What’s so nifty about a fifty millimeter lens? Recently digital camera makers have begun to release 50mm lenses, Canon, Nikon and now Pentax have all released a new prime 50mm lens. There are number of reason why this renewed interest in what was consider a “normal lens” for 35mm but for most digital cameras is a short telephoto. First, 50mm lenses are usually at least two stops faster than most reasonably priced zoom lenses on the market. Second, the 50mm focal length has long been used on 35mm cameras for decades and enjoys some of the best utilized and corrected optical designs. Generally 50mm lenses are often the sharpest optics in the manufacturer's line. Third, most 50mm are very reasonable priced and are a great entry point to obtain a prime lens. Because of the APS-C sensor size a 50mm lens has a field of view of a short tele - it corresponds to a 75mm lens on a 24 x 36 mm (aka full-frame) camera.
Currently Pentax makes three different 50mm lenses: the SMC Pentax FA 50mm F1.4, D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro, and DA 50mm F1.8. All three can be used on digital cameras and the first two are considered full-frame lenses. Although the DA 50mm is marketed as an APS-C-only lens, some speculate that it may also work on full-frame (i.e. film) cameras. There is thread concerning this issue on our forum, but until the issue is finally put to rest we will have to take the position that the lens is to be used only on APS-C digital cameras and is not full-frame compatible.
In this comparative review we will be taking a look at all lenses mentioned above. They are all fifty’s but which one is the nifty fifty? Read on to find out!
Please note that Pentax also makes a DA* 55mm F1.4 lens, but as it's a premium lens that costs nearly three times as much as the DA 50mm F1.8, we will be reviewing it separately (expect to see the review late in the third quarter of 2012).
Review originally published on August 26th, 2012