Ricoh Imaging already has a couple of full-frame Pentax DSLRs namely the K-1 and K-1 II cameras. Quite obviously, the need to have more modern or technologically updated lenses should give these cameras justice.
Users of K-1 and K-1 II already have their own choices when it comes to full-frame friendly lenses. But there is one that could be worth a try because the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW has finally been released.
The HD Pentax-D FA* is the newest member of the premium Star range of the company. It has been dubbed the first in a new generation of Star optics, claiming to combine center-to-corner sharpness even at wide apertures. This also offers high light transmission and excellent all-around optics, all with high dependability and rugged design.
Moreover, even as the HD Pentax-D FA* is naturally intended for full-frame cameras only, it is also compatible with APS-C models such as the KP and K-70. As a result, it creates an effective focal length that is close to 76.5mm.
Key Features Of The HD Pentax-D FA*
- Aperture range is F1.4-16
- Close focus of 0.4m or 1.3ft.
- 9 Diaphragm blades
- Focal length of 50mm
- Maximum magnification is 0.18x
- Optical construction has 15 elements in 9 groups
- Filter thread is 72mm
- It weighs just 32.1oz or approximately 910g
There are around 15 elements overall that make up the HD Pentax-D FA* optics. This includes 3 anomalous dispersion elements around the array with a spherical element at the back.
Basically, premium lenses may have the standard Aero Bright Coating II and one more standard multilayer HD coating. As a result, it works to boost light transmission as it minimizes reflections that may affect the contrast or introduce some aberrations.
Furthermore, it is protected by a fluorine-based Super Protect coating, which enables the lens to dissuade dust, grease, and water. This also makes it easier to clean off if ever the said elements threaten it.
There are 9 blades that form the diaphragm in the lens, which keep the defocused points of light round from the maximum aperture up to F2.8. Its minimum focusing distance is 0.4m, which is better compared to the average for a lens of such type.
You may not find any image stabilization in the lens because there is a sensor-based Shake Reduction system already in place in Pentax cameras. With a wide aperture, this will make it a good prospect for demanding environments with low lighting.
Handling and Design
Video credit: the CameraVille
The design of this type of lens is simple, and it is fairly a straightforward prime lens when it comes to functionality. Moreover, the barrel is furnished with a couple of controls, namely the manual focusing ring and the switch, which alternates between manual and autofocus (MF/AF). You can see the readings in feet and meters through a focus distance window.
The MF/AF switch may be controlled without any trouble, but it would be prone to be accidentally knocked out of position. However, this wouldn’t be an issue, particularly when you strap the camera around your neck or use it on a tripod.
You may notice that the focusing ring in front of the lens is almost 1 inch deep. It has a very comfortable to use because of the square dimple pattern finish, which makes it so tactile.
There is a newly developed ring type supersonic direct-drive motor (SDM) employed by the lens to handle the autofocus actuation. This will generate up to 7.5x more torque compared to the previous SDM system in the previous versions of lenses. Ricoh also confirms that this will be responsible for the rear lens group control when focusing.
Video credit: Pentax Forums
Since the focusing system is internal, it means that the overall barrel length will not change in length during operation. You may also use the Quick Shift focus system through a focus ring that will allow you to adjust your focus manually after the autofocus feature has been achieved. This will no longer need you to constantly switch between MF/AF.
This type of lens offers excellent resolution in all focal lengths and apertures.
- Excellent sharpness in all apertures
- Excellent consistency in the imaging area
- No distortion
- Lovely bokeh
Overall, these are the most favorable features of the HD Pentax-D FA* lens.
- Excellent sharpness
- Superb build with excellent weather resistance
- Quiet and smooth autofocus motor
- Defocused characteristics are generally nice
- Almost non-existent curvilinear distortion
- Noticeable vignetting, but can be controlled
There are some negative features noticeable in this type of lens.
- Heavy and bulky
- Noticeable LoCA at medium/wide apertures
- KAF4 standard means that older Pentax DSLRs might have limited compatibility
You simply have to compromise if you prefer lighter lenses without hurting your budget though. But are you not sacrificing quality?