First impressions: SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens

Brandon LazovicApril 16, 2018

As part of my weekly photography challenges I’m tasked with shooting in a variety of situations. One issue that I’ve been running into is my current array of lenses aren’t equipped for macro photography, which has been the focus of the past three prompts. I decided to broaden my range of lenses and invest in the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens.

Using the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens for Close Up Subjects

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, macro photography refers to shooting extreme close-up photos of tiny objects like water droplets, flowers or insects. To achieve this effect, you need a specialized lens that can magnify the subject and retain clarity.

Most macro lenses reproduce in 1:1 ratios in a focusing distance of 12 inches or less. The 1:1 ratio means that the subject of the photo can be reproduced in a similar or greater size compared to their actual size outside of the lens.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens
Here's a photo that I shot in last week's photography challenge with the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens

The SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens has a 1:4 magnification ratio, making it a great option for shooting still macro objects. This lens’s sharpness is edge to edge, with no “softness” or blurriness toward the edges of the frame. Its color rendition and contrast are spot on and users can achieve a nice bokeh effect when left open at the f/4 stop.

Despite serving as a macro lens, the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens effectively doubles as a suitable walk around camera when magnified at a 2:1 ratio. The lens is small, lightweight and made of a sturdy metal, allowing the photographer to easily stow it away in their lens bag without making sacrifices for storage space.

Cons of the SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens

2018 Photography Challenge Door Photography Macro Lens Review
One of the biggest drawbacks to using this lens is the difficulty of magnifying objects that are constantly moving, causing some blurring to occur as I can't adjust the shutter speed or F-stop effectively.

There are a few downsides to using this lens. This is the norm for taking macro photos, but a tripod is required if the subject is fully magnified due to blur. The SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens isn’t capable of 1:1 ratio, making it poor for getting the appropriate distance away from an insect without fear of retaliation. Its focus throw is too long to work well for moving objects.

On my camera body I don’t have the option of setting the focus to automatic, which isn’t that big of a deal. Oddly enough it doesn’t allow me to change the F-stop on my viewfinder, only on the lens itself which can be a challenge when adjusting settings. I’m not able to view my exposure levels, so it’s a gamble as to whether my photos will turn out over exposed because I’m playing it by eye on my DSLR screen.

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The SMC Pentax-M 50mm F4 Macro Lens Is a Must Buy

This lens isn’t a true macro lens, as it isn’t capable of shooting at a 1:1 ratio, making it difficult to shoot close subjects that are fast moving. For its magnification capabilities the user sacrifices shutter speed for zoom, but this lens is versatile and capable in many other situations. I was able to snag it used on Keh for $85, so if you’re able to pick it up at this price point I highly suggest trying it out. I've recently used it for product photography and I've been highly impressed with the amount of detail it's able to capture.

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