Well I spent the last week working with my 50mm manual focus lens. At first, for fun, I used it with my old Pentax istDS camera. This was the first DSLR I had ever bought. As I had only been using Pentax film cameras and had built up a “stable” of lenses, it seemed logical for me to buy a camera that I could use them on. Although I did eventually buy lenses made for crop sensor digital cameras, I was able to save money at the beginning by buying only the camera body.
I soon realized that my older lens, along with my older hands, could use some help. So I switched to using my somewhat newer Pentax K5 DSLR. The K5, like all of the DSLR cameras that Pentax now makes, has IBIS, internal body image stabilization. This allows the camera to compensate for my less than steady hands by stabilizing the image.
On my crop sensor cameras the focal length of each lens is multiplied by a factor of 1.5. This made my 50mm lens seem like a 75mm lens. Much shorter than I’m used to for portraits and much longer than I’m used to for landscapes and still life.
It was not an easy task finding ways to use that length of lens. The way I felt the most creative with it was in isolating interesting parts of a landscape. Perhaps the trail through the woods, or ice formed on a puddle. During a walk I found this small bit of water surrounded by a fence. The reflections were never quite still as a small breeze riffled the water. It took a few tries to get the look that I wanted. I found though that the lens had just the right length for me capture this image from the other side of the water.
This not a lens I would chose as my only lens. In fact even though there are modern auto focus versions of this lens available, I will not be getting one. It is unable to do wide vistas. There is no way I can back off that much and still have anything recognizable in the image. It is able to do portraits if I move back far enough and then just crop the center portion of the image. Something I do not want to do. For still life I cannot get close enough, and again cropping is required to get to the image I was trying for, and then the angle of view might be wrong.
But when I found that this lens performed best in isolating part of a landscape, using this lens was a pleasure. I had learned it’s sweet spot and no longer felt held back in creating images with it. It takes the right tool to do a job well, but sometimes you need to figure out what the right job is for the tool. I will definitely be hanging onto this lens. It’s fast and it’s sharp. Being an older lens, much older, it does have some issues in high contrast situations. But you never know when it might be needed. Say a pond as the sun is starting to set.