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08-01-2013, 05:34 PM   #1
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DA 50mm F1.8 vs. SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4

I'm considering buying the DA 50mm F1.8 at its current sale price. However:

I already have an old SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4. I also have a Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 that covers the same focal range.

I rarely use the manual 50mm because I lack the patience and fine dexterity necessary to manual focus. I only use it for portraiture, when I know my subject will be standing still long enough for me to focus. This only comes up rarely when family members ask me to take pictures of their babies.

So, my question is: how noticeable is the different in image quality between the DA 50mm F1.8 and the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4? If the F1.8 is only negligably worse, I might bite because I'm more inclined to use it because of the auto-focus. Conversely, if the F1.4 is substantially better image quality wise, I might just suck it up and try to get better shooting manually.

Alternatively and on the other side of the spectrum, if the image quality on the 50mm F1.8 is not noticably better than the Sigma 17-50mm, I'll pass on the F1.8 since the Sigma is all-around more convenient since it's a zoom. So any input on the difference between the 50mm F1.8 and the Sigma 17-50mm would be appreciated.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

08-01-2013, 06:18 PM   #2
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Have you tried catch-in-focus with the M50/1.4?

Get the focus approximately right, slightly too short,
then hold down the shutter button
and move in on your subject until the shutter fires.
08-01-2013, 07:59 PM   #3
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Also, put it on high speed shooting, and blast away while focusing. You will lose 90% of them, but something will be in focus. Electrons are cheap.
08-01-2013, 11:38 PM   #4
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An aperture wider than 2.8 isn't the optimal aperture for sharpness on either lens. The copy of the sigma 17-50 I had owned was quite sharp at 50mm and I had found it comparable to the sigma 50/1.4 I had at the time at 2.8, which was no slouch either. I know its not quite the same lens, but check out the in-depth 50mm comparison here to get a general ideal of what to expect between a 1.4 and 1.8 lens, the differences are there but you really have to try and look for them as they are quite negligible.

08-02-2013, 02:36 AM   #5
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You might be able to get your hands on a used FA 50mm f/1.4 for less than $250 in the marketplace. I just purchased one myself. I never owned either and haven't received the one bought yet, (tracking says Monday) but I do look forward to having an aperture ring and DOF scale. It also has a metal mount if that's a plus for you.
08-02-2013, 03:15 AM   #6
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One can't argue that the new sales price puts the DA50/1.8 at a great price performance ratio. If someone is looking to get an AF 50 prime then the DA50 is currently an excellent choice at the new price point. The it doesn't have an aperture ring issue only applies if you needed this new fifty for a film camera (which is really a special case), and the other one given is reversed macro, a cheaper manual focus 50 would be better choice for that anyhow which OP has. Plastic mount ring on this small light lens is a mountain out of a molehill for that size lens and may have better thermal expansion qualities in the long run. To me the only downside of this low cost lens is its lack of quick shift, which is true for F or FA50s also, and an included hood, mostly true of used F or FA50 market. I have several manual focus 50s and a FA50/2.8 macro all fine lenses, and I am really tempted by the DA50 at this price for the very same reasons as OP, AF. There are several recent market changes that in my view could be affecting used prices for some FA lenses, Sigma's recent prime offerings and this latest DA50 price specifically.
08-02-2013, 04:37 AM   #7
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If you are looking for a fast 50 with AF, be sure to check the Sigma 50/1.4 EX DG HSM. It's a chunk of glass, but it's sharp wide open and very sharp one stop down. It's got a really nice bokeh too when wide open.

I don't have one, but I picked one up for a friend on a trip to the US and got to use it on my K-5 for a few days. He really likes the lens too. If I didn't already have three 50's (check my sig), I'd have one.
08-02-2013, 06:45 AM   #8
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I recently tested all my lenses at 50mm: DA 50 f1.8; A50 f1.7; M50 f1.7.
I also compared to the zooms I have in that length: F35-70; DA 18-135; Tamron 24-135.
In my testing, the DA50 f1.8 beat them all. (And that made me a little sad because I really like the A50 and M50...) Here is the link.

08-02-2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidlapper Quote
mountain out of a molehill
And that says it all. Now Can I continue to be happy?
08-03-2013, 06:43 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Trudger1272 Quote
Now Can I continue to be happy?
Having a new prime coming, I know I would be.
08-03-2013, 01:56 PM   #11
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Yes indeed and part of the reason I made the suggestion. I do agree with most of your post though, mainly pricing. I just saw SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 and went "Ooh ooh ooh!" you know, like you used to do when you knew the answer in class. The OP mentioned a concern for loosing the performance of a f1.4 and my mind said SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 mainly because similarities in the names, the (self assumed) closer relation of the two and I had just paid for one myself of course. But not trying imply the DA50 is bad or offend anyone.

Honestly I'm still interested in the DA50 myself that's why I came to take notes. I'm still relatively new to photography (in school) so by no means a guru, but I do shoot digital and film bodies and need to keep in mind that everyone doesn't value aperture rings as I do. That and how little I actually do know.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. As for me, it's the 3rd and the 5th seems to be light years away!
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