Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8
5 frames with...

5 Digital Frames with the debated Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8 – by Roland Casselbrant

August 7, 2022

The lens I will talk about here has been talked about at 35mmc.com before. At least here by Hamish Gill and here by Ed Lara, but we’re in it for the plenty, aren’t we?
When I started to get interested in photography in about 1992, an often repeated truth when arguments of the best camera showed up at the letter pages of photography magazines was “the best camera is the one you bring with you”. Simple as that. The camera you don’t bring will not be used. And you end up without photographs.

As I more or less always carry a camera in my bag wherever I’m going, a lot of times less is more. Or rather smaller is more. I had not really had a lens that I really felt comfortably with for my DSLR and because of that I often choose to leave the camera behind. During the start of this summer that have changed and my Pentax K-5 has become my more or less daily companion.

Flowers in early summer

The Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8 is a nice companion but for some reason it took me a long time to realize that this lens was to pair well with my Pentax K-5. I had earlier used it on a Pentax ME as a small nice analog kit but with the pancake-lens on my DSLR I started to go back to what started my interest in photography thirty years ago. Everyday photography.

Vinterkatten på promenad

These days when I bring an analog camera with me I search for good pictures and are much more careful in my selection of motif. But that has also made my photography maybe a bit boring and predictable. Now when I go through my archive for photographs to enlarge, frame and hang on my walls I more often then not fall for the everyday pictures. It can be pictures from a party or my kids all together and interacting on a bench on a train station.

Now this summer will be documented in the way I used to do it. Mixing the digital and the analog for more fun and spontaneity.

Sun and glass

The lens itself brings enough quality for my needs but has brought a bit of a slowness because of the lens being a bit tricky to focus. I did not experience this problem as much on the Pentax ME but on the DSLR without focusing screen I have to double check the focus a lot.

Pontiac in the bright summer sun

The problem some experienced with the small focus control is not as obvious on the Pentax K-5 as it is on the smaller analog Pentax M-series. The shape of the DSLR makes my hand find the focus ring without problem. It seems that the bulkier camera body on the DSLR is doing some good in this matter.

VW van in the summer sun

I have only used this lens a couple of times before and then as said on the Pentax ME. Those times Ill only shot black and white so it’s a bit of surprise how nice the lens renders colors. The colours produced by the lens suits my taste good for this kind of photography and the colors feels very “honest” to reality. And I can easily bump up contrast, if needed, digitally, but the images presented here is only corrected for white balance.

Old Volvo Amazon in Österledinge

Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8 on a Pentax ME using Fomapan 200

To conclude this experience I can say that this pairing of camera and lens will probably stay in the bag until long into autumn. When the dark hours gets plenty I will probably pack another kit in the bag but for now, I’m enjoying the easy everyday photography.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Craig Schroeder
    August 7, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    As I was reading this, I realized that my experience mirrored yours. I’m not a Pentax user but have accumulated many things Konica and Contax. The 40mm ƒ1.8 Hexanon pancake lens on a TC or T4 body and the Zeiss Tessar 45mm ƒ2.8 on a small Contax body are my most used slr rigs. The Konica is sharp wide open and the Tessar very good from ƒ4. They’re each in a small grab/go bag so some of the choice is from my laziness as a last thought when leaving the house. Thanks for the article!

    • Reply
      Roland Casselbrant
      August 8, 2022 at 9:33 pm

      I really hope to get back here with some Contax content as well sooner or later. I love the Contax built quality and the Contax/Yashica mix might be interesting to dive into.

    • Reply
      Felix
      August 9, 2022 at 8:57 am

      Hi Craig, your comment is very interesting for me. I bought the Konica 40/1.8 for using it on a mirrorless Fuji X-T20 and found, that it’s not really sharp until 2.8. Wide-open it’s kinda soft with smeared non-contrasty edges. Which is perfectly fine for me, but now I’m wondering, if I have just a bad copy and should look for another one. On a Konica 35 mm film body, the lens worked perfectly, but I only had small resolution scans to judge, so I guess, my softness issue wide open isn’t noticeable. Do you have any similar experiences?

  • Reply
    Roman Dubravský
    August 8, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Pentax 40 mm f2,8 also exists in an autofocus version. The optical design is the same as the manual version. It might be better suited to a DSLR.

    • Reply
      Roland Casselbrant
      August 8, 2022 at 9:31 pm

      It probably is better suited to a DSLR but my point here is that you can take what you have and make a great combination out of it. And in this case I liked the result I got.

  • Reply
    Eric
    August 12, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    Nice article and sample images. I had the later AF variant of this lens, which is billed as a crop lens, but covered the full-frame image circle without much issue when used with my K-1. A great lens. I have another lens that is close in focal length and aperture currently but will likely be shopping for another 40mm copy shortly now that I have read this.

    • Reply
      Roland Casselbrant
      August 14, 2022 at 9:39 pm

      I was really pleasantly surprised with the results I got with this lens. So I am sure this lens will be a partner for a long time. It’s the perfect travel lens.

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