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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
60 230,704 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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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 16-30 of 60
Inactive Account

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: October 4, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: bokeh and speed very silent
Cons: absolutly non
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 6    New or Used: New    Camera Used: kr   

amazing, taking great, sharp pictures are a piece of cake...
very quiet and spot in getting your target in focus...the portraits are made out of this world and the bokeh is not only creamy but dreamy
buy it you won't regret it, though i think the price is a bit steep
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2013
Posts: 7

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, bokeh, make and feel
Cons: slow AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: pentax k30   

Dear Friends,,,Yesterday I bought this lens and today I am writing a review just because of few pics I took of my children in a very casual way. The pic I am showing below was taken hand held in a very casual way. I was amazed by the sharpness and clarity this lens produced which I was not expecting. Although this pic is taken at f/3.2 but the sharpness/clarity this lens produced is amazing. This pic is direct from the camera and no sharpness/clarity enhancement software is used. The sharpness can be checked in the croped portion.

Taken at f/3.2




Cropped portion of the Image

   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2009
Location: East Bay Area, CA
Posts: 5,683

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp and good wide open bokeh
Cons: it flares. slow SDM. Poorly damped focus ring.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Good performer all around. nice wide open bokeh, great sharpness, contrast, colors. I also like using quick shift and the confident locking of the hood.

A couple of negatives: this lens will definitely flare if bright lights are in the frame. I shoot plenty of sunrise images using the DA15 and DA21 with no flaring...i have to remember that this lens cannot do what those two do when the sun is bright.

Also, if you shoot smallish close-focused objects, note that the minimum focusing distance is 45cm. This is typical for 50mm-ish lenses, but makes it impossible to shoot something like watches/jewelry, figurines, small toys, camera lenses, etc. without having to add an extension tube...or gasp, cropping.

Next, the AF (by SDM) is slow when it has to unfocus and refocus ("run the bases" before locking on subject). If i switch to MF, i find the focus ring has a little bit of dead space before movement is registered, creating a challenge for very fine focusing by hand. And a third con is that I do wish the minimum focus distance were a little shorter, as I have had to change to a different lens for a few close-focus situations where I felt this lens should've been able to handle it.

otherwise, i am pleased to have it in my bag and recommend it as a capable FAST FIFTY.

I cant find a single frame image to post, but here is a processed pano (4 frames)


I had to stop shooting once the sun rose because of all the flaring:
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Norway
Posts: 385

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 4, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp
Cons: Slow focusing
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k-5   

This lens has been compared to FA50/1.4 quite a few times and one can wonder what you get for a lot more money. It is similar in sharpness with apertures smaller than f/2.8, but at f/1.4 to f/2.8, the newer DA*55/1.4 has better sharpness and more contrast. It is also easier to manual focus with itís larger focus ring. Build quality is top class. I was not pleased with focus accuracy on K-5, but K-5 IIs have changed that. Focusing is almost perfect with K-5 IIs.

   
Junior Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 43
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $713.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp, color rendition, sharp, quiet, wr, sharp
Cons: Slow AF, price, some chromatic abberations depending on light
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5iis   

I think I'm one of the lucky ones where I haven't needed to do the fine adjustment. Woot!

Everything you've read about the image quality and sharpness of this lens from past reviews rings true. Price wise it is a hard pill to swallow especially with the slow AF. If the AF was screwdrive quick, I'd be more than happy to swallow the high price. I find the AF is fairly quick (not screwdrive quick) when changing focus between objects that aren't distanced too far apart and it also seems to depend on the type of light you're using.

So say I have 3 cars and they're spread out evenly within 10m (using this distance to illustrate a point; not a real world distance), the AF is fairly quick. Spread them out evenly over 100m, the AF becomes noticeably slower. In natural bright sunlight it feels quicker (haven't done too much sunlit shots thanks to the continuous rain) but bring it indoors it feels slower. It reminds me of the AF of the 100mm L Macro from Canon.

Having said that, I've found the focusing more responsive compared to my 21 Ltd when you move forward or backward a minute amount; whether you're in single or continuous shot mode the focusing quickly adjusts so much better compared to the 21 Ltd.

The other downside is the CA. Depending on what you're shooting and the light direction, you can see it by the truck loads or it's next to non-existent. I've used it between 1.4 through to 2.8 and there's usually a hint of CA somewhere but it's nothing that PP can't fix. Use off camera flash correctly and the CA is gone.

NOW ONTO THE GOOD STUFF!!

Even though the 2 issues above annoy me, it's not something that puts me off this lens. Why? The feel of the high quality body, the smooooooooth focusing barrel, quickshift (I LOOOOVE this feature), quiet, WR and did I mention the sharpness of this lens? If the SDM did fail I'd still keep this lens and manual focus instead. Comparing the cost and features of this lens to the high end Canikon equivalents, it's a bargain.

I've also tested it in the rain for 10min with no cover (chickened out thanks to the wind) and wiped it down with no drama. I wonder what the neighbours thought seeing me with my pentax gear in the rain hehehe I inspected the mount on the body and there's a nice ring of water where the seal did it's job. No water in the body or in the lens which gives me confidence to use it anywhere.

Getting soaked in the rain.


Model shot @ 2.8


Despite it's flaws, every time I pick up this lens it brings a smile to my face knowing a high quality photo is going to arrive.

Update 8th March 2013
Now that we've had a bit of sunshine, I've finally had a chance to test the AF. Yeah not liking the AF in low light conditions. I took some photos of a friend's wedding (as a guest) and it had trouble with continuous focusing as they walked down the aisle. Switched to the 21 Ltd as they the ceremony concluded and it didn't have any issues. Other than that, love it for everything else.



*grammar edits & AF update
   
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Posts: 38
Lens Review Date: January 30, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness even wide open
Cons: "Squealing Dim-witted Motor", price when new
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New   

There's only one thing, which makes it impossible to give this lens a 10, period.

It is a Pentax "trademark" squealing, hesitant and dim-witted autofocus. Just try it out side-to-side with Sigma's 50/1,4.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2007
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 337

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 2, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great bokeh, contrast and colour rendition
Cons: Price, slow AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K20D, K5   

Great portrait lens with excellent color rendition, bokeh and sharpness. Lens hood is big, robust and has hole which allows rotate polarized filter.

Lens is very good for longer distances, gives very good contrast at strong daylight.

For some time I used FA50/1.4, A50/1.3, K50/1.2, DA*55/1.4 and Leica 50/2. Finally I decided to stay with A50/1.2 and DA*55/1.

DA*55 as portrait lens

and landscape lens:


More samples here
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Svealand
Posts: 172
Lens Review Date: October 14, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Silent, WR, sharp, bokeh
Cons: Some chromatic abberations, bokeh
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

Don't have much to add to all the other reviews. But I do go against the Pentaxians who says it's a big lens and I say it's not big or heavy, it's in fact smaller than I expected and I like the size of the DA* 55mm.

The bokeh mostly is very smooth and nice but it can sometimes be busy so I have it booth as a negative and a positive.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: October, 2010
Posts: 2,729

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 1, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: good size, good quality, and stellar images!
Cons: Little purple firing
New or Used: New   

Well lot have been said about this lens, I dont have many things to add for those.

SOmething about focus speed, it is not blazing fast, but it is still fast enough. Great quality overal and details in shots are just couple levels above from for example SMC M 50/1.4 or my beloved Helios 44 M. SO easy to shoot, great results even not professional like me. For me this is luxury item, which I will use a lot. I used it also with my *ist DS and it works only in MF. It was easy to do, quite fast also. No problem at all.Well I have good eyes, but still.

Sometimes I did fail in metering light. After PP I was amazed that how much details and colours did survive. Must be because of this lens, if it was my other lenses, like M 50, it would have been ruined. So all in all this is great lens, well worth the prize IMO. Only negative could be that purple firing,but it is so little and extremes only, with fast lens this is normal and it is less that many other lenses. It is also easy to fix in PP.

I say, if you have been thinking of having this, and you have money, go for it!
There have been superb examples from this lens before me, but I still put some, that I did on my Single in August 2012 with this lens.

Day 31, by repaap, on Flickr

Day 31 extra. by repaap, on Flickr

Day 29 by repaap, on Flickr

Day 19, terrible woman workshop... by repaap, on Flickr

Day 2, portraits by repaap, on Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,841

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 22, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp, great bokeh, accurate focus, weather resistant
Cons: Chromatic abberations at largest apertures, cost, weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-r   

I've had this lens for a couple months now. It was purchased used and I got a very nice deal on it. Initially, I was concerned about SDM problems as well as previously mentioned back/front-focus issues. However, so far, this lens has been the most accurate focusing lens I own and (knock wood!) the SDM is working fine!

Before I get to image quality, I want to mention the feel of the lens in actual use. I am not normally a fan of heavy, large lenses. This one is pretty heavy and large, at least compared to most Pentax primes. I definitely feel it around my neck, but it is not so heavy to be a burden. However, with the included hood it is a pretty long lens.

The build quality is very nice. It's plastic, but does not feel at all cheap. The quick shift focus works great and the feel of the manual focus ring is very nice and smooth. The SDM is not silent but still very quiet. At first, I thought it wasn't working it was so quiet! As I mentioned, I find this lens to be remarkably accurate when using auto focus. Considering I have been shooting quite a bit at large apertures, I'm often surprised and pleased by how many keepers I get with this lens compared to some of my others.

As for image quality, I find it nearly impeccable! It has a very special rendering that I liken a lot to my FA 77 Limited. It's the sharpest non-macro lens I own. The contrast is superb, although it is not crazy about shooting into the light in certain situations. Color is warm and well saturated.

I find the bokeh to be very pleasing in almost all occasions. At f/1.4-1.8, it can be a little nervous, depending on the background. However, once you hit f/2 and above, it is almost always nice and creamy.

On the downside, the lens produces a fair bit of chromatic aberration wide open and up to about f/2.2. It can be corrected in post, but it's something you'll have to deal with.

All in all, I have found that the DA*55 has become my "go to" lens. I reach for it more often than any other lens because I just love the results! I heartily recommend it, but would suggest you get it from a trusted source since there have been issues with focusing on some of these units.

I'm attaching a few sample images. Thanks for reading.

f/1.8

periwinkle bokeh - Explored by loco's photos, on Flickr

f/2

daffodil light by loco's photos, on Flickr

f/2

pink dogwood bokeh by loco's photos, on Flickr

f/2.5

Kings and their horses by loco's photos, on Flickr

f/4.5

"What's that up there?" by loco's photos, on Flickr

f/7.1

onion on chair by loco's photos, on Flickr
   
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 208

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 9, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $639.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: color,bokeh,sharp
Cons: autofocus
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k-5   

fantastic lens!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great performer, 3-d effect,real color !!!
magic bokeh!!!!!!!!!!
FA 31, FA43 or DA55SDM, FA77, D FA100mmMACRO --------- Mast have!!!!!!!
Stupid autofocus-- real bad work SDM. Perfect for manual work!!! 6mm deth perspective-Fantastic!!!!!

Sharp from 1.8 ,from 2.0 sharp as blade!! From F1.4 to F1.6 aceptable sharp
Need autofocus adjasting in camera body ( k-5) if not you will have 3mm front or back focus -it is catastrophi for this lens!!!
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2011
Location: San Diego
Posts: 883

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 29, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: build, sharp at 1.7+, fast
Cons: flare, soft at 1.4, focus speed

If I were to only have one lens, this would be it. In fact, I have gone several months of this and last year with only this lens

Its soft wide open at f1.4, but once you stop down anywhere past that, its nice and sharp, mindblowingly so at f4-8

it does like to flare quite a bit, although the effect can be cool for natural light portraits. Its awfully annoying for studio portraits though.

CA at larger apertures is noticeable. stop down past 2.8 and its pretty much gone.

build is nice and solid, exactly what you'd expect from a * lens. I've dropped mine a few times already and its still going like a champ.

AF can be slow at times. Its adequate for portraits and whatnot, but I wouldn't rely on it for sports or concert shooting.

Overall, its an amazing natural light portrait lens, which is why it'll always find a spot either in my bag or on my camera (most likely the latter)
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: February 24, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, contrast, bokeh, colors, SDM, build quality
Cons: slow autofocus, price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: New   

Excellent portrait lens, very sharp when stopped-down a bit. Nice bokeh and contrast. Feels somewhat soft at f1.4. Autofocus could be faster.

   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 1,007

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 12, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $639.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: size, performance, features
Cons: not perfect yet
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Nicely made lens. f/1.4 is usable for portraits, althouth sharpness improves visibly at f/2. Lens flare is a problem, even at f/2.2... I think flare is more of a problem than sharpness wide open.
SDM focus is great, not extremely fast (don't bother), but very silent. Much quieter than classic AF. AF in really low light is completely off - even though the K5 confirms focus.

I sold my FA77 for this lens as 77mm feels too long for my kind of portraiture and the AF was way too noisy. You cannot go unnoticed using the AF on that lens.

What could be better. Lens hood is OK, but could be build in. Performance is better than for older FA lenses at f/1.4 but not great compared to other lenses in this class. This lens needs a 22 mm (+/-) twin!
   
Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2009
Posts: 8,714
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $689.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: This a very nice sharp lens that offers great colours.
Cons: slow AF, could be better wide-open, I do worry about SDM, needs a big correction for FF in camera.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

Great lens for portrait. I made with this lens some of my best pictures.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM



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