Pentax-DA* 55mm F1.4 Review


Pentax DA*55mm on Pentax K5

We started this review by asking the question of whether or not the DA* 55mm F1.4 was really a star, or if it was just yet another expensive lens. The answer to the question is not definitive in either way. The lens is more of a stellar lens then not. So maybe it is almost a stellar lens. Why do we make that statement?

First of all, the lens handles exceptionally well, is very sharp and produces great bokeh. The lens has decent autofocus, although it's not as fast as we had hoped. It does have chromatic aberration and flare, but both are easily fixed with software and are within acceptable limits. However, there are two issues with this lens that prevent us from calling it a stellar choice. One, you lose all autofocus capabilities for cameras older than the K10D with firmware version 1.30.  Earlier DA* lenses such as the DA* 50-135mm supported both screwdrive and SDM, so why couldn't this lens do the same? The second issue is the price. 

The MSRP for this 55mm lens is $799.95, and the online price through the end of 2012 is about $725 after an $75 instant rebate. In stores (i.e. not online), the lens is available for between $550 and $625, as Pentax only imposes strict price restrictions for online sales*. If you are looking for an alternative to Pentax FA 77mm or the DA 70mm then this lens is comparably priced. But if you are comparing this to the FA 50mm F1.4, then this lens is about $400 more.

The weather and dust resistant build of this lens are great features that could convince someone to purchase this lens, if they were undecided. However, the lens is worth the cost if you are looking for a high quality portrait lens and if you are willing to overlook the cons. So yes, this lens is more than just a pretty face, but it comes at a cost that dims its stellar shine.

Pentax DA* 55mm F1.4 Summary

The DA* 55mm is a very well-constructed lens that produces above-average image quality wide open and stellar images when stopped down. The lens handles well and has negligible distortion and vignetting. The bokeh is exceptional, making the lens a great choice for portraits, weddings, and close-ups.  The SDM autofocus can be a bit slow at times, and the lens has a high pricetag, but we still give it a "thumbs up" overall!


  • No distortion or vignetting
  • Well-built
  • Quick-shift focus
  • Weather and dust resistant
  • Excellent bokeh
  • Quiet SDM autofocus
  • Depth of field scale


  • Some flare and chromatic aberration
  • Heavier than other Pentax 50mm lenses
  • Autofocus is significantly slower than screwdrive
  • Expensive for a standard lens


 8.2 (Very Good)

*these price restrictions are subject to change, as retailers have expressed their dissatisfaction with this policy due to the high proprotion of online Pentax shoppers. PentaxForums @PentaxForums News | Reviews | Forum

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