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HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW

Sharpness 
 10.0
Aberrations 
 9.3
Bokeh 
 9.8
Autofocus 
 9.6
Handling 
 9.2
Value 
 9.4
Reviews Views Date of last review
36 102,495 Thu October 26, 2023
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $1,036.92 9.79
HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW

HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
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HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
supersize
HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
supersize
HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
supersize
HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
supersize

Description:

The HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW is a professional full-frame prime lens designed to deliver impeccable image quality for today's demanding cameras.  It is the first star-series full-frame prime lens of the digital era.

The HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW covers the full frame (24x36mm) format. On APS-C it works like a short telephoto lens.  It features the latest KAF4 lens mount*, which incorporates electromagnetic aperture control.  In addition, this is the first Pentax lens to use a ring-type autofocus motor which delivers significantly more torque than previous SDM motors.

*  Cameras compatible with this system are the K-50 and newer. For K-1, K-3 II, K-3, K-S2, K-S1 and K-50, the camera’s firmware must be upgraded to the latest version. If this lens is mounted on a camera without proper firmware upgrade, its diaphragm control mechanism becomes inactive leaving the aperture fixed at F1.4, making it difficult to obtain correct exposure.

Originally unveiled in February, 2017, the lens hit the market in July, 2018. In August of 2020 the limited quantity silver version was announced.


HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
Optics
15 elements, 9 groups
Mount Variant
KAF4
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.4
Min. Aperture
F16
Focusing
AF (in-lens motor)
SDM
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
40 cm
Max. Magnification
0.18x
Filter Size
72 mm
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 32 ° / 27 °
Full frame: 47 ° / 40 °
Hood
PH-RBB72 (included)
Case
S100-140 (included)
Lens Cap
O-LC72 (included)
Coating
Aero Bright II,HD,SP
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch
Diam x Length
80 x 106 mm (3.1 x 4.2 in.)
Weight
910 g (32.1 oz.)
w/ Hood: +45g
Production Years
2018 to present (in production)
Pricing
$996 USD current price
Engraved Name
HD Pentax-D FA* 1:1.4 50mm SDM AW
Product Code
21260
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Notes
Rated to work from -10C (14F) to 40C (104F) and in up to 85% humidity

Features:
Supersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
In-Depth Review: Read our HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW in-depth review!
Price History:



Add Review of HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Buy the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
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Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2017
Posts: 2,030

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 26, 2023 Recommended | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, build quality, AF
Cons: size and weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1 ii   

I have only had my copy (snapped up new for £500!) for a week or two now but even with owning it for such a short time I can attest that everything you see or hear about the IQ of this lens is true. At all apertures the IQ is stunning. It's not just a case of sharpness either (which is clearly there). Minimal CA's, great flare resistance, great contrast, great (for Pentax) AF, great colour rendition. Optically there is nothing to dislike about this lens. Forget about stellar performance at f1.4 for a moment (it is stellar compared to all my other f1.4's), even at small apertures it out performs my 50mm macro lenses. On IQ alone I think it is worth the price tag either new or used.

However, the elephant (literally in this case) in the room is its size and weight. Upon opening the box, I was shocked not just at how heavy the lens is but its sheer size. It dwarfs all my other 50-60mm lenses. Even the F 50mm f2.8 Macro and Tomioka Mamiya 60mm f2.8 Macro. It dwarfs my Canon FL 58mm f1.2 and FD 50mm f1.2. On my K1 ii with battery grip and extra battery the camera is still quite a bit nose heavy. You do not want to be carrying this combination around your neck. This bulk does have a positive though. When hand holding, the combination of big camera and lens is very stable. I need to turn off SR until I reach about 1/20th second or slower. For me this is a beautiful lens to use inside and not for trekking around town and country, though others below seem to have no problem with the weight.

To show what this lens can do stopped down here is a trio of comparison shots by three 50mm lenses, all of which I really like. All SOOC at the same settings and parameters. Tripod mounted and self timer f11 and 100 ISO:-
K 50mm f1.4

F 50mm f2.8 Macro

FA*


I was surprised at there being this much difference between the F Macro and the FA*. Proof that the FA* is not just a one trick pony when it comes to IQ. Any aperture looks great. Optically its the best standard lens I have ever experienced

Recommendations? Yes maybe. If your priority is absolute IQ above and beyond all else you will enjoy the lens. I do a fair bit of still life so it suits me in this role. If you do a lot of indoor work where portability is not an issue this lens will do all you ask of it within its focal length's parameters. Clearly if you are brave or foolhardy enough to take it out into the field it will also perform beyond all your previous experiences, but as they saying goes the best camera is the one you have with you and are you really going to go out in the field that often with a heavy combination like the K1 and FA* 50mm? I am not. You really do need to consider this aspect of the lens before committing to buy it.
   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2018
Posts: 47

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 3, 2023 Recommended | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: image quality, low aberrations, sharpness
Cons: tolerance of cold
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1, K-3 iii   

I have now had this lens for over two years and it has been a part of my travel and hike kit, for most of my travels.

IQ-wise, this lens is probably the best 50mm lens that money can buy. Amazing results. Very few lenses can be routinely used wide open like this one can (at the right places, that is). Especially in PP it is clear how little, hardly any, aberrations there are and how sharp this lens is. It is very easy to get technically good quality pictures with this lens.

The lens however has one weird behaviour, which is probably not an problem for majority of photographers. I live in a cold climate and spend extended times out in the wild, and this lens is my only lens which actually stops working in cold. This has happened to me even when it is not extremely cold, hardly even -20C (-4F). I have several modern lenses (e.g. DFA 15-30 and DFA 21) and none of my other lenses does this. (Actually the DFA 15-30 did that once, when I shot astro landscape in -35C (+ some windchill) overnight, but that is rather extreme, and it only failed after hours and hours of use.)

For my use case, this basically means that DFA 1.4/50 is a lens for summer hikes and not for winter. The lens let me down a few times in the cold, so I know this is not a one-time thing but keeps on occurring every time I go out with the lens in winter. It is however to be noted that shorter stays outdoors, do not make the lens fail, but you have to be outside for hours for that to happen. This is why I am reducing "handling" to only 8.
   
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2022
Location: Glyfada, a southern suburb of Athens
Posts: 208
Review Date: December 16, 2022 Recommended | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 99.999 % flawless in every aspect
Cons: If I had to fine one it has some 1/3 stop vingetting at F1.4. F1.4! And yes it's heavy.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: KP   

"Kaiser"... this is how I named my copy of this spectacular glass since it came to me in Athens from Germany.

There are no words to describe its quality and you just can't pixel peep with this glass. It delivers perfection.

The photo below was what Kaiser gave me within 3 minutes of use; without having the chance to get into knowing him. I can only imagine what this lens can deliver after we get accustomed to each other.

It's heavy because you are holding a brick of gold.

[photo: ISO4000, f/2, 1/50s]
   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Eerbeek
Posts: 1,857

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 11, 2022 Recommended | Price: $740.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, bokeh, speed
Cons: size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3 III   

Excellent image quality, in terms of sharpness and character. Beautiful OOF, good colours.
The AF is fast and almost silent (something you get used to...)

It was an open-box item for a great discount so I had to try it. On my K-3 III it functions like a 77mm equivalent, I use it in tandem with the FA 31mm (=48mm) and the 15/21mm Limiteds.
I do not regret it, despite also having the 43mm.

It is heavy, but its qualities convince me to bring it along time and again.
Moreover, if there's ever a K-1 III in my bag, this one is ready for it.
   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2022
Posts: 30

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 2, 2022 Recommended | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Well-rounded shooter in tight build quality.
Cons: Hefty and larger than competition 50mms.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1ii   

Sick images. This is one of those instances whereby if you can make your budget accommodate such a purchase - there is a clear case to make for price to performance and in my book it equals if not bests Sony's Zeiss 50mm f1.4 and G Master 50mm f1.2 which I have had much experience with (especially when I paid for a brand new copy at much less than half the price of either of the Sony options new).


If you had to start from scratch to build up a full frame system like myself recently - this is a no brainer as the first and one lens to rule the world with initially before you consider other options.

Not going to markdown AF score for the lens despite the minimum focusing distance is still too long for my liking but typical ballpark of most 50mm formulas.
   
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Paris
Posts: 124
Review Date: December 6, 2021 Recommended | Price: $1,299.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: built, af, quality, bokeh
Cons: it ain't pink ?
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1ii K1 KP   

This lens is perfect in all manners.

Flawless operations, fast, solid built and sealed.

Bought it since it became available in Europe, and used it since.

quality is at least the same level as top notch canon L or zeiss. with the extra Pentax stuff coming with.

this lens is very very well priced for what it can deliver.
   
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 66

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 3, 2021 Recommended | Price: $980.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp wide open, nice bokeh, well built lens, AW
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

Similar to my 85 mm, I have bought a silver one as well. I have it for a few weeks now, so no processed pictures, yet. The lens is MUCH smaller and lighter than 85, but is possessing similar optical virtues - its sharp even wide open with no noticeable softness or chromatic aberrations. Bokeh is creamy and nice to look at. Lens is bult very well and feels good in hands. Handling is perfect. AW is great to have! Did not use it for astrophotography yet, though.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: May, 2013
Location: Vilnius
Posts: 1,020

16 users found this helpful
Review Date: June 2, 2021 Recommended | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp at f1.4. Bokeh very nice, creamy, the iris keeps the round shape up to f2.8. Very good contrast, color rendition. Probably the speed of focus is second in the line after Pentax 55-300 PLM version.
Cons: For many who likes smaller lenses, this lens will be heavy (910 g). The price is relatively high.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

For me this lens is perfectly suited to the Pentax K-1 - a good balance, stability and less hand-shake. Regardless of the weight of camera and lens in combo, the Pentax K-1 is perfectly treatable with 2-3 fingers.
On older Pentax cameras as Pentax K5ii and earlier, autofocus works, but due to the electromagnetic iris control incompatibility with the software of the camera, it takes pictures only wide open. Nevertheless, the lens is absolutely usable at f1.4 and pictures taken with Pentax K-30, K200D I use more now proves this (links/pictures included below).
I shoot portraits with this lens mostly 2 years in studio, on locations as well as nature. DFA* 50/1.4 is really very good lens.
I like infrared portraits too and I shoot them with infrared modified K-30/K-5. The new HD Pentax-D FA* 50/1.4 SDM AW is capable of focusing correctly through the viewfinder on my modified Pentax K-5 with 640 nm filter. This is a terrible surprise. Another thing that's even more impressive - the lens is sharp at f1.4! Unbelievable!

IMGP1601-Edit-2-Edit-Edit-3 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP5450-Edit-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP5443-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
K1MG1263-Edit-2-Edit-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP5232-Edit-Edit-2 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP1659-Edit-4 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
K1MG2483-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP1837-Edit-Edit-2-2 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
_IGP0009210519-Edit-Edit-Edit-2 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
_IGP0595210526-Edit1-Edit-2 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
_IGP82260315-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
_IMG0710-Edit by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
IMGP9671-Edit-Edit-2 by MG Mindaugas, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2017
Posts: 1
Review Date: December 19, 2020 Recommended | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: A wonderful lens; super-sharp; excellent color rendition; beautiful bokeh
Cons: Larger then a regular 50mm, but balances very well on K1 with a grip
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1   

Have been using the lens for over a year. Has become my favorite walk around lens. Highly recommended.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/145933544@N03/49956146682/in/dateposted/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/145933544@N03/49664079722/in/dateposted/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/145933544@N03/48504667402/in/dateposted/
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2017
Posts: 20

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 8, 2020 Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Its a big fat Summilux at a Pentax price
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

This lens is ridiculous.

Here is one pic, JPEG straight out of the camera, with really no thought put into the shot. Point and shoot basically.



Yes, its a big lens, but paired with a K1, its pretty well balanced. Paired with a K1, its a versatile combo for sure, and that includes fast action sports shots.
For handheld stills work with depth, this combo is right up there with a Leica + Summilux. Its pretty good !

Here is a couple more - JPG straight out of the camera, no processing yet


(zoom in to see possible abberations on the leaves)


(zoom in close on this to see the "action shot" of the pair of flies doing a dance to the right of the pony)

Fast Action Sports Shot, Wide Open - Pentax Style !

   
Review Date: August 19, 2020 Recommended | Price: $1,096.95 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything!
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

I committed to the Pentax K-1 as my main camera based on the release of this lens, it is an excellent performer in every regard. The new K-mount D FA* lenses by Pentax are incredible pieces of equipment and I eagerly await a wider lens in the series to compliment this and the HD Pentax-D FA* 85mm F1.4 ED SDM AW I recently purchased.
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2017
Posts: 16

7 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 6, 2020 Recommended | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros:
Cons:
New or Used: New   






https://www.facebook.com/Vnosek/
   
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2018
Location: Telemark
Posts: 86

10 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 8, 2020 Recommended | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, nice colors, good autofocus, not too large
Cons: Sorry but still K-1 and the new 50 is not a great autofocus system
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

It's a brilliant lens. But on Pentax forums with Pentax people everything Pentax is always +25% of actual performance.

Don't misunderstand, this lens is brilliant and well suited to all types of photography. I like the size, FF lenses can be beasts, but as other Pentaxians says: "it balances nicely with the K-1", and thats true.

The autofocus is better than most Pentax lenses. But I also use other systems and the autofocus isn't great, but good.

I wish the near focus limit was 30 cm instead of 40 cm. The colors are excellent. You don't get that vintage look of course, but you get beautiful colors that are easy to work with. I used this lens along with a bunch of other quality lenses to photograph gear for a company and after putting all the files into lightroom I saw quickly that this lens and the 70-200 stood above the rest in what were quite similar shots. One of the other lenses I used was Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 art. And while this is also a great and slightly wider lens, the 50 mm just made better photos. I guess it's a combo of color rendition, sharpness and autofocus. For me, although yes different focal ranges, it's better than the 35mm sigma art, which is a brilliant lens.

I also own the Pentax 43 mm lens which is a fantastic lens. This is slightly sharper than both the 43 and 77 as expected, but the colors and 3d effect of the limited lenses make them still relevant for me. They're also more portable. But shooting in low light with the poor autofocus of the limited lenses is difficult.

I have 1200 shots with the new 50 and look forward to having more.
   
Moderator

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,757

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: January 31, 2020 Recommended | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing quality picture making ability
Cons: price, but it is worth it

The DFA 50mm 1.4 is a fantastic lens, more than capable of making my most uninspiring shots even have some pixie dust. The photos with shallow depth of field have the most lovely bokeh. The resolving power means this lens can easily act as a telephoto just by cropping down as the quality is there. Yes, it is a heavy lump of glass but when using it on the K1 it never felt heavy, certainly when I picked up the camera bag I felt the weight , however it is well balanced in the hand. The odd filter size of 72mm means I will most likely just use the 77mm filters with a step down ring. The hood works well and reverses nicely for storage. Every time I took a photo and examined it with this lens, the result was better than I expected , there is something magical about it. The only other lens I have that does that is the F*300mm 4.5. Sometimes a lens just works right and this 50mm is one of those. Is it value for money? I think so and it is staying in the bag full time from now on.
green dog by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
saw painter crop by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
sunset stitch by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
dahlia by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
   
Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Quebec city, Canada
Posts: 9,357
Review Date: January 7, 2020 Recommended | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Everything except the size
Cons: Size, some CA

As stated in the in-depth review, this lens heralds a new generation of high-performances, no compromises lenses.

Apart from some CA, there is literally nothing to complain about from an optical standpoint. Images have all the pop and clarity of the best that Pentax can offer, sharpness is stellar, AF is a step above everything else on K-mount. The comparison review with the Rokinon 50mm and DA*55mm show just how good this new 50 really is.
Add Review of HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Buy the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW



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