85/1.4 Zeiss or 85/1.4 AF Nikon

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by 35mmdelux, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. Not sure which one to buy for my F6..one is manual (Zeiss) and the other auto focus. I read that the Nikon has alot
    of CA when used wide open. My other lenses are 28mm/2.0 Nikon and 50mm/1.4 Zeiss.

    Any comments? Thanks, Paul.
  2. The more relevant question is if you prefer autofocus or manual focus. Besides, most lenses have more CA when shot wide open. This is not unique to Nikon.
    Others can comment on the optical qualities of the two lenses.
  3. Hi Alvin:

    Only few occasions in the past 15 years have I shot autofocus-- never made the transition from mf. The 85/1.4 AF Nikon build looks pretty good and so I am considering it. Thanks.
  4. Have you considered the Nikon 85 1.4 AIs. Although I have never used it, all the reviews claim that it is superior to the AF version.
  5. The Nikon AIS lens is considered to be sharper stopped down; the AF wins at wide open. The bokeh of the AF - like
    the Zeiss - is beautiful; the bokeh of the AIS can be edgy. Many are hoping that Nikon will announce a new AF-S
  6. I probably will not buy any more screw drive AF lenses. The new ones are starting with the 50 1.4, 60 2.8. 105 2.x already introduced or promised. The sole exception might be the 105 2.0 DC.
  7. umd


    According to my experinece Nikon only has CA in out of focus areas wide open, it vanishes 2 stops down, other than that there is no objectionable CA issue; btw I don't know if Zeiss behaves differently in similar conditions. Despite having screwdriver mechanism focusing is very fast on a D300, IMO having autofocus on this kind of lens is extremely important because of the very thin DOF wide open.

    Here is a very good comparision with the Zeiss.
  8. I have the 85/1.4 AF-D and it's one of my favorite people photography lenses. Awesome optical quality, fast &
    secure focusing. The AF on this lens works well. I don't really want an update to
    SWM in the case of this lens. It's just too perfect optically - great saturation, resistance to flare & ghosting,
    excellent wide aperture sharpness, nice bokeh, good rendition of skin.

    I tried the 85/1.4 ZF briefly outdoors. I felt it was wonderful for f/2-f/5.6 - great image quality, probably a
    bit better than the Nikon. However, at short distances wide open I felt the image was softer than the Nikon's.
    This is, from what I've read, intentional - the lens gives a soft focus effect at f/1.4 at portrait distances.
    The CA which is considerable at f/1.4 in the Zeiss goes away already at f/2, which is great performance. However,
    you need to nail the focus!

    I didn't feel the 85 ZF was sufficiently different from the 85 AF-D which I have to warrant the expense. I'm
    extremely happy with my Nikon 85, so I didn't want to change something that works so well for me. Since you haven't
    already purchased one of the 85's, if you don't mind the MF/AF difference, you should just try both out and see
    what you think of the image quality. I couldn't say that one is universally better than the other. So it boils
    down to a personal choice. And if you need autofocus from time to time. This is one of Nikon's classic lenses
    which is very hard to criticise.
  9. I really enjoy my Nikon 85 f1.4. The only issue I ran into was shooting wide open, on a bridge looking at oncoming cars on a freeway. There was definite CA. Stop down to 1.8-2 and it's gone. This is the only annoyance I've ever found.

    I've found the lens has more resolution than my D200 can deliver, based on seeing the weave of a t-shirt at medium portrait range and it was clear there was more data available.

    As all lenses have compromises, this one is well worth. The sharpness & resolution blows away any zoom lens containing this focal length.
  10. Is it better than the 70-200VR?
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jose, the 70-200mm is "better" at 200mm but the 85mm/f1.4 is better at f1.4.
    Sorry, just can't resist. :)

    Given the fact that Nikon has announced a new 50mm/f1.4 AF-S, I think it is reasonable to assume that they will also update other "primes" such as the 85mm/f1.4 to an AF-S in the not-too-distant future, but it is hard to say exactly how long that will take.
  12. Yes. The 70-200 is not as sharp as any of my Nikon primes within its range and suffers from vignetting on full-frame cameras like the F6. That said, as a zoom it has tremendous flexibility and the VR really works.
  13. Ilkka,

    Would you care to post an examplar or two from the Nikon 85mm f/1.4?

    I find that I typically only use mine in the worst possible lighting conditions and @ f1/.4, resulting in lots of CA. For other uses, I haven't been pleased with the lens and tend to turn to my 105mm f/2 DC. For me, the 85mm has been one of the most disappointing lenses. It would be nice to see what other people are doing with it successfully.
  14. ... I was wondering about the 85/1.4 vs. 70-200 because sometimes I suspect the 24-70 is sharper than most "normal" primes in that range... I actually didn`t test it scientifically...just a thought.
  15. I have already had a look at photozone site; looks like performance is similar on both 1.4 lenses with a slight higher
    level and even performance on the Zeiss. The issue is to have AF or not. To me AF is a must on the F6.

    Out of curiosity, I checked how this people rates the 24-70 in comparison with the 50/1.8AFS "test bench".
    Impressive: the 24-70 performs better and surpass the peaks of the 50/1.8 @f4, and at all shared apertures too.
    Anyway, I understand that are different lenses designed for different purposes.

    The same for the 70-200 vs 85/1.4: MTF levels are higher and more even on the zoom, with a higher bit of CA issues
    at the same apertures.

    All this data were took for DX cameras, thought, and probably at infinity. Corner performance/vignetting on FX
    cameras or resolution at closer distances could be pretty different.
  16. John, I usually don't go wider than f/1.8 with this lens. If in emergency, I will shoot at f/1.4 but I will admit
    the quality at f/1.4 is not entirely satisfactory. If you're looking for better quality 85 at f/1.4 then I think
    the Canon 85/1.2L might be worth considering. To me the Nikon 85 is a delight.


    These are at f/1.8, if I recall correctly; the first at ISO 800 and the latter at ISO 3200. They print quite
    well; I'm not sure about the pixel level quality of the web versions though.
  17. If I may be so bold, here is an candid taken with the Nikon 85mm @ f/1.4 -- literally 5 minutes after pulling my brand new lens out of the box.
  18. All:
    Thanks very much for posting and giving me some insights. This will not be an easy choice but for the time being I am enjoying running Ektar 100 thru my 50 Zeiss Planar and F6. The precision with which this lens focuses is amazing,

    Thanks again, Paul
  19. I find the nikon 85 has really poor contrast and dull. I have tried 4 lenses with the same results. At least it is consistent.

    Here are some with the Zeiss 85.

  20. Hi Jorge :

    To which Nikon 85 do you refer? The AIS, AF?

    RE: contrast; are you talkng about B&W or color?

    Your 85 zeiss very nice. tks.

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