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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 
 9.5
Bokeh 
 10.0
Autofocus 
 10.0
Handling 
 9.9
Value 
 9.2
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 18,412 Mon September 24, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $1,200.71 10.00
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
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HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
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HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
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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 K-1 Mark II, K-1, K-3 II, KP, K-70, K-3, K-S2, K-S1 and K-50. 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, making it impossible to obtain correct exposure.

Originally unveiled in February, 2017, the lens hit the market in July, 2018.


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
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Notes
Rated to work from -10C (14F) to 40C (104F) and in up to 85% humidity

Features:
Supersonic AutofocusWeather 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!



Add Review of HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Buy the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-10 of 10
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 329
Lens Review Date: September 24, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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 contrasy, 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: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-1, Pentax K-5 infrared modified   

For me, using a significantly heavier projection lenses, 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.
I like infrared portraits too. Unfortunately, many lenses suitable for a sufficiently detailed portrait (say, well-seen eyelashes, eyebrows, etc.) on a normal, unmodified sensor, poorly display themselves opticaly on infrared-modified cameras when wide diaphragms (f1.4-2.8) are used. As you know, the nice blur (bokeh) of near and far plans is prefferable in portrait photography. You have to close older lenses‘ iris up to f4-5,6 so that the acceptable details will appear. This is with the excellent FA* 85/1,4 as well. In addition, infrared-modified cameras should be focused using LiveView because phase detection autofocus is unpredictable and needs to be calibrated for the focal lenght you most often use (I use up to 14 mm for the landscape). For this reason, other focal length lenses do not focus properly through the viewfinder (PDAF), although this is the most convenient way.
What am I going to say? 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!
Some pictures. Sharpening in LRe: Amount - 40, Radius 1.4

https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/31011863018
https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/44885059671
https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/44834383982
https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/31011861888

Infrared pictures. Sharpening in LRe: Amount - 80, Radius 1.6
The original photo and 100 percent crop.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/29948077797
https://www.flickr.com/photos/136087193@N07/44885026021
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2012
Location: 53143
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: September 22, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Detail !!!, Fast focus, QUIET !
Cons: Additional prime options in full frame of equal QUALITY.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K3ii   



Please everyone,

If you can afford this lens, buy it now !
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2018
Location: Colorado
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 18, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,196.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, Fast,silent, and well built
Cons: none yet
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: PENTAX K-1 Mark II   

First off WOW!! I just received this lens and I am blown away, I put it on my K-1 Mark II and magic. here are some first shots, keep in mind these are hand held and this is not a macro lens. and yes they are at almost 100% crop, ISO 100 F5.6 1/1250.





   
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2015
Posts: 68

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 22, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ, IQ, IQ
Cons: none I've found
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   



This lens has impeccable IQ, definitely the best I've used. The only one that comes close is the Sigma Art and this seems to share some of the same DNA of big and heavy with stellar optics while managing to feel better balanced; I think more of the weight is in the back in that "heavy focus group" that is discussed as compared to the sigma I used.

Can't speak to how it is on APS-C but it seems like it'd be a waste of the corner-to-corner sharpness.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Posts: 7,162

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 12, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Bokeh, Image quality, Bokeh, Build quality, Bokeh
Cons: Size, weight, cost (duh!)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

It's the best lens I have ever used. Bravo Pentax.

   
Loyal Site Supportaxian

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 483

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 7, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Feel and Balance on K-1, overall performance.
Cons: very minor spherochromatism

Overall Outstanding.


Has slightly more spherochromatism (green/magenta on defocus) than I was expecting, but it's very minimal and not a major concern but I guess I was expecting it to be perfect.


When doing live view preview in Av mode, it's so nice how much quieter the electronic aperture is. It's not totally silent, but it's pleasingly quiet compared to mechanical aperture models.


On My K-1 Autofocus performs much better with Pdaf rather an live view Cdaf.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 1,202

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 5, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Just great
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1/ii   

It took Pentax quite some time to deliver a FF camera and now we are seeing the first new FF prime specifically designed for a digital FF camera. So far FA Ltd with old AF engine, no weather sealing and old designs had to be used. I still have my 77mm lens and really like the bokeh, but I was waiting quite long for the new 50mm to arrive. The wait is over - still waiting for the 85 mm and some wide angle with alrger aperture.

This is the first Pentax lens that really shines in all aspects. f/1.4 is already sharp and quite sharp in the corners. AF feels fast and snappy, focus shift is not really an issue. Lens weight is OK, feels nice on K1 - more obstrusive than the FA 50s or the FA Ltds, but a lot of glass is needed to get this performance. For the photographer I see no issue wrt weight, (potential) models may be scared a little by the size. Bokeh is VERY nice and you can use the lens from f/1.4 and down. At f/5.6 the lens is bitingly sharp, but not yet plain technical. I use the lens for portraits and street photography where field curvature is less important. As far as I can see field curcature is well controlled. Filter diameter is 72mm, a little smaller than 77mm standard that is used for several Pentax lenses. This lens will get its own poalrizer and everything else is attached by filter holder. It would be nice if other lense in the expected D-FA* line could also have 72mm filter diameters.


This lens competes against Canon 50L, Nikon 58, Zeiss Otus, Sigma Art.

Perfromance is not lacking behind, add weather sealing, AF, and its a Pentax lens for Pentax cameras. Price fits performance and market placement.


A wide angle and a medium tele portrait lens are on the roadmap and must follow this lens - Pentax has many 50mm lenses in their lineup, it is time to re-cover new bases.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2011
Posts: 1,969

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 3, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: bokeh, microcontrast, fast silent focus
Cons: size, weight for a 50mm prime
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

First to the con's:
  1. Yes, this lens is similar to Sigmas tries at producing lenses: large and heavy for a 50mm prime.
  2. Yes, it is not cheap, it falls into the middle price range.

Now to the pro's:
  1. Outstanding image quality overall.
  2. The superb bokeh quality mixed with very, very high microcontrasts even when used wide open make images "pop".
  3. Wide open sharp into the extreme corners, better than a good copy of a Sigma 35 Art.
  4. Fast autofocus, at least as fast as any other 50/55mm F1.2/1.4 lens from any maker out there.
  5. Weathersealing.
  6. Excellent build quality
  7. Smooth and precise manual focussing possible
  8. Handles surprisingly well on a K-1 and feels perfectly balanced, even better than a standard zoom like 28-105 or 24-70.
  9. Very pleasing color rendering.
Samples:
#1
Nordfriedhof 005 by Karl Knipser, auf Flickr

#2
Nordfriedhof 004 by Karl Knipser, auf Flickr

#3
Nordfriedhof 011 by Karl Knipser, auf Flickr

#4
Nordfriedhof 001 by Karl Knipser, auf Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Posts: 157

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 29, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,309.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Optically near perfect, quick focussing
Cons: Expensive and heavy - the 'price' of being so good
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1   

Just a quick first impression. I've had it two days and taken a couple of dozen shots with it:

1. The box it comes in is very protective - bigger than a Pentax KP box, with the space around the lens surrounded with corrugated card.
2. The build quality is similar to the DA* 200/300 - solid, dense barrel with smooth focus ring.
3. On the K1 it balances well in a two-hand grip. We've tried it on a KP, and it slightly overwhelms it.
4. Focus is snappy and quiet.
5. First look centre and edge sharpness is excellent from F1.4.
6. Out of focus transition is unbelievably smooth.

I'll add photos when I've got some worthy of demonstrating its performance.


Edit: price is converted from GBP with sales tax deducted. (UK price £1199 including 20% VAT)

Edit 2: photos added

Handling is fine despite weight. Out of focus backgrounds almost 'painterly'.

F1.4


100% crop


F3.5


100% crop


F1.4


100% crop


All F1.4








100% crop

Hint of purple/green fringing - aberrations re-scored to 9...
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2008
Location: The wheatfields of Canada
Posts: 10,796

13 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 20, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp, excellent bokeh, fantastic build
Cons: It's pretty big and heavy.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1   

It's big. It's really big. And heavy. It's really heavy. It's very similar in size to a Pentax 6x7 135/4 Macro lens, and half again heavier.
It's really big and really heavy. Mounted on the K1, it's really bigger and heavier.

Auto Focus seems quick enough, I don't have anything to compare it to. It's very quiet. There is no torque twisting, the 7.5 times more powerful motor is all good.

Manual focus is excellent. It has really nice damping and is absolutely slop free. It's as nice as any manual focus lens I've used.

In use, the K1 with this lens is a heavy rig at 1920 grams. That's 4.23 pounds. It's heavy.
However, it does balance nicely. For most people I wouldn't think this is going to be an all day walkaround camera/lens combination because of the weight, but because of the weight it's a great handholding lens.

I did a very little bit of handheld shooting, but I tend to use a tripod most of the time, and this time was no exception.

On a tripod, the K1 and D FA* 50/1.4 is a well behaved combination. I am using a fairly heavy Feisol CF Tripod and their large ball head.
Prior to this I hadn't liked this head very much as it felt a bit notchy. With the 4 pounds of camera and lens on it, that goes away and it's as smooth as polished glass.

Handheld, the weight works to advantage. There is a lot of inertia at play tp keep things steady. I noticed the same effect with my Pentax 6x7, which weighs in at ~2500 grams with the standard lens and film loaded.
I haven't tested it, but I expect the K1 with this lens could be handheld a stop or more slower than the K1 with the FA50/1.4

This is all well and good, but what is a lens for but to produce images? This one is superb for that purpose. It has meltingly beautiful bokeh. It's extraordinary. The previous bokeh king, the 77LTD has met it's match in this lens. The lens is startlingly sharp wide open, which serves to accentuate the out of focus areas. Stopped down to f/5.6 and this lens is sharp enough to shave with, while at the same time still giving very smooth out of focus areas, providing there is sufficient seperation.

Contrast is very high with this lens, colours pop right off the screen. I've only made one print so far, and it is vibrant and stunning.

This is an expensive lens, and the law of diminishing returns does hold true. F/8 is, as always, the great equalizer. If a person spends most of their time stopped down to smaller apertures, this lens won't be much of a benefit, other than giving a solid workout to upper body strength. If, like me, you shoot at mid apertures, like really nice bokeh, and razor sharp images, this lens should be on your radar.

Pentax has knocked it well and truly out of the park with this lens.

I demerited it a bit on handling because of the weight. It won't be for everyone as heavy as it is, and also for value. At the price of it, there will be many people who will pass it by.
However, if you can afford it and can live with the heftiness of it, it is truly an extraordinary lens.

Edit: This lens focuses closer than other 50mm lenses I have used. Both my FA50/1.4 and A50/1.2 focus to .45 meters ( ~17 3/4"). The D FA* 50/1.4 focuses to .4 meters (~15 3/4 inches). This may not seem like all that big a deal, but it does expand the usable range of the lens a little bit.
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