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SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7

Sharpness 
 9.1
Aberrations 
 8.4
Bokeh 
 8.7
Handling 
 8.7
Value 
 9.5
Reviews Views Date of last review
137 482,143 Wed January 8, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
99% of reviewers $59.66 8.92
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7

SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
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SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
supersize
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
supersize

Description:
The SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 is a fast standard lens shipped with many 1980's Pentax bodies. It supports all exposure modes.



SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 6 blades
Optics
6 elements, 5 groups
Mount Variant
KA
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.7
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
45 cm
Max. Magnification
0.15x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 32 ° / 27 °
Full frame: 47 ° / 40 °
Hood
Various types
Case
Hard case HA-90B
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 31 mm
Weight
165 g
Production Years
1984 to 1989
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A 1:1.7 50mm
Product Code
20897
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Lens was sold without hood. Several hoods will fit like PH-S49 (50mm) and screw-in type metal and folding rubber hoods
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 137
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2013
Location: Woodstock, GA
Posts: 6,748
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, cheap, easy to find, great colors
Cons: Plastic aperture ring, seems to lack the M 50 1.7 "magic" wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Camera Used: K20D   

This lens would easily be a 9 if it had a better aperture ring. I had two Auto Sears (made by Ricoh) lenses with plastic aperture rings and they both felt really great in use. But the one on the A 50 1.7 just gets lose with time and eventually breaks.

The other minus is that the M 50 1.7 has a certain "magic" to it wide open, that might be down to the M era coatings (my other M lenses have the same - even the much-unloved M 200 f4). It's hard to explain - the colors are not super-saturated but they are just so beautiful. The M 50 1.7 wasn't "dreamy" in any way - quite sharp in fact wide open!

And it wasn't just my M 50 1.7 being a better than average copy... I had another M 50 1.7 at one point and it was exactly as good, there was simply no difference between the pictures from both of them wide open (or otherwise).

I eventually sold my copy, but kept the M, and bought an F version of the 50 1.7 design when a good deal came along.

But for those who don't have the M 50 1.7 for comparison, don't let my comparison with the M 50 1.7 fool you. Maybe the M 50 1.7 has an extra 1% over the copy that I had of the A 50 1.7 - maybe other copies are better.

For my copies of the A 50 1.7, the characteristics are as follows:

Positive
-Reasonably sharp at full aperture (better than 50 1.4 designs by Pentax)
-Extremely sharp from f2 and smaller (same for all Pentax 50 1.7 designs)
-Great Colors and rendering
-Very good bokeh (not as good as 1.4 designs but still better than most zooms)

Negative
-For the price, really, nothing. It's still sharp enough wide open, and fantastic closed down. For a lot of people, having the A contacts will be more meaningful than the slightly better performance wide open that I see with the M version. Just keep the aperture ring always in the A position and you'll be good
   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2019
Location: Kamloops B.C
Posts: 70

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 31, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Image quality
Cons: Plastic aperture ring
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: MX, Super Program, K-7, K-01, K-5, KP   

There is good value to this lens. It's a shame about the shoddily built plastic aperture ring because the rest of the lens is built quite nice, but if you just keep it in the "A" setting this is a non-issue. It is small and light yet the inner barrel and lens mount are metal, and the focus ring, although made of plastic feels smooth and well damped. I have used my copy for years and aside from the aperture ring there is no wobble or looseness and feels tighter than my modern HD Limiteds - I'm especially looking at you 21 and 70.


Image quality is typical of Pentax 50's which means to say its great. To my eyes the images it produces are indistinguishable from any of the f1.7's, as it should since they all share the same basic optical design and 6 blade diaphragm. No surprises here.


I really like this lens for international travel because it's so small and light, takes high quality images, yet it's easily replaced if lost, stolen or damaged. I don't like to take expensive camera gear traveling because it gives me "camera gear anxiety". This little lens is a part of cheap but potent kit I put together that allows me enjoy my travels without worrying about my gear, but still come home with excellent results.


For those who wish to mainly use this lens on an older film body that does not support the "A" setting I'd suggest skipping this lens and going for an M or K option as they are better built, but for a digital user this lens is golden.





I can highly recommend this lens to anyone who is on a tight budget but are in search of a high quality lens.

8/10 - good optics, poor aperture ring, great value.
   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2019
Location: Agadir city -Morocco
Posts: 145
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: it's a glorious lens I still use it, it makes an impressive sharpness and bokeh
Cons: absence (of course) of autofocus
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 3    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 3    Value: 8    Camera Used: K20D   

a glorious lens, its quality is optimal, and especially with a body full frame it gives an ideal bokeh.
   
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2017
Posts: 64
Lens Review Date: November 20, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent value
Cons: yes the plastic
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: istDs, ME, K-5   

Overall a 9.5 for this lens, yes the plastic is something that many people dislike, but considering its an A lens with this quality its a must have!
For portraits and stills where you can take your time, I prefer this lens over any other autofocus on, as it keeps you being focused and taking the right shot.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Utrecht
Posts: 29
Lens Review Date: August 14, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Optical quality, easiness as A-lens
Cons: Build quality, manual aperture setting is horible
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 6    Value: 8    Camera Used: Super Program A to K1ii   

This lens performs identical with it's M-sibling. Optical it is very good. It came 15 years ago or so with a Super Program-A for 35 Euros. Compared with the M-lens this is a "plastic not so fantastic". Only usable in A-setting, manual aperture setting is really horrible because of worn out plastic mechanics. I think I better remove inner spring-ball so for this one I can use my aperture ring silently without clicks for video shootings . Using this lens in A-mode anyway works fine.

See also https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/390869-som...-compared.html

   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2017
Location: Sale, Cheshire
Posts: 66
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, good contrast low CA
Cons: manual focus technique needs practice
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

A cracking little lens. I obtained this lens free from a camera club colleague and have been testing out its capabilities.
At f 1.7 the image is a little soft. At f 2 the image is sharp and at f 2.8 and beyond, very sharp. The contrast and colour rendition is very comparable to modern lenses.
I found the best technique for focusing (on the K-3) is to focus to the indicator light in the viewfinder - this gave consistently accurate focusing.
Some minimal CA occurred under the following conditions:
  • Out of focus areas in high contrast.
  • Intense sun reflecting on chrome.
Of course, this can be readily removed with editing software.
Generally, CA is very well controlled, in bright conditions.
Some flare (but not excessive) was evident when shooting into the sun, however using a lens hood may mitigate this.
Optically, a very impressive lens from the film era which is still excellent in the digital era.
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2019
Posts: 12
Lens Review Date: April 15, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Very good all around 50mm
Cons: Plastic and feels it
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 5    Value: 6    Camera Used: K2 ME Super   

On film cameras - remembering that when you rate a lens on a digital sensor and processor you are not rating only the lens - this is a pretty fine lens. It does everything you'd expect of a decent 50mm lens to a very good standard. About f4 to f11 is best for all-around performance (I never believe anyone who says a prime lens is excellent "wide open") but it's fine at the extremes if you have a clean glass version.

The only thing I really don't like about it is that it has a lot of soft - and old - plastic inside and on its design. It's the same with all A series lenses. It feels cheap and cheerful. I don't mind digital plastic lenses as I hate carrying bulky heavy lenses around, and I'm not a clumsy person who mistreats my gear. Anyway, some plastics are tough. So I'm no "metal snob" but I was so disappointed with this vintage lens by Pentax when the poor mechanicals betrayed its plastic design. Take it apart to clean it out and you realise just how plastic it really is. Compare it to the M Series F1.7 version and there is no competition to be made; it's the M Series every time. But if you can pick up an A Series cheaply and in good condition, then you will be a wise and happy buyer.
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2017
Posts: 133
Lens Review Date: September 4, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $35.00 | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Super cheap, super sharp images from f2.2, nice looking bokeh, small and light, ok CA resistance, smooth focus ring, full frame coverage
Cons: Not as sharp wide open? Can focus far but not to infinity.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-70   

This is a surprisingly good old lens that is very affordable and produces very good images, absolutely comparable to some modern lenses.
Very sharp from f/2.2


I'm selling my modern Samyang 50mm f1.4 because it is much bigger and heavier and in most situations does not perform better.
   
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 55
Lens Review Date: August 28, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Cheap and realy good.
Cons: Manual focus. Boked, no made for.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-x   

Very cheap, really good, but I prefer my FA50mm F/1.4
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 5
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2018 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $37.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Small, built like a tank
Cons: My copy had terribly low contrast/flare. Fog inside?
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K3 and ME Super   

Maybe my lens had some internal issue. Terrible contrast and flare. Unusable.
   
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2018
Location: Lyon area
Posts: 42

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 29, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp around F4-5, viewfinder focus assist works, well built overall
Cons: Wide open is not super sharp
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-70   

Have it since a few days, it is the first time I shoot with a prime lens. This is also the first time I write review for any lens, so I like it but I'm not a pro or haven't tried dozen of lenses.

It has plastic rings (as opposed to SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7) but feels well build and sturdy, my copy is very clean except a little dent on the front side


First impression is wow, so much light coming in compared to my DA 18-135 zoom, need a time to adjust usual camera settings.

Wide open it can take shots in an almost dark room, this is inside my room without any lights on, and curtains almost closed. Useable at ƒ/1.7 with 1/50 exposure time ISO1000 is ok on the K-70 this helps. With a tripod you can certainly shoot with a longer exposure and get even less noise


In sunny situation, closing the aperture to F/5.0 rendered nice, this time at ISO100 it is real sharp you can count the pollens that have fallen on the petal beneath


The flare does not seems bad against the light

I should update this on I got it out for landscape or portrait pictures, but for the price paid I'm already happy I bought it.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2017
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: March 20, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, colours, bokeh
Cons: a bit soft wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-50, Fujifilm XT-20   

This 50mm/1.7 lens is a classic little jewel, like most legacy 50mm, indeed. On APS-C it is just a bit soft wide-open but improves almost immediately.
Manual focus with an APS-C camera is always an hazard, but with focus-peaking you can do good. The focus ring of my lens is a bit soft, yet precise. I must say the lens has definitely been used a lot.
In search for a portrait lens, I have pitted the Pentax-A 50mm versus the Nikkor 50/1.8 and the Nikon series E 50/1.8, and my overall preference went to the Pentax, here: http://www.rustichelli.net/Hobbies/Photography/LensTests/the-good-old-primes...PSC_camera.php
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 382

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 9, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Contrast, well controlled CA, "A" on the aperture ring. Nice sharpness
Cons: Not a tactile delight that the SMC-M version is.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3 K-1   

Lets get the one thing out of the way, the build. It is a bit plastic. There I have said it.
It does not have the tactile delight of the smooth metal build SMC-M version, even though it is identical optically. Yes it is just the same, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I got mine as part of a £30 bundle with the rather nice and underrated P30t I found in a local camera shop.

Why did I get it when I already have the SMC-M F1.7, the DA F1.8 and the FA F1.4? Well it has the A on the ring, and it was dead cheap. There are times you want to use TAv mode with the nice and contrasty F1.7, but you can't. You can with this.

So, build is not as good as the earlier one, but does it perform? Well yes! Even now, the F1.7 is one of the better nifties out there for Pentax wide open. It is small, bags of contrast, a lot more than the F1.4, reasonably good CA control (and better than - ahem - the 43mm F1.9 wide open).

Stopped down, the CA does get better, but the FA F1.4 overtakes it when it comes to sharpness and rendition. Not that this is a bad thing, it is just that the FA is stunning, and one of the best fifties from F2.8 through to F8.

If you want a great, and I mean great, 50mm wide open, with some decent control, and you don't mind the less than perfect build quality, then for bang for the buck, get this. It is FAR less than the "perfect" F1.7 - the SMC-F F1.7, which are as rare as hens teeth.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 6,336

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 24, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Small, light, good optics, "A" setting
Cons: Poor build quality
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 7    Camera Used: K200D, K3   

The A series 50mm f/1.7 is optically identical to it's predecessor in the M series, except perhaps the SMC coating, and performs very similarly. It produces images which may have a touch more contrast, giving them a more modern look. The Pentax f/1.7 and f/1.8 standard primes are superb optically and this one is no exception, producing images which may be use-able wide open (depending on circumstances) and are very sharp indeed by f/2.8.

The problem with the A series is the very poor build quality. The plastic build of the barrel is not a problem per se, but the plastic build of the internals, especially the aperture ring, is a big problem. My copy had an aperture ring which was gritty and difficult to move and another copy I tried, while externally fine, had an aperture ring that simply wouldn't go below f/8. This is because the aperture ring is plastic inside and just gets worn out very easily.

While images from this lens were very good, I sold it because I don't get any pleasure from using it. I stick to my other 50mm lenses which are K, M, Taks or third-party offerings with similar high quality build.

It's worth noting that the f/1.4 version has similarly poor construction while others in the series, like the 28/2.8 or 50/2.8 macro, are considerably better and have properly constructed aperture rings.

I would recommend the K or M series fast fifties over this one, especially the M, which is the same size, almost as light, just as sharp, and much more pleasurable to use due to the superior build quality. It's also less than half the price. If you get one which works and plan to always use it in the A setting then you won't experience the aperture ring problems.

Sample photo (taken wide open in low light):


IMGP1325a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

At f/2.0


IMGP1386
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Wide open:


IMGP2763a A50_1.7
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

100% crop of above:


IMGP2763a A50_1.7 100pc
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 880

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 23, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: A setting on Aperture ring, easily obtainable.
Cons: Nice....but great?
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

I picked up another copy of the -A 50mm F1.7 today. That makes 4 that I have along with 3 -M 50mm F1.7 and one each -A and -M F2 lenses. Plus Chinon and Ricoh 50s.
The woman in the charity shop found it downstairs, yet to be priced. While I was browsing for books, she asked me if I was looking for anything specially. I described the books I was looking for and mentioned that I did not see many cameras or lenses in charity shops anymore. She then mentioned that the shop had a lens downstairs and came up with a clean apparently functioning lens. I asked how much and she looked up Ebay listings on her phone and said "they are selling for between £40 and £50 but you can have it for £25. I shook my head and she reduced the price to where I could not be expected not to put my hand in my pocket. What a bargain!
Getting the lens home and putting it on the camera briefly gave me a worry as the aperture was not showing on the lcd, checked the camera with another -A lens, wiped the "clean" lens mount on the lens and fitted it again to find it now showed the aperture. A few images show that it works as well as the other 3 -As and the Ms.

An overlong intro to the review but here goes;
Very good lens with the A setting so exposure is a given on digital, no manual stopping down as on the M lenses.
Smooth focussing, 49mm filter thread, easy to focus, good IQ, light enough and plenty out there so bargain prices possible.
Almost every Pentax owner probably has one and if not then they are probably missing out. Even the most fervent AF lens user could use this manually.
However it does need to be stopped down a bit for images that are not soft.

I have rated this lens as a 9 overall....it is probably better than a 9, however there may be there is a better 50mm lens that is sharper wide open (maybe the F1.4 lenses, I shall keep looking for one) or maybe with "pixie dust".
Very good...but not brilliant. Value for money though...absolutely a 10!
Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7



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