Pentax ME Beginner Lens Recommendations

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 9, 2020
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The Pentax ME is a very good 35mm SLR. This page is going to talk about the 5 best lenses for the Pentax ME, plus a handful of alternative options.

The following is the list of the best lenses for the ME:

  1. Kit Lens - SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
  2. Wide Angle Lens - SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8
  3. Portrait Lens - SMC Pentax 135mm f/2.5
  4. Zoom Lens - Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5
  5. Macro Lens - SMC Pentax 100mm f/4 Macro

The best Pentax K mount lenses are categorized by pricing and type of photography. There are a number of proposed possibilities to choose that have a wide range of prices matching the value of the camera.

Standard Focal Length Lenses

This is an assortment of 50mm focal lengths that you can use with the ME. When the camera was available for sale as new, there was frequently an offer bundling a 50mm lens as kit for a discount.

They are called standard lenses due to the fact that the angle of view for the lens is close to what people see with their eyes.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7

  • "Kit" lens for the ME.
  • Awesome value.
  • Light, small, and compact.
  • 49mm filter threads.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

If you do not currently have it, a good first lens to get is the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7. The 50mm f1.7 is widely available, is streamlined, lightweight, is low-priced, and has fantastic photo quality. More photographs have been shot with this lens when compared to any other lens.

You can also get the 2nd version, the SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4

  • Exceptional optics.
  • Improved performance from optical multi-coatings.
  • Easy to find.
  • Comparatively low-priced.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

At the additional cost of weight and size, the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 is almost a stop faster compared to the f/1.7. An f/1.7 or f/2 lens will cost more. The prior version, SMC Pentax, and later version, SMC Pentax-A, are both compatible with the ME.

SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2

Just like the other camera manufactures, Pentax produced a 50mm halo lens. The resulting SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2 is a pricey, fast, and quite a large piece of glass.

The lens can be tough to get due to the fact that it can be used on Pentax DSLRs so the desirability includes more than usage with film cameras. If you want to find one you might need to check and see what is available in the market over weeks or months.

Find at: eBay or KEH


Here are several other good lenses that are comparable alternatives. Along with 28mm or 35mm focal lengths.

SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.2AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 50mm f/2AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 35mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Wide Angles

SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8

  • Great combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Super Multi Coating (SMC) to improve output.
  • Many copies can be found.
  • Relatively low-priced.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Not the best option, the SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8, is still a good choice. The reality is, many people do not consider it a wide angle lens. Having said that, it is a lot cheaper when compared to any wider alternative.

There are plenty of wider focal lengths to choose from, but they are possibly way higher-priced or third-party alternatives have visible amounts of barrel distortion. Additionally, it is easy to see optical flaws like chromatic aberrations in third-party lenses.

More Alternatives

The general relationship for pricing is easy to understand. As the field of view gets wider, the lens will cost more. Fast lenses will also have higher prices.

Keep in mind that vintage wide angle lenses don't have corrections that modern lenses have. The issue you're most likely to see with vintage wide angles will be visible barrel distortion.

SMC Pentax-M 20mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax-M 28mm f/2AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 18mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 24mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Portrait & Telephoto Lenses

SMC Pentax 135mm f/2.5

  • 85mm substitute.
  • Excellent value.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Widely available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

85mm focal length lenses were not as frequently used as they are currently compared to when the ME was first introduced back in 1976. Thanks to being cheaper, 100mm and 135mm focal lengths were more frequently used.

The price difference is obvious when you view what's available.

More Options

There is an abundance of additional telephoto lenses to choose from. Focal lengths longer than 135mm and 85mm lenses will be more expensive.

SMC Pentax 85mm f/1.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 85mm f/2.2 SoftAmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 105mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 120mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Zoom Lenses

Prior to the introduction of autofocus, in the early 1980s, there were a small number of lenses made by third-party manufacturers that performed better than what Pentax was offering.

A large number of the best performers were released with the Vivitar brand. Zoom lenses with the Vivitar Series 1 branding are going to have the best optics you will see from a vintage zoom.

Unfortunately, getting copies of these lenses in usable condition can be extremely challenging. Keep in mind, no vintage zooms offer exceptional performance. If you find one on sale that is cheap enough, it could be worth purchasing.

Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5

  • Covers a popular zoom range.
  • Great for portrait or wildlife photography.
  • A rare time when a third-party lens is the better choice.

Also found at: eBay and KEH

More Options

Here are several more alternatives that you can take a look at if you want to have a zoom for your ME. None of them are going to be amazing, and you'd probably be better off purchasing a couple of primes instead.

SMC Pentax 85-210mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
SMC Pentax 45-125mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Pentax Macro Lenses

Macro lens choices for the Pentax ME suffer from supply problems. The supply of Pentax K mount choices is tiny, which pushes prices higher than you’d pay for similar Nikon F mount or Canon FD mount lenses.

SMC Pentax 100mm f/4 Macro

  • Ideal focal length for 1x magnification.
  • Widely available.
  • Mediocre value.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A small number of people online have encountered balsam separation of the front doublet. This is troubling because even a little bit of separation will spread gradually and make it unusable. If you see any signs of balsam separation, avoid that lens and keep shopping.

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens manufactured by Komine
  • The second best vintage macro lens I've used.
  • An outstanding lens for close-up photography.
  • Can achieve life-size magnification without needing an extension tube.

Also found at: KEH and Adorama

My favorite vintage macro lens I have owned, the 90mm Vivitar, was manufactured for a variety of camera mounts. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get a copy that's got a Pentax K mount.

The Vivitar 55mm is the best vintage standard focal length macro lens I have owned. Take into account that it does have less working distance compared to the 90mm. It is good for table top and close-up photography, but a longer lens will be easier to use if you would like to take macro photos at 1x magnification.

Both of the Vivitar macro lenses were built by Komine and were marketed under various different brand names. If you look for a copy also check under the Panagor, Elicar, Quantaray, Spiratone, and Rokunar brand names.

There is a Vivitar 90mm Macro Review and a Vivitar 55mm Macro Review.

For taking photographs at macro magnification (1x), 90mm-105mm focal lengths will be the ideal option. You will have enough working distance to have the ability to use flash, while staying away from increased weight and excessive costs that longer focal lengths have.

More Alternatives

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/4 MacroAmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Lester A Dine 105mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Used Pentax Lens Prices

Prices change all the time depending on supply and demand in manual focus glass. Over the past few years, shooting film has gone up in popularity, which has caused prices to rise.

Added pricing pressure comes from Pentax DSLR users buying and collecting lenses. Third party manufactures tend not to make products for the K-mount, unlike the Canon EF or Nikon F mounts.

Marketing circumstances are constantly changing, and unexpected changes can lead to large changes in prices. Even so, the relative prices between options should stay the same.

Taking a look at a variety of websites is an intelligent way to get reliable market information. If you're fortunate enough to discover a great deal, buy it due to the fact that the best deals don't last long.

What Lens Mount Does the Pentax ME Use?

The Pentax ME uses the Pentax K lens mount.

Introduced in 1975, the Pentax K mount is still being used in current cameras. It’s a replacement for the M42 screw mount that was found in previous cameras such as the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic. Over the years changes have been done to add metering information, autofocus, electronically controlled apertures, and CPU contacts.

Provided that a lens has an aperture ring, it will be compatible with Pentax film cameras. Keep in mind, it is not a smart idea to waste money on pricey features that can't be used by the camera. An exception would be if you also own Pentax DSLRs.

It's also possible to use the previous M42 lenses with an adapter. The M42 Takumar lenses are the best to use in this situation. However, I wouldn't advise doing this as finding them with focus rings that are not tight can be hard.

Standard Lens Cap Size

The standard filter ring thread and lens cap diameter used on most older manual focus Pentax K mount lenses is 49mm. They were originally sold with slip-on caps, not the more prevalent center-pinch type found today. Looking around at what is available, you will discover a lack of matching lens caps being sold with lenses.

Bear in mind big front elements will need bigger caps and filters.

The advantage of having a standardized thread size is that you only need just one filter set.

Pentax-M vs Pentax-A

Pentax-M and SMC Pentax lenses are built with a stop-down coupler which provides the camera to have a linkage to the lens. The stop-down coupler makes it possible for the camera to know what the aperture is set to so the light meter will meter correctly without needing to rely on stop-down metering.

The Pentax-A series added the ability for the aperture in the lens to be controlled by the camera. Cameras that support the Pentax-A mount changes have the ability to do shutter priority and aperture priority modes.

However, due to the fact that that feature isn't supported by the camera, it would not make sense to spend money on features the camera can't use.

Related Posts

That's it for advice on the best lenses for the ME. Here is some further info that will provide you with more information about the camera can be found below:

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