Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M

Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M

Taken with my Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-A (same optics as the M but with the additional "A" setting on the apeture ring)

This lens is has been a long time favorite of mine since I bought it. It was the first of 9 (as of 2/12) lenses that that I’ve acquired over the years and has been a work horse since day one. It was purchased for its reputation as a portrait lens because of its beautiful color rendition, fast aperture, and creamy bokeh. On the commonly used APS-C sized sensors that most consumer dSLRs use, this lens will give a similar field of view as an 80mm lens. This makes it great when you want to put a little space between you and your subject. Because of it’s large aperture this lens is in my kit for the times I want to isolate subjects or in low-light conditions.

Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M

To use an aperture ring, turn it until the orange diamond lines up with the f-stop you want.

Manual focus lenses are good for you!

The Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M was designed during the days of manual control so it takes a bit more technique than just pointing and shooting. It has an aperture ring to set the f stop and focusing is done by turning another ring until the image appears clear through the viewfinder. This can be intimidating to a new photographer who isn’t used to it, but with practice it becomes second nature. Because of Pentax’s excellent backward compatibility on its bodies, there is a focus indicator in the view finder of my K-5 allowing me to know when the lens is in focused. This makes taking photos with manual control a snap… (of the shutter)!

Cheap lenses provide an incredible value!

The 50mm prime was a staple walk around lens in the 35mm days, so they’re very common on the used market. They will range in price by brand, mount, and speed, but very few of them are bad deals. For less than $50 you can score some great bargain glass that performs better than some very expensive modern equivalents. I paid $35 for this particular lens on ebay and think it has provided more value than any other photography purchase since then.

Some people will cringe at the thought of losing auto controls, but using these lenses will give you a better understanding of photography. Being forced to use the light meter in the camera will help you understand shutter, aperture, and ISO much easier. This will make you a more well rounded photographer and give you more tools even on fully auto lenses.

Here are some example shots taken with my Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M!