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SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2

Sharpness 
 9.4
Aberrations 
 8.6
Bokeh 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.7
Value 
 9.2
Reviews Views Date of last review
43 197,846 Sat June 15, 2019
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $223.97 9.21
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2

SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
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SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
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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
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
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
Check camera compatibility
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
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 31-43 of 43
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 6,575

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 hadnīt 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 itīs 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 itīs 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 Iīve 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 itīs 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 thatīs why itīs a good lens. The images from it are never flat or dull, even if they are of uninteresting subjects. Bokeh is very good and Iīve never seen any bad examples in my photos or othersī.

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 theyīre 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
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: Tasmania
Posts: 300

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.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 6,513

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 14, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fast aperture, easy to focus, vivid colors, bokeh, 3D effect and pop, great sharpness
Cons: could be faster, some CA wide open

WoW WoW WoW WoW. I can't believe that I ever underestimated this lens. this lens is pretty much a salvation to the "M" line lenses. I would say that this is the best or one of the best that came from the mostly underachieving "M" lenses. I bought this lens when I sold my Rok 85/1.4 in favor of the not yet released Sigma 85/1.4. and I had been left with the J-9 lens which is a great lens in it's own right, though I was looking for a different feel or image rendering that the J-9 doesn't give while the Sigma is not yet available.

first, this lens is sharp wide open, and gets really sharp at stop down. I had shot with it at f2.8- f3.5 where the lens really shows it's uncanny sharpness and contrast. the detail is great and everything is being rendered perfectly. resolution is top notch and is a serious contender against the FA77 LTD which is 4 times the price. honestly, having shot with an FA77 which is also a great lens because of it's OOF effect, I prefer the M85 better due to focal length effect and usage. the OOF background separation really shows and makes the image pop. colors are vivid and true. the bokeh is great as well.

the only complaints that I have is that, they could had made it a lil more faster to what I like. also some CA shows under very harsh conditions, especially at wider openings. gone by f5.6. it also struggled with metering where it is underexposing. I dunno what the deal is on that one but I sure do just calculate it manually. the bokeh can be harsh on a few situations but not often.

inspite of those shortcoming, I'm loving this lens and giving it a 10 for it's impressive showing that is equal or rival the FA77.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Nove Zamky, Slovakia
Posts: 7,181
Lens Review Date: July 6, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: size, speed, colors, sharpness
Cons: aberations, hexagonal OOF

I did get this lens in April 2010. My wife was away on business trip and I used shopping therapy to make myself feel better.
This is very good lens but full just short of charming me enough to keep it.
Positives are pretty clear. It's very small for 85, decently fast at f2, has good built quality, and good IQ under most conditions. What I didn't like are the aberations, especially wide open. In contrasty situations of wider f stops (2-2.8) this lens glows pretty madly (for my tastes that is). Also on APS-C this lens becomes 127 equivalent FOV and MF is tricky wide open at longer distances (I kept backfocusing a lot). Wide open under favorable conditions this lens is capable of delivering stellar pictures, and because of it's size it didn't get left home too often. But most of the time I didn't find too much use for it. I used it a lot for streets and got good results, but it's bit long for indoors (50/1.2 or 55/1.8 are much more suitable for me) and bit short outdoors with MFD not as close as I'd like, also the hexagonal highlights in OOF when stopped down are annoying... all in all it's a good lens, but I guess not for everyone.
Having said all that, if you are looking for 85 and don't feel like spending too much, go for this one. If you know how to use it and what for, it's capable of delivering great results.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Temecula
Posts: 3,675

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 2, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp - beautiful rendering - nice bokeh - smooth focusing ring - compact
Cons: Blue fringing can get quite bad - A bit slow (F/2) - No "A" setting (obviously) - no AF (again obviously)
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

Well, like many before me, I purchased this lens because of Jshermans photo's
He really seems to be able to get the most out of any lens, which becomes quite costly to us *normal* people

I call this lens the poor man's 77mm ltd.... its qualities are incredible. Every shot I take with it looks great and has the *pop* you get with much more expensive lenses. Its bokeh is very pleasing in most cases, and its sharpness is unreal wideopen. It is extraordinarily small and compact for such a lens meaning it goes with me everywhere. F/2 is not the fastest by any means but is not slow either. My negatives are all me nitpicking since I really can't find anything wrong with it Anyways im not good at talking so I'll let the lens talk for itself:

Just to show how sharp the m 85mm is I give you massive crops from the K200d (10mp)......


Here you can clearly see my blinds and window....
^wideopen or F/2.8
No sharpening done, just some minor medieval PF removal...


I believe I am the guy in the white shirt.... Idk I took that shot a while ago
^wideopen

AND one more of the above girl



Here you can clearly make out several people...
Wideopen^

and one more of a plant at F/2



check here for more http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanneryates/sets/72157624638446503/
   
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Sweden
Posts: 359

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 18, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Unique color and 3d rendering, Inexpensive. Size
Cons:

This lens has a very unique rendering that suits portraits in particular.
It's so good that I use it instead of my DA 70mm F2.4 Ltd when doing portraits.
The lens gives fantastic colors, incredible 3d rendering and adequate sharpness.
The small size is also an advantage.

Highly recommended if you can cope with manual focus and exposure.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: October, 2009
Location: North
Posts: 4,366
Lens Review Date: December 15, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small and light; Sharp; Cheapest Pentax 85mm;
Cons: Color fringing in high contrast situations;

An excellent lens in the digital era.
Small and light, its around the size of a FA50/1.4. I own this and the FA85 and I reach for this lens more often due to the size and weight. A joy to use.
Sharpness is good enough at f2 and sharpens up very well from f4. I have seldom found a need to go higher than f2.8 as this was what I bought the lens for.
To me its a worthy challenger to the other Pentax 85mm.
I got mine expensive, but its still the cheapest Pentax 85mm out there.

Possibly my favorite lens

Cons
-----
Color fringing can occur in high contrast situations.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Springe
Posts: 3,027
Lens Review Date: November 1, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, good contrast (with lenshood), low weight
Cons: you have to zoom using your legs

I bought my copy very cheap a little over a year ago and today this is the lens I use most frequently. It's a lens I use with total confidence because I hardly ever am disappointed with the results. Sharpness is good wide open and excellent from 2.8 on. At first I was not to excited about the contrast level but since I started using a good lenshood all the time this is no longer an issue. As I do not have a macro lens I am using this lens together with intermediate rings quite often for close-ups.
   
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2009
Posts: 46

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 6, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, size
Cons: -

Excellent. Very light, small (not much bigger than my 24) - so sharp, even manually focussed, that it's a joy.

Minor bugbears: can't fit the hood on the opposite way easily. That's it. Very, very nice.
   


3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 7, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $177.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: aperture, length, weight, sharpness, bokeh and of course the focus ring
Cons: none

I bought this lens based on the three previous reviews on this page.
How anyone could give this masterpiece a 5/10 is a mystery. Its a clear 9,
because I dont know if I have found the perfect lens yet...

I found that out this is a very sharp lens. Much sharper than I ever
hoped for. Super sharpness comes already from f/2.8+. A perfect portrait length
at 127,5mm on my K10D. I certainly dont think its wrong to compare the 85mm
f/2 to the legendary 77mm f/1.8 ltd. I am also a lucky owner of a 43mm f/1.9 ltd
and their sharpness is equally good.

The size and weight is favorable. It also comes with 49mm in filter size and those
filters are the really cheap ones. So give it some good protection and it will last
another 30 years.

And last but not to forget, awww...the focus ring...how perfectly smooth it is.

Conclusion: If you come across one at a reasonable price, then buy it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2007
Posts: 8,241

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 22, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $295.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp at f2.8+, beautiful colors, bokeh, contrast
Cons: none

(The first review - a '5' - is one of the reasons I don't hold the averaged ratings here as gospel - someone's opinion of a given lens can simply be drastically wrong, which is the case with that review.)

This is one of the best lenses I've ever used, period. I own the 77mm limited, and this lens compares favorably, and in fact shows less CA than the 77 in most CA-likely situations.

It has incredible resolution, sharpness, nice contrast, and creates that special 3-d feel that needs to be witnessed to fully understand.

It's fairly small and light, so it's very easy for shake-free handheld shots. It's solid, very well crafted.

I've almost sold mine several times, but have never been able to pull the trigger - it's just too much of a gem to let go. I'd sell my 77 before I'd sell this lens.



   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2007
Posts: 151
Lens Review Date: April 1, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small, well built, great for portraits, considerably cheaper than the other Pentax 85mm lenses
Cons: Soft wide open

The M 85/2 is a difficult lens to judge. On one hand it is just average as a general purpose lens. It is kind of soft wide open (not total mush, but soft none-the-less) but sharpens up nicely as you close it down. Because of this fact I prefer the 77 ltd or the K 85/1.8 for an all-purpose medium telephoto (both are pretty sharp at wide apertures). On the other hand the 85/2 is a marvelous portrait lens. The wide open softness really shines here creating very flattering photos without any of the obnoxious over-the-top blur that specialized soft filters create – overall a very subtle and effective look. As mentioned above I have both the 77 ltd and the K85/1.8, but when I am taking portraits I grab the 85/2 every single time (it is one of the best portrait lenses I have ever used). Overall I can strongly recommend this lens if you have portraiture in mind.
   
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: Masachusetts
Posts: 245
Lens Review Date: March 1, 2007 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: small and light
Cons: Cheap plastic hood, not as sharp as other Pentax lenses.

This is another small, light fast lens. It does not live up to the other M series lenses, but it's still a nice lens. The corners are soft wide open, and to get real sharpness you have to stop it down a bit.

For portraits, it was a great lens since you want a bit of softness. If you come across one really cheap, it might be worth getting. But as a mechanical lens with no electrical contacts, it's probably not worth going through an effort to find.

Having said that, if you have one you will find it to be a nice portrait lens.
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