Pentax 50mm is a Sharp Shooter

Pentax K-5 with 50mm

The Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8 lens is a handsomely designed, moderately priced, fast prime.

I had read conflicting reports about its performance. Pop Photo gave it high marks, while the folks at were lukewarm about the optic. I needed a fast, versatile lens for my Pentax K-5 that I use around the studio. So when the 50mm went on sale for $182, I jumped at the chance to buy it.

After a few days of shooting, I'm leaning more toward the Pop Photo results. So much so, that I'm wondering if SLRgear got a bad version of the optic for testing. I'm primarily shooting between f/1.8 and f/2.8 here at the studio.

Dibs the Cat - Pentax 50mm
Portrait at f/1.8 with Pentax 50mm. Photos by Derrick Story.

I do think the lens is a bit sharper at f/2.8 than wide open. But that doesn't mean that it isn't crisp at f/1.8, and the artistic effect of the focus falloff is wonderful.

Dibs Looking Off
Portrait at f/2.8 with Pentax 50mm.

If I were going to complain about anything with the Pentax 50mm, it wouldn't be image quality. It would be the grinding sound of the AF motor. It's not a problem here at the studio shooting product shots. But I wouldn't want it at an intimate marriage ceremony. In those situations, switch to manual focus, which is quite nice on this lens.

The Bottom Line

If you own a Pentax K-mount body, you probably will love adding the 50mm to your camera bag. It's light, good-looking, and provides excellent image quality. Just don't shoot in AF mode in quiet settings.

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The Pentax 50mm f/1.8 lens has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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