A New Old Lens

pentax sfx pentax-f smc 50mm F1.4 autofocus lens with cokinlight 49mm uv filter on a pentax k200d digital slr camera
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.

portrait of samir bharadwaj taken with a pentax k200d digital slr camera with a pentax sfx pentax-f smc 50mm F1.4 autofocus lens with cokinlight 49mm uv filter in indirect streetlight

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.