Ricoh Imaging has announced the HD PENTAX-FA 50mm f/1.4 and the SMC PENTAX-FA f/1.4 CLASSIC lenses, both refreshes of Pentax's SMC 50mm f/1.4 for the digital world. Building on the compact design that made the original popular, each of the new lenses offers a unique twist on the "nifty fifty" prime. Photographers looking to take advantage of Pentax's most advanced optical technology should opt for the HD, while nostalgists longing for the unique optical effects of vintage glass will appreciate the CLASSIC.
The primary selling point of the HD is, as its name promises, the addition of a multi-layer HD coating that reduces reflections, improving transmission to produce clear, high-contrast images with minimal distortion. It also receives a physical makeover to match Pentax's most recent FA lenses better, while retaining the compact dimensions of its predecessor.
On the other hand, the CLASSIC has been designed to produce a rainbow flare effect intentionally when shooting at an open aperture in backlit environments. Closing the aperture down to f/4 or smaller removes this effect for distortion-free images. The CLASSIC also adopts a matte-black finish as a throwback to Pentax's pre-digital era.
Although these lenses were created for DSLRs, each is backward compatible with analog SLRs with AF capabilities. Additionally, they both feature Super Protect (SP) coating to repel water and grease, an eight-blade aperture, and accept 49mm front filters.
Which new 50mm f/1.4 works best with your style? Argue about it in the Comments section, below. For more information about the new lenses, including additional features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out the detailed product pages for the HD PENTAX-FA 50mm f/1.4 and the SMC PENTAX-FA f/1.4 CLASSIC.