Pentax 50mm Prime Lens Shootout

Conclusion

We started this review asking the question; which of the three fifty’s was the nifty fifty? Taking into consideration the factors that were reviewed, the Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 is the niftiest of the fifty’s. Although the lens did not blow the competition away, it did hold its own against the D FA 50mm F2.8 and the FA 50mm F1.4 both which cost more. There has been much discussion on the forum about the composite rear mount. We don’t know of any instances of failure and it is the same material used in the DA 35mm F2.4, which has been on the market for a number of years. Time will tell if this is the wave of the future or just a passing fad.

One factor that we did not take into our consideration is the dual purpose of the D FA 50mm F2.8. Since the D FA 50mm F2.8 can be used as both a 50mm and macro it would initially appear to be a better fifty. The D FA 50mm is as sharp as the DA 50mm F1.8 but it is 1.5 stops slower, has a slower autofocus speed, and costs twice as much. If you need or wanted a macro lens and were willing to pay the price difference, then the D FA 50mm would be a great choice, though we tend to prefer longer macro lenses such as the Pentax D FA 100mm F2.8 WR.

Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 Summary

Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 distortion sample

The DA 50mm is a well-constructed lens that produces very good images wide open and excellent images stopped down. The lens handles well and has no distortion, chromatic aberration or vignetting. The bokeh is very good and it can be used as a street lens or for portraits.

Pros

  • Sharp
  • No noticeable distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration
  • Very light
  • Great value at $224

Cons

  • Some flare
  • No distance scale
  • Plastic lens mount
  • No quick-shift focusing
  • No aperture ring / "APS-C only"

Rating

Sharpness 
 9
Aberrations 
 9
Bokeh 
 9
Autofocus 
 8
Handling 
 7
Value 
 9
Overall 
 8.5 (Very Good)

Pentax FA 50mm F1.4 Summary

Pentax FA 50mm F1.4

The FA 50mm is a well-constructed lens that produces good images wide open and excellent images stopped down. The lens handles well and has no distortion, chromatic aberration or vignetting. The bokeh is excellent good and it can be used as a street lens or for portraits. The lens has an aperture ring and can thus be used with extension tubes for closeup photography.

Pros

  • Sharp
  • No noticeable distortion or vignetting
  • Well-built
  • Good value at $359
  • Distance scale
  • F1.4

Cons

  • Some flare
  • Some chromatic aberration
  • No quick-shift focusing

Rating

Sharpness 
 9
Aberrations 
 7
Bokeh 
 9
Autofocus 
 8
Handling 
 8
Value 
 8
Overall 
 8.2 (Very Good)

Pentax D FA 50mm F2.8 Summary

Pentax D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro

The D FA 50mm is a well-constructed lens that produces good images wide open and excellent images stopped down. The lens handles well and has no distortion, chromatic aberration or vignetting. The bokeh is good and it can be used as a street lens or for portraits. The lens has an aperture ring and can thus be used with extension tubes for achieving magnification in excess of 1:1.

Pros

  • Sharp
  • No noticeable distortion, vignetting or chromatic aberration
  • Well-built
  • Quick-shift focus
  • Aperture ring
  • Depth of field scale
  • Can be used as a Macro
  • Case & hood included

Cons

  • Some flare
  • Slowest autofocus
  • Expensive at $439

Rating

Sharpness 
 10
Aberrations 
 9
Bokeh 
 8
Autofocus 
 7
Handling 
 9
Value 
 7
Overall 
 8.3 (Very Good)

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