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SMC Pentax A* 85mm F1.4 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax A* 85mm F1.4

Sharpness 
 9.9
Aberrations 
 9.2
Bokeh 
 9.7
Handling 
 9.8
Value 
 8.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
14 113,680 Tue May 23, 2017
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $974.90 9.93
SMC Pentax A* 85mm F1.4
supersize


Description:
This manual-focus version of an extremely fast short tele/portrait prime lens. Being an A-series lens it supports all exposure modes.



SMC Pentax-A* 85mm F1.4
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
KA
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.4
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
85 cm
Max. Magnification
0.11x
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 19 ° / 16 °
Full frame: 29 ° / 24 °
Hood
MH-RA 67mm
Case
Hard case HG-115E
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
74 x 66 mm
Weight
555 g
Production Years
1984 to 1989
Launch Price
$770 USD
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A* 1:1.4 85mm
Product Code
23070
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax A* 85mm F1.4
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-14 of 14
New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Belo Horizonte
Posts: 17

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 23, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, very sharp I already said sharp?
Cons: A little CA when opened but if it goes from f2
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 5    Camera Used: Canon 6d   

Lens incredibly sharp, creamy bokeh,
Easy handling,
For those who do not have problems with manual lenses, it is a great request,

Ideal in canon systems use EMF chip to adjust the back focus or front focus,
The best lens I have ever used for portraits,
E has already used Zeiss Planar T 85mm 1.4 (C / Y), canon 85mm 1.2L,

It's another lens level, one of the best Pentax standards.
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: March 4, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Flawless optics
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30   

I got hold of a pretty worn copy, previously owned by a professional photographer I was told, at a good price. Optics in perfect condition but a bit abused externally and some resistance when focusing. Usable but in need of service.

I had a preconception that people who paid through their nose for rare legacy lenses would have an inherent bias when reviewing the lens in question, giving way too good grades in order to justify their purchase. Hence I suspected the ratings of the *85 to be inflated.

Having made a bit of a steal I considered myself immune to this and went out shooting with an open mind, expecting to find flaws. Well, there aren't any. Blows every other lens I tested away by good margin. It's noticeable sharper than the M 50mm f1.7 and the K 35mm f3.5, which I didn't think was possible. The perfectly fine M 100mm f2.8 is a muddle in comparison. It's usable, very good indeed, at f1.4 but with a somewhat soft glow added to high contrast areas. From f1.8 and onwards it's immaculate.

Only possible drawback I can think of is that it's a bit on the heavy side when you're used to shooting M-series and limited lenses.

Images +100% crops.

   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 5,948

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 26, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $899.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, fast and great handling & build.
Cons: The lens hood is a bit big.
Camera Used: Pentax film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD, ME, MX, LX, Super A/Program, P50)   

The A*85/1.8 was released in 1984 and remained in production until 1989. It was a direct replacement for the M85/2. The Auto-Focus FA*85/1.4 came a few years later in 1992, to carry on the Pentax line of 85mm lenses.

Optics:
Stellar optics! The A*85/1.8 is sharp at every aperture I have tested it on and one of the best I have ever used.

Focal Length:
85mm has always been the traditional FF portrait/short telephoto option in lens manufactures lineups and these 85mm lenses were always faster than the 100mm - 120mm options. 85mm is also wide and versatile enough to be used for many other things like landscape work.

Build:
Superb! Built like a tank and on par with any older Takumar/K/M series lens I own. The A*85/1.4ís build is so far ahead of the next generation FA* series lenses that itís embarrassing how cheap looking and plasticky Pentax elite lenses became in a matter of a few years. The A*85/1.4 weighs 5 grams more than the FA*85/1.4 and that lens has an extra glass element as well as the auto focus parts!

Usage/Handling:
The A*85/1.8 is a nicely sized ďmeatyĒ lens that is well balanced and beautiful to handle & focus. Itís narrower near the bottom, so the aperture ring is easy to find when looking through the viewfinder. Overall a perfect handling well designed manual focus lens, which feels more like one of my 6x7 lenses than a lot of my other 35mm format ones.

The A*85/1.8 has a 67mm filter ring and uses the rather large all metal screw-in MH-RA67 lens hood. This hood takes up more room in your camera bag than the A*85/1.4 does, so again this is more in line with a 6x7 lens. The MH-RA67 hood absolutely dwarfs the lens hood for the K85/1.8. The A*85/1.4 came with the HG-115E hard lens case and will also fit in the S90-100 soft case. Both lens cases are too small to fit the lens hood.

Speed:
F/1.4 is very fast and this, along with the FA*85/1.4, are the fastest telephoto lenses Pentax made. Perfect for all lighting conditions.

The A*85/1.8 vs my other 85mm portrait/short telephoto primes:
I also own the K85/1.8 and both lenses are well built, handle well and have a nice bokeh. The A*85/1.4 is faster and has better optics, so I would give it the nod overall. Both 85mm lenses are Pentax Classics and deserve a perfect 10 rating, but the A*85/1.4 is at an even higher ďPentax Hall of FameĒ level. (I also have the FA77/1.8 and that lens would come in third overall)

Summary:
I also considered the FA*85/1.4, but I donít like the ugly finish or looks of that lens or any of the newer third-party 85/1.4ís out there. I donít own an AF camera, so auto-focus is not a plus for me and is more of a negative, as these AF lenses are usually lousy at manual focusing. Handling & build are just as important to me as optics, so the A*85/1.8 is a dream lens for me and one of my favourites. I can hardly wait to try it out in a studio setting!

Price:
I bought my A*85/1.8 on eBay and itís in excellent + condition and came with the MH-RA67 hood and S80-120 soft lens case.

Sample shots taken with the A*85/1.8. Photos are medium resolution scans from original slides and negatives. First shot was taken in Rapa Nui, second in Vancouver, Canada.


Camera: LX Film: Fuji Provia 100F ISO: 100




Camera: P50 Film: Kodak Portra 400 ISO: 400

   
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 1,962

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 16, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The Zeiss Killer!!!!!
Cons: None that I could find
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1   

I'm a Zeiss guy. I've used most of the Zeiss ZK and ZF lenses on either my Nikon cameras or on my Pentax K1.

This is the first and only Pentax lens I've ever tried that I like better then the Zeiss equivalent lens.

I've owned two copies of the Zeiss ZF 85mm f/1.4 lens. This Pentax 85/1.4 beats this Zeiss 85/1.4 hand down from an IQ staindpoint.

I own two copies of one the best of the Zeiss lenses - the legendary Zeiss 100/2 lens. I'd say that this Pentax 85/1.4 has an IQ that is about equal to the Zeiss 100/2. The Pentax is lighter, but the Zeiss focuses closer.

This is an expensive and hard to find manual lens. It is truly spectacular with no serious faults. Wide open performance is amazing.

This is one of the very few lenses that I will keep for ever.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Ames, Iowa
Posts: 692

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 13, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: speed, sharpness, detail, bokeh, easy manual focus
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-01, K20D, K-3 ii   

I acquired my copy used (along with several other great lenses) from a pro photographer who was retiring, and have used it mostly for concert shooting.

Honestly it is hard to put into words what a joy this thing is to use. I don't miss autofocus at all: between the tiny DOF at open aperture, and the long arc of the focus ring, it's easy to dial it in for one shot after another. And the results come back crisp, not what I would call clinically so, but artfully clear with smooth falloff to the out of focus areas.

For concert situations, I find that the A85 sometimes makes the customary long zoom unnecessary: the detail is good enough that you can confidently crop after the fact, and so treat it like an 85-150 or thereabouts. It's smaller and easier to handle than a long zoom in these situations too. Paired with any of the modern era Pentax DSLRs (or K-01) with focus peaking turned on and a loupe viewfinder attachment, it's a formidable manual focus rig.

The lens is competent wide open, then hits its stride when stopped down a little, with no particular sweet spot. Most commonly I have it set between f/2 and f/4.


Davina, of Davina and the Vagabonds - K20D, A*85, f/2.2, 1/60 second, ISO 500


Gordon Lightfoot in concert at Stephens Auditorium - K-3 ii, A*85, f/2.2, 1/200 second, ISO 400
Copyright (c) 2016 Iowa State Center; used by permission

Highly recommended if you can find a copy. I'll stand by giving it 10s across the board including for value. This is one of a handful of models you see frequently mentioned in those "best lenses ever designed" discussions, and even if there are very good 85/1.4 offerings available at half the price, if you want something in this class and can afford it, then it's the one to get.
   
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2014
Location: 48599 Gronau
Posts: 26
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: colour rendering and contrast
Cons: too expensiev
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 5   

This lens is rare and you have to pay a lot, if you got the chance to buy one. The optical quality of the lens is top of the line, but i wonder, if there are cheeper options whith the same image quality. Sharpness and colour rendering is very good, as it is whith the Samyang 80 1.4 . Handling is very good, it is a Asahi Pentax! It is a lens made to last for decades. In APSC 85 mm is no longer a portrait format. I use the pentax and the Samyang for low light stage and concert photography. Mechanical the pentax is the better lens, but the output of the Samyang and the Pentax is not so different to me.
   
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 41
Lens Review Date: July 21, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp also @1.4 - Build quality - fast lens -
Cons: Price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: k30   

This lens it THE lens! It is absolutely a 10! The best lens I have ever had! It is build like a tank! It is a masterpiece of engineering!
The quality of the image is superb! Very sharb with an incredible bokeh!
If you have the opportunity to buy this lens take the chance you will not be disappointed!
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 3

10 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: f1.4, 85mm, handling, IQ and anything else you want to throw in
Cons: See below
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

When I said see below about cons - I lied. Here is what people might say:

1. Size, Weight
2. Cost
3. NO AF

My answers are:
1. The best lens in the world is not going to weigh nothing and fit up your nose.
2. It is not going to be free either.
3. If you can't use MF you shouldn't be buying something this good.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2009
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: December 18, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good quality
Cons: "massive" lens hood

I bought this lens for my LX, now it serves with my K 7. Impressive picture quality and a nice piece of enginneering!
   
New Member

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Paris
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: December 1, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: very fast and very good sharpness and bokeh at f: 1,4
Cons: Some CA in highlighted conditions at f: 1,4

On K10D it front focuses (maximum sharpness before green focus led shines) as many great aperture lenses.
Knowing that, the combination of great sharpness and bokeh at f: 1,4 is amazing and gives great 3D effects.

Sharpness seems almost as good at f:1,4 than beyond, it is just DOF that increases or bokeh that decreases.

Its weight is less heavy than a 135mm or 200mm , so it can be used easily at 100 iso at f:1,4 in low light conditions

I like 85mm because This lens is great for portrait but can be used in many other situation where magnification is appreciated


Some Chromatic Abberations in some highlighted conditions at f: 1,4.
It can be reduced by increasing the speed at f:1,4 (underexposure)
Stopped down at f:2 CA disapears too.

Price is given for a lens in perfect conditions
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 3,202

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 24, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great built quality, optical quality and nice looking lens
Cons: A bit pricy.

I've tried many lenses including some really good ones, and IMO the only better lens than this one is the A*135/1.8.
   
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: Seriously good hunk of fast glass
Cons: Price if I had to find and buy another one.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

Aye it's me again, if you reading through these lens reviews you'll have seen me before. This lens is one of my 4 lenses used every day. It is the other lens that tends to get left on the DSLR body most of the time, just ready to grab and use.

What can I say, this lens is just so good, bright viewfinder, smooth action, razor sharp when stopped down a couple of stops from wide open. Just delivers the images I need day in day out. If you can find it get the "pukka" metal lenshood for this lens, just finishes it off, like the icing on the cake.
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2007
Location: Toronto/Victoria
Posts: 262

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 6, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Relatively compact, very sharp, very fast, very solid
Cons: Slight purple fringing wide open, CA in some instances
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

This lens is an entirely different league from the 50/1.4s (of which I've tried the S-M-C-T, K, M, and FA versions).

It's excellent at any aperture, but especially starting at F/2. The only fault I can find is purple fringing and CA in out of focus areas wide open. Both disppear at F2-2.8. Given how sharp and contrasty it is at F1.4, I can forgive it.

With a split-prism/collar focusing screen, it's also extremely easy to focus due to the bright viewfinder and the shallow depth of field.

Add the dedicated hood and it's also fantastic-looking
   
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: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Outstanding optical quality.
Cons: None.

The A* 85/1,4 is the best 85mm made by Pentax.
I've the M85 f/2, the FA 85mm f/1.4, but this is absolutely the best:
Great resolution, very very sharp lens, in portraits and landscape; Great bokeh.
A bit close to my FA Limited 77mm. An other piece of art from Pentax.
Ezio
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