Pentax smc DA 55mm F1.4 SDM Specification Review

The Pentax smc DA 55mm F1.4 SDM is one of the organization’s newer designs camera, declared in Sept 2008. This in turn describes the a little bit longer-than-usual central duration, which gives an 82.5mm-equivalent position of view; Pentax is marketing the lens as purpose-designed for picture work, and the religious heir to the organization’s film-era FA 85mm f/1.4. The result is a more time working range than the normal 50mm primary on APS-C, which gives a more perfect viewpoint for head-and-shoulder images. The lens also functions Pentax’s ultrasonic-type ‘Supersonic Generate Motor’ for quiet and quick auto-focus, with ‘Quick Shift’ guide bypass.

Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM review
Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM review

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Pentax smc DA 55mm Headline features

  • 55mm central length; quick F1.4 highest possible aperture
  • Built-in ultrasonic-type SDM concentrate engine with ‘Quick-Shift’ guide focus

Pentax smc DA 55mm Design and Operation

The 55mm F1.4 is a member of Pentax’s D family of connections, and from the and complete is ideal. It’s at least on a par with other connections in this line, such as the DA* 16-50mm F2.8 and DA* 50-135mm F2.8, and probably best in its class. The gun barrel is reassuringly heavy and firm, and a rubberized closure around the lens install provides an exterior hint to the weather-sealed design. The top side factor is very greatly recessed in the gun barrel (at least at infinity focus), in effect offering a built-in bonnet for protection against surface.

Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Body And Design
Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Body And Design

Lens whole body elements

  • The lens install is Pentax’s KAF3 version, using a combination of electronic and technical relationships to interface with the camera. The two silver connections for the auto-focus can be seen on the remaining. There’s a rubberized closure around the install to guard from dirt and water ingress into the whole body.
  • The narrow line is 58mm, and does not move on auto-focus, which should be welcome for polarizer customers. The top side factor is very greatly recessed in the gun barrel – by about 20mm when targeted to infinity. The main visual group goes fully 14mm forward on concentrating down to 0.45m, with the ‘floating’ back factor remaining set.
  • The ribbed rubberized concentrate band is 20mm wide, with a reasonably sleek (if a little bit loose) action. It goes 125 levels anti-clockwise from infinity to 0.45m. The position of view clearly reduces on concentrating nearer, as is often the case with primes.
  • If lens hoods won awards, Pentax would own a cupboard complete.

Pentax smc DA 55mm Test Results

The Pentax smc DA 55mm F1.4 SDM is of course somewhat smooth start up, but enhances quickly on avoiding down, providing outstanding outcomes right across the structure at regular operating apertures. It’s smoother at F1.4 than the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM (or indeed the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G), however it is still clearly clearer than the mature smc FA 50mm F1.4. The variations between all of these contacts become rather little on avoiding down beyond F2.

Our assessments exposed some asymmetry in particular apertures, with the the checkerboard plants across the ‘arms’ of the graph displaying different sharpness and shades (due to longitudinal chromatic aberration), displaying a little point in the concentrate aircraft. This happened (to an increased or smaller extent) with three different types of the lens, perhaps suggesting at a gun barrel style or development issue.

Sharpness

Sharpness isn’t amazing start up, but quit down even a little bit and the center enhances considerably. The lens is at its sharpest in the center between F3.3 and F5; the sides lag behind a little bit, with the most reliable results across the entire structure at around F5.6-F8.

Chromatic Aberration

At large apertures we see red shade cloud in the center, an indicator of color-specific rounded aberration. This vanishes on avoiding down to F2, from which point forward the lens reveals a considerable, but essentially insignificant level of horizontal CA.

Falloff

We consider falloff to become obvious when the area lighting drops to more than 1 quit less than the center. There’s nothing to bother with here; just a quit at the ultimate sides start up, which opens up on avoiding down.

Distortion

Distortion is very low – we evaluate just 0.5% gun barrel, which is unlikely to have any effect on regular use.

Macro Focus

Maximum zoom is 0.19x, at a calculated nearest concentrate range of 44cm, which gives a working range of 34cm from the top side of the lens to the topic. As predicted picture quality isn’t great at bigger apertures, but the center enhances up perfectly at F2.8, with the sides a little behind. By F5.6 our smooth test-chart picture is distinct right across the structure. There’s a little gun barrel distortions, and some barely-visible chromatic aberration. Overall a creditable result for a non-macro lens.

Autofocus

One key new function of the smc DA 55mm F1.4 SDM is its built-in ultrasonic-type auto-focus engine, which according to Pentax gives fast and silent concentrating. However the lens does not have Pentax’s conventional screw-drive concentrate combining, and the AF engine is operated by 2 connections within the lens install, which are missing from systems over the age of the K10D these days 2006. Basically this means that the lens won’t auto-focus on the *ist sequence DSLRs, or the K100D and K110D. The SDM auto-focus engine is certainly very silent indeed, but in regards to rate, the 55mm is usually (like Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G) clearly more slowly than its screw-driven forerunner.

Bokeh Quality

As fortune would have it, the 55mm F1.4 usually generates eye-catching bokeh, completely corresponding to its designed part. At F1.4 it shows out-of-focus areas in a style that’s often a little severe and edgy, but stop down to around F2 – F2.8 and they usually get rid of into, well, the.

Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Bokeh Quality
Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Bokeh Quality Photo By Azis Photography

Chromatic aberration

Lateral chromatic aberration is minimal in our studio room assessments, and is similarly near-impossible to find in real-world shots; quite simply it’s not an issue when using this lens. However extreme green/magenta bokeh chromatic aberration can be noticeable at broader apertures, with things before the aircraft of concentrate enclosed by your home ‘halo’, and those behind enclosed with natural. As regular this impact decreases on avoiding down, and basically vanish by F4. Also, once again, it’s important to point out that the 55mm F1.4 is a huge enhancement over its forerunner here.

 

Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Chromatic aberration
Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Chromatic aberration Photo By Azis Photography

Flare

The Pentax 55mm F1.4 is (like many other quick lenses) somewhat vulnerable to surface when indicated straight at shiny mild resources, but with its relatively filter position of perspective this isn’t actually a massive issue. It’s something you may well have to bother with if you’ve somehow dropped into the addiction of smoking of getting backlit images straight into the sun, but it’s not really likely to be a typical issue in regular use.

Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Flare
Pentax smc DA 55mm 1.4 SDM Flare Photo By Azis Photography

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 Specifications

Street price • $650 US
• £500 UK
Date introduced September 2008
Maximum format size APS-C
Focal length 55mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 82.5mm
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 28.6º
Maximum aperture F1.4
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction 9 elements / 8 groups
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 0.45m
Maximum magnification 0.17x
AF motor type • Ultrasonic-type ‘Supersonic Drive Motor’ (SDM)
• ‘Quick Shift’ manual focus
Focus method Inner focusing with floating group correction
Image stabilization • Via camera body
Filter thread • 58mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Lens hood PH-RBH 58mm
• Soft bag
Weight 375g (13.2 oz)
Dimensions 70mm diameter x 66mm length
(2.8 x 2.6 in)
Lens Mount Pentax KAF3 (camera body must support SDM focusing)