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06-21-2011, 10:51 PM   #1
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M 28 f/2.8 (WOW) and M 50 f/2 (hmmm)

Just picked up these lens and overnight the M 28 f/2.8 has become my favorite. The M 50 f/2, while not a bad lens, doesn't seem to be up to my current 18-55mm kit lens.

I was really blown away by the sharpness of the M28 f2.8. The depth of field was also very usable and deeper than expected. The color rendition was impressive, now I know what they mean by Pentax color. Even focusing with these is a snap, just listen for the beep and green light.

Why doesn't Pentax still produce these wonderful super-compact manual lenses? Is it because we've moved away from manual focus to auto focus?
Are they to expensive in today terms to re-produce?

06-21-2011, 11:34 PM   #2
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Yes, the M28 is fantastic! I'll only replace it if I can find a steal of a deal on an A or FA version.

If you find the 50 f/2 not very exciting, try and get your hands on an f/1.4 version. Even the f/1.7 is great. That's another I won't sell unless I get a smokin deal on an automatic lens.

The questions you pose at the end are..."loaded" around here Some of it is the extra room needed for the AF gear, some of it is that zooms are so much better now than they were back in the 80s when the Ms were in production...some of it is Pentax wanting/not wanting to revisit an older design (they still make the film-era FA Limiteds)...

The DA40/2.8 Limited is about the equivalent of these lenses in physical size. The other AF 28s and 50s are a bit larger and (I think) around the same weight. The other DA Limiteds, though, are quite compact. Heck, the FA Limiteds are a good size
06-21-2011, 11:42 PM   #3
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Yes, amazing isn't it, that the humble 18-55 is actually better than the M50/2 (which is in fact, very humble, I'm afraid) . You won't find that with an M50/1.7 or M50/1.4 however...

A word on using the camera's in-focus indication: I found it mostly very inaccurate when I've tried using it with manual-focus lenses - unusably so, at least with most of them. Particularly for my M28/2.8 in fact! I find with my K-m it gives a really sloppy focus indication covering a wide range of focus distances. Don't forget you'll get a reasonable depth of field with this lens, particularly when stopped down. Close inspection of your images may reveal that you're not perfectly in focus - however, you may be lucky, and have found a lens/camera combination which works well.

Don't underestimate the difficulty in getting really accurate focus (i.e. matching the accuracy you normally get with an AF lens) when you're using a manual-focus lens.

I know the M series lenses are some of the nicest-looking compact lenses around, but I think you'll find that Pentax's modern AF lens range includes plenty of compact designs (though AF can add a little bulk, I suppose). As for pricing, I recalled some 1980 prices in another recent thread, and the M28/2.8 (which I bought then) cost me 60, new. I think in today's terms this might correspond to about 300 - for a well-made but MF lens.
06-22-2011, 01:58 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryan s Quote
I'll only replace it if I can find a steal of a deal on an A or FA version
@ryan s :
looks like this is your chance: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/148860-sale-s...m-2-8-eur.html

06-22-2011, 03:31 AM   #5
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18-55 better than the M50/2? Wow ! that's a first for me. I know the M50/2 is not as good as the other prime 50mm. but saying that the 18-55 is better than it, makes me wonder how you guys arrive at that conclusion? have you done any tests that would prove otherwise?
06-22-2011, 04:25 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
18-55 better than the M50/2? Wow ! that's a first for me. I know the M50/2 is not as good as the other prime 50mm. but saying that the 18-55 is better than it, makes me wonder how you guys arrive at that conclusion? have you done any tests that would prove otherwise?
I too must disagree. The 50/2 is outclassed by its sexier faster kin; but it is 3 f-stops faster than the kit lens @50mm and delivers sharper images. All the Pentax 50's are better by f/4 than the 18-55 is wide-open at 50/5.6. This perception that the 50/2 is tedious, artificially deflates its resale price -- a good deal for buyers, not so good for those of use with a few to unload.

Yes, the 18-55 is a damn good lens for the money, especially in its midrange at f/8. Yes, the 18-55 can match some primes -- I find it equivalent to a couple old Sigma 24/2.8's at f/4 and beyond. No, the 18-55 just isn't in the same class as the 50/2, nor the much-maligned Meyer Domiplan 50/2.8, nor any other Fifty that I've tried (and I now own 45 Fifty's).
06-22-2011, 05:07 AM   #7
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I can see how a newcomer to older manual lenses might get better photos from an AF lens with proper exposure linkage than with an M50. I can also see why the 28mm might not suffer from all of the same issues, because the DOF is great enough that getting the proper focus is easier. Also, if the M28 is the Version 2, it is basically the sharper A lens without the contact, and I've found mine to result in less issues with the exposure than my other M lenses. (Still can't use P-TTL, though).
06-22-2011, 06:13 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I can see how a newcomer to older manual lenses might get better photos from an AF lens with proper exposure linkage than with an M50. I can also see why the 28mm might not suffer from all of the same issues, because the DOF is great enough that getting the proper focus is easier. Also, if the M28 is the Version 2, it is basically the sharper A lens without the contact, and I've found mine to result in less issues with the exposure than my other M lenses. (Still can't use P-TTL, though).
I have the M28 VII, great lens. Super sharp, lovely colours

06-22-2011, 08:19 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the comments. The M 28mm is definitely my go to lens at the moment.

Regarding all the comments on the M 50mm, I may need to play with it some more. Maybe I was just blown away by the 28mm that the 50mm got lost. Maybe I have a bad copy. But I will give it more time on the camera to see which it is.

I do find my 18-55mm a very nice kit lens.

I may have to check out the DA 40 f/2.8 next.

RioRico - 45 50's? Are you trying to collect every fast 50 out there?

Are there slow 50's?
06-22-2011, 09:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by 7samurai Quote

are there slow 50's?
50/4 macro.
06-22-2011, 09:32 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by 7samurai Quote
Are there slow 50's?
There's the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f4 Macro. It is overlooked because it's not that fast and only 1:2 magnification, but a cool lens anyway, with a classic design, deeply recessed front element and very compact.
06-22-2011, 10:11 AM   #12
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+1 for the M 50/4 macro.

IMO It is the real "sleeper" in the M series lineup.

Tom G
06-22-2011, 11:04 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by 7samurai Quote
RioRico - 45 50's? Are you trying to collect every fast 50 out there?
Having EVERY Fast Fifty would be nice, but rather beyond me, so I go for the cheap ones. And as I've mentioned, some members here have MANY more Fifty's than I. I'm especially short on Euro/USSR and USA glass -- a few Meyers, a couple Zeiss and Schneiders, one Leitz, the Industar and Vega and Helios, a couple Cintars and Kodaks, that's all I have there. And I hope to sell the Cintars (Leitz Elmar clones).

QuoteQuote:
Are there slow 50's?
Besides the MacTak 50/4 (I have the 1:1 version), a few f/3.5's are around: Industar-50, Meyer Primotar-E, Leitz Elmar and Varob, other EL's that be even slower. (I don't have the Elmar, darn...) Interestingly, I haven't run across slow 55's, my slowest being a Porst (Cosina?) 55/2.8 -- and, pushing the edge of Fifty, my Schneider 60/2.8. Maybe I haven't searched enough, eh?

One can never have too many Fifty's.

But you may ask, RICO, WHAT THE FOCK YOU DOING WITH ALL THEM FIFTY'S? And the answer is: Each is a different window on the world. The ST and FA 50/1.4's have nearly identical optics but very different touch-and-feel. The planar Yashica 50/1.4 and Tomioka 55/1.4 render quite differently than the fast Pentaxi. Even my two Zeiss Tessar 50/2.8's -- one black plastic with 5 iris blades, the other small and aluminium and 12 iris blades -- quite differ from each other, and from the Meyer Domiplan 50/2.8 and that Porst Color Reflex 55/2.8. And most of the Fifty's (50-52-55-58mm) when stopped down to f/8, still produce images with varied crispness and bokeh and other qualities. Each is a unique brush to paint with, a unique eye to see with.

As for difficulties with using slow manual lenses on dSLR's: Yes, exposure and focusing are different. To finesse mis-metering, I chimp -- shoot, examine, adjust exposure as needed. To focus with thin DOF, I cheat -- CIF (catch-in-focus) gives me dead-on sharp focus even with my delaminating eyeballs. Practice a bit and it all become habitual and natural.
06-22-2011, 11:11 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by m42man Quote
A word on using the camera's in-focus indication: I found it mostly very inaccurate when I've tried using it with manual-focus lenses - unusably so, at least with most of them. Particularly for my M28/2.8 in fact! I find with my K-m it gives a really sloppy focus indication covering a wide range of focus distances. Don't forget you'll get a reasonable depth of field with this lens, particularly when stopped down. Close inspection of your images may reveal that you're not perfectly in focus - however, you may be lucky, and have found a lens/camera combination which works well.
Some people have found better success focusing beyond the subject (or towards infinity, in other words) then "backing" the focus to the desired spot.

I find it 90-95% accurate with manual lenses...as an educated guesstimate Maybe I can attribute it to 3+ years using this camera...

QuoteOriginally posted by RXrenesis8 Quote
Saw it the day it was posted...shipping inside Europe only
06-22-2011, 11:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by 7samurai Quote
Just picked up these lens and overnight the M 28 f/2.8 has become my favorite. The M 50 f/2, while not a bad lens, doesn't seem to be up to my current 18-55mm kit lens.

I was really blown away by the sharpness of the M28 f2.8. The depth of field was also very usable and deeper than expected.
That last part makes me wonder whether perhaps you had trouble focusing the M50/2. Compared to the kit and the M28, the DOF is substantially shallower wide open. A split screen viewfinder would definitely be helpful. As for the quality of the M50/2, I happen to believe it is highly undervalued and definitely better than the kit lens at 50mm, see my review at

Pentax-M 50mm F2 Reviews - M Series Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

Last edited by Ikarus; 06-22-2011 at 11:21 AM.
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