Asahi Pentax Auto 110

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Classic SLRs:
Asahi Pentax Auto 110

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Pentax Auto 110 was released in 1978 by the Asahi Optical Company. Kodak's new Instamatic 110 film (introduced in 1972) was rapidly growing in popularity -- some predicted that it would even eclipse 35mm! The Auto 110 was unique as an Instamatic 110 camera in that not only was it an SLR, but it was designed as part of an extensive camera system -- which Pentax named "System 10."

The Auto 110 is surprisingly tiny. Most people think that it's a toy camera, but it's a genuine through-the-lens (TTL), automatic exposure (AE), single-lens reflex (SLR) camera -- the AE / TTL / SLR being the key buzzwords of the 1970s and 1980s.

The camera takes 24 exposures of 13mm x 17mm frames on Instamatic film. Because the negatives are so small, depth-of-field and depth-of-focus are very deep, making up for the small frame size and allowing for remarkably large photographs with good detail. You can easily make 6"x9" enlargements.

The beauty of the Auto 110 is the metering system. It has a full TTL automatic exposure cell built into it, just like on the big boys. The aperture and shutter share the same 2-blade diaphragm located in the camera body. It opens to a maximum of f/2.8 regardless of the lens attached. You can get away with a 2-blade diamond shaped aperture because the focal lengths are so short and the depth of field so deep that "bokeh" is really an afterthought here. The camera is full auto-exposure, it sets both the aperture and shutter speed according to its program.

The Auto 110 surprisingly can take a motor drive which will motor it along at 1.5 frames per second. It uses AA batteries. I don't have one, but want one. The opening and gearing in the bottom for the optional motor-drive unit is visible here.

The Pentax 110 manual as well as manuals for their lenses and entire system are downloadable as a PDF file from Pentax's website. So don't spend money buying them!

Pentax Auto 110 Super

In 1983, five years after the first release, Pentax released the Auto 110 Super. The lenses remained the same, but the body was substantially improved. The shutter cocked with one turn; the shutter release had a lock; there was a backlight exposure compensation switch; a self-timer; and more.



Technical Details

Camera Name
Pentax Auto 110 Auto 110 Super
Asahi Optical
Place of Manufacture


Date of Manufacture
1978 1983
Focusing System

Single-lens reflex with pentaprism eye-level viewfinder
0.75x magnification; 87% coverage

Lens mount

Pentax System 10 mount (bayonet)


Leaf shutter / diaphragm
Min: 1/750 @ f/13.5
Max: 1 second

Leaf shutter/diaphragm
Min: 1/400 @ f/18
Max: 1 sec.
Metering System

Through-the-lens (TTL) CdS cell - centerweighted


Proprietary flash sync connector

Film type / speeds

110 Instamatic Film
13mm x 17mm
ASA 100 / 400 (auto-indexed)

Battery type
2 x SR44 (standard watch batteries)
Dimensions and weight

Body: 56mm x 99mm x 32mm, 159g
w/ lens: 56mm x 99mm x 45mm, 172g

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System 10 Lenses

The Pentax System 10 lenses are just little gems. They're so tiny you're convinced they're toys but they're real multi-coated lenses, extremely well designed. Multiply the focal length x 2 to get the 35mm equivalent. For example, the 24mm f/2.8 is the standard lens: 24mm x 2 = 48mm equivalent.

Pentax-110 24mm f/2.8 Pentax 110 50mm f/2.8
Asahi Optical Company
Place of Manufacture
Lens Mount

Pentax System-10 Mount (bayonet)

Lens Construction
6 elements in 5 groups
25.5mm filter threads
47° AoV
5 elements in 5 groups
37.5mm filter threads
24° AoV
Focusing range

0.35m - infinity
1.2' - infinity
(left focusing - infinity on left)

0.9m - infinity
3' - infinity
(left focusing - infinity on left)

Size / Weight
34mm x 21mm
43mm x 27mm
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.


About Asahi Optical Co.

You see both Asahi Pentax and Honeywell Pentax cameras on the market, what's the difference? Asahi Optical Company is the manufacturer of the cameras and has a very hallowed history. It was founded in 1919 to make optical lenses. It came out with its first SLR, the Asahiflex I in 1951. Pentax is the name of their first SLR with a pentaprism (penta-prism = pentax) which came out in 1957. Since then, it's been their tradename for their series of SLRs, just as EOS is the trade name for Canon's electronic SLRs.

Honeywell was the U.S. importer for Asahi cameras until the mid-1970s. Cameras that they imported are stamped "Honeywell Pentax" on the nameplate, not Asahi Pentax. With the minor except of one camera that was designed to accomodate a Honeywell flash unit, Honeywell Pentaxes are identical to Asahi Pentaxes.

About the only things with a stronger cult following than the Pentax screw mount cameras (Spotmatics) are their K-mount cameras, including the K1000. The K1000 which is now being made by Chinese companies and branded under Chinon and other labels, is often recommended by photography instructors. This has caused the price to stay about $200 for a new set. My own recommendation is to stay with the screw mounts. There is a wider variety of lenses and prices are relatively good. There's also a very strong cult following around their gargantuan Pentax 67 medium format SLRs.

Trivia: "Pentax" was one of the names the Nippon Optical Corporation cycled through when coming up with the name of their new camera in 1948. They ended up calling it the "Nikon" instead.


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