Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 ‘Nifty Fifty’ lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 'Nifty Fifty' lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8

Price: £220
Considerably more expensive than the other f/1.8 lenses in the group, the Pentax isn’t especially strong on features.

There’s no internal autofocus motor, the lens instead relying on a screw-drive from a motor in the camera body to actuate autofocus. There’s also no focus distance scale, and a lens hood isn’t supplied.

On the plus side, it’s the most compact and lightest lens here and, despite weighing just 122g, build quality feels mostly very good.

That said, the mounting plate is plastic, rather than metal, but the lens feels robust overall.

As well as featuring multi-coated elements, the front element has a protection coating to repel dust and water. It’s a shame that the mounting plate doesn’t also have a rubber weather seal, as with both of the Nikon lenses in the group.

Handling is a bit of a mixed bag. The camera-driven autofocus is fast, but noisy compared with most other lenses on test.

The focus ring also rotates during autofocus and it’s quite large, so you have to be careful not to foul its action with your fingers during handheld shooting.

A bonus is that the lens features Pentax’s Quick-Shift focus system, which enables full-time manual override.

Performance
The Pentax has fairly minimal barrel distortion and does quite well at controlling colour fringing. Sharpness is good at f/1.8, impressive at medium apertures, and doesn’t drop much at f/16. Overall image quality is pleasing, but the lens still seems overpriced.

Features: 3/5
Build quality: 3/5
Image quality: 4/5
Value: 2/5

Overall: 3/5

PAGE 1 – What is a 50mm lens good for?
PAGE 2 – Features to look for in a Nifty Fifty lens
PAGE 3 – Best 50mm lens: 01 Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
PAGE 4 – Best 50mm lens: 02 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
PAGE 5 – Best 50mm lens: 03 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
PAGE 6 – Best 50mm lens: 04 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
PAGE 7 – Best 50mm lens: 05 Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8
PAGE 8 – Best 50mm lens: 06 Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
PAGE 9 – Best 50mm lens: 07 Sony 50mm f/1.4 A
PAGE 10 – Best 50mm lens: 08 Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
PAGE 11 – Image quality comparison
PAGE 12 – Best 50mm lens: Verdict

READ MORE

Studio lighting: 4 seriously simple lighting techniques to try at home
Using Autofocus: 9 situations when AF will fail you
How to use autofocus with moving subjects
How to use focus lock on your digital camera