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SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2

Sharpness 
 9.4
Aberrations 
 8.7
Bokeh 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.7
Value 
 9.2
Reviews Views Date of last review
41 146,655 Wed June 28, 2017
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $225.30 9.22
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2

SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
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SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
supersize
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
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Description:
This compact portrait lens was succeeded by faster versions in the A and FA series.



SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 6 blades
Optics
5 elements, 4 groups
Mount Variant
K
Max. Aperture
F2
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
85 cm
Max. Magnification
0.13x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 19 ° / 16 °
Full frame: 29 ° / 24 °
Hood
PH-R49 and clip-on hood
for 85mm/100mm lenses
Case
Dedicated hard case
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 46 mm
Weight
251 g
Production Years
1977 to 1984
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-M 1:2 85mm
Product Code
23060
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 16-30 of 41
New Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: Turin
Posts: 23
Lens Review Date: October 18, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Cheap, great image quality, compact
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

This is an outstanding piece of glass. Dreamy Wide open, Sharp at 5.6, cheap, what else are you looking for?
this is a portrait machine Wide open, good for anythig else once stopped down. grab one!
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Southeast USA
Posts: 390
Lens Review Date: September 10, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $290.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small, sharp, good IQ
Cons: rare
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: K200D   

This is a great lens that I probably paid too much for. But it was either that or get the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower/Vivitar 85/1.4. The 85/1.4 would have been a nice lens for me, but something in me told me that I'd always be wondering what my photography would've been like if I'd gotten the Pentax 85/2. In the end, I obviously chose the Pentax so I wouldn't be second guessing myself.

I've only had the lens for about a week. It is a great lens for what I shoot, which is mostly everyday life kind of stuff with my family. It's got a nice big aperture so I can get faster shutter speeds, and it makes SHARP images. The sharpness is on par with my M 50/1.7.

There is some fringing wide open but I've found it easy to fix in PP. So far I have shot mostly in f/2.8 and haven't been bothered too much by aberrations.

The lens is light and compact, almost as small as the M 50/1.7.
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 25, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: size, image quality, price
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1000, MX, K100D Super   

An absolutely wonderful lens. I picked this up as a 'cheap' alternative to the other legendary Pentax 85s, and to be honest, I'm very happy that I ended up picking up this lens instead of one of the others. I'm a big fan of the build quality of the M lenses, and along with the others that I own (28/2.8,50/1.4,80-200/4.5) I can't imagine having access to a better set of glass for this kind of value.
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Posts: 118

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 15, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $325.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: center sharpness, color rendering, great portrait lens
Cons: not the sharpest lens wide open
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I love how it render skin tones.

It really reminds me of my FA 43 1.9, both not being the sharpest lens wide-open, but they produce images with the type of rendering that make portraits feel good.

On APS-C, this focal length for me is just right to get a flattering look without being too far away. Its compact size also makes it a wonderful lens to work with, handheld.

Having that said, stopped down 2 clicks its every bit as sharp as the rest of the 85's !

IMHO, Lens hood is a must with this lens.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Baguio City, Philippines
Posts: 350

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 4, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $81.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, Small, Fast
Cons: prone to Blue Fringing at wide open in high contrast
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

When I saw this lens at first, I thought it was only a 50mm lens, but when I took a look at it closer, I'm surprised that it's a 85mm lens. Maybe if it's a f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens, it would be huge. Anyway, when I bought this 2nd hand lens, it was dirty, and was previously opened and cleaned but not properly because there are a lot of smears on all the lenses inside. So, I have to disassemble the lens and clean it properly. It's a good thing that the previous owner didn't scratched the lenses inside and out.
Anyway, back to the lens review, it's amazingly sharp at its widest aperture which is f/2. I find the sharpest aperture of this lens is at f/4.
This lens is small as those 50mms and has small filter diameter which is 49mm, so you don't need to spend a lot of cash for large diameter UV or MC UV filters and polarizers.
The only cons I see from this wonderful lens is a prone to Blue Fringing at wide open. I don't have problems with fringing when using it for news photos, but when I use it on weddings and portraits with high contrast, it would be a bit of problem, but fortunately we have Photoshop to eliminate those fringing.

Here's a look of the SMC Pentax M 85mm 1:2 on a Pentax K-7 with (third party) grip:


Here's a side by side with the SMC Pentax M 50mm 1:1.4:


Here's a sample portrait at f/2 (no editing done, just re-sizing):

*200% crop:


And here's a sample using the 85mm for landscape, using its sharpest aperture which is f/4:

* 200% crop:


***These two sample photographs were taken using Pentax K-7.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: September, 2011
Posts: 6
Lens Review Date: October 29, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, bokeh, great portrait lens
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

It's everything that's been said to be.

It has everything that a good portrait lens needs. Fast, silky smooth bokeh, compact, and produces contrasty images as many have already posted above. Focal length is long enough for portraits but not too long. I love the handling of this lens!

Like a fast 50, everybody needs a fast 85. It's a shame they aren't as commonly available.
   
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 44

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 10, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great handling; compact size; sharp
Cons: Relatively rare, so I paid too much
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 4   

Like many other people, I've had a lot of fun using a fast 50 with my DSLR. I like the Field of View and how it works for portraiture. So, I wanted a fast lens with a similar field of view (as 50mm on a DSLR) for my Pentax MX and K1000.

Let me just get this out of the way first: I got impatient after waiting over a year for one of these to just land in my lap for a bargain; it just wasn't going to happen. So I placed an order for it at one of the popular online used gear sites, paid too much, but at least finally got one.

That said, I'm glad I got it!

Having read other reviewers claims that this lens isn't sharp, one of the first things I did when it arrived was throw it on my DSLR and pixel peep the heck out of it at various distances and apertures. All I can say is, those that are saying it's not sharp either have bad copies, are using it wrong, or have some really unrealistic expectations. Is it as sharp as my 100 Macro lens (for another SLR system)? Not quite. But it's plenty sharp, certainly comparable to my 50mm SMC primes. More than good enough for my purposes. I pledge never to pixel-peep the thing again, as it's fine.

Image quality is very good. Contrast is good; like most lenses it gets better as you stop down. Bokeh is nice and smooth. It doesn't obliterate backgrounds the way a f/1.4 85mm lens would, but remember f/2 still has shallower DOF than a 50mm lens does at 1.4. I can't complain about aberrations. I haven't aimed it at the sun or anything, but flare hasn't been a problem.

I love how the lens handles. Pentax was definitely onto something with the SMC-M series: this lens is barely any bigger than my SMC-M 50mm f/1.4. (A little longer, definitely heavier, but still very compact.) What a great pairing with the MX. Sometimes I wish it was just a bit faster (even just f/1.8) but then with a bigger front lens element, there's no way they'd have been able to have kept the 49mm filter threads common with the rest of the M system. As it is, the front element is just about as big as you could cram inside of the 49mm thread! It's an acceptable trade-off for my usage.

Build quality is typical of SMC-M lenses. Smooth, perfectly damped manual focusing. Feels like it was precision-milled out of a single chunk of metal.

This lens, plus a 24mm lens, are my go-to pair for wandering around the city with my MX.

If you like the FOV that 85mm offers and you're willing to pay the price these go for, I think it's worth it. If you see one for cheap, grab it!
   
Giveaway winner!

Registered: December, 2007
Location: beantown
Posts: 934
Lens Review Date: August 29, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp
Cons: not a 1.4
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

This is a great lens and has shown to be very sharp so far... no I'm not sentimental about M-series lenses... This lens works. I've not given it a try in low light, wide-open yet, but can see from others that it is going to be great.
The sharpness and contrast at F4 was superb... no surprise.

Great lens, but make sure you get a hood for it since the front element is so close to the outside world and the excellent SMC is not glare proof.

UPDATE: Wide Open test in progress. Four lighting conditions: Day front/back light and Indoors front/back light.
   
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 258

8 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 19, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $285.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp from 2.0, very small and light, fantastic build quality, great contrast and colors, from 2.8 it is amazing
Cons: the biggest problem is the blue(yes blue, not purple) fryings at 2.0, I would like it a little lighter 1.8 for example, the bokeh is too hard and not touching and it is an M(no auto metering), only 6 blades
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8    Camera Used: K200D   

F4.0 with tripod and bracketing, then HDR combining

F2.0

F2.0


100% crops on F2.0

comparison between Jupiter 9, Helios 40 and M 85 wide opened

as you can see it is not a perfect lens but it has some good qualities.

The bad thing is that if a pentaxian wants 70-85mm lens he must pay more then the others and pay for M lens. Other companies have 85s with AF for about 400$ with 1.8 apertures.

As a conclusion I can say that the lens is very nice for the money and I like it more then other old lenses for this kind of money.

EDIT
Well after a long time using this lens, I'm starting to like it more!

About sharpness .
It is the sharpest lens I have ever tested in it's sweet spot (F2.8-11).
If you know it's strong sides it can be quite great!


2.0


2.0


2.8


2.8


2.8
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2009
Posts: 381

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 1, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Bokeh
Cons:

Sadly, I no longer own this lens. I am updating my previous review which I had removed whilst selling the lens, for impartiality.

This is a beautiful lens to use, very easy to focus and handhold, for a useful focal length indoors and offers nice bokeh outdoors. The colour fringing which appears at high contrast edges if you look for it at f2 is mostly irrelevant for portraits, which this lens was intended for. I'd say that the depth of field at f2 is so shallow when close up that this needs to be used very carefully in order to ensure that the plane of focus does not shift whilst tripping the shutter. I personally came to not use the f2 setting as a result. I'd caution thinking this lens is not sharp at f2...its probably user error, as I have shot and reshot photos with this to find that the sharpness was there, it was just I had not got the focus spot on. I own the 100mm f2.8 instead now...its nearly the same length and doesnt have the colour fringing at f2.8. I guess the magical optical formula of the 85mm might produce nicer bokeh...beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Fowlmere, UK
Posts: 704
Lens Review Date: January 22, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very good for portraits; fast; light
Cons: not overly sharp
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

I have used this lens for over 20 years with great pleasure. In 1980 I changed my 1.7/50mm and 3.5/135mm M-lenses for the 2.8/35mm and 2.0/85mm M-lenses, and never looked back. This lens performed better than my 35mm, and when I look back at the pictures I like many of them are portraits taken with this moderate tele. Nice colour rendition, depth, and the softness did not harm the topics for which this lens is mainly used, at least in my case. I also like the OOF areas.

I sold it in 2010 because I no longer use it—having switched to Pentax 645. In comparison, I can see this lens could have been sharper (comparing the 645 A 75mm with the M 85mm on a K-x). But on film or FF, this is a solid choice with an attractive fast aperture. I would not hesitate to use it.

If not just for portraits, perhaps the K 1.8/85mm or Tak 6/6 1.8/85mm are better choices. For portraits, I'm not all that certain about it.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 13

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 24, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, colour, clarity, bokeh
Cons: dicky lens hood



I find this prime the best of my set (14mm, 28mm, 50mm, 200mm) by far. I can't seem to want to use the other primes, I even prefer this lens over my 50mm f1.4.

Intended to be portrait lens, but with the APS-C sensor on the DSLR, it makes a super low range (~130mm) zoom.

Detected a little CA and softness when wide open. Not sure if I'd ever bother using at f2. At smaller apertures it is crystal clear, stunning!

If you see one, grab it. You'll not be disappointed. Someone rated this lens a 5 out of 10, maybe it was faulty.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 7

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 11, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, bokeh, build, size, f/2
Cons: Blue/purple fringing
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I picked this up, several decades ago, used, in a tiny photo shop in Phitsanulok, Thailand, used and filthy, for $80 US. I couldn't pass it up. It instantly became (after I cleaned it up) my second most-used lens (after my SMC PENTAX-A 20mm f/2.8).

Sharp, sharp, sharp (there seem to be a few bad copies out there; but the only lens (before the DA series now) that competed with it on sharpness is my SMC PENTAX-A 50mm f/1.2.) I love the IQ, generally, especially with Kodachrome 64. I would still be using it for portraits with my K-X's if I hadn't bought the DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited, which does blow this one away.

The lens is tiny for it's speed and focal length (I also loved how every M-Series lens, from 20mm through 135mm f/3.5, used a 49mm filter: That was good lens series design!). And therefore perfect for portraits and candids. The subject never knew how that little tiny lens pulled them right in (the 70mm f/2.4 Limited does this even better on the APS-C sensor). Very flattering lens for portraits.

I really love this lens and I will never sell it.

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/12%20Egypt/000Misc/W...37%20Egypt.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/09%20Nepal/WT%201000...31%20Nepal.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/09%20Nepal/WT%201000...11%20Nepal.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/11%20Kenya/WT%201400...12%20Kenya.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/11%20Kenya/WT%201400...19%20Kenya.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbarossa/WT_Big_Show/12%20Egypt/WT%201600...03%20Egypt.jpg

Purchased USED
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 4,430

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 6, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $205.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small size, great colour & contrast
Cons: Soft wide open, blue fringing especially wide open, a bit slower than most other 85mm lenses

Please note that this review is based on use on the K200D with a Katzeye split-prism focusing screen installed. With the standard screen this lens will be considerably harder to focus properly when close to maximum aperture.

This lens is the newest addition to my collection of old (mostly M-series) Pentax glass. I hadn´t planned on getting it but I had wanted a fast 85mm & I saw this one for a decent price (129 GBP), which makes it the most expensive manual lens I own. The build quality is very good, typical M series, and the focusing ring, which was a little stiff from lack of use when I got it, has loosened up to an almost perfect amount of resistance. The big front element, which barely fits within the 49mm filter thread, also makes it look very nice on the camera.

Looking at reviews of Pentax 85mm lenses, this one seems to be the runt of the litter. It is often criticised for it´s lack of sharpness when compared to K-series, older Taks & also newer versions. Bear in mind that any Pentax 85mm lens produced after this model is a * lens, meaning that it will be of superb optical & build quality, and the price will reflect that. Many people rally to the defence of this lens, even claiming that it is sharp wide open. Just remember that sharpness can be subjective. Although I do not own others to compare myself, many others have done, and all seem to conclude that this lens is the slowest & least sharp Pentax 85mm. But in it´s defence, old Tak 85 1.9 or 1.8 lenses in the same condition sell for double, need an adaptor and are larger & heavier.

I do not use this lens wide open (except for Brenizer method photos), although I´ve done some tests and I would do it if I had to to get the shutter speed or DoF necessary. Most of the time I use it at 2.8, where it is very good, and even at f4 at this focal length you can isolate a subject from it´s background. The other problem with this lens at F2 is the considerable blue fringing, which is apparent in almost every photo, even when contrast is not very high. Thankfully, 80% of this is gone by F2.8.

However, as others have commented and many people will already know, speed & sharpness are not the only qualities in a lens, and it is often these mysterious other qualities that are why people love it. There is the “3D effect”, though this is claimed for a great many lenses. I believe this effect to be down to a combination of DoF, good contrast & good colour. This lens excels in all of these factors, and that´s why it´s a good lens. The images from it are never flat or dull, even if they are of uninteresting subjects. Bokeh is very good and I´ve never seen any bad examples in my photos or others´.

I have removed one point for the softness & colour fringing wide open, and another for not having a aperture click between F2 & F2.8.

If I ever come across a K85 for a reasonable price I will most likely get it, then assess the two & make a decision on which to keep, as these lenses in good condition have already lost any value they´re going to lose, and re-selling will not lose you anything.

A few examples are below.

14/01/2016 - updated this review with newer (better) photos. I'll also add that on a K3 it isn't so hard to focus, even without a Katzeye, and on my little Fuji -M1 (like all old manual lenses) it works like a dream.

On film:


Agfa 200, Edin April 2014, K1000 015a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

To take Brenizer method stitched panoramas with shallow depth of field:


Brenizer 14th July 2015
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

At f/4:


Wet leaf
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Unknown aperture but at minimum focus distance:


IMGP6636a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

At f/2.8:


IMGP7275a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: Tasmania
Posts: 271

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 26, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $245.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, great colour, focal length
Cons: Nothing yet

I purchased this lens on the forum a couple of months ago and have been very impressed. I use it mainly for portraits for which it is a great focal length as you are not right in the face of the subject. I was amazed from the first shot at how sharp the lens is and the colour it is able to reproduce. I bought it to use until I could afford an FA77 but I don't think I can justify the extra expense when the results from this are so good.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2



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