Pentax smc FA 50mm 1:1.4 review
The Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 is something of an anomaly in the company's current lens lineup, as the last of their film-era primes featuring plastic construction and an aperture ring. This actually reflects the fact that Pentax are probably the leading proponents of modern-design fixed-focal length lenses, with their range of compact 'pancake' lenses and 'Limited' series high quality primes being the envy of users of other systems. Indeed we can probably presume that the 50mm F1.4 will itself be superseded by the recently-announced Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM lens, but in the meantime it stands as the most obvious option for users seeking a fast prime for low light and portrait work.
The 50mm F1.4 features a traditional design of 7 elements in 6 groups, with all of the lens surfaces spherical in profile. In this regard it's very similar to the Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM and Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm F1.4D which we've reviewed recently, and therefore looks somewhat dated when compared to the all-new, aspheric-element Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM. The 'smc' designation indicates treatment with Pentax's 'super multi coating' for the minimization of flare, and the 'FA' designation indicates that, unlike the newer 'DA' digitally optimized lenses, its image circle covers the 35mm full-frame format.
With Pentax concentrating their attentions on the APS-C format, the function of this lens has subtly changed from the days of 35mm film, and the 1.5x crop factor means it now acts more like a classic short 'portrait' telephoto, instead of the general purpose 'standard' lens it was designed to be. The question to be asked is therefore whether it's well suited to this role, especially given the high resolution demands of the smaller sensor. Read on to find out.
- 50mm focal length
- Fast F1.4 maximum aperture
Angle of view
The picture below illustrates the angle of view on APS-C (see here for comparative shots using the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens):
|50mm (75mm equivalent)|
Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 specifications
|Street price||• $200 US
• £170 UK
|Maximum format size||35mm full frame|
|35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)||75mm|
|Diagonal Angle of view (FF)||47º|
|Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C)||31º|
|Lens Construction||• 7 elements / 6 groups|
|Number of diaphragm blades||8|
|AF motor type||• 'Screw drive' from camera body|
|Image stabilization||• None|
|Filter thread||• 49mm
• Does not rotate on focus
|Supplied accessories||• Front and rear caps
|Optional accessories||• PH-RA49 screw-in round plastic hood
• RH-RC49 screw-in round rubber hood
• PH-SA49 clip-on rectangular plastic hood
• S70-70 soft case
|Weight||220g (7.8 oz)|
|Dimensions||63.5mm diameter x 38mm length
(2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Lens Mount||Pentax K only|
* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area
Foreword / notes
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.
To navigate this article simply use the next / previous page buttons or jump to a specific page by using the drop-down list in the navigation bar at the top of the page. You can support this site by ordering through the affiliate links shown at the bottom of each page (where available).
This article is protected by Copyright and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.
Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.