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SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8

Reviews Views Date of last review
14 93,547 Wed November 21, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
93% of reviewers $1,295.63 9.43
SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8

This extremely-fast telephoto lens is large and heavy. It weighs 865g and has a 77mm filter diameter.

SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 9 blades
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
Min. Focus
120 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
77 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 12 ° / 10 °
Full frame: 18 ° / 15 °
RH-A 77mm
Hard case HE-169B
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
80 x 98 mm
865 g
Production Years
1984 to 1989
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A* 1:1.8 135mm
Product Code
User reviews
Manual FocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-14 of 14
New Member

Registered: January, 2018
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 5

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 21, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, solid, easy to focus.
Cons: None/weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

I had the chance to use this lens for a while for portrait. As any high-standard Pentax glass it is top-notch, despite the age. New nano-coatings and ultrasonic motors can perhaps give you new possibilities in other brands, yet nothing retain the value of this tool. Edward Prince review, above, is pure crap... dude must have had some drink too much and mounted a 35mm soviet chunk... since he is the only one on this globe thrash-talking of it in favor of a lens not only two stop darker, but which is even a zoom... basing his judgement on... film prints! Do some pixel-peeping properly - look for the comparison online - and you get it.
Anyway, awesome color/contrast, great sharpness and an amazing cream-bokeh. The price and the effort to get it, speaks for its value.
New Member

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Velbert, a small town near Düsseldorf, Germany
Posts: 10

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 16, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp!! Butter Soft Bokeh and ultra-bright viewfinder image, Built to last!
Cons: a bit heavy - due to all the metal and the big glass
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K3   

Last week a dream come true: the A* 135mm f1.8 came by mail.
A rather heavy lens, due to all the metal and the big glass. After a short check it was mounted at the K3. I never thought, that it could be so much fun to focus manually!
At the K3 it seems to me a balanced relationship between body and the lens - both weigh about the same. Then I was pleased by the bright viewfinder - at f1.8 not really surprising. The Exif's however show f1.7!
It takes some practice to operate this lens at maximum aperture, but when the subject is not too far away and having reasonably contrasts, that's not a big problem. For distant subjects it is -at least for me- difficult to find the exact focus point - then LiveView helps further - but then better use a tripod.
I think I will use it most times for flowers, food and portraits...Some examples are included below

As you can see - this color rendering is unique! After a few photos I really fell in love with this lens!

The Photos are taken without the use of a tripod...

Registered: July, 2010
Location: singapore
Posts: 467

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 17, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp wide open, subject isolation, build
Cons: rare and expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: sony A7   

DSC00658 by maverick_h, on Flickr

IMGP9960 by maverick_h, on Flickr

I am very lucky to have been able to purchase one several year ago. I think no other Pentax lens can achieve what this lens can achieve. Great Subject isolation, sharp wide open, easy to focus. The colour and bokeh. Excellent.

Once again, i just let the pictures speak for itself.
Inactive Account

Registered: March, 2014
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: March 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness and bokeh, Optical and built quality, short size for this powerful item
Cons: rare and very expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-01   

I have not used all Pentax lenses (yet), but I have seen nothing that contradicts this statement. It is certainly the best lens I own.

I also testet a few copies like Porst, Weltblick or Boreflex but this one is a monument of Pentax!

But attention - you go crazy to get one!
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 11,197
Lens Review Date: May 5, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Gorgeous rendering, fast & sharp, auto aperture.
Cons: rare & expensive no AF

I've got a lot of nice glass but this is totally the top of the line. My copy is very sharp wide open and the rendering is magnificent. I'm quite fond of the FL and also have an FA 135mm f2.8 which is a very nice lens (and useful when AF is required) but this A* can take it to another level.
New Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: perth.... western australia
Posts: 8

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 25, 2011 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 3 

Pros: none
Cons: the corners, and edges dissapear at f1.8

Well i do not know just where these people got their 135 f1.8 lenses from. i got mine in 1989 bran new in Perth western australia....I then went on a trip to the USA in 1990, and left this heavy 135 f1.8 behind...When i eventually got to New York. I went to The Cambridge cameras on 7th avenue, and 13th street...i then bought the Angenieux 70-210 f3.5 zoom lens....This lens absolutely beat the pentax 135 lens hands down, infact the angenieux was even superior at f3.5, than the pentax was at f3.5....when i took my monochrome prints over to show the professionals at Perth pro on lord street and let them have a look...They all agreed with with me, from f1.8 to f4....the lens was useless,,,,then they looked at my prints taken with the 70-210 angenieux lens....The prints were superior......CHALK and CHEESE. even when i went down to my camera club....THE WANNEROO PHTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY. and let them look for themselves....could not believe their eyes. most members said to me....what happened....this print is pin sharp, beautiful contrast......then they would say......what happened to this print taken with the Pentax 135 f1.8 lens.......My answer it's a lousy lens......So i got rid of it.......Yes i still have my beautiful Angenieux lens.....Well still keep taking those photo's......and enjoy life Edward
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 1,846

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Dreamy bokeh, powerful DoF control, tack sharp, wicked cool
Cons: Finding one is a challenge, no AF

There's just nothing else like this available for our Pentax cameras, and from what I've heard, nothing as fast or as sharp for other cameras.

Focusing this lens is a dream, and not a challenge on our modern bodies because of the sheer volume of light it's gathering.

The build quality feels more solid than any other A series lens I've held.

Your subject isolation abilities with this lens are fantastic, and the backgrounds blur to a painted dream.

Some have commented that this lens may be soft, but I would state that the in focus plane, which is razor thin, is tack sharp, and if stopped down, the pictures may actually cut your retinas.

In my opinion, this is the holy grail of Pentax lenses. It's rare and has unique properties you simply wont find anywhere else.
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: ita/swiss
Posts: 267
Lens Review Date: March 21, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,690.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness and bokeh, Optical and built quality
Cons: heavy!!!!

Sharpness and bokeh, Optical and built quality


is a fascinating lens, only to see it
Challenge it, makes you happy, excited.
Resolvent has an excellent, even wide open, only negative, which at f / 1.8 is easy to have the friming.
I think the Pentax lens with greater clarity and resolution I have ever seen, fantastic in many ways.

A bit heavy.
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 3,202
Lens Review Date: September 24, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great built quality, optical quality
Cons: A bit pricy now.

This is the best 135mm lens you'd ever find, well deserve a full 10 rating. I wish I could give it a 12 though.
Moderator PEG Judges

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Highlands of Scotland.
Posts: 38,976
Lens Review Date: November 20, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: A joy to use
Cons: I can't fault it.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I'm lucky enough to own several of these rather special green star lenses, the main four I use are 85mm f1.4, this one 135mm f1.8, 200mm f2.8 and 300mm f4.

This one doesn't disappoint, it has the extra reach over the 85mm but feels and handles just like it, in fact all of these lenses have this exceptional feel about them. Its tough too, I use it every day without any dramas, as they say "it does what it says on the tin".

Once again razor sharp when stopped down a couple of stops from wide open, great in low light applications.

Edit June 18, 2011 For those interested in this lens, the Pentax lens hood (screw-on hood: RH-A77) really don't cut it.

I've just bought a Heliopan Long metal lens hood model 10270 (77mm straight sided, 47mm deep approx). Got it on-line from Teamwork Digital in London ( who were fast & efficient and not expensive.
Bad LBA case

Registered: April, 2008
Location: Stockholm
Posts: 3,373

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 22, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: fast, sharp (even at 1.8), built to last, beautiful
Cons: heavy, extremely rare and expensive today

When you open up this lens and look through it, it appears to suck in light. It is built like a tank, and is probably quite good to use for self defense if that would ever be needed. Despite it's weight and extreme aperture, it gives a well balanced impression and fits well in my left hand. I wouldn't like to use it on the LX though without the grip-B, since it is heavier than the SLR-body. The focus ring is a pleasure to use, and I can easily focus this lens on the *istDS or K20D even with the standard focus screens.

Some people state that it is "a bit soft wide open", which is a statement I believe was made without much consideration, more or less automatically since this is what people usually say about most lenses. This lens is extremely sharp, even wide open. Of course, it is less sharp wide open than stopped down a little bit, but this is true for almost all lenses. Show me another 135mm that is this sharp at 1.8! Its wide open performance is actually one of the most fantastic properties of this lens. I have used it on silent mechanical (no winder) SLRs (LX or Super A) with modest 400 ISO film full open on 1/60th on a monopod from the back seat of badly lit churches to take those important pictures that had to be sharp enough for A4 enlargements at least, covering the ring-ceremony and the first kiss in weddings were the couple banned cameras from the ceremony but still wanted it documented discretely (friends asking me to cover their wedding, I'm not a professional wedding photographer). I've used it a lot on rock concerts and similar situations at difficult light conditions (and hence often at 1.8 to 2.8). Softness wide open is not a problem. On the contrary, rather than being "quite soft" full open, it is "quite sharp" full open (quoting Fred at Detailed comments on Pentax K-lenses). I cannot compare with the longer A* lenses, but it is sharper than the A*85/1.4 at large apertures.

A copy recently (July 2008) sold at e-bay in Germany for 2,040 Euros (about 3500 US$ for you Americans). Is it worth this much? Well, it is worth a lot, but this extreme price probably have to do that it is very rare (one of the least common A* lenses I suppose). In comparison, Dimitrov writes that the A*85/1.4 is available second hand several times a year, while the A*135/1.8 is only available once in several years. That probably makes for much of the factor 3-4 difference in price. I find it somewhat problematic that this lens that I got 2nd hand for 3-3500 Swedish crowns in 1993 at Sergel foto in Stockholm is now worth so much more. Though I love the lens, I can't help thinking what I could buy instead if I sold it.

Usually this lens is listed as "one of the best Pentax lenses ever made". I have not used all Pentax lenses (wondering if anyone have?), but I have seen nothing that contradicts this statement. It is certainly the best lens I own. If this is not rated 10, I don't know what would be required of a 10-points lens.

It is a really good lens for shooting people and it somehow make them look like they were sticking out from the back ground in a 3-D-ish way.

Although I find it a bit more difficult to use now as a 200mm equivalent on a DSLR, a bit too long. If I can find the time I hope to complement this review with some pictures scanned from film to show the lens in its proper context.

In the film days I never tried it for macro, but got a hint last year on the web that it was a good base for macro photo due to its relatively short close focus distance and its high speed. Here with an extension tube:

Here with a vivitar macro converter making it a 270mm/3.6 lens (1:2.7):

It's sharpness and speed also make it possible to get decent results with a 2x converter:

As I said, I hope to add some example scanned from film and some black and white photo.

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts: 4,111
Lens Review Date: May 18, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,375.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: surreal 3D effect, sharp stopped down
Cons: soft wide open

I agree with the former reviewers, this lens is soft wide open but excellent when stopped down. It has a beautiful bokeh which creates a surreal "3D" effect of a quality similar to the FA 31mm f/1.8 limited.


Registered: December, 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 3,356
Lens Review Date: March 20, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optical and built quality
Cons: Say what!?

Slightly soft wide open. Otherwise great. State of the art built quality. An undisputed classic.
Inactive Account

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Italy
Posts: 46

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 30, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness and bokeh
Cons: Weight

Great lens: very sharp (perhaps a bit soft wide open). Beautiful bokeh.
One of the best 4-5 lenses ever from Pentax.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8

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