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HD Pentax-D FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Lens Review - Performance

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HD Pentax-D FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Performance

Looking first at sharpness, the centre is excellent from f/1.4 to f/5.6 and very good thereafter from f/8 all the way through to f/16. The edges are excellent from f/1.4 to f/4 and thereafter very good from f/5.6 to f/16. The evenness from edge to edge is commendable, at levels of sharpness very close to those of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4. The lens can be confidently used throughout its aperture range and in this context perhaps not including f/22 as an option helps to ensure the highest possible quality throughout.

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 Mark II using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well controlled, the centre especially so. In general shooting CA does not seem to be a problem, even in demanding situations such as branches against bright sky or the shot of the Astley Green head gear.


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 Mark II using Imatest.


Distortion is virtually zero. For the pedantic in us, it can be measured at +0.01% pincushion, but that is as near to zero as makes no practical difference.

Bokeh is nice, very nice. The out of focus areas are smooth as silk and add to an overall “look” that characterises the best lenses – that is, giving the lenses a character, a visual feel to them that can't be measured but gives that extra something that lifts the images. It is this elusive quality that can make the difference between a favourite lens and one that lives permanently tucked away somewhere.

Flare resistance is also very impressive and in fact no evidence of flare could be found.

There is a degree of vignetting, -1.3 EV at f/1.4 and f/2, dropping to -1.1 EV thereafter and not improving all the way down to f/16. This can be corrected in-camera or by other software should it be felt necessary.

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Sample Photos


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW Aperture range


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richshep 17 11 United Kingdom
24 Sep 2018 3:27PM
I have a Pentax 50 1.4 fitted to my old MX. It is tiny compared to that. So is the camera come to think of it. Glad I changed to m43!

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25 Sep 2018 10:41AM
Wow the HD D FA* 50 looks fantastic. Would be a stretch for me but I'm tempted.
26 Sep 2018 3:04PM
1200 for a 50mm f1.4? Canon 50mm f1.4 is less than half of that and I could buy the canon 50mm f1.2 L for same amount. What would make me switch to Pentax?
altitude50 15 16.1k United Kingdom
14 Oct 2018 10:59AM
Looks excellent, having seen the technology included on the Ricoh website I would think that the price is reasonable.
I am tending to go away from zoom lenses and use primes as they encourage moving around a location to get the right composition. (Where possible and practical!)
It would fit nicely on my Pentax KS-1.

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