I’ve been searching for old, strange lenses for my Pentax K200D digital SLR ever since I bought it over two years ago, since I quickly realised that I could effectively use any number of great lenses stretching back over Pentax’s long and colourful history. Last year I acquired an adapter for the M42 mount, which allowed me to use a forty-something-year-old Zenit Helios 58mm f2 lens after some modifications to the apeture pin. I’ve been using the all-manual lens through much of the last year, getting back my skills at manual focussing — no small feat in a lens with such a fine and shallow depth-of-field. It has performed admirably and produces pictures of distinct character.
Out of the blue, the other day, I stumbled upon a camera store in a small mall in Dubai that I have often frequented for coffee and a sandwich, but never explored. They had dozens of old cameras and lenses, including several Pentax models, of which I immediately spotted a Pentax SFX, and more specifically its 50mm F1.4 SMC autofocus lens. I acquired it for a bargain (around $70) and even got a UV filter thrown in for free! Due to some other chores that needed to be done, I didn’t get a chance to properly test it, but heading back to the car I fired off a quick shot of my brother in the back seat.
Note that this was taken with me awkwardly turned around in the front passenger seat, with the only illumination being a single street-light and a shop window across the two lane road. The results are more than adequate, and quite the step-up from the F2 zenit lens. The autofocus helps immensely in poor light, and I can’t wait to give this lens a good workout. It’s a good deal younger than the Zenit — the SFX was released in 1987. Like the Zenit, I imagine it will sit on my camera most of the time.