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12-24-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
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Which 50mm is best?

Hello and Merry holidays to all,
I just came across an awsome find at a local second hand shop. Two K1000 bodies and Six that's right six Pentax lenses. All of which are in fine to mint shape. Having long wanted an all manual film camera set up I was quite pleased with the find. It wasn't long after this that I found this forum. And after having read some of the posts I found and grabbed a Pentax MX off Craigslist for a bargain as well. I am already quite taken with it and it's in very nice condition. Which leads me to my question. I am now in possession of three 50mm SMC Pentax M lenses.
1:1.4,1:1.7, and a 1:2. The question is do I really need three 50mm lenses?
What are they each good or best for? Which one is the best? I realize the danger in the last question. Also where can I get a good fitted case for my new MX.

12-24-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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I believe there is a post reviewing all the 50mm lens. Also you could look in the lens review database. As for best bang for buck the F1.7. I personally have the F1.4 because I like it but stopped down the image quality is just as good if not better than the F1.7. The F2.0 is also a decent lens.
12-24-2010, 03:06 PM   #3
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In short:
F2 is the slowest and doesn't beat the other two in anything
F1.7 is sharp wide open (imo) and sharp as hell from F2 and above, and is said to be sharper than the 1.4 at 1.7 though I can't confirm it since I don't own a F1.4
F1.4 is the fastest obviously and very highly regarded, still in production today as the FA 50mm 1:1.4.

I f I had to choose I'd probably get rid of the F2 and try the other two out, they are both very good and different from each other. I have only used the F1.7 and highly recommend it, though I don't think I tried it on film yet.
12-24-2010, 05:46 PM   #4
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Thank you both for getting back. Also what is the difference if any between Pentax-M lenses made in Japan Vs. Taiwan?

12-24-2010, 07:35 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by rogueshark Quote
Thank you both for getting back. Also what is the difference if any between Pentax-M lenses made in Japan Vs. Taiwan?
Nothing. Only the high-volume lenses were made in Taiwan. A lot of 50mm f2 lenses were made there, and some 50mm f1.7s were, but take them apart and the only difference I've ever seen is different materials in the trim ring that says the lens name.
12-24-2010, 10:09 PM   #6
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You decide. If I have the choice of the 3 lenses, the 1:1.4 will win every time. The 1:1.7 is the best bang for the buck. The f2.0, well, it's a lens, it collects light, and will get you there in a pinch.

For those and others..

Index of /Photos/50mmShootout

12-25-2010, 12:10 PM   #7
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I have 50mm f2.0. It is a nice lens for the little money that it sells for. In your case, you have two better lenses, so there is no point in keeping it. I have seen the 'A' version sell for around $20 usd on ebay. Having had all three, at one time or another, I would keep the 1.7, but check the rendering of your copies and pick the one you like.
12-25-2010, 12:25 PM   #8
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Echoing some of the above, the f/1.4 and f/1.7 are very highly regarded. Shoot with both and see what you do and don't like about them. I have the FA50/1.4 and M50/1.7 and both get a lot of use. The f/2 is good but very common and is hardly worth selling right now IMHO. I have two M50/2's that'll I'll hang onto until the market changes. As Pentax regains market share, and as more [expletive deleted](*) Canon and m4/3 and NEX owners learn the joys of manual Pentax glass, the PK and M42 50/2's and 55/2's will surely rise in value.

(*)Why the curse? Because they TAKE OUR LENSES and drive up prices for we Pentaxians who would like to buy them cheap and use them lovingly! Oh, the humanity...

12-25-2010, 12:34 PM   #9
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IMHO, it's really only worth it to keep one.

The f1.7 and f1.4 lenses both have their own fan-clubs and advantages. The f2 is good, but does not stack up to these other options IMHO. The f1.7 is sharper at wider apertures, and the 1.4 renders the out of focus areas smoother than the 1.7.

If I were you, I would make my selection in the following manner (between the 1.7 and 1.4):

1) If one of the lenses is the "A" version, I would keep that one, as it is easier to use than the "M" versions. An "A" lens has an A on the aperture ring. It allows you use the semi-auto and full-auto exposure modes, which matters more to getting a good exposure than pure IQ IMHO.

2) Between the 1.4 and 1.7, I would keep the one that sells for less on the used market.

It took some serious squinting for me to see the differences between my FA 50 1.4 and my A 50 1.7, so I sold the more expensive lens. However, I would say that for portraits, I think the 1.4 is better suited. For general low-light photography, the 1.7 is better suited.
12-25-2010, 06:26 PM   #10
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I agree with Rio. There is little point in trying to sell the f2. If it were me I would keep it as a spare or the lens you use in less ideal conditions (due to theft, weather, or anything else). And then take some pictures with both of the other 2. If you can't tell which one you like better then sell the f1.4 since it should be worth more (around $100? or maybe a little less). I think the f1.7 is only worth 50-60 since the A version goes for 80-100.

The other alternative is to sell both the 1.7 and 1.4 and pick up a copy of the A 50/1.7 if you decide that you like the auto aperture. You should still come out around $50 ahead.
12-25-2010, 08:48 PM   #11
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As I understand it, the M 1.7 has a more even sharpness wide open and more jagged bokeh, while the 1.4 has equal or greater centre sharpness but is softer at the edge of the frame, wide open. It is rumoured to have more pleasing bokeh. But since you have both lenses, you should take them out to comparison-shoot.

There isn't anything wrong with the bf -- I am one of the millions who used one as my exclusive walkaround lens -- but it also does not distinguish itself against the wider lenses.

Last edited by Impartial; 12-26-2010 at 10:06 AM.
12-25-2010, 08:59 PM   #12
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I've always wondered how much the f2 version closes the gap when all 3 of them are stopped down to f8 or smaller. I do landscapes so the portrait ability is of less importance. The only thing that I would be losing is a 1/2 or 1 stop of light when I was shooting indoors but the 50mm focal length isn't that great indoors usually
12-25-2010, 10:12 PM   #13
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what? of course you need them all.

the 1.4 has got 8 aperture blades (am i correct?) so it should give an octagon bokeh, while the 2 and 1.7 will give hexagons when stopped down
12-26-2010, 12:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RolloR Quote
what? of course you need them all.

the 1.4 has got 8 aperture blades (am i correct?) so it should give an octagon bokeh, while the 2 and 1.7 will give hexagons when stopped down
I kind of feel the same way about this, that you can never have enough in the 50 range. It's this focal length which most clearly shows us photographers how the optics engineering has such an effect on the image. And there is never a redundancy in owning as many as you can reasonably afford.

I have a Helios 44-2 (58mm f2) which I got for 15 bucks, and there isn't a lens out there that can do what this does as far as Bokeh goes. And the IQ is outstanding.

This is the fun of photography to me. Going out with the primes (and for me all manual primes), and knowing that they will all perform differently. Not necessarily better or worse in a given situation, but just differently.

Kind of like being single and dating different women.
12-26-2010, 01:56 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
I kind of feel the same way about this, that you can never have enough in the 50 range.
I just checked my current inventory. If I count 50-60mm as being the Fifty range, I now have 40 such, with a couple more due in soon. Ay yi yi. OK, a few are dupes or otherwise slated to be sold, but more will undoubtedly take their places.

QuoteQuote:
Kind of like being single and dating different women.
Juggling four Fifty's is much easier than juggling four girlfriends, believe me. Between Miriam, Kelly, Maria, and Jeanne, I lost my focus sometimes. (Note: That was some decades ago.) Is a superzoom like monogamy?

Last edited by RioRico; 12-26-2010 at 02:02 PM.
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