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SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM

Sharpness 
 9.8
Aberrations 
 9.0
Bokeh 
 9.6
Autofocus 
 7.8
Handling 
 9.4
Value 
 8.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
60 230,445 Sat November 26, 2016
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $623.81 9.18
SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM

SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
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SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
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SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
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Description:
The DA* 55mm lens features weather-sealing and SDM auto-focus. This lens does not provide 'screw drive' autofocus. The lens will thus be manual-focus only on older DSLR bodies (*istD series, K100D, K110D).

SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
Optics
9 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
KAF3
Max. Aperture
F1.4
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (in-lens motor)
SDM
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
45 cm
Max. Magnification
0.17x
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 29 ° / 25 °
Hood
PH-RBH 58 mm
Case
S90-100
Lens Cap
O-LC58
Coating
SMC,SP
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch
Diam x Length
70.5 x 66 mm (2.8 x 2.6 in.)
Weight
375 g (13.2 oz.)
Production Years
2008 to Present
Pricing
$646 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:1.4 55mm SDM
Product Code
21790
Notes
One ED glass element.
No autofocus on older bodies (*istD series, K100D, K110D, and film).

Features:
Supersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital Only
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM
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New Member

Registered: October, 2016
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: November 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $660.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, Bokeh
Cons: A bit soft at f1.4 especially if your subject moves (even slightly)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k-3   

Before purchasing this lens I looked at DXOMark and was a bit disappointed with the score of the lens. It lowered my expectations a bit but I still decided to get one and damn the consequences/short comings.
Having used it for nearly two months now, I can affirm that it's the best lens I've ever had - in fact it's so good that it almost never left my camera body since I put it on.

I currently own three other lenses: 18-135 (kit lens), Tamron 70-200 f2.8 (which I really love) and the new Pentax 24-70 f2.8 but in all the 55mm f1.4 is my absolute best and the one I mostly enjoy shooting with. The 55mm can be a bit soft at f1.4 but I almost always shoot at f1.6 and the images are really sharp from this aperture upwards.

If you purchase this lens, it's highly important that you properly caliberate it otherwise you might experience severe back/front focusing. At f1.4 your area of focus is really tiny so accuracy is instrumental.
In my case, 9-10 shots were back-focused initially but I was able to easily resolve it in-camera with a setting of +10.

Sample shots:
Shot at f1.6


Shot at f1.8


Shot at f1.8


Shot at f1.6
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Boston,MA
Posts: 216

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 10, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $425.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, WR, bokeh
Cons: size,SDM,price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K1   

Even though I really like my FA43, but I still feel like I need something at 50mm plus WR. So I purchased a DA*55 .

Surprisingly this lens performed pretty good on the K1, for some reason the autofocus is MUCH BETTER on the K1,still not as fast as screw drive but very accurate. Edge looks ok on full frame, step down a bit if you want really good.

IQ is stunning, especially the color and bokeh. I did test DA*55 against my ZK 50mm 1.4, this lens is actually sharper below f2, from f2.8 they're about equal. CA under f2 is the only negative I have, build quality is pretty good, not a big fan of the hood though.
Overall, I really like this lens!


   
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Košice, Czechoslovakia, Europe Union
Posts: 366
Lens Review Date: August 16, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $560.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: build quality, amazing rendering, silent, autofocus, precise manual focusing, WR weather resistant, image quality, bokeh, 55mm, ultra sharp, portrait lens, Full frame lens, colors
Cons: there is no screw drive to use it on analog Full frame bodies, better results on new Pentax bodies, flare resistant is not the best
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-5 II, Pentax MZ-S   

This lens is somethng really special. It creates amazing bokeh and it is ultra sharp even from F1.4 (but you have to really precise focus). It was created as portrait lens fror APS-C with astonishing rendering, but it is Full frame lens and in my opinion it is one of the best 50mm lenses in the world. Pictures / results from this lens are more artistic in the background, ultra sharp in the middle. SDM works really fine, it is not superfast lens, and it gives better results with new bodies. When the Pentax brings this lens tinto the market, a lot of people was expected similar autofocus construction like all other DA* star lenses 16-50 / 50-135 / 200 / 300 with silennt SDM motor but with possibility screw drive focusing. This is the only one thing I am missing. I am still taking pictures with analog Full frame film bodies MZ-S and MZ-6 and you can have to focus in manual mode. Wather resistant is huge benefit. To have only one lens with WR, it would be definately this one. Basic lens for FF, portrait lens for APS-C.

smc Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 SDM WR at 1.6


smc Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 SDM WR at 2.8


smc Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 SDM WR at 5.6


smc Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 SDM WR at 7.1
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: July 14, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $470.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image quality, build quality, WR, bokeh
Cons: AF speed, AF accuracy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

Excellent lens. But it has problems with autofocus. I hope the new cameras, this problem is not relevant.
   
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Paris
Posts: 80
Lens Review Date: June 30, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, rendition, compact, wr
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

A step up over any other F, FA, 50mm Pentax, A 55mm 1.2 , Takumars etc. which are, for some, really awesome.
this DA* is a complete pleasure to use. High standards, great results.
I also love to manual focus it.
I use it on the Pentax K-1, precedently used on K3 and it was great.
Now, on Full Frame, it's greater than great.
If you don't want pics to have slight vignetting on the K-1, just take out the hood. With no hood it will shine in almost all situations, no loss of contrast and it's not a lens very subject to flare.

If you don't use a UV protector filter, despite it's a WR sealed lens, with large amount of dust or rain, some dust can enter between the space between lens elements and body. No big deal, but on mine, the autofocus wasn't very happy about it.

The only lens on the market able to surpass it for APS-C usage is the Fuji 56mm 1.2. As for the other brands i had the chance to try on other FF systems, this DA* 55 is the clear winner when wide open.
   
Forum Member

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 75
Lens Review Date: June 11, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, modeling, colors, WR
Cons: Hood doesn't work on FF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

I got this lens in search for an exceptional normal fast prime.
I compared it to fa50 1.4, fa50 1.7, f50 1.7. (considering autofocus)
This lens beats them all in rendering, sharpness and pleasing rendering. Truly exceptional lens.

On K1 wide open 1.4 until 2.2 the extreme part of the corner is smeared. But wide open is sharper than fa50 1.4 on the edge of the frame!

Serious light fall off from 1.4 to 2.2 too, by 2.8 it is minor. My copy is sharp across the frame at f5.6.

But corner sharpness for my criteria but is perfect from 2.8 and up.

On the down side, if you want to use the hood, just don't, it is darkening corner. The generic hood for the da55-300 can be cut to desired shape and cost under 5$.

Overall a true gem with character. Wide open the light fall off is adding to the character and looks beautiful.

Stopped down it is a razor sharp landscape lens with exceptional colors and contrast with a nice rendering.

Way sharer than fa50 1.7 wide open, aberration is corrected, contrast and sharpness wide open is truly astonishing, a true Pentax Star lens. A perfect companion for my fa*24 and fa*85 the perfect trio! Fast prime all the way!

Bonus it's WR!
   
Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Skåne, Sweden
Posts: 420

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 31, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Image quality, build quality, WR, bokeh
Cons: AF speed, AF accuracy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

This review is for a mint condition DA*55 bought second-hand in Sweden, serial nr in the 9124XXX-range.

PROS
  • Sharpness
  • Bokeh - very smooth at all apertures
  • WR
  • Build quality

CONS
  • AF speed
  • AF accuracy

I USE IT FOR
  • Portraits (full body, half-body, headshots)
  • General short telephoto

Pentax K-3, SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM. 1/125 sec at f/1.8, ISO 100.


I have been shooting with Pentax for 5 years now, staring with the K-x, advancing to the K-5 and now K-3. I have used all the Limiteds, and my most used lenses are the FA43 and FA77, so I am used to small high quality primes. Being very satisfied with those two, I wasn't really in huge need for a DA*55. But the WR and more modern construction interested me, as well as trying out a new focal length. When a nice second hand copy appeared, I decided to go for it. I have now been shooting with it for around three months. I mostly do portraits so that is the area of use this review will be based around.

To start of with the positive, this lens delivers great image quality. It is sharp enough wide open, but benefits from stopping down as always. At around f/2 it starts to get very sharp. The real strong point for me on this lens is bokeh and rendering. It delivers very smooth backgrounds, at all apertures. The nine rounded blades definitely helps here. As a comparison, I used to shoot with a F50/1.7 that needed to be stopped down to f/2 or so for sharpness and contrast, but the six non-rounded blades on that one wasn't very good looking during some conditions. Anyway, the DA*55 really performs when it comes to image quality, just don't expect maximum sharpness at f/1.4. Bokeh is very smooth and technically / objectively almost perfect, but it also lack a bit of character. This might be a good or bad thing, depending on your taste. The only concern I have encountered with regards to image quality is flare resistance. During some back-lit scenes it seems to be more prone to flare than say my FA43, FA77 or DA70. It has a larger front element than those, so I guess it is to be expected.

Build quality is good, but I prefer the metal build and more compact size of the Limiteds, but of course they are not WR. The hood is also high quality, with the Pentax-opening for adjusting a polarize filter. The size of the DA*55 is about the same as the FA31, but when you add the hood it gets much larger. It does balance nicely on the K-3 body though, both with and without the grip attached.

The bad has mostly to do with autofocus, which is both on the slow side, but more importantly not so accurate. I have been shooting with the Limiteds for several years and are very used to them and the AF-system of the K-3. The DA*55 is slower than the Limiteds and hunts more and the keeper rate is worse, say 60-70 percent where I would get upwards to 80-90 percent during similar conditions with the FA77. This is based on use with the K-3. I have not really tried manual focus, but is has a reasonably long throw for an AF lens, but without aid of say a split-screen or peaking it might be hard on a standard APS-C optical viewfinder (not a fault of the lens).

I think that this is an overall solid performer, but the AF problems simply can't be ignored and it is the only major drawback of this lens. There is no shortage of good performers around this focal length, so you have others to choose from if you wish, but this has to be a contender for any portrait shooter using Pentax.

Pentax K-3, SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM. 1/100 sec at f/1.6, ISO 400.


Pentax K-3, SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM. 1/640 sec at f/2.0, ISO 100.


My pictures on flickr with this lens
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 11
Lens Review Date: April 25, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $833.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros:
Cons: (expensive)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 6    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

Besides that its expensive i am very happy with the end results, when i look att the pictures that came out from my K-5
https://www.flickr.com/photos/njohan81

All the pictures from the link above is taken with the 55/1,4 SDM :-)
(My low total review value 8 out of 10, is mostly because of the expensive cost)
   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 3,319
Lens Review Date: April 6, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast with amazing color rendering, fast silent AF
Cons: Price, SDM (although does not seem to fail with this lens)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5, K-3   

This lens is one of the finest lens I own. Excellent image quality, focal length FF equ. 82mm (for photographing people) and it's fast. Really excellent when used with higher resolution sensors such as 16Mpixels, 20Mp and 24Mp. But it is fairly expensive for the limited usage that this 55mm focal length provide.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 24, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $720.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, artistic drawing, bokeh, not afraid of the sun on the forehead, working 1.4, easy focusing ring
Cons: poor autofocus (long focus)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

A great lens for artistic photography, this receiver is 85 mm 1.4. The only thing I do not like is the autofocus, it is much worse than my other lenses. Figure pleasant, sharp and expressive as crystal. My favorite lens Pentax









   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 302
Lens Review Date: December 10, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $344.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Speed, sharpness, bokeh
Cons: What? no worries
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-20, K-3   

I have missed my 85 full frame from film days and this IS THE ONE to replace it. Have only had it a short while but am very impressed. Couldn't pass it up at the price (like new in box with caps and shade). Wonderful portrait lens...if anything it may be too sharp for that purpose. I do a lot of nature/garden/wildflower photography and it is perfect for that. If I need to be really close i pull out the 50 macro.
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: July 18, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast and Sharp
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K 5ii   

Great successor of the FA 85. It´s very sharp, clear, excellent colours and has a wonderful Bokeh...dreamy. The AF works well and is on the point.
A nice Prime for several opportunities.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2011
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 787

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 4, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $530.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Colors, Sharpness, Bokeh, 1.4, Weather Sealed, Captivating image quality
Cons: Autofocus is slow/flaring and aberations
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-X, K-5, K30, K5II   

Incredible lens. Optically is as good as it gets. This is my favorite lens and it has done wonders for me. At F 1.8 you can put this on a 24x36 and have no issues with sharpness or rendering. It truly is an amazing gem when it comes to resolving power.
Bokeh - Dreamy, smooth, soft, and yummy! I have shot with tons of lenses and this is the bokeh that you want. The DA*55 is a beautiful standard for bokeh in Pentax's current line up.
Aberrations/flaring - this has some issues with flaring. It doesn't give you sun spots like other flaring does, it kind of engulfs the whole picture. Don't shoot this directly into the sun.
Autofocus - Silent, true. Slow autofocus that is indecisive. I feel as though it does shoot a lot faster on multiple point AF than it does 1 selected point. This is really the only gripe I have with this lens is the focus speed. It is slow! But I use it for portraits so it doesn't matter that much.
Weather Sealed - Not Weather Resistant, sealed. Big difference and you can feel it in the quality of the lens. It is a rugged well sealed lens.
Portraits - unbelievable. Alot of people have said this is essentially the APS-C clone of the FA*85 - if so, believe the hype for portraits. Flat out incredible. If you want the best lens available for portraits on the Pentax system - right here. I wished it were a little longer (like the original 85), but they figured the APS-C would make it 82.5 so it is technically as long as the original 85mm.
Price - Personally, I paid $530 which was a steal. I don't care if this lens is $800. People will pay that for the FA Limiteds but scoff at this one? Crazy, this one is sealed, 1.4, and is a * lens. Seriously is worth the price of admission if you don't need it to be fast focusing.
Manual focus - Smooth and a lot of focus throw for precise focusing. This is probably why the AF is slow, because of the long focus throw. As good as it gets for an AF lens.

Overall, the AF is a disappointment, and I have missed shots I wished I would have got. But even if you take a lens that nails 2x as many shots as this - I would take half as many, because the beauty this produces is unrivaled. While this lens is not perfect, it is perfect for my NEEDS and is extremely well suited for the portrait photographer.

This is the lens that will stay me for a long time.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2013
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 22
Lens Review Date: February 3, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $655.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Bokeh, colour rendition, SDM, Quick shift, WR.
Cons: Sometimes AF misses and is a bit slow, price.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 6    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-30   

When I bought the K-30 I knew from reviews and pictures on PF that I wanted this lens as I was interested in portraiture and night shots. It was my first prime after the kit 18-135 WR that came with the K-30. It has not disappointed me so far and rarely leaves my K-30 to the detriment of my 21 Ltd, 31 Ltd and 100 Macro WR. As a beginner in photography , I found this lens easy to use compared to the 31 Ltd. I also love the silent af motor as well as the quick shift option in the rare times that the af misses and the camera won't fire. I won't give lens a 10 and I considered an 8 due to the price and slow AF but opted for a 9 overall as I believe in the end it was money well spent. I hope that one day I can say the same of the 31 Ltd.

Some Pics (I hope the links work):
- http://flickr.com/photos/gartius/12267566735/
- http://flickr.com/photos/gartius/9864251005/
- http://www.flickr.com/photos/gartius/9102937091/
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 101
Lens Review Date: October 30, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: portrait
Cons: slow AF
Sharpness: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-X   

This lens has produced some absolutely stunning images for me. I mean some real keepers. This is my first 1.4 lens so I may not be used to having that large of an aperture. However, with that said, when this lens focuses correctly, it is sharp as a tack. The autofocus seems a little slow, and it can be a little frustrating to get moving kids in focus. That may also be partly my fault because I am inexperienced shooting at those larger apertures. I hope to update this post in another year once I have more experience. I love the bokeh and the portrait qualities in this lens. I have been waiting for some time to get this lens and overall it has not disappointed. I am very pleased with how this lens renders skin tones.

EDIT: It is now about 9 months later. I just want to update that I have fallen more in love with this lens! This lens makes me look like a much better photographer than I really am. Anyhow, still no regrets with this lens. I know that 30 years from now, the keepers that I get with the lens will remind me that it was well worth the money.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM



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