Ricoh has announced two new 50mm F1.4 lenses built for Pentax K-mount DSLR cameras. Ricog says the HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 and the smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic are 'similar…but different.'

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Both lenses have the same 50mm focal length (76.5mm equivalent on APS-C bodies), F1.4-22 aperture range and are based on a 1991 film version of the smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 lens. They share the same minimum focus distance (0.45m), the same eight rounded diaphragm blades, and both have a water- and grease-repellent coating on their front elements.

The 'Classic' version is modeled to resemble Pentax's 1991 film version of the lens.

Photo credit: Ricoh

The 'HD' version adds a modern lens coating and design language like the green ring along the front of the lens.

Photo credit: Ricoh

The differences come from their outward appearances and some design choices to manipulate how each lens handles light.

The smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic is meant to be more of a reproduction of film lenses from the 1990s and produces rainbow flaring when wide open. Ricoh alludes to the rise in popularity of older film lenses, which are sought out for their 'imperfections' or 'character' (choose your preferred term), as one of its motivations for the lens. The HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 version minimizes the flaring by adding an 'HD coating', which Ricoh says improves contrast and edge-to-edge sharpness.

The HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 and the smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic will be available from mid-June at a recommended price of $349.95 and $379.95, respectively.

Ricoh announces two 50mmF1.4 lenses, each offering a uniquely distinct design concept

PARSIPPANY, NJ, May 16, 2023 – Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the HD PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 and the smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic lenses. Developed for use with PENTAX K-mount digital SLR cameras, these new compact standard lenses are similar…but different. Each offers a uniquely distinct design concept, allowing photographers to choose the lens that best fits their style, creative aesthetic and applications.

The new lenses are based on the legacy smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 lens, which was launched in 1991 as a standard lens for film-format SLR cameras. In recent years, this base model has gained popularity because it delivers a distinctive image rendition at open and larger apertures — a rendition completely different from those produced by today's digital-specific lenses.

Both feature the same focal length and open aperture, and—despite the lenses' compact dimensions—both incorporate large-diameter optical elements that cover the full-frame image circle of K-mount cameras. However, the lenses are designed to produce distinctively different image renditions, allowing photographers to choose the lens that best meets their needs.

  • The HD PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 adds the latest, high-grade, multi-layer HD Coating to ensure high-contrast images with edge-to-edge sharpness, while retaining the dimensions of its base model — the smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 — this lens features a totally new exterior design, similar to that of the latest DA- and D FA-series lenses. This makes it a perfect match for the latest PENTAX digital SLR cameras.

  • The smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic produces a unique image rendition commonly created by lenses designed 50 years ago. When set to open aperture and against strong backlight, it produces a unique visual effect commonly known as rainbow flare. The photographer can change the position and size of the rainbow flare by shifting the relative position of the subject and light source, creating a one-and-only visual expression not available with the latest lenses. By closing down the aperture to F4 or smaller, the photographer can capture sharper, crisper images that are free of not only rainbow flare, but also ordinary flare and ghost images. The smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic retains the exterior design of the original smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4, with a black matte finish and a matte-black focus ring. It has no green ring — the symbolic design of recent PENTAX digital-specific lenses — to recreate the nostalgic appearance of an old-time lens from the film-format SLR era.

Pricing and Availability

The new lenses will be available mid-June at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets. The manufacturer's suggested retail prices are $349.95 for the HD PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 lens and $379.95 for the smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic lens.

Main Features of the HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4

  1. HD Coating* to enhance imaging power After a thorough review of the lens coatings applied to the ever-popular smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4, PENTAX decided to apply the latest, high-grade, multi-layer HD Coating to this new lens. Compared to conventional multi-layer coatings, this high-performance coating effectively reduces average reflectance and improves light transmittance, delivering clear, high-contrast images with minimal flare and ghost images, even in demanding lighting conditions such as backlighting.

    *HD stands for High Definition.

  2. New exterior design to match the latest digital SLR models While retaining the dimensions of its base model — the smc PENTAX-FA50mm F1.4 — this lens features a totally new exterior design, similar to that of the latest DA- and D FA-series lenses. This makes it a perfect match for K-series digital SLR cameras.

Main Features of the smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic

  1. Distinctive imaging characteristics Through intentional fine-tuning of the lens design, this lens produces a unique visual effect commonly known as rainbow flare when it captures an image at open aperture* and against strong backlight.** It lets the photographer change the position and size of rainbow flare by shifting the relative position of the subject and light source, creating a unique, one-and-only visual expression not available with the latest lenses. By closing the aperture down to F4 or smaller, the photographer can capture sharper, crisper images that are free of not only rainbow flare, but also ordinary flare and ghost images.

    * It may be difficult to create rainbow flare when the lens is mounted on an APS-C-format digital SLR camera, because the camera's image sensor is designed to use only the central area of the image circle.

    ** During shooting, the user is advised to mount an ND (Neutral Density) filter (included as a standard accessory), or a commercial ND filter designed to reduce light transmittance to lower than a 1/16 level, on the lens. When observing an image through the camera's optical viewfinder, the user is advised to avoid looking directly at strong light sources.

  2. Nostalgic design This lens retains the exterior design of the smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4, featuring a black matte finish and a matte-black focus ring. It has no green ring — the symbolic design of recent PENTAX digital-specific lenses — to recreate the nostalgic appearance of an old-time lens from the film-format SLR era.

Common Features

  1. When mounted on a PENTAX digital SLR camera body, these lenses can be used as 50mm standard lenses in the full-frame format or 76.5mm medium-telephoto lenses in the APS-C format. With a full-frame camera, they provide an angle of view close to that of the human visual field, making it an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, such as snapshots, scenic images and portraiture.
  2. The large F1.4 open aperture produces images with a very shallow depth of field.
  3. Water- and grease-repellent SP (Super Protect) Coating has been applied to the front surface of the lenses, making it easier for the user to wipe off water or stains.
  4. The eight-blade diaphragm control mechanism produces a soft, natural bokeh (defocus) effect from open aperture to F2.8 and also minimizes the streaking effect of point light sources.
  5. Designed to be fully compatible with older K-mount digital SLR cameras and film-format AF SLR cameras, these lenses allow the photographer to retain all camera functions, thanks to the aperture ring installed on the lens body, and the mechanism designed to couple the lens with the camera's motor-driven, in-body AF system.

HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 & smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic specifications

 HD Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4smc Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Classic
Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lens
Max Format size35mm FF
Focal length50 mm
Lens mountPentax KAF
Aperture
Maximum apertureF1.4
Minimum apertureF22
Aperture ringYes
Number of diaphragm blades8
Optics
Elements7
Groups6
Special elements / coatingsSP (Super Protect) coating, HD coatingSP (Super Protect) coating
Focus
Minimum focus0.45 m (17.72)
Maximum magnification0.15×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeScrew drive from camera
Full time manualYesNo
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleYes
DoF scaleYes
Physical
Weight223 g (0.49 lb)216 g (0.48 lb)
Diameter65 mm (2.56)
Length41 mm (1.59)37 mm (1.46)
ColourBlack
Filter thread49 mm
Hood suppliedNo
Tripod collarNo