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SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8

Reviews Views Date of last review
21 105,708 Tue August 28, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $341.53 9.65
SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8

SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8
SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8

This is the fastest 85mm lens in the M/K series.

SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
6 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
Min. Focus
85 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
52 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 19 ° / 16 °
Full frame: 29 ° / 24 °
Dedicated hard case
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
64 x 56 mm
331 g
Production Years
1975 to 1977
Engraved Name
SMC PENTAX 1:1.8/85
Product Code
User reviews
Manual FocusAperture RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax 85mm F1.8
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Ascending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 21
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2006
Location: 44266
Posts: 435
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fairly sharp, good bokeh
Cons: Heavy?

I bought this lens new in the mid to late 80's I think and it has served me well. I have shot a lot of Tri-X with this one. A good 'short' portrait lens as well as good for some woodland pictures where the 1.8 is a help.
Senior Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Posts: 147
Lens Review Date: January 26, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: small, crisp focusing, superb bokeh, sharp at f2
Cons: not f1.4 but that is rather obvious, non-A

The tag line "beat by the speed of the FA* and A*" is sort of silly. As if that sums it up. I'm happy with this lens so far -- I have a sample locally for a relatively low cost compared to eBay. A few photos here:

Update: Here are some more photos (a lot at f1.8 with ND4 filter during day):

(Non working link removed)

At first, I hesitated to use it wide open but I decided to give it a try and I like it. Sure, it is less sharp wide open but the images it produces are very good. Even if you pixel peep! The DOF is razor thin though at close range. This is my favorite lens.
New Member

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: March 13, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, nice out of focus rendering. Nice handling.
Cons: None

A bit soft when wide open, but sharpens nicely when stopped down. Very solidly built. Nice OOF rendering.
I have not tested on digital, but I suspect it would compare nicely with the FA77mm.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Michigan/USA
Posts: 173
Lens Review Date: November 6, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Color, sharpness, oof rendering, size.
Cons: K lens have to use in manual mode, prefer PK-A.

I have a lot of nice lenses, this one is a favorite. The focusing is so easy and smooth, bright viewfinder, the color and clarity of the photo even at 1.8 is impressive.
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: France
Posts: 128
Lens Review Date: August 16, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $240.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, bokeh
Cons: Missing "interface" with new Pentax DSLRs ...

I bought this lens two years ago. Since then, it has become one of my most used lenses. Quite soft fully open, but still usable. Great bokeh, and really sharp from f/2 on ... 9/10 only because i cannot have the current f/stop value shown in the viewfinder of my K10D, otherwise it would have been a full 10/10 ...
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 509
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: high optical quality, portable, extremely well built, perhaps better than a M
Cons: A little bit soft on f/1.8; shortest focus distance a bit long; getting too expensive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

Better than my Pentax M 50mm f/1.4 when wide open. Performs well with a doubler or a 1.7x. Extremely well built. Easily one of my best lenses. Reluctant to use due to its rarity and its high market price Maybe I should buy another one just in case.

In short distance, the resolution and contrast are on par with FA77. FA77 wins on longer distance and CA. FA77 also does better with contrast at the largest apertures. But the dreamy effect at f1.8 is very attractive for portrait. It seems more flavorful that Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f1.4. F1.8 is perhaps better choice than f1.4 in the vast majority of situations because of razor sharp DOF. The color is very attractive and unique. This lens has grown on me.

BTW, Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f1.4 is sharper with higher contrast at the largest apertures. But I still love my K85

Pentax SMC K 85mm f1.8 Examples
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 5,873

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 7, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $780.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed , quality, soft-focus area.
Cons: Not really a telephoto lens.
Camera Used: K Series film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD)   

The K85/1.8 is one of three K series portrait/telephotos released in 1975, the others being the K105/2.8 & K120/2.8. The K85/1.8 actually weighs more than the K105/2.8, which is due to the extra lens element. (6 compared to 5)

The K85/1.8 was designed to produce a soft-focus effect in the areas just beyond the DOF, so it is ideal for portraiture and close-ups of other objects. This soft-focus area is very appealing and is unique. You will have fun playing around with the DOF.

The K85/1.8 is also incredibly fast and I have used it for night city scapes. The K85/1.8 is part of my new ďnight kitĒ along with my K28/2 and K50/1.2.

The K85/1.8 is sharp for a lens of this focal length and is decent wide open. Though I have only used it wide open at night. Itís also much sharper than the M85/2 version.

The K85/1.8 shares the same 52mm filter thread lens hood with the K105/2.8 and the K100/4 Macro & Bellows lenses. I highly recommend getting one.

The K85/1.8 is more of a specialty fast portrait lens than a telephoto. But it is brilliant at what it is designed for and is a must have in any collection.

Note my review is based on using the K85/1.8 on a film camera only. Also the price I paid is on the high side, as it was mint- and came with the original lens case and hood.

Sample shots taken with the K85/1.8. Photos are medium resolution scans from original slides or negatives.

Camera: K2 Film: Fuji Velvia 100 ISO: 100

Camera: K2 Film: Ilford HP5 Plus ISO: 400

New Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Champagne Ardennes, France
Posts: 6
Lens Review Date: October 26, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast, Nice Bokeh an color rendering, compact size
Cons: difficult to find
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

It 's a sharp lens that offers good color rendering, bokeh and pleasant handling. Nice for portrait or fine details or to get 3D style picture. It's a 10 (for this price you can't find better).

Test photos :

Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 3,202
Lens Review Date: August 18, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $560.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small and compact, a great performer
Cons: A bit hard to find, not cheap

I don't know how come most guys here got the lens ssooo cheap? Whenever I saw it, it's expensive! But comparing w/ A*85/1.4, it's still cheaper. Between these two, actually I like to carry the K85 more 'cause it's a lot smaller and lighter.
Inactive Account

Registered: January, 2008
Location: SÝrumsand, Norway
Posts: 59
Lens Review Date: June 2, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Bokeh, sharp wide open, just beautiful to hold :)
Cons: Manual focusing

Bought a mint lens a year ago, I think it was hardly used at all. I like the image quality, especially full open with the small dof and the out of focus rendering.

But, it is manual focusing, and full open I find it hard to achieve perfect focus when objects are moving a bit. So I had to buy the 77mm F1.8 to not miss the moments. I still like to use this lens now and then, because it's such a gem.

It is good, but with the lack of autofocus I find it hard to give more than 8.

(Non working link removed)
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2010
Posts: 737
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $395.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, Colours, Sharpness, Focusing Ring, Build
Cons: Marginal Green CA, Expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    Camera Used: k-5   

This is THE's like FA77 without purple fringing. In fact I prefer this lens to FA77. It's a pretty compact lens, although not a match for FA77 nor DA70. Build-wise it is superb, solid with wide focusing ring which turns approx 270 degrees from closest focus to infinity. Wide open it is bit soft, but sharp stopped down to f2.8. In comparison it outperformed DA70 by a small margin, even in the corners.
K85 show bit of bokeh chromatic aberation, but it is subtle and not a problem stopped down. So far I couldn't make this lens to exhibit any purple fringing. Bokeh is very smooth, to my eyes identical or better than with FA77. On K-5 body the exposure via green button is spot on, lens fits the camera very well ergonomically too. A pity this design didn't evolve into AF lens.

Edit: I did some comparison landscape photos with K85 and FA77 and here are my findings:
1. Aparently K85 is better tuned for infinity photography
2. K85 has overall more neutral colour tone and renders deeper, more saturated blue than FA77, FA77 has more warmer colour tone
3. FA77 is sharper at f1.8, but from f2 there's not really a noticeable difference in sharpness between the two
4. to me K85 has a superior and smoother bokeh
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 45
Lens Review Date: April 7, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great rendering, excellent for portraits
Cons: Manual focus, manual aperture
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-01, LX, *ist DL   

This is without a doubt one of the best lenses Pentax has ever made. Hard to beat as a portrait lens, either on film or digital cameras. Sharp, beautiful colors and bokeh. Well built, like the K and M series usually were.
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2012
Posts: 889

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 11, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $428.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, great color rendering, smooth bokeh
Cons: Not the easiest lens to produce the best results
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K20D   

The K85mm f1.8 is a beautifully engineered film-era portrait lens. It was very highly rated in the film and early digital days. It produces sharp images, excellent color rendition and smooth bokeh, and doesnít suffer from the kind of purple fringing produced by the FA77mm.

Today, however, itís not so universally admired/valued, perhaps because of the quality of new competitors. And from f5.6 onwards, of course, it can be hard to tell the difference on aps-c cameras between this lens and a new budget zoom at 85mm. So if you want one of these rare and relatively expensive MF lenses, be sure to have a good reason for taking photos at or around f1.8, and be prepared to work hard on metering, focusing, composition etc. for the best results, which are stunning Ė itís not the most forgiving lens.

The lens is not unreasonably soft wide open; instead it produces slightly creamy skin tones. As others have written, this effect can be extremely attractive for portraits, and adds to that artistic 3D effect.

If youíre on a tight budget and looking for a great value MF Pentax lens for portraits on cropped sensors, you may want to look at the K 55mm f1.8. If money is no object, the Pentax starred 85mm 1.4s are probably a better option.

Nevertheless, the K85mm is an exceptional lens and a 10/10 for its type; Iíd rate the M85mm, which Iíve also used, a 9/10. Itís a worthy, lower cost MF alternative to the FA77mm and it is much more portable than newer 85mm 1.4s. It would probably have a more legendary status (like its Takumar M42 predecessor) with more top reviews, if it wasnít so rare, or used on a FF camera to show off the advantages of its focal length, extremely narrow/artistic DOF possibilities and optical qualities, especially where other lenses' purple fringing problems can become more pronounced.

Edit: I couldn't find a lot of photos to judge this lens's capabilities when I was thinking about buying one, so for others here are two @f1.8 and a few others:

Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2013
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: All around great lens.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-x K-30   

This is a great lens, I love the colors it produces.
New Member

Registered: May, 2013
Location: Jakarta
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: May 11, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: super sharp, low CA, built quality, 3D rendering
Cons: heavy, rare, price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 7    Camera Used: K5, ME Super, A7, A6000   

fantastic portrait lens! this is my first 85mm lens, really like this lens, has beautiful 3D rendering especially in FF
i'm the lucky one to have this rare lens
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