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Ricoh’s latest Pentax Star-series 50mm is its most advanced lens yet

Pentax DSLR owners, particularly those with K1 and K1 Mark II cameras, who have been waiting for the next-generation Star-series of lenses, the HD Pentax-D FA 50mm F1.4 SDM AW is now available. On sale in late July, for $1,200, this premium 50mm f/1.4 prime lens is designed to deliver the highest performance out of a full-frame K-mount camera.

Parent company Ricoh unveiled the new Star-series last year, with the 50mm full-frame prime lens and 11-18mm f/2.8 cropped sensor (APS-C) lens launching in 2018. Full details weren’t announced at the time, but we now have complete specs info. (The 11-18mm f/2.8 isn’t part of this announcement.)

The 50mm lens has what one would expect from a high-end lens. It has a weather-sealed body that protects against dust and water. It has a lens construction of 15 elements in nine groups, with a rounded, nine-blade diaphragm. It can be used with Pentax APS-C DSLRs, with a focal length equivalent to 76.5mm.

The lens is coated with Pentax’s Aero Bright Coating II, which “consists of a silica aerogel layer with a uniform porous structure over a regular multi-coating layer that reduces surface reflections across a wide wavelength range and produces crisp, high-quality images,” according to Ricoh. A Super Protect coating keeps the lens surface free of dust.

Overall, the coatings should greatly reduce flare while minimizing ghosting. Three super-low dispersion glass elements and one aspherical element are used to compensate for chromatic and speherical aberrations, and distorion is minimized at a focusing distance of 1 meter. According to Ricoh, expect high-quality, sharp images.

The large f/1.4 aperture is ideal for creating bokeh (minimum aperture is f/16). A newly developed motor (SDM, or supersonic direct-drive motor) has 7.5 times more torgue than Pentax’s previous SDM for smoother, faster, and quieter autofocusing. The lens uses an electromagnetic diaphragm-control mechanism for more accurage exposure control in movie mode, when used with select Pentax cameras.

The lens measures 3.1 x 4.2 inches, and weighs approximately 32.1 ounces. A lens hood is included. It complements the Pentax K1 nicely, especially with the camera’s Pixel Shift Resolution technology that creates images larger than what the sensor normally shoots. This type of feature requires a sharp lens.

For comparison sake, Pentax has an existing Smc Pentax FA 50mm F1.4. It has a construction of seven elements in six groups, minimum aperture of f/22, and a minimum focus distance of 0.45m (versus 0.4 in the new Star lens), and is much lighter and smaller. And, it’s only $275. But you don’t the advanced lens coatings, weather resistance, better motors, and more robust construction. If you’re a Pentax user who demands high-quality images, check out the new premium prime.

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Les Shu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
I am formerly a senior editor at Digital Trends. I bring with me more than a decade of tech and lifestyle journalism…
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