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

SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4

Sharpness 
 9.3
Aberrations 
 8.5
Bokeh 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.3
Value 
 9.6
Reviews Views Date of last review
97 391,867 Fri January 27, 2017
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
99% of reviewers $77.57 9.25
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4

SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
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SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
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Description:
The SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 is the fastest and largest of the 50mm standard M lenses. It is nevertheless more compact that most other M lenses, and smaller than the original SMC Pentax 50mm F1.4.



SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
K
Max. Aperture
F1.4
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
Dedicated hard case
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 37 mm
Weight
235 g
Production Years
1977 to 1984
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-M 1:1.4 50mm
Product Code
20867
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 RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 97
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2014
Location: Nagoya
Posts: 577
Lens Review Date: January 27, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image quality, build quality
Cons: Fringing

There's little that remains to be said about this lens. Sharp (my copy is even sharp wide open as long as you nail focus), very pleasant rendering, great bokeh, lovely M series handling and great value.
On the negative side, you have to contend with a fair amount of colour fringing especially at wider apertures, and this is true of all Pentax 50/1.4s up to and including the FA. It's also a little heavier than its f1.7 and f2 counterparts.

It's a very capable lens, although in my opinion the manual focus 50 to have remains the A50/1.7 - easier metering, lighter, startlingly sharp and very little fringing.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 4,492

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, image quality stopped down, compact
Cons: Soft wide open, expensive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    Camera Used: K200D, K3, various film SLRs   

This lens is my go-to 50/1.4 due to it's build quality, compactness and optics. I use it on digital and also on film, where I find the feel of this lens is really ideal with a 35mm SLR.

I have owned the M, K and (seven element) SMC Tak 50/1.4s and they all perform very similarly. In terms of sharpness they are all soft wide open (not really usable in my opinion), acceptable by f/2.0 or f/2.4 and great at f/2.8 and beyond. In other optical qualities, colour and contrast from the M 50mm are really good, though contrast is unsurprisingly lacking at f/1.4 and maybe f/2. Bokeh is generally smooth and I've never had any problems with flare. I find this lens gives a rendering very similar to much more modern lenses rather than the less contrasty, less saturated "vintage" look that many old lenses give.

Build quality is great as with all the M series lenses and handling is superb - this lens is a pleasure to use. Focus is very smooth and the aperture ring clicks nicely.

Recently I've acquired an Auto Revuenon 50mm f/1.4 and discovered that it's optically slightly better than the M series lens, being slightly sharper wide open. It's just as compact and well built, has the same 49mm filter ring, it was also half the price. That lens could conceivably one day push me to sell the M series one, or at least to replace it as my go-to 50/1.4.

As all Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lenses are soft wide open, in terms of sharpness it's really impossible to justify having one instead of (or in addition to) a 50/1.7, which is smaller, lighter, just as well built, much cheaper, just as sharp at f/2.8 and considerably sharper wide open. The f/1.4 has eight aperture rings rather than six, so bokeh is smoother, but beyond that there really isn't much difference optically. In the end, if you really want an f/1.4 lens (as many people, myself included, do) then nothing else will do, but the sheer speed adds a lot of weight and cost without adding anything optically. The only real advantage in the optics are the extra aperture leaves for smoother bokeh. I find with all the 50mm lenses that I very rarely use them at less than f/2.8, where the combination of sharpness and ability to isolate a subject are ideal.

I'm not about to get rid of my copy of this as it's very good optically, though recently the Auto Revuenon has been getting more use, but it's mainly because I'm far too much of a gear freak to not have at least one really good f/1.4 lens.

Overall, this is a really nice lens and I rate it highly, though it's not good value for the reasons stated above.

Some sample images on digital.

Wide open at f/1.4:


DSCF0100a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

At f/2.8:


IMGP3919a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP3916a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Unknown aperture:


IMGP1275a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP9181a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
Junior Member

Registered: December, 2015
Posts: 48
Lens Review Date: September 24, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Contrast, sharp, usable wide open
Cons: Soft in the corners
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-50   

Great 50mm lens, with 1.4 you can make wonderful pictures. However, to film, it's barely usable : at 1.4, you have no less than 2 centimeters of focus (the bokeh gets astonishing, but the slightest movement if you film someone will make it go blur)
Naturally, the contrast is great, and the colors are just right.

On the down sides, there are the corners : some vignetting appears wide open, and it is little soft while in the middle it's razor sharp.

I also set 8 to the handling, not knowing what it can do when perfect, as my copy has somewhat of a "hard" focusing ring, I suspect it was dropped or bent or something.

I would recommend this for photography (I used it only on K50, so digital), it's a little heavier than the 50mm F1.7 or F2.0, but it is as sharp and it's bokehlicious. Anyway, it remains a "dreamy" lens, even if you focus right, because at 1.4, a face on the side can't be in focus all the way.
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2016
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: bokeh, contrast, colours, size, weight, cenral sharpness from f2
Cons: soft wide open, corners soft until f4
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Sony A7s, Sony a6000   

Good lens overall, excepts maybe for corner sharpness.

Great bokeh, contrast and colours. Good flare resistance. Handles well on small morrorless cameras even with an adapter.

For image samples check out my review of this lens at

http://www.theweekendlens.com/pentax-m-50mm-f14-smc.html
   
Forum Member

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Lower Saxony
Posts: 86

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 18, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp once stopped down, view finder brightness, color rendering
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-5 IIs; K-1   

uncared for a year i rediscovered this gem the last dark days...

down scaled offhanded out of camera jpgs, K-5 IIs, f/2.0:



(click into this second to enlarge original out of camera jpg)


crop reveals (golden) pearl necklaces also with K-5 IIs


down scaled out of camera jpg, K-1, f/2.0

crop


p.s. @ wtigga: yours is the also great and with a radioactive Thorium glass rear element built SMC PENTAX K predecessor, ~ 1975-1977...
   
Inactive Account

Registered: December, 2015
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: February 2, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $55.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: image rendering on film / 3d pop / wide open iq
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax LX   

Best 50mm i ever used - and i've used quite a lot of them. Had several Nikon 50s from old Ais version to the good old 50/1.4D or the pancake E-series 50 and also some late 50/1.8 and they all had there flaws optically AND none of them had the same great haptics and handling feel like this Pentax M 50/1.4! it's close to the high price rivals from the big brands with Z or L, but bigger of course.

beside the handling also the optical qualities stand out. maybe only slightly but still in a relevant manner. it's maybe not the most sharp or most contrasty 50 in scientific tests but the render of details, tones and the transition from sharp to bokeh are delicious. the images have this special something. the wide open look is a tad soft but it's great for 1.4 and there is still plenty of details (with a bit less microcontrast).

the benefit of this lens compared to other 50s is only nuances for sure but enough for me to deeply fall in love with this lens.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2012
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 1,927
Lens Review Date: February 1, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, well-built, very sharp
Cons: Can be "dreamy" wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-30, K-x, Sony NEX6   

I successfully finished a Singles month with my M50/1.4. I actually have one more shot to process and upload, but it's done and in the queue for later tonight or tomorrow. I've had the M50/1.4 for a couple years at least, and I've used it in fits and starts. What did I discover about it this month? It can be very sharp wide open. I had taken several shots in the past at f/1.4, and found most were dominated with a sort of dreamy effect and were never really sharp. With the help of the EVF on my Sony and with focus magnification, I was able to knock out a few shots at f/2 and f/1.4 that showed, in my mind, impressive sharpness and about where I wanted that sharpness to be. I was never able to hit the mark with my K-x, so chalk one up for magnification assisted manual focus. The lens otherwise is small, hefty but not at all heavy, very well built, and has smooth focus action. It fits and handles well on film cameras, my K-x, and on my Sony NEX6, although the adapter on the latter makes it longer than it should be. There are occasions where using the lens without a hood will produce flare, however an after-market "telephoto" lens hood with 49mm lens threads is enough to fix that. Overall, a great lens, and a fantastic addition to any collection.

Link to my M50/1.4 Flickr album.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2015
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: August 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $89.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small & compact, sharp, easy to handle
Cons: None I could find
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Canon 70D   

I'm new to vintage lenses, and this is the first one I bought - and am very happy with it. Light weight, great bokeh at 1.4, very easy to handle.

Only con I can think of has nothing to do with the particular lens - I learned the hard way that the depth of field is so narrow at 1.4, sometimes just a few inches, that one has to be very precise at focusing (used a chipped PK-EOS adapter with a single focus point, which was very helpful, because camera beeps when focus is reached). The main challenge is when shooting more than one person - must remember to close shutter a bit, to get a deeper depth of field.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2015
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 12
Lens Review Date: May 13, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $35.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: solid construction, image quality
Cons: very soft wide, color fringing outside of focus plane
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-500   

Good lens at f4 and smaller. I am disappointed at wider apertures. Even though that gaping light catcher looks impressive, it is too soft for anything but "bokeh art". I seldom shoot for subjects with arty blur. I like the 3D look of subjects in focus against the soft background. So for me this lens has no real advantage over the M 50mm f2 or the smc Tak 55mm f1.8. But I got it on eBay along with a dandy K1000, Vivitar 283 flash, bag, antique 35mm film, and a no name 70-200mm zoom, all for $65. I figure I paid about $35 for this M 50mm f1.4.

   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 508
Lens Review Date: March 15, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Price, snooth focus ring, sharpness, rugged, size, weight
Cons: Not the best for moving subjects/lighting due to M lack of auto metering

It would only be better for me if it was an 'A' lens for auto metering and aperture control in the body as an option.
Very sharp, very smooth, long focus ring.
Bokeh is very nice for most images. Slight CA in outdoor (lighting is harsh in SoCal).

https://flic.kr/p/qFX4hE
https://flic.kr/p/rjCf6T
   
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2013
Location: China
Posts: 26
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sturdy, Cheap, Nice Bokeh, Pentax
Cons: Purple fringes on 1.4
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-7   

Very nice lens for it's price. Nice to think that this piece of art was produced almost 30 years ago, and still fully functional.
Got one in Seoul for less then 50 bucks.


More picks of this lens on my blog.
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Location: Baku
Posts: 24
Lens Review Date: January 15, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp!!!
Cons: can be some CA
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30   

I got my dSLR about a year ago with a DA 50mm f1.8. I was very happy - then I bought this lens and I was
ecstatic!!! It's just beautiful - this lens is so sharp.

I got the DA 50mm f1.8 very cheap as a deal when I bought the K-30 but- I very rarely use it now because I love this lens so much!!

It's manual - for me this is a massive plus because I started to understand what my camera can do.

It's prone to CA - but honeslty even the CA tends to be good looking!

For me it's a massive step up from the DA 1.8 in terms of picture quality and also as my first manual lens it's taught me so many things about DOF etc.

Coil by istanbulnorthend, on Flickr
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2014
Posts: 124

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 30, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, bokeh, build quality, sharp, very compact, good close focus limit and yes, it's sharp!
Cons: Chromatic aberration is a pig in some shots.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I've been using this lens on and off since shortly after I got my first film SLR, a Pentax K-1000. The fast fifty was my first lens purchase to replace the 50mm F2 that came with the camera. I never regretted it and shot a lot of portraits with it, usually on Black and White film. I got the lens specifically to avoid using flash on babies as I used to do a lot of newborns, and I soon discovered that some of them are upset by flashguns. I got some lovely shots, pin sharp even wide open, though focusing is tricky because the depth of field is so tiny at f1.4. Plenty of missed focus shots at first, but later I got better at that.

The handling is excellent, focusing is so smooth it makes you wonder what happened when more recent lenses were designed. Quite a long throw to make focusing as easy as possible, though still it requires some practice to nail it more than a tenth of the time. Practice regularly and you can raise that to most of the time, so don't worry!

I've just recently pulled the 1.4 out to try it with my K-r. I wish I'd done it sooner, it's really fine with the focus assist and I hope to shoot more than test shots with it very soon. Handles like a dream, and even though stop-down preview is needed for metering it's really fine if you're familiar with the manual mode of your camera. A classic, a gem, a marvel of optical design.

People who say this lens isn't sharp wide open either just can't focus it or they have a dud copy, it is sharp in the centre even wide open at f1.4. I use a lens hood as well and that reduces the bloom effect slightly and improves contrast, well of course if you want that dreamy bloom it's easy enough to use the lens without the hood.

EDIT to add: Here is one image linked from my gallery here; it's from the first portrait shoot I did with my Pentax K-r using this lens and I love the bokeh on the lights. It took several attempts to get this lined up right so the lights were where we wanted them but it was worth the effort. The only PhotoShop is the glow on her hands and the darkening of the background as some parts didn't turn out completely black the way I wanted them. Of course the lights were really quite a way behind her hands but I wanted to create a nice illusion using the smooth bokeh this lens gives you. I know this is scaled down but the eyelashes are pin sharp even on the full images when pixel-peeping and this shot was taken at f1.4.

   
New Member

Registered: December, 2014
Posts: 18
Lens Review Date: December 10, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp wide open, great build quality, smooth focus ring, outstanding bokeh, cheap
Cons: Not auto focus.... Then again I save $750 by not buying the 55mm 1.4
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

This lens blew me away when I first got it. Being able to shoot outdoors at night on ISO 1600 is outstanding. It is a perfect match with the Pentax k-3 especially because of its SR. I don't know why people would give this anything short of a 10 for sharpness, because on my 24mp pentax k-3, it is sharp up to 100% crop. The lens does have some aberrations, but this is easily fixable in Lightroom. Bokeh is outstanding, although the lens is very hard to focus without a split prism focusing screen. Then again it's f1.4 so that's kinda what you get. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone, although someday I may upgrade to the 50mm a 1.2. I actually bought this lens with a Pentax k-2 for a total of $100, which explaines the tiny price tag.
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 195
Lens Review Date: September 19, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good in all respects, a finished, polished, well rounded, sharp image
Cons: a little flare every now and then

This 50, to keep things straight, must score 10 since it is hard to find a better one. It does have it's own unique character and is a bit of a unique design even though it's in the long line of seven element Pentax 50s. It's a "friendly" lens, not finicky, that beats out most all fast 50s and tops its companion M, the quite good M 50 1.7 as well. I know, the M 50 2.0 is good, too, and shouldn't be forgotten. I keep the M 50 1.4 and the 8 element Super Takumar 50. To be fair, the K 50 1.2 must be noted as tip top fast 50, and, as a great walk around tessar design with trustworthy pictorial qualities and no ca, the Takumar Macro 50 4.0 must be mentioned. Speaking of 50s, in my opinion, other brands at times appear sharper with crisper corner to corner definition stopped a ways down. However, Pentax 50s, at least the older ones, make better looking pictures in most situations, even landscapes. It took a while for me to see this and to come to this conclusion. For psychological comfort in a 50, I mindlessly reach for the M 1.4. You can't lose carrying this lens along anywhere or anytime.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4



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