Hands-on with the D FA★ 50mm F1.4

New high-performance full frame prime

By PF Staff in CP+ 2018 on Mar 5, 2018

A new premium full-frame Pentax lens is just around the corner: in the coming months, we'll see the official announcement of the HD Pentax-D FA★ 50mm F1.4.  In the mean time, we had the opporunity to test out the lens while at the CP+ show.

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Unsurprisingly, the image quality from this lens is nothing short of stunning— at least based on what we could see given the limited scope of testing that can be carried out on the show floor.  "Corner to corner sharpness" is something that has become more or less standard with modern premium optical designs, and it seems this 50mm will be no exception.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to share any photos taken with the lens, as it is still a pre-production model.

We learned that this lens is an original Pentax design, and naturally Pentax engineers are quite proud of it.  The lens also incorporates a newly-designed ring-type autofocus motor.  This motor delivers quick focusing speeds similar to what we've seen from the highly-reliably DC motors in other modern Pentax lenses (refer to the video above).  It's not quite as fast as the PLM motor in the recent DA 55-300mm, however.

While the motor in the new 50mm is branded "SDM", this is not related in any way to the problematic SDM system used in early DA★ lenses.  When we asked Pentax representatives about the focusing motor, they said:

 "The motor used for the D FA★ 50mm F1.4 is a ring-type ultrasonic motor. The lens has a large focus configuration that is instrumental to the high quality optical performance offered from minimum to infinity. In order to move this heavy focus lens accurately at high speed, we developed a new motor that would best fit these requirements."

The lens also uses the new KAF4 lens mount, which means there are no mechanical links to the aperture.  This ensures quiet, precise aperture operation but is only fully compatible with DSLR released in 2013 or later.  Older cameras will always shoot wide-open.

Learn more about the D FA★ 50mm in the preliminary press preliminary press release, which contains a partial list of specifications.

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