Pentax 85mm lens arrives early! Here's the HD Pentax-D FA★85mm F1.4ED SDM AW

Pentax 85mm f/1.4
(Image credit: Pentax/Ricoh)

We first reported on this new Pentax portrait lens back in March 2020, and when we heard about the latest Pentax lens roadmap in May, the Pentax 85mm lens was still not expected until the end of the year. But here it is, along with confirmation of the key specifications.

Pentax may not be the major player in the photographic market that it once was, but it still has a strong fan base, and this new premium-quality portrait lens will fill an important gap in the pro lens line-up for the full frame Pentax K-1 Mark II.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this lens is the rather remarkable concave front element. We can’t remember ever seeing this before on a camera lens.

Pentax 85mm f/1.4

Note the unusual concave front lens element. You can see this more clearly in the optical diagram below. (Image credit: Pentax/Ricoh)

(Image credit: Pentax/Ricoh)

HD Pentax-D FA★85mm F1.4ED SDM AW key features

This is the second fixed focal length prime lens in Pentax’s new ‘star’ series. The company has said that this and other ‘star’ lenses have to meet the highest in-house standards both for current and future Pentax DSLRs.

In a little snip at other makers, perhaps, Pentax claims the new 85mm lens delivers ‘superb imaging power’, and ‘without relying heavily on the image sensor or image processor’. (It’s not uncommon now for camera and lens makers to combine optical and digital corrections in lenses, particularly more exotic or demanding designs.)

The HD Pentax-D FA★85mm F1.4ED includes three Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and an aspherical optical element to suppress aberrations and axial chromatic aberration in particular. Another aim was to reduce distortion to nearly zero at a focus distance of 4 metres – a feature aimed at portrait photographers.

This lens has a new, large SDM ring (Supersonic Direct-drive Motor) AF actuator for fast and accurate autofocus with enough power to drive the heavier optical units.

Inside, the lens has a nine-bladed round-shaped diaphragm for smooth bokeh and electromagnetic rather than mechanical diaphragm control for maximum accuracy and consistency. The exterior design is dustproof and weatherproof with eight separate seals to keep out water.

Pentax 85mm f/1.4

The Pentax 85mm f/1.4 will go on sale at the end of June. (Image credit: Pentax/Ricoh)

HD Pentax-D FA★85mm F1.4ED SDM AW price and availability

The new Pentax 85mm f/1.4 will now go on sale from June 26. It is set to cost $1899.95 / £1,999.99.

Read more: 

• These are the best Pentax lenses to get
• The best Pentax cameras right now
• The best professional cameras
• The best portrait lenses in 2020
• The best lenses for bokeh

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at