Honeywell Pentax H3v [1962]

On eBay there's a well known practice of sniping. Snipers wait until the last possible seconds of an auction to bid in the hope that their competitors will not have time to react. Once upon a time I used to do this but it is way too much stress and effort. These days I'm a bottom feeder. What does that mean? I trawl through new auctions occasionally putting bids on items that no one has yet bid on. 98% of the time I'm out bid but occasionally I get a bargain. The other week I put a bid of a few dollars on a box of six junk cameras. No one else was interested in them and a few days latter they were sent to me. Among them was this Pentax H3v.

Pentax H3v

It is well used and neglected as you might expect; it's grubby and the shutter is impossibly slow - it doesn't even close the second curtain and drop the mirror without a little help, and there's a ton of dust in the viewfinder. On the plus side it seems solid and it's built like a tank without any of the ugliness of my East German M42 SLR's. In fact there is something very elegant about its design; for some reason I'm massively attracted to its cast film advance lever.

The H3v was called the SV outside of the US. It was available in the early 60's and is a descendant of the original Pentax SLR which was the first Japanese SLR to incorporate a built in prism finder. The H3v shares much of it's ancestor's elegance but it has a higher top speed (and no separate slow shutter speed knob), a more automatic frame counter and a self-timer. It still does not incorporate a built in light meter; Pentax fans had to wait until the Spotmatic for that. The H3v did have an accessory, clip-on meter that covered and controlled the shutter speed but it goes some way to spoiling the H3v's good looks and is unlikely to be accurate these days anyway.

The H3v currently languishes on my display shelves waiting for me to find the time to give it a CLA. It will then be a fun, classic camera to throw a few rolls of film through.



If you want to consider sending your H3v out for a CLA, I can highly recommend Eric Hendrickson at

I sent him 2 H3v's, one my very first real camera and over 40 years old and the other a parts beater I got off eBay to use should my H3v need parts.

He fixed up both ! Now they are clean, shinny, and the shutters work like new ! About $65 each !

He is a Pentax guru and highly recommended.

Posted by: Martin VanMeter at August 3, 2006 8:53 AM


Posted by: adam at August 10, 2006 10:17 PM

The H3v was my first experience with an interchangeable lens SLR in 1964. I made it a point to pick another one up about three years ago - and had my older brother black finish it. It's strangely inspiring to use.

Posted by: Paul C. Perkins, MD at August 3, 2008 4:37 PM
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