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SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4

Sharpness 
 9.0
Aberrations 
 8.4
Bokeh 
 9.4
Autofocus 
 8.6
Handling 
 8.8
Value 
 9.3
Reviews Views Date of last review
158 483,350 Sat May 15, 2021
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
96% of reviewers $240.52 8.96
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4

SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4
supersize

Description:
The SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 is the only film-era 50mm still in production by Pentax. It is fully compatible with all Pentax DSLRs as well as film bodies.




SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.4
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
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
PH-SA49, PH-RA49, RH-RC49
Case
S70-70
Lens Cap
Lens Cap F 49mm
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
65 x 37 mm (2.5 x 1.5 in.)
Weight
220 g (7.8 oz.)
Production Years
1991 to present (in production)
Pricing
$346 USD current price
$219 USD at launch
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:1.4 50mm
Product Code
20817
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Notes
Various hoods with 49mm thread will fit.
Variants

Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 158
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 7,261

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 15, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $335.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent optics, fast maximum apeture. Good size for a 50mm prime.
Cons: A bit too much plastic for my taste. (No hood or case included in box)
New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax manual and auto focus film bodies.   

The FA50/1.4 was released in 1991 and replaced the similar F50/1.4. Not sure if the FA50/1.4 is actually still being made, but you can still buy it new from some camera stores. I bought mine new in February 2021 and it’s available by special order from Pentax Canada.

Optics:
Excellent optics and bokeh, not bad wide open as well.

Focal Range:
The 50mm (+55mm) normal/standard lens is one of the “big three” film lenses and the biggest selling lens of all time. You can use it for pretty well everything. On APS-C you don’t get the same versatility.

Build:
Decent build, but there is more plastic than other Pentax 50/1.4 lenses.

Usage/Handling:
The FA50/1.4 is a nice sized 50mm prime and the handling is pretty good for an auto focus lens. The focusing ring could be a bit bigger, but is acceptable. Both it and the aperture ring are also not as smooth as an older manual focus lens. I only manual focus this lens, so no auto focusing comments. The distance scale is behind a plastic window and is OK, but not great.

I bought the Pentax collapsible round rubber "RH-RC 49mm" hood for my FA50/1.4, as well as the soft S70-70 lens case.

Speed:
F/1.4 is the Pentax “fast 50” that most people will end up buying and it’s great for all lighting conditions. The FA50/1.7 & A50/1.2 were slower and faster options available alongside the FA50/1.4’s production run.

The FA50/1.4 vs my other 50mm f1.4 normal/standard primes:
I also own the K50/1.4 & A50/1.4 and like the 50/1.7 lenses, are all very similar. The optics are the same, as well as the minimum focusing distance and all are also around the same physical size. The only difference is the build/handling and the K50/1.4 is way above the others in build and is also slightly bigger for much better handling.

I rated the K50/1.4 a 9.5, the A50/1.4 a 9 and will rate the FA50/1.4 a 9 as well.

Summary:
The FA50/1.4 and the other 50/1.4 lenses that I own are excellent fast 50’s, however when I’m reaching for a 50mm lens I usually go for either my K or A50/1.2. They have better optics, bokeh and are a ½ stop faster than the 50/1.4’s. For an extra few hundred dollars they’re worth it.

Price:
I purchased my FA50/1.4 lens new at a local camera shop and it cost $420.00CDN. Note a new FA50/1.4 lens does not come with a hood or case.

Sample shots taken with the FA50/1.4. Photos are medium resolution scans from original slides and negatives. All shots were taken in Vancouver, Canada.


Camera: *ist Film: Kodak Pro Image 100 ISO: 100



Camera: MZ-S Film: Kodak Ektachrome 100 ISO: 100



Camera: SF1n Film: Ilford FP4 Plus 125 ISO: 125
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2019
Posts: 6
Lens Review Date: April 26, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Good value, compact, wide aperture
Cons: Occasional optical issues, show a bit its age
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K7, Pentax K1 MkII   

A very good everyday glass and a nice entry-level trainer among wide aperture primes. This lens will save you multiple time in low-light scenario, allowing you to get the last bits of light available. I use it to stay below 1/30 when shooting handled to avoid breaking the 3000 ISO barrier. On the other hand it usually bites me back when I carelessly shoot below F2.8 without thinking about DoF and the subject. Setting your line program to MTF can help.

When you'll have mastered its few quirks, it'll likely become your default lens, unless you own some of the more recent expensive alternatives zooms like the HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR. Covering the full-frame, it even manages to make the K1 a somewhat compact kit, especially compared to the modern lenses like the 24-70 zoom or the D-FA* 50mmm F1.4 . It shows however its age on the autofocus side (screwdrive) and the lack of weather sealing.

It can almost allow some macro shoots, especially on APS-C. Some occasional optical issues in complex shoots (visible on the picture below, shot on the K7)


Insanely sharp at F10 in good light conditions on the K1


The lens do OK flare-wise (from my limited experience) - K1 as well
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 31, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $199.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Petite, huge light gathering ability, low distortion, smooth bokeh
Cons: Build quality and durability, limited DOF scale, focussing ring.
Sharpness: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: MZ5n/MX/KX   

Overall, this a nice 50mm 1.4 for the Pentax mount. At one stage on my MZ5n, I thought it was a bit un-sharp at distance but when I used the same lens on an MX or KX found this not to be the case. It was I think the MZ5n's focussing system.

Distortion is well controlled and I love the 8 bladed aperture. Colours are great. Bokeh is smoother and less nervous than any 50mm 1.4 Nikkor.

I only ever use my Pentax lenses on film cameras. The FA 50mm 1.4 gets swallowed up by my KX and I therefore prefer the 50mm A 1.4 and its more comprehensive DOF scale and handling.

The 50mm FA proves that Pentax can make great glass and I think that this is still a very desirable and under-rated lens.
   
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2020
Posts: 102

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 11, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: very fast and very sharp; small and light, making it very versatile; good AF
Cons: focusing ring and aperture ring not the best designs; no dedicated hood
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: LX, PZ-1, K10D, K-3 II, K-1 II   

This is definitely near the top of my lens collection in terms of sharpness, and it's the fastest lens that I own.
I bought this lens many years ago (so whatever the standard new price would have been in the late 1990s, I guess).
For me, this lens is highly versatile. It performs about the best among all my lenses in autofocus (perhaps because of the lens' speed and large glass), with relatively little hunting even in low light and complex situations; now, this is with non-moving targets, so please understand my autofocus grading in that light -- but when I move quickly from stationary target to stationary target, the AF locks on quickly with no hunting most of the time. I can use this 50-mm f/1.4 lens well with my Pentax 2X converters (A 2X-S; K T6-2X), giving me an instant 100-mm f/2.8 lens with excellent optical results. Thus, if I'm packing lightly for a trip or a hike, I can bring just my small 50-mm lens and an even-smaller 2X converter to give me both 50- and 100-mm lenses that are fast and sharp.

This lens is also versatile to me for macro photography by using my three Pentax K macro extension tubes -- great for close-ups of flowers -- even though this is not a macro lens. The speed of the lens allows for sharp, hand-held macro photos because you can use such fast shutter speeds. I've also used this lens at the other extreme -- for astrophotography, with good results. Chromatic aberration may be slight in extreme conditions but for most purposes it is close to zero. As for sharpness, I'm limited only by the pixel size in my K-3 II camera (when magnifying images on my computer greatly), and I'm eager to try it out on my forthcoming K-1 II.

My main gripes are that the aperture ring has always been stiff (not smooth), though it works fine; it's just that with this lens, it's a long, rocky turn on the aperture ring from f/1.4 to f/8. The aperture ring is thick and (even though next to the camera/mount) is flush with the width of the rest of the lens, so it's easy to turn the 360-degree aperture ring from any side even with fat fingers (aside from the high degree-of-friction just noted). And the thin manual-focus ring is not my idea of a great focusing ring, but it works; it rotates about 150 degrees from infinity (counterclockwise as seen from the back of the camera) to shortest focus, so it does allow a fair amount of room to get fine focus.


My only other wish would have been for a good dedicated lens hood; mine did not come with it new, so I assume that there is none. It really needs a hood with its big glass. For years I suffered along with a cheap round rubber screw-on hood, but rubber hoods always seem to get distorted easily on the outside rubber (i.e., bent in here and there), so I opted to buy a new 49-mm screw-in round metal hood (Sensei Pro) from B&H, only $9, but it should have come with the lens. But overall, this lens is fabulous, and it's hard to give it anything less than a "10" as an overall rating; the aperture ring and focusing ring just aren't big-enough negatives to bring that down (I'd rate it "9.5" if there was an option for something other than whole digits).


Here's a photo with the lens on my camera:

   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2007
Location: In the most populated state... state of denial
Posts: 1,344
Lens Review Date: August 6, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Classic lens, cant go wrong with it
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5, K100, KX, film cameras   

The same classic optical formula (7elements 6 groups) that has been carried over from the Super-Takumar era (1965) on a small package

The lens is plasticky when compared to the older versions, but still feels solid, both autofocus and manual focus are smooth

Some purple fringing in the corners when wide open but then the center becomes important, and having large areas out of focus is a big plus to provide the dreamy feeling of the 1.4.

At 2.0 the specular lights become octogonal, per the 8 diaphragm blades

PS. Purple fringing is gone in cameras after K5, with lens correction
Camera has a hard time at 1.4 with focusing and light
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2018
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: June 13, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: f1.4
Cons: purple fringin, AF
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: KP   

Fast lens, good bokeh, color rendering not as good as the Limiteds, even the zoom one.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2020
Posts: 6
Lens Review Date: April 29, 2020 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: perfect
Cons: I do not find
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Ks-2   

I had da50мм 1.8 , but this one is faster and sharp

my first photo
unique bokeh
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2017
Location: Medellín
Posts: 1,311

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 10, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $345.99 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small and compact, AF.
Cons:

This is a nice standard lens. Sharpest at f/4. A bit soft and dreamy wide open. Only difference I could find with the M version are the newer coatings and of course the exterior and AF. Originally got it for my K-5 around 2011 but stays mostly on my MZ-S now.
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2019
Posts: 14

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, handling, fast aperture, good bokeh
Cons: low contrast backlight, some CA (easly removable), plastic but it helps for lightness
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K1   

This is one of my best Pentax lens, maybe the best one. Consider it is compared to my other lens like FA * 80-200, 24, 28-70 and F* 300. Thanks to this lens I carry my heavy K1 every where I use it especially for my son's portrait and it gives me awesome sharpness, colors, contrast and definitely wonderful memories. IMHO this lens is underestimated, maybe because pro user wants more subjects pop and creamy bokeh. For this you can buy 85mm A or FA star. I can say this lens is fine at full aperture, but in some situation you can have CA and loss of contrast especially in backlight condition. When you stop down from F1.8 this lens is a pleasure, like a dream.

Full aperture 1.4 is very useful for my nighty video clips, it helps me to not push iso (I don't like high ISO
on video) and at same time great bokeh. Very good focus ring, quite smoothly. Constructions is fine, even there is too many plastic, but it helps lightness of this lens.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: June, 2011
Posts: 449

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 7, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: price, image quality, aperture
Cons: Some CA in worst conditions, not the fastest AF
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

This lens represents a good value for money especially for full-frame users. The images are sharp, have beautiful rendition, and have little flaws. In the worst conditions (severely back lit subjects) CA can get pretty bad, but I have only noticed it on APS-C, probably because of that extra crop making it more visible. I'm sure it's there on full-frame, just have never stress tested it to compare, but I just don't see it.

For the price, if you're looking for a standard lens length fast prime with AF for full-frame, I think this is the best one.
   
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Wild-Nord-East Hungary
Posts: 147
Lens Review Date: September 3, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: all
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3 II   

... like a beautiful dream ...
   
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2009
Location: VA
Posts: 48
Lens Review Date: August 25, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast Lens
Cons: None so far
Sharpness: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-50   

Hi,

I recently bought think lens and this exceeded all my expectations.

I was not sure what condition this lens will be as i bought it used and luckly this is in very good condition.

I am surprised how fast this lens is and how quickly i can focus.

Thanks
Sateesh
   
Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,054

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, excellent low light abilities, nice bokeh
Cons: Lower contrast at wide apertures, some chromatic aberrations
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3   

Had a Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 and it was an excellent lens, but wanted more automation. Not sure if this FA 50mm f1.4 lens is based on similar optical qualities but it is basically the modern version of this lens I was looking for. Yes, it is not built as well as the old Takumar, but good enough and still quite a dense little piece of glass that doesn't turn yellow like the radioactive Takumar would. It is a very sharp lens, and those that are saying it is not are probably confusing softness with lack of contrast when wide open. All that is usually needed is a little boost of contast in photoshop. And some purple fringing can appear at large apertures but it is actually much less worse than my 77mm limited was.

The bokeh is excellent and dreamy wide open. I do notice slight saw-blade shaped bokeh around f1.7-f4, which my Takumar and its 6 bladed aperture didn't do, so you have to be careful at thee apertures with out of focus highlights. At f4 and on, out of focus highlights become octagons since it is an 8 bladed aperture. Mine is a made in Japan version and I like the way it looks on my K-3.

Autofocus is pretty darn good, it rarely misses, and is very fast due to a short focus throw. It's just a little bit noisy which I expected it to be. Focuses much more quickly and consistently than my DA 50mm f1.8 I used to have. Switching to manual focus is fine too, I mean the thin focus ring requires careful movements and will never be as good as the Takumar in this regard, but it does turn smoothly and is perfectly adequate for me, so the handling of this lens is as good as it needs to be. It is also a small lens and easy to carry around with you. Compared to the prices of competing lens, this lens is still an excellent value and I recommend it. If it was updated with quick shift or a more modern autofocus system and/or more modern lens coatings it would be even better, but more modern coatings could take away from the wonderful way it renders images so I will keep and enjoy mine just the way it is. Might I add I have played around with the new DFA 50mm f1.4 on a K-1 in a store and can attest that it is indeed a much superior lens but at a much larger price tag and size.

Here are some samples from my lens:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/46273960235/in/dateposted-public/ (Notice slight purple fringing around her head and around her camera. Barely distracting unless you are looking for it).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/46464558144/in/dateposted-public/ (It was a hazy day, pay attention to the sharpness of the foreground. f8.)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/40223481793/in/dateposted-public/ (Dreamy/glowy wide open but still very sharp).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/47136173742/in/dateposted-public/ (Shot directly into the sun and at minimum focus distance).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/47136181792/in/dateposted-public/ (Also shot into the sun at f1.4, focus point about 10 feet away. You can get very thin depth of field at f1.4)!
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 3,093
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Crazy-sharp between f/4 and f/11.
Cons: Soft wide-open (not a concern for landscape photography).
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K1, K5   

   
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 68
Lens Review Date: August 28, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Cheap and realy good. small size.
Cons: A lense of this quality should be built in metal.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-x   

Incredible bokeh on digital camera. Short, lightweight, this lense is essential for me.
For exemple, family photos, without flash, camera in hand.


Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4



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