Eric L. Woods

This Old Lens: Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

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Preface

Writing this post brings no risk with it since I already have this lens. I have written a post about it already, but felt it was worthy of another in this ‘This Old Lens‘ format. Often times I only realize after trading a lens that I really should have kept it. I knew immediately that this was a lens that was not to be sold.

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

Why? Well I will prattle on for a bit first but all that really matters are the sample images below. Like what seems to be a bewildering array of apertures (f/1.4, f/1.7, f/2, and f/4), mounts (K and screwmount), AF, and MF Pentax 50mm options it creates wonderful images. I have already documented my appreciation for the screwmount Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and MF Takumar 50mm f/4 macro lenses that I no longer have. The MF 50mm f/2 is another great option that I do own.

Pentax

Two of in fact. Both currently mounted to my own ME Super and my Dad’s original copy that finally packed it in on his last trip when he and my Mom went to the Grand Canyon. As mentioned many times before Pentax was the first SLR system I learned on many, many years ago as taught by my Father. This 50mm f/1.7 stays on my free to me as gifted SF10.

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

As previously stated with these posts there will be no spoilers as I will like all of these lenses.

Asking Price

Depending on the condition and what else is included like cases and such these seem to run between $50 and $150.

Value

If you have a film or digital AF Pentax camera I have to believe that you already have a 50mm lens. If by some fluke you do not this lens is a fantastic value. A ridiculously reasonable price for a great lens. There is an f/1.4 AF option that costs a bit more used but if memory serves that option is a bit soft wide open at f/1.4 and I find that the f/1.7 performs just fine wide open. That is a fine lens that is still on sale new, but having used the f/1.7 I see no need to upgrade. In fact at one point I “upgraded” to an admittedly fantastic Sigma 50mm DG EX 50mm f/1.4, but looking back now no such upgrade was needed. The inexpensive f/1.7 holds its own as compared to this even more expensive Sigma f/1.4 lens as well.

Veteran's Day Parade 2016
Sample Sigma DG EX f/1.4 shot of my dearly departed Father.

Why I Bought It

Pentax makes great lenses. Not as heralded as some more expensive options it easily holds its own against all comers in my opinion. My copy was dirt cheap at around $50 due to a small crack but it has performed flawlessly for years. If it ever did go wrong I would not hesitate to pick up another copy.

Image Quality

While not as vintage attractive itself as all metal manual focus Pentax options this plastic build lens does fit well aesthetically with early Pentax AF cameras. This is a lens bought for the images it produces, not how it looks.

  • Flare
    • Have not witnessed any flare with this lens.
  • Sharpness
    • Very sharp with film and digital wide open. Other than the need of a greater depth of field or to accommodate bright sun there is no need to close this lens down. With that it mostly stays wide open when I use it.
  • Colors
    • I really like the colors this lens produces.
  • Bokeh
    • This lens produces fantastic bokeh. The amount and quality of bokeh available is top notch. No squirrely distractions like some other lenses. Just creamy backgrounds and foregrounds.
  • AF
    • Focuses swiftly both with film and digital Pentax cameras. Very accurate as well. My copy is a bit chirpy but I suspect that has a bit to do with it being a slightly rough copy.

Samples With Film (All with SF10)

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)
Pentax SF10
Lomography 800
Pentax SF10
(Manu) Lomography 800
Pentax SF10
Lomography 800
Pentax SF10
Lomography 800 w/ flash
Pentax SF10
Pentax SF10
Pentax SF10
Pentax SF10
Pentax SF10
Pentax SF10
Chris, the gifter of the SF10 taken w/ flash.
Pentax SF10

With Digital (Pentax K-1) Brace Yourself. Many samples ahead.

Random
Old Pentax 50mm
Old Pentax 50mm
Old Pentax 50mm
Old Pentax 50mm
Old Pentax 50mm
Old Pentax 50mm
_IMG2145
Sidewalk shadows
_IMG2081
Pentax K-1
Friday Night Lights
Raleigh Sights
Punch Buggy
Punch Buggy
Punch Buggy
UNC Sights
Low Pew Perspective
Random
Random
Random
Cat
Random
Saturday Memories - Pentax K-1
Saturday Memories - Pentax K-1
Saturday Memories - Pentax K-1
The think tank at the family homestead.
Saturday Memories - Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Wilson
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1 Night Gallery - University Place
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1

I saved my favorite photo for last. Below is one of my favorite candid photos I have ever taken of my Father. The fact that it is taken with a digital descendant of the SLR film camera and lens he first taught me with years ago make it that much more special to me. It captures his lovely spirit so well.

Random

Conclusion

This post makes me realize that I made a mistake on a mount agnostic top 10 list of my favorite lenses I posted not that long ago. On that list I led with the fantastic Pentax 100mm f/2.8 macro where I stated:

This lens is as close to a one lens justification for buying a camera system as I have ever come across….

and

…I still occasionally consider picking up a Pentax body for this lens alone before I talk myself down.

But during the process of writing this blog post I realized that I like this lens better. Is it a better lens? Based on technical merits no. The 100mm is sharper and a near clinically perfect lens optically. It is also weather sealed which this lens is not. But I enjoy using the 50mm more. And I love the way this lens renders. It performs perfectly with film and brings a lovely film look to a digital world.

Friday Night Lights

I fended off the desire to repurchase a K-1 when considering the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 macro on that top 10 list.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 macro WR

I fended off my desire to repurchase a K-1 when writing a post talking about my desire to repurchase a Pentax K-1.

Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm  f/1.2

But having survived both of those this one may have finally done it. More to come… possibly.

Another great 50mm lens. You could spend more for modern mirrorless AF lens but I prefer this one. If you are shooting on film and digital Pentax this lens is a fantastic option.

-ELW

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)
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