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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 
 8.9
Bokeh 
 9.7
Autofocus 
 7.8
Handling 
 9.4
Value 
 8.8
Reviews Views Date of last review
70 301,244 Tue August 25, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $598.95 9.17
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
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
Optics
9 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
KAF3
Check camera compatibility
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 (in production)
Pricing
$496 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:1.4 55mm SDM
Product Code
21790
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
★★☆ Full coverage at some F-stop and focal length combinations
Show details
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
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 70
New Member

Registered: March, 2019
Location: Davidson, NC
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: August 25, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: VERY sharp lens.
Cons: There is a very slight lag in autofocus but it nails it. I have noticed a "squeak" sometimes when focusing.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K1 M2   

Bought the lens used (B&H) and am amazed at the performance. It is very sharp. There is a very slight lag in auto focus and I have noticed a "squeak" sometimes when focusing. I have seen this (squeak) referenced in some reviews. The lens performs exceedingly well - worthy of a star lens. Switching between full frame and crop modes gives me a choice between 55 and 84 mm on my K-1 M2. This lens is a keeper!


Picture of cactus
   
Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Quebec city, Canada
Posts: 7,660
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, great IQ even on FF, WR
Cons: Slowish AF

A nice surprise on FF. On APS-C this lens needs no introduction, but on FF it can act as a poor man's DFA*50. It's not quite as good, but not completely outclassed either. Plus it's lighter, smaller and cheaper.

AF is not impressive but, at least on the K-1 II, it's not as bad as the lens' reputation would lead me to believe. It's a decent performer, no less.

Optically this lens is worthy of the STAR status. I wish the body was metal (even though it would make the lens heavier).
   
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2018
Posts: 125
Lens Review Date: January 5, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $470.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Takes wonderful portraits
Cons: Stroppy autofocus
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3ii   

Chromatic aberration at f1.4 is improved by f1.6, so I never use this wide open. Autofocus on my used copy must be warmed up and is still a bit slow. But it makes gorgeous images and the bokeh is lovely (but I did dock it one point for the little bit of chromatic aberration in the bokeh balls). If my used copy breaks I'll replace it with a new one in the home the autofocus is a bit better behaved.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2019
Location: Geelong, Australia
Posts: 335
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2019 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Excellent bokeh
Cons: Heavy

I rated this lens low because I can not see the point when the 50mm 1.8 is just as sharp, probably a quarter of the weight and much cheaper.
I honestly expected more from a DA* lens.
I used this lens for many months and then sold it when I bought the plastic fantastic.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Vermont
Posts: 922

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 30, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Sharpness, bokeh, rendering
Cons: autofocus, some PF in high contrast situations
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-1   

This is a lens that is a professional-grade lens that is even better on the K-1 than it is on my K-3. Some purple fringing in high contrast situations, slower autofocus, and the inability to convert to screw drive are the downsides. With that said, I have taken some of my favorite portrait photos with this lens. The sharpness and color saturation is excellent, and very desirable.

30747700064_fabb2b0696_k by David Carman, on Flickr
   
amateur dirt farmer

Registered: December, 2014
Location: probably out in a field somewhere...
Posts: 22,131

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $199.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: clarity, bokeh, color rendition, sharpness
Cons: MFD is a bit long...
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

I bought my DA* 55mm f1.4 SDM used from Adorama a couple of weeks before the SIC started and was a completely unexpected purchase; I had not expected to find a decent copy at such a low price, so here I am...


what an epic lens - great color, bokeh, clarity, sharpness... everything you want in a lens (minus one) is here....

yeah, the hood is a little larger and the autofocus is a bit slower than a screwdrive, but this is the price you pay for an over-engineered lens like this...

I used/abused this lens all month and it never disappointed - it has such a character to its captures, you'd swear there were things that it couldn't do... you'd be wrong...

my only ding against this lens is its minimum focusing distance - it is not a macro, I know, nor even a close-focusing lens, but I had to recompose more often than I'd like....

that's it - the only negative thing I can think of to really hit this lens with... and it's sharp enough, you can crop 'til your heart's content...

some of my favorite shots:

web in fog by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

chrysanthemums, morning light by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

Valdani thread by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

Domino by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

crossing by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

sunrise by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

and the rest of the album for this lens:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157710359674372/page1

just a note about lens-buying: don't settle for a lens that you didn't want vs the one that you do.... it'll be miserable and you'll end up buying two lenses, when you only wanted one of them....
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania
Posts: 258

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 20, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, Bokeh, Colors, Contrast, 3d pop
Cons: Chromatic aberrations, Slow Af
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K500   

This lens has a very versatile bokeh! If you want to have a vintage bokeh with defined edges you shoot from f1.4 to f1.8. If you want smooth modern bokeh wich become smoother till f5.6 you shoot from f2! That's a feature that I like it very much! But this lens it's not all about that, it's got very rich colors and contrast and great sharpness wich creates that 3d pop, sometimes... So, a great lens and a very handsome one!
   
Forum Member

Registered: March, 2008
Posts: 80

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 10, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $365.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great image
Cons: AF hit and miss affair
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5IIs   

Got this lens on a fire sale. I used it for product shots and somehow the photos are nicer than that from the DFA macro 50mm. I have yet to try it on people.
Image is soft at f/1.4 but if I sharpen it and increase the contrast with software it actually looks as good as at f/2.
AF speed to me is average - about the same as the 60-250 so it is fine with me. But the AF accuracy is a hit and miss business. I have to check after every shot, just in case it is OOF, especially at f/2. Strangely I have less problem at F/1.4.
Handling is fantastic, no doubt helped by the built quality. It just feels so good on the K-5IIs I have. Looks good too with the gold ring and letterings.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 6,472

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 5, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $545.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: F1.4 Size, WP, IQ, pretty to look at
Cons: Hood silly big

I can't believe I never did a review of this magic lens. It is like a small FA*85 1.4, perfect for crop and very nice on FF. I love to use it on the K-1 as a walk around lens. It does not seem to have the SDM problems of some other DA* lens and just has no negatives for me. It is one of those Pentax lenses which, for me, define how special a system this is.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 795

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 4, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $570.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Bokeh, sharp, WR
Cons: Longitudinal CA
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: KP, K-30   

This is my favorite portrait lens on APS-C. The lens is sharp and has an excelent bokeh. I did not have AF problems with this lens, while it's slow for some sports, I think in general it's fast enough.
I really like the renderation of this lens. Wide open it produces sharp images with excelent bokeh, but very sensitive to the focus. The smallest movent from the focus plain introduces longitudinal CA wich hard to correct and the image will look less sharp. Altough the lens stopped down is incredibly sharp and the bokeh is still nice.

Here are some images:

The F1.4 sample which you are serching for
IMG171026_0004 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

And the others:
IMG180505_0057 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180505_0026 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180505_0002 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180423_0007 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180422_0002 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180415_0056 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180415_0034 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180330_0008 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180330_0046 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171029_0026 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171028_0002 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

And a Brenizer effect:
IMG180505_0062 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr
   
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2016
Location: Lagos
Posts: 60

5 users found this helpful
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: 258

5 users 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!


   
Marketplace Reseller

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

2 users found this helpful
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.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM



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