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05-19-2015, 12:03 PM   #1
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Considering a 40mm SMC-M for my MX.

I've read some of the lackluster reviews but after looking at the Flickriver examples I'm willing to see for myself. Like most, I think, the size is what I'm most attracted to. I found one on Ebay with a 90 day warranty for about $140.00US which seems on the higher end of the spectrum but the pictures are of a lens that appears to be in exceptional condition.

What say you, you sage and wizened Pentaxians?

05-19-2015, 12:35 PM   #2
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I have to admit I wanted the smallest physical configuration I can get with the MX and therefore the necessary addition of the pancake lens.



As you can see, the focus and aperture rings are very close and can take a little getting used to.

However, it was well reviewed in the May 1979 Pop Photo magazine and I am finding out from results with this lens that is a very good performer - I bought mine used.

Results using my K20D below for a variety of my lenses. Keep in mind the sensor is the limiting factor for resolution achieved except in the case of the Soligor CD Mirror 500mm F8 lens.

Fullsize results of my Pentax lenses tested with a K20D

From what I have seen so far, this Pentax pancake seems to have the lowest price compared to all the other brands of true pancake lenses.
05-19-2015, 02:46 PM   #3
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It's *ok*. Sharpness is there in abundance, but bokeh is so-so, and it lacks pixie dust 3D pop. (My M40 is sharper than my DA40, but the DA rendering, bokeh, contrast, and flare control are in a different league!)

K55 f1.8, M50 f1.4, or an FA limited are better choices for image quality. None have the diminutive size of the 40 though. It's a good lens (bearing in mind the size compromise), and infact I rate it very similar in performance to the A35 f2.8, but I won't go as far as to say it's a great lens.

On an mx, it makes sense, and I'd say do it (if you want something good and portable). If it was for a later z-1p type body, a DA40 XS would be my recommendation.

If it was for digital, the da40 variants are better, as is every 50mm variant ever made. It doesn't make sense on digital IMHO, and infact my copy can only focus to infinity on film.
05-19-2015, 03:15 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
It's *ok*. Sharpness is there in abundance, but bokeh is so-so, and it lacks pixie dust 3D pop. (My M40 is sharper than my DA40, but the DA rendering, bokeh, contrast, and flare control are in a different league!)
Given the emphasis on the DA being in a league of it's own, I would appreciate the data you used to arrive at this conclusion without even considering the 4X average price difference. TIA.

05-19-2015, 03:24 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
I've read some of the lackluster reviews but after looking at the Flickriver examples I'm willing to see for myself. Like most, I think, the size is what I'm most attracted to. I found one on Ebay with a 90 day warranty for about $140.00US which seems on the higher end of the spectrum but the pictures are of a lens that appears to be in exceptional condition.

What say you, you sage and wizened Pentaxians?
Why not go for it?

Same optics in the original lens and in the DA version.

Add to that: The mechanical construction of the M version is really cool!
05-19-2015, 03:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
Given the emphasis on the DA being in a league of it's own, I would appreciate the data you used to arrive at this conclusion without even considering the 4X average price difference. TIA.
I never said league of its own, I said a different league. I like the m40, but it is a compromised lens. Good yes. Great? Not so much. The average eBay price reflects that reality I'm afraid.

Hopefully my post qualified that statement? The M40 is sharp, but lacks character, doesn't focus to infinity on digital, and the images are flat compared to an M50 f1.4 or K55 f1.8 (which are very good, and will cost you about the same as an m40).

I don't measurebate over my film shots. I hardly if ever scan them (I just develop at home and enlarge my own prints). So my impression is just that, my experience with that lens, compared to the DA40, FA43, A35, M50, K55 (which I also own, and also use on film)

The M40 is a good lens, the DA40 is better, and I could pick up an XS variant for 40 more than the M version. On film (on a body that can cope with lenses sans aperture ring), I'd say the xs is a better bet.

For an mx, again repeating myself, sure, why not?

If you care about the price that much, buy a K55 f1.8 or M50 f1.4. You'll get better value for money.
05-19-2015, 04:21 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
The M40 is sharp, but lacks character, doesn't focus to infinity on digital, and the images are flat compared to an M50 f1.4 or K55 f1.8 (which are very good, and will cost you about the same as an m40).
That yours doesn't focus to infinity is a problem isolated to your sample and not across the board.

If you are willing to share, I would still like to see the shots - film and/or digital, that gave you the impressions and/or opinions regarding lack of character or flatness of an image.
05-19-2015, 04:30 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I used that combination for a couple years before I sold off the M40. With my comparatively large fingers I could never quite get accustomed to the tiny focusing ring, which annoyed me no end. OTOH I could simply slip the MX in a jacket pocket and it felt about as bulky as the K-01 and DA40XS does today. Image quality, especially B&W, was excellent for what I was doing, which was street, especially evening light and shadow with 400 film.

I'd say just go for it. If it doesn't work for you just sell the lens.

05-19-2015, 04:49 PM   #9
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Was the lens was a bit rare back in the day?
This photo (posted before) is with the SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 40mm on the Pentax ist-ds
https://app.box.com/s/209edf19081385021670
05-19-2015, 05:47 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I used that combination for a couple years before I sold off the M40. With my comparatively large fingers I could never quite get accustomed to the tiny focusing ring, which annoyed me no end. OTOH I could simply slip the MX in a jacket pocket and it felt about as bulky as the K-01 and DA40XS does today. Image quality, especially B&W, was excellent for what I was doing, which was street, especially evening light and shadow with 400 film.

I'd say just go for it. If it doesn't work for you just sell the lens.

My experience with the M40/2.8 closely matches yours.
But when I sold mine I missed it and bought another.

It is a unique lens and again I agree with Paul - go for it!

Chris
05-19-2015, 06:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
I never said league of its own, I said a different league. I like the m40, but it is a compromised lens. Good yes. Great? Not so much. The average eBay price reflects that reality I'm afraid.

Hopefully my post qualified that statement? The M40 is sharp, but lacks character, doesn't focus to infinity on digital, and the images are flat compared to an M50 f1.4 or K55 f1.8 (which are very good, and will cost you about the same as an m40).

I don't measurebate over my film shots. I hardly if ever scan them (I just develop at home and enlarge my own prints). So my impression is just that, my experience with that lens, compared to the DA40, FA43, A35, M50, K55 (which I also own, and also use on film)

The M40 is a good lens, the DA40 is better, and I could pick up an XS variant for 40 more than the M version. On film (on a body that can cope with lenses sans aperture ring), I'd say the xs is a better bet.

For an mx, again repeating myself, sure, why not?

If you care about the price that much, buy a K55 f1.8 or M50 f1.4. You'll get better value for money.
Sounds like you think the price is about right. It's certainly not outside by budget but I don't like finding out after the fact that I paid considerably more than market value for anything. The size is what appeals to me. Making adjustments to compensate for a somewhat "flat" performance is easy enough during processing.

Buying anything off eBay, even with a return policy and "warranty", takes a lot of consideration for me. The only used camera gear I've ever bought on eBay are two Sunpak flashes that were a serious bargain (and they did work perfectly); I've always used KEH.
05-20-2015, 04:28 AM   #12
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So THIS is the film-era ancestor of the (current, DA) 40mm pancake!

It's actually not all that much bigger, despite the aperture ring, and that MX looks to be about the smallest a pentaprism SLR can be and still contain all the bits. Makes me want one, and if I had somewhere near me that could develop film I'd almost go for it.
05-20-2015, 04:57 PM - 1 Like   #13
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The M series 40mm f/2.8 pancake is what it is really - a very thin lens of pretty much the 'right' focal length for a film camera - and for an MX the only real option for this kind of lens. I've had one for years and used it mostly on my Super-A, I prefer the focal length to a 50mm (which feels too long to me). I now have the FA43/1.9 which is much better (and much more expensive), but for general use the M40/2.8 is fine, rather than stellar - but it makes an SLR almost pocketable.
05-28-2015, 04:08 AM   #14
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In real-world use is there that much difference in size between the 40/f2.8 and the faster (and much cheaper) M50/f1.7?
05-28-2015, 04:29 AM   #15
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To give you some idea, I have in my hot little hands, right now, a Pentax P3 on which a 50mm f/2.0 K-A mount lens sits. That, with the lens cap off and its protective skylight filter removed, measures approx. 85mm front to back with the lens focused at infinity (lens barrel all the way in).

I do not have the M version of the 40mm, but I do have its DA successor. With THAT mounted on the camera, and the funny screw-on lens hood left on to simulate the thickness of the aperture ring, the distance shrinks to about 68mm.

FWIW, I looked through the viewfinder with the DA lens mounted and there was no grossly obvious vignetting - which is to say, I saw no definite black circle at the edge of the viewfinder image. It's an older camera but it has a program mode, so it'd be interesting to see if it could handle the DA lens. Naturally, any sort of flexibility would be out the window - it'd be full-auto the whole time except for the focus - but I could live with that just to see how it rolled.
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