Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM review

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lens Review
Introduction | Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM lens performance | Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM versus competition | Conclusion

Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM vs. Pentax smc FA 50mm f/1.4 :

Pentax manufactures a number of lenses similar to the smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM, including the smc FA 50mm f/1.4. Like Pentax’s 55mm f/1.4 SDM, the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 also has wide aperture options, providing photographers advantages in low light environments and the ability to snap photos with a very shallow depth of field.

Additional perks of the Pentax smc FA 50mm f/1.4 include:

  • Its price. Costing $450, it is nearly $200 less than its 55mm f/1.4 family member.
  • Its lightweight and compact build, weighing 220 grams and measuring just shy of 4 centimeters in length, makes it an ideal lens for photographers on the go.

Benefits of the Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM are:

  • Its quick autofocus motor, making it easier to catch moving subjects.
  • Its circular aperture, which aids in creating better and more pronounced bokeh.
  • Good control of chromatic aberration. It manages to keep this defect in check in the center, edges, and corners of an image.
Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM
Pentax's smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM, left, does an excellent job containing chromatic aberration. It even manages to keep this defect in check throughout an entire image.

Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM mounted on Pentax K-5 vs Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G mounted on Nikon D7000 vs Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM mounted on Canon 7D :

So how does Pentax’s smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM compare to products made by crosstown rivals Canon and Nikon ?

The optics of the Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM manages to hold its own with the titans of the camera industry, including Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G and Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. All three lenses were close in brightness, and the trio were near equals in controlling distortion and lens shading.

However, the Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM was weighed down in one important category.

Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM

Pentax’s 55mm f/1.4 SDM score was bogged down by its resolution, especially at the widest aperture of f/1.4. However, the three lenses came close to equalizing around aperture f/2.8. At smaller apertures, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM began to again separate themselves against Pentax’s 55mm f/1.4 SDM with better resolution quality.

Other distinctions of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G include:

  • Its affordable price, costing just under $450 (USD).
  • Good resolution, especially between apertures f/4-f/8.
  • Lightest out of the bunch, weighing a dainty 280 grams.

Winning attributes of Canon’s 50mm f/1.4 USM include:

  • Its extreme value, priced at the bargain rate of $385 (USD).
  • Its sharpness, especially at middle aperture settings.
  • Most compact, measuring just over 5 centimeters in length.

Benefits of the Pentax smc DA Star 55mm f/1.4 SDM are:

  • Its control of chromatic aberration. It bested Canon and Nikon at tapping down this unwanted defect.