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08-03-2009, 10:58 AM   #1
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The Pentax-M-50mm f2 lens is best for?

I just got one of these from a forum member and would like input from others regarding what they use it for. It's my first prime for my k20d.

Noob questions...
This lens is generally good for?
I don't recommend using this lens for?
The f/stop I'd recommend for portraits indoors?
Anything you know about this lens (hints/tips) and are willing to share will be gratefully accepted.

note: I already reviewed the lens forum database but was hoping for some specific input.

08-03-2009, 01:05 PM   #2
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Assuming you already have the kit lens, then the "obvious" answer is, the 50 is best for the things you can't do with the kit lens: shoot at apertures f/5.6 or wider. So it's good for situations where you either want shallow DOF or faster shutter speeds than you can get at f/5.6 The 50 will also probably be sharper *at* f/5.6, making it preferable, although you might find by f/8 it's kind of a wash.

As for aperture to use for portraits, that doesn't have much to do with the lens, but mostly to do with what kind of DOF you want and/or shutter speeds you need. if you're looking to get the face in focus but get everything else a bit blurry, then assume you'll want to be close to wide open (f/2), although the lens is pretty soft overall until you are closer to f/4, so you'll have to experiment to find the best balance for your particualr situation.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 08-03-2009 at 04:34 PM.
08-03-2009, 03:39 PM   #3
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A fast 50mm prime may be used for anything. I refuse to tell you specific situations (as should anyone responsible) because doing so may create a false sense of restriction, which could unnecessarily hinder your creativity and personal aesthetic. We don't want that.

My advice is to familiarize yourself with the effects of a shallow depth of field at various subject distances and the effect different aperture values have on acuity and macro and micro contrast.

Acquainting yourself with your new lens is easy: keep it on your camera for a few days or weeks (depending on how frequently you shoot) to acquire a sense of its focal length. Once you've done this and become familiar with it, you'll know when its application is suitable. Any lens may be used for almost any purpose; it's up to the photographer to determine how and when. Old suggestions such as wide for landscapes, medium for everyday, and medium-long to tele for portraits or sports, is a very restrictive concept.
08-03-2009, 08:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenhreed Quote
Noob questions...
This lens is generally good for?
Body cap for the K1000 you're selling on eBay.

OK, enough of my humor. To add some value to the thread, I was going to suggest an exercise. Find an agreeable model for some test shots. Choose a distance that you like for portraits. Have them hold their head fairly still, focus as well as you can on the eyes, and take a series of photos at each full stop through f8. A tripod is helpful for consistency. You can meter at one aperture setting and then just adjust the shutter speed one full stop for each different aperture. (For example, use the green button to meter at f2, and let's say you get a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. The shutter speed at f2.8 will be 1/125, at f4 will be 1/60, f5.6 is 1/30 and f8 is 1/15. Each one is twice as long as the previous one.)

Just taking the photos can teach you about focusing, metering and controlling the lens and camera together. Look at the photos and you'll see the depth of field changing. You can see what the best depth of field is to get the whole face in focus. You might notice lens characteristics, like if it's too soft at f2. Bright reflections from jewelry might look like circles at f2, hexagons otherwise. We can talk about what we'd use, how things should work, calculations for distance and DOF, but just 5 photos can show you how your equipment works for you.

In fact, my advice sounded so good, I did it myself.

08-04-2009, 12:25 PM   #5
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Thanks Just1MoreDave,
Your body cap joke took me a second, but I agree. There's a reason these are available for not much $$$. I got the lens to learn about how to use a prime manual lens without the auto everything. Your advice is exactly what I was looking for. (I actually printed it out to take with me so I remember to go step by step.)
I think Mischevo (previous response) had a good philosophical answer, but while this lens may be used for anything, that doesn't mean it will do especially well at that anything.
08-05-2009, 05:42 AM   #6
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One more thing to add is to remember that on your K20 this lens will have an effective focal length of 75mm. In other words, you'll have a short tele, without the all-rounder versatility and that "fast 50" experience that people in the film era used to rave about - for that you'll need a lens around 35mm (or else a dedicated digital 50mm). Nevertheless, as others have suggested, there's still plenty you can do with it and you'll gain really valuable experience in using a manual prime, which is, for many of us, the ultimate in satisfaction.
I have an M 50mm 1.4 and while I like the Ms for their sharpness and lightness I don't use this one all that much. I do a lot of landscape work, so tend to use either much wider or much longer lenses. I would think you'd use it a lot if you enjoy portrait or street photography. It would also go well on the end of an extension tube for macro work.

Last edited by Wombat; 08-05-2009 at 05:55 AM.
08-05-2009, 11:44 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wombat Quote
One more thing to add is to remember that on your K20 this lens will have an effective focal length of 75mm. In other words, you'll have a short tele, without the all-rounder versatility and that "fast 50" experience that people in the film era used to rave about - for that you'll need a lens around 35mm (or else a dedicated digital 50mm). ...
50mm is 50mm, no matter what kind of camera it was designed for. To put this another way, No matter what camera the lens was designed for, on your camera it will have the same field of view.
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