HD Pentax-D FA* 85mm F1.4 ED SDM AW
Bokeh is a Japanese term which refers to the quality, look, and texture of the background blur. It does not relate to the depth of field but to the areas in the image that are beyond the range that is expected to be in focus.
A smoother bokeh is generally perceived as being of a higher quality. Bokeh is influenced by the lens design, with a significant role being played by the aperture. Its shape will influence the look of the bokeh, especially around highlights and light sources.
The D FA* 85mm comes with extremely high expectations for bokeh. Being a modern day, portrait-oriented lens in the top-tier, it should rank among the best. Its nine curved aperture blades and wide, F1.4 maximum aperture should help with the out of focus rendering.
In order to evaluate the characteristics of the background blur, we took pictures at varying apertures, using these test parameters:
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Results are directly transferable to APS-C cameras.
The D FA* 85mm's out-of-focus rendering is astounding. Wide open results are, as expected, smooth and buttery, with no harsh shapes. The highlights are round, uniform, with no distracting elements.
What is impressive, and rather unique, is that those characteristics remain even when the aperture closes down, down to the minimum value of F16. Normally bokeh looses its quality at smaller apertures. Here, even though the depth of field of course increases, bokeh remains smooth, without harsh contours.
The image below shows another real-life example, with a very busy background including highlights and darker shapes. The image is shot at F3.5. Even with that difficult scene, the subject isolation and the out of focus rendering both contribute positively to the image.
More examples can be found in our Samples Gallery.
The D FA* 85mm comes with high expectations for its out-of-focus rendering capabilities. This is why it should not be taken lightly when we conclude that it performs beyond those expectations. At wider apertures, the lens delivers admirably, but it is not alone. What does set it apart is the rendering at much smaller apertures, where most lenses deliver no more than adequate bokeh. The 85mm is able to preserve its beautiful bokeh rendering across its aperture range, something which truly sets it apart.