Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 lens review: accessible price and excellent aberration control

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DxOMark Lens

Introduction

Measuring just 38.5mm in length and weighing 122g, this tiny featherweight prime boasts a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. As a moderate telephoto the 35mm full-frame equivalent to a 75mm when mounted on an APS-C body, this lens is particularly suited to indoor portraits and candid ‘street’ photography.

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Achieving a DxOMark score of 19 points, however the Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 lens isn’t quite up to the overall capabilities of rivals, at least when paired with the 16-Mpix Pentax K5. Although this lens can be commended for its negligible distortion, excellent control of vignetting and extremely low levels of chromatic aberration, the acutance and resolution, cumulatively expressed in our Sharpness score is, to some extent, disappointing. Sharpness across the field wide open is also a little on the low side, though that’s not always a bad thing for a portrait lens.

The lens scores well when compared with others in the range, including the firm’s highly regarded Limited and DA Star models. Indeed it comes second in our DxOMark rankings in the range, just one point beneath the best performing model, the Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM. With a sticker price of just $249, this lens is an intriguing proposition for Pentax users.

Pentax smc DA Star 55mm F1.4 SDM 640 20
Pentax smc DA 50mm f1.8 249 19
Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.4 AL 220 18
Pentax smc DA 70mm F2.4 Limited 545 18
Pentax smc PENTAX D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro 444 17
Pentax smc D FA MACRO 100mm F2.8 WR 589 17
Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited 700 17
Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 450 17
Pentax smc DA 40mm f2.8 XS 250 16
Pentax smc DA 40mm F2.8 Limited 360 15
Pentax smc DA Star 200mm F2.8 ED (IF) SDM 1200 15
Pentax smc DA Star 300mm F4 ED (IF) SDM 1400 15
Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited 650 14
Pentax smc PENTAX DA 14mm F2.8 575 13
Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited 510 13