Lens Spotlight: M50f1.4 - Jason Doss

Lens Spotlight

Pentax SMC-M 50 f/1.4

This is now the third iteration of this blog, so I guess I can't call it a "new idea" anymore.  The goal is to highlight a technique, lens, camera, film (when I start developing again), or subject in three frames. I have a lot of lenses, probably too many, so I'm going to focus in the short term on cycling thru my collection and maybe discuss a little about my photography habits along the way.



The Pentax M50 f1.4 is the fastest 50mm in the M series, which ran during the late 70s and early 80s.  The M was probably supposed to stand for "miniature" since most of the Ms are small compared to contemporaries, and very very small compared to their modern equivalents.  This particular lens was one of the first manual focus lenses I bought, intended for use on adapters with the Sony NEX system.  


The lens handles excellently, with a rubberized focus ring and an aperture ring without an A setting. The lens has a 49mm filter ring like many other M series lenses and weighs 235g (0.5#).


Fifty millimeters is a "normal" focal length, and lwere sold with 35mm film cameras as a complete kit back in the day.  That's one reason there are so many of them, another is that the focal length is generally popular. 


Manual focusing can be a challenge, since the depth of field is narrow and details in the viewfinder can be quite small.  Split focus screens were useful on film cameras, but they don't put them in digital cameras anymore since they interfere with automatic metering.  Thankfully, the K-1 and K-1 mII has an articulating rear LCD screen that can be used as a live viewfinder and can magnify the image, ensuring precise focus when needed.


The photo above is an example of the narrow depth of field you can get with this shot, taken wide open. This was in mid-day bright sun with intense heat, which thankfully over the course of the day did not last long.  Anyway, at f/1.4, and at such a close focus distance, all four of the heads could not fit inside the focus plane.


The shutter speed and aperture were balanced in the photo below in order to get both a shallow depth of field and the blurring effect of rising bubbles.  I think the aperture was f/2.8, and whatever was on TV complemented the color of the wine nicely I thought.  This was manually focused with the rear EVF.  Usually, slow shutter speeds require a tripod, but here I rested the camera on my knee and used a technique that involves slow breathing and careful motion on the shutter button to get the shot.



BIRD scooters can be rented for a quick runabout downtown Kansas City.  Most of the time they get parked out of the way on the sidewalk, where they wait for a new passenger or the charging truck.  Sometimes, BIRD pilots park their chariots in the wrong place, where tragedy can befall them.  The cause of this carnage is unknown, but presumed to be death by automobile.

I chose black and white for this one, since the colors were drab anyway, and since it conveys the somber mood of the scene.


A dead bird on the side of the road


That's all I have until next time.  Thanks for looking!



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