Ricoh announces new Pentax D FA* 85mm f/1.4 full-frame portrait prime lens


posted Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT


While it can seem like the photo world is all "mirrorless, mirrorless, mirrorless" these days, there are plenty of photographers out there using DSLRs. These tried-and-true cameras are still completely capable, high-performance tools for many photographic pursuits. Long-time DSLR stalwart Pentax, technically Ricoh Imaging these days, has just announced a new full-frame-format lens, the second prime lens in their revamped, 2nd-generation PENTAX Star (*) lens family: the HD PENTAX-D FA* 85mm F1.4ED SDM AW.

Unveiled back in March 2020 as a development announcement, we now have all the details on the new Pentax 85mm f/1.4 FA*, which comes after the earlier 50mm f/1.8 FA* full-frame prime. As a classic 85mm f/1.4 35mm-format lens, this new prime lens is, well, primed for serious portrait photography, featuring a classic portrait-friendly focal length paired with an ultra-fast aperture. The results should be pleasingly crisp images with low distortion and creamy, smooth background blurring with wonderful subject isolation.


When it comes to autofocus, the new Pentax 85mm f/1.4 lens should offer swift focusing performance as it houses an all-new, ring-type SDM (Supersonic Drive-direct Motor) focusing system. Given the style of the lens, the 85mm f/1.4 has some hefty optical elements to shift around for focusing. In order to provide high-speed AF performance across the full focusing range, the new large ring-type SDM motor inside the 85mm f/1.4 is said to generate 1.3 times the torque of the 50mm f/1.4 FA* lens. For those who want precise manual focusing control, the new lens also features a large, gripped focusing ring.


As the "AW" designation in the model name indicates, this new high-end prime lens -- much like most of Pentax's DSLRs -- offers thorough weather sealing in its construction. According to Ricoh, the Pentax 85mm lens has eight special seals within the barrel construction to fend off dust and water, making it an excellent pairing to a weather-sealed Pentax K-mount DSLR, both full-frame and APS-C. The lens also incorporates an SP (Super Protect) coating on the front lens element to prevent dust and smudges.


In terms of the lens' optical layout and other construction aspects, the Pentax 85mm f/1.4 FA* incorporates three Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass optical elements to help combat chromatic aberration, while a single glass-molded aspherical element minimizes both spherical and chromatic aberration and help reduce distortion. The lens is designed for clear, sharp image quality with excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, even when used wide open. The Pentax lens is also said to be carefully designed to combat geometric distortion, with Ricoh is claiming near-zero distortion at focusing distances of four meter as well as "well-defined, distortion-free" images across the full focusing range of the lens. The 85mm f/1.4 uses a 9-blade, rounded aperture diaphragm for natural, smooth background blurring and minimal streaking from point light sources. The lens also utilizes an electromagnetic diaphragm-control mechanism for the aperture, offering high-precision exposure control for video shooting when used with a K-1 Mark II, K-1, K-3 II, K-3, KP, K-70, K-50, K-S2 or K-S1 camera body.

The Pentax 85mm f/1.4 lens is set to go on sale in mid-June for a suggested retail price of $1899.95.