Ricoh shoots for the stars with new high-end Star series lens line

Ricoh Pentax Star series lenses

Coming in 2018, Ricoh will launch the first two lenses in the company’s new Star series, targeting enthusiast and professional photographers looking to squeeze out the most resolution from their Pentax DSLRs. Final specifications and pricing have yet to be announced, but Ricoh has stated that the Star series will offer the highest possible performance of all Pentax K-Mount lenses, so we don’t expect they will come cheap.

What we do know is that Ricoh Star series lenses will be produced for both full-frame and APS-C bodies. The first two models are the full-frame Pentax-D FA 50mm F1.4 SDM AW and the Pentax-DA 11-18mm F2.8 for crop sensor cameras (lens names have not yet been finalized and may change). Beyond offering improved sharpness, the lenses will also be constructed with “exceptional toughness and outstanding operability,” according to the press release, keeping true to Pentax’s reputation of building durable imaging products for use in all manner of conditions.

The 50mm will be right at home on the Pentax K1, a 36-megapixel, full-frame camera that features Pixel Shift Resolution for capturing greater detail. It works by moving the sensor by one pixel’s width in a box pattern, taking an image at each position, and combining them for a final photo that has full color information at every pixel location. Photographers using such a system also need an appropriately sharp lens.

Previously shown at CP+ earlier this year, Ricoh is now displaying an updated version of the 50mm at the Photo Plus Expo this week. It features a newly developed autofocus motor — called SDM, for Super Direct-drive Motor — that promises faster and quieter AF performance. It is dust and weather sealed and offers a minimum focusing distance of 0.4 meters (1.3 feet). This will be the first Star series lens to hit the market, with availability slated for spring 2018.

Two APS-C bodies, the Pentax KP and K-70, also make use of Pixel Shift Resolution, so we’re glad to see Ricoh is not limiting Star series development to full-frame. The 11-18mm offers a constant aperture of f/2.8 and Ricoh states it provides excellent resolution even when shot wide open. We would also point out that it resembles the focal length of the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and 11-20mm f/2.8 lenses which have long been popular for Canon and Nikon shooters, but are not sold in Pentax mount. The 11-18mm should hit the market in summer 2018.