LEICA   All Reviews

How to Shoot Film

How to shoot the H1a digitally

Why We Love Film

Film specials:    transparency (slide) film   B&W film   color print film

I've been getting my film directly from B&H and Adorama ever since the 1970s; you've never been able to get pro film at local retail stores. I use NCPS to process and scan all my film. If you're reading this you have a mailbox and can get all the film and processing you need; B&H and Adorama ship worldwide, and NCPS does mail-order work from around the world every day.


Sample Images on Fuji 800 print film

Katie on the swings at Noni's park

Katie on the swings at Noni's park, 31 August 2014. (Pentax H1a, Fuji Superia 800, Super-Takumar 105mm f/2.8 screw-mount, f/16 at 1/500 at 7.5 feet, Perfectly Clear v2.) bigger.


Katie and Ryan and Mom's iPhone 5

Katie and Ryan and Mom's iPhone 5

Katie and Ryan and Mom's iPhone 5, 23 August 2014. (2: Pentax H1a, Fuji Superia 800, Super-Takumar 55mm f/2 screw-mount, f/4 at 1/125 at 3.2 feet, 11:25 AM, Perfectly Clear v2.) bigger and bigger.

Katie on the swings at Noni's park

Katie outside Panini Cafe, 23 August 2014. (Pentax H1a, Fuji Superia 800, Super-Takumar 55mm f/2 screw-mount, f/8 at 1/125 at 3.2 feet, 7 PM, Perfectly Clear v2.)


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Honeywell Pentax H1a is an all-metal mechanical manual 35mm SLR.

It uses a clip-on coupled CdS meter with two ranges to cover a wide range of light from LV 2 ~ 18.5.

This H1a is the basic model. The otherwise identical H3a has a shutter which goes to 1/1,000.



With a 55mm lens at most distances, the finder is life-sized for both-eyes-open shooting.

Solid, simple construction for just about unlimited life. The sample here is about 50 years old and works great.

Auto-resetting frame counter.

Film reminder for three types of film.

Shutter cocked/film wound indicator (orange dot appears near shutter button).



No accessory shoe, although there may have been a clip-on one.

No significant wind lever offset. You have to grab the lever from the side again for each shot. You can't leave your thumb behind the lever waiting to wind for the next shot.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations



Standard 42mm Pentax (née Contax) M42 screw mount.



The finder has a central microprism, fine ground glass collar and a Fresnel field lens.

There is no data displayed.

Instant-return mirror.

Pentax H1a finder

Actual view through finder and Super-Takumar 55mm f/2.

0.88x with 50mm lens.

0.97x with 55mm lens.



Dedicated coupled meter.

Uses a standard mercury EPX-625 cell.

The meter reads in two ranges, LV 2-10 and LV 10-18.5.



1 ~ 1/500, Bulb and Time.

Rubberized silk horizontal focal plane.



1/45 sync.

FP and X Prontor-Compur (PC) terminals.

No shoe; real men use studio strobes or at least a real flash gun on a separate bracket.



24.9 oz. (707g) with meter and battery (no film).

25.7 oz. (729g) with meter, battery and film.



Made in Japan.


Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations


Film Advance

It needs a full stroke, even though you can release the lever when only partly advanced.

The auto-resetting frame counter is numbered at the 5s, with ticks elsewhere.

20 and 36 are in orange.


Shutter Dial

Dial doesn't rotate by itself when shot, but can be rotated continuously through 360º to set directly from B and T to 1/500.

There's a phantom 1000 click stop, even though only the H3a really goes to 1/1,000.



A screw head on the meter shaft partially blocks the shutter button at 1/8.

Noise level is typical.

There is very little recoil or vibration; this is a better than average camera.

The shutter release button seems to be in the wrong place, since the meter cylinder crowds it.

The beautiful leather case fits the meter.



The meter is very legible, especially in low light, to which it is very responsive.

My 50-year-old sample seems to read just swell today in 2014.

The two ranges have little to no overlap at LV 10.


Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations



Use a long enough piece of leader fed into the take up spool for it to fold over and catch; there's no tooth to grab a sprocket hole.



Most samples you'll find today don't have the dedicated meter; no big deal, use an iPhone app or a Gossen Digisix.

Uses a standard mercury or Wien EPX-625 cell.

Don't use an alkaline cell; no meter can be recalibrated for alkaline cells since alkaline cells do not maintain the same voltage as they age.

Also you can use PaulBG adapter and any 675 Zinc-Air hearing aid cell.

Set the ASA (ISO) by rotating the knurled dial above the ASA scale.

The little green button in the middle of the range switch is the battery test. Push the center green button to check the battery.

Leave the meter off. Turn to H (High) in daylight, and only use L (Low) in low light.

In very dark conditions, point the meter at your hand held in front of the subject and use one stop less exposure, or use anything very white and use two stops less.

Be careful not to set 1000 on the meter on the H1a, since the camera doesn't go to 1000.



The Time (T) setting opens the shutter, and it stays open forever until you move the shutter dial to another setting. This saves you from needing a cable release for long exposures.

Early samples of H1a might not be able to accommodate the larger rear protrusion of the new 50mm f/1.4 lens. Newer samples of H1a have an "R" on the rewind crank, and can work with the 50/1.4.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

This is a perfectly competent camera that takes a huge range of high quality, inexpensive lenses.

I wouldn't go out of my way to find this model (I'd go for these if shopping), but if one of these old cameras falls into your lap as it did mine, it can make great images — much greater images than the shots I show above. I never even bothered to check the calibration of the H1a I was given; I just loaded it and went out shooting.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.


Help me help you         top

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Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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