85mm f/1.4 D or G

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by richardsnow, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Good morning Photo.net community.
    I know this has been re-hashed a thousand times before on Photo.net and every other photography forum out there, but since it's been a few months since the introduction of the 85mm f/1.4G, I thought I'd get a fresh perspective.
    I have the chance to purchase a brand new Nikon USA 85mm f/1.4D, (yes there are a few still kicking around), for around $1100. Is there a significant enough increase in IQ or Performance in the 85mm f/1.4G to justify an additional $600? The only thing that I think could sell me is the ability to MF on the fly, but since I use a few other lenses that don't have an AF-S motor, I think I could live without it.
    BTW, I shoot 2 D300s' and this lens would be used primarily for portraits and weddings. I am also planning on purchasing an FX format camera when the D700 replacement is announced.
  2. You can also get AF-S behavior (quick, quiet AF with instant manual override) and some great looking results from
    Sigma's new 85/1.4 HSM. It's a serious consideration at $900.
  3. Matt -
    Unfortunately, you lost me at Sigma. With as many QC issues that I've had with them in the past, (it took 4 tries to get a good copy of the 17-50mm f/2.8 back in 2007, at which time I decided to stick with Nikon and purchased a 17-55mm f/2.8 for more than double the price) I will no longer consider them when purchasing a new lens. I know Sigma has come a long way in the past few years, but I cannot justify taking the chance again.
    Side Note: I have no issues pointing anyone towards a Sigma lens when there is a question since, as stated above, their QC seems to have improved. However, you will never find a Sigma lens in my bag...
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    The 85mm/f1.4 AF-D used to be a $900 lens for a new, gray-market version before the big Japanese camera price increase 2 years ago. I see B&H currently still has that for $999. If you want to save money, maybe try used as some people should be upgrading to the new AF-S version.
    Personally, I have been waiting for the AF-S for a while. If I get one, I want the advantage of AF-S. Hopefully the price will come down a bit after the initial demand subsides.
  5. I too would go for the Sigma. I've owned two of their newer, pro lenses, and each was perfect. I compared the Nikon 35mm f1.8G to the Sigma 30mm f1.4 side by side, and kept the Sigma. The Sigma 85mm has modern coatings designed for digital and should outperform the older 85mm D lens just for that reason alone.
    Kent in SD
  6. ... and there are many other 85/1.4 lenses.
    search web for 85/1.4, and possibly find lower/higher cost Vivitar, Zeiss, Contax, Bower, PRO Optic, etc.
    ...returning to the original question:
    The AF/D lens has aperture ring and is easier to use on bellows, reverse mount ring, extension rings.
    If you have a better Nikkor lens for Macro/Micro, this does not matter to you.
  7. Richard: I've chosen plenty of Nikkor lenses over third party options. Like you, I went with Nikon's 17-55/2.8, and have also chosen their 70-200/2.8, their Micro lenses, and others. Like I said, it's a consideration! On these big fast primes, lenses like Sigma's 50/1.4 show a significant departure from Nikon's design priorities and the resulting optical recipe, and your shooting style/subject matter has as much to do with whether that's the right fit than does the QC. I'm using three of Sigma's EX lenses, and they've been perfect from day one, and have held up to years, now, of my Neanderthal style in the field. In the case of the fast primes, I also simply like the visual results better than their Nikon counterparts. This is not true of the wide-normal and tele zooms, and hence my choices. I'm certainly not debating your preferences or doubting your experiences - merely relating mine.
  8. I think it's a choice between the new 85/1.5G with the AF-S and Nano coating and latest optical formulation versus the 85/1.8D. Yes you lose a fraction of a stop, but the 1.8 has certain optical superiority. If you go fro the 1.4D, I'd shop around for a bargain, they're out there for around $800 if you have patience.
  9. The AF-S lens's optics are different from the AF-D's. KR's review suggests that the corners are significantly sharper; the main objection I'd have is the hellacious degree of longitudinal chromatic aberration (aka spherochromatism) - but the same applies to its predecessor, and this defect bothers me more than it seems to bother most others (which is why I have no personal experience of either lens and am only collating internet reviews).

    I would guess the corner performance of the AF-D probably won't bother you as much on a DX camera as on on FX; how much do you rely on the corners of the image being sharp in shots taken wide open? This seems to be a matter of shooting style - much as some complained about the 70-200 VR1 at 200mm on a full frame body, and others didn't notice the corners were blurry.

    Good luck. I'm sure you'll be happy with either.
  10. Lenses at such price may be considered an important investment by some... I wonder if ten years from now screw type lenses will be still usable on most cameras. If the tendency is to avoid focusing motors on bodies, I see a better future for an AFS lens.
    I currently prefer AiS over AF/AFD lenses. I got rid of many AF units in favour of AFS ones. Personally, the value of AF/AFD lenses are highly reduced if updated with AFS. My intention is not to buy new screw-type lenses anymore.
  11. Jose, I think the demise if the in-body AF motor is a long way off. Nikon still sells many AF-D Nikkors.
  12. Dan - I've heard mixed reports (not having one) on the bokeh of the 85 f/1.8. Can you comment? I'm far more likely to get one than either f/1.4 lens. Currently my short-portrait lens is a 90mm f/2.8 Tamron macro lens, and I concede that an extra stop-and-a-bit might be a good thing if the image quality doesn't take too much of a hit.
  13. Thank you everyone for your quick responses.
    @Matt and Kent - Thank you both for your perspectives. It is the reasons you state that I will recommend Sigma lenses to anyone looking for a cost effective alternative to Nikon.
    @Shun - I want to re-iterate that this is not gray market and is 100% Nikon USA. The shop that has this lens is a large New England Retailer that, AFAIK does not deal in gray market Nikon...they will occasionally get refurbished, but never gray market.
    @ Dan Brown - No...there is no choice between the 85mm f/1.4 and f/1.8. I have no interest in the f/1.8 lens as I do not find the rendering of OOF areas appealing for portraiture. I am, as previously stated, comparing a brand new 85mm f/1.4D (screw drive, Nikon USA, $1100) to the f/1.4G (Nano Coating, AF-S, $1699).
    @ Frank - I'm really not interested in shooting Macro/Micro photography...not my style and I don't have the patience for it. If I did, this would be a no-brainer as I would need the aperture ring for bellows use. This lens would be strictly for event and portraiture use.
    @ Andrew - The chromatic aberration doesn't really bother me as this is easily corrected in PS/Lightroom/NX2. I'm not big on KR...I take everything he says, run it through my BS filter and then re-read it. However, I believe, when comparing to other reviews, the corners are sharper on FX/FF cameras. This doesn't bother me in the slightest as I'm looking for a softer appearance for flattering portraits.
    @ Jose - I'm pretty sure that Nikon has no intention of eliminating screw-drive AF in their higher end cameras any time soon. There are too many pros using these lenses to abandon every one of them. However, your perspective is an interesting one and one that I will take into consideration.
  14. Probably; for sure I cannot predict the end of that technology... it`s not my intention. In fact, AiS lenses has been made (or are still made?) almost thirty years after the first AF ones, even after the discontinuation of the F3. But there is a difference, AFS and manual focus lenses have something different to offer, while AF ones are simply outdated (although still plenty usable, and cheaper. I know it, I still have to use some AF/AFD ones... :)
  15. No worries, the 1.4s are bokeh champs, and part of the trade off for 1.8 sharpness and corner performance is more "edgy" bokeh. But, in teh greater scheme of all things bokeh, the 1.8 is no slouch either. Bokeh is a very subjective matter indeed.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Richard, my point is that if I were to buy the 85mm/f1.4 AF-D, as long as I can save $100, I would buy gray. There is no VR and no AF motor; there is not a whole lot that can go wrong and if so, a lot of places can fix it. But given that the AF-D is now the old model, I expect prices to drop further, especially in the used market.
  17. Richard: To clarify, the longitudinal chromatic aberration exhibited by the 85mm f/1.4s is not easily correctable in software. Lateral chromatic aberration (different colours having different magnifications at the focal plane) can be fixed; longitudinal aberrations affect out-of-focus regions - effectively the angle of the cone-of-confusion differs with wavelength. (I was about to point you at Wikipedia for this, but their chromatic aberration article actually doesn't mention it, although the diagram of an achromatic doublet does show the reason for the effect.) There's a pretty spectacular example in a shot of a battery charger in KR's 85mm f/1.4 AF-S review. Because fixing it requires depth information, it's not a trivial software operation.

    It may still not bother you, of course - most people don't seem to mind. In fact, KR seems to claim it's beneficial, because it makes greenery in the background blend in to white highlights; I've spent long enough removing green and purple highlights from the hair of a bride whose wedding dance I shot with a wide open 135mm f/2 (by smudging bits of the A and B channels in the LAB colour space) that my opinion differs - I, too, apply a BS filter to Ken's reviews. I recommend you don't go looking for it, because it won't bother you until you start seeing it everywhere, and you'll end up buying a 200 f/2 to make the problem go away, like I did...

    Dan: Thanks. I'll have another think the next time I have enough money to drop on an 85mm lens (which will probably be about 2020 after all my recent purchases). If only I could spend as much time shooting as I do wittering about lenses. :)
  18. I'll toss my 2c in for SIgma as well. I received an 85m f/1.4 from Sigma a while back and after shooting countless exposures it has become my go to lens for portraiture. It is simply superb especially at the asking price!
  19. Does anyone have a link to a full review of the Sigma, please?
  20. @ Andrew: Thank you for the clarification on the longitudinal chromatic aberration exhibited by the 85mm f/1.4. I'm sure it won't bother me as I shoot fairly regularly with a 105mm f/2DC wide open quite regularly. This lens exhibits the characteristics you describe in that I have had to remove green and purple highlights from a blonde bride's hair on many occasions when using this lens.
  21. Richard - I'm glad it's not just me! (But you have my sympathy from having to do it.) Off-topic, if you have a good knack for this fix, I'd be interested - as I said, my technique is to convert to LAB and smudge the AB channels around the fringes, but it's not ideal. I'm glad to hear this won't bug you - in which case, I hope you enjoy whichever 85mm you decide to get!
  22. I have been very happy with the 85/1.4D for the applications the OP mentioned; it's perhaps my most favourite lens of all. By the way, I also use it a lot for travel architectural shots and never noticed the reported corner softness on 12 MP FX. The 1.4G version is contrastier wide open, and resistant to flare but I have to ask if the increased contrast is a good thing or a bad thing in people photography. I tend to prefer lenses like the DC Nikkors for facial shots because they do not accentuate blemishes and render people very beautifully. This preference is partly based on input from subjects, which tends to confirm that Zeiss-like detail contrast makes for unappealing portraits; significantly lower contrast lighting has to be used and this is not always possible in practical situations. I have to wonder if Nikon went this way because nano-coating sells and has to be put into all expensive lenses, even those that may not benefit from it, or because it shows as improved test chart performance. I'm worried about this myself; the 70-200 II has presented me many problems due to this. For landscape and technical subjects, it's great. For people, you'd better be in the studio with soft lights. Just see Cliff Mauntner's 85/1.4G comments on his blog, do you like this kind of results? I think technical lens reviews should only be read as they are, measurements of something technical, not as a measure of image quality as seen by human observers.
    I owned the 85/1.8 AF for 13.5 years and used it very little due to what I see as questionable construction of the mechanics holding the rear elements in place, and because it would frequently produce washed-out images in overcast conditions outdoors with some sky in the frame. However, with these caveats it can also render beautiful images.
    By the way at least on FX the 85 PC-E Nikkor (and presumably its predecessor without "E") is an excellent portrait lens on its own right. Though I suppose at weddings you probably want autofocus for many candid images, but still this lens is capable of very beautiful imagery.
  23. I've tried both the Sigma 85mm 1.4 and the New Nikon 85mm 1.4, for a faster AF Sigma wins, it can focus in some very harsh conditions, But the new Nikon 85mm is sharper then the Sigma!So i went with the Nikon 85mm 1.4 AF-D instead of the G lens & the Sigma, overall the cost was better! & i found it faster then the new 85mm G lens, in the AF & Sharper! So overall i'm sure what ever one you decide or whats in your budget! Either way any 3 of those lenses will be great!
  24. Hi Richard,
    I recently purchased an 85/1.4D new from the local Nikon dealer.
    I looked at both the D and the G before deciding, since they had both in stock.
    IM[-H]O the G is overpriced and cheaply made. I didn't check the country of origin, but I'm willing to bet it's made in china.
    I recently purchased a Nikon 10-24 zoom lens, and returned it when I found that it was made in china.
    Nikon used to be a great camera company. I wish that was still true. I've been shooting their products for over 45 years, to the exclusion of all other 35mm brands.
    - Leigh
  25. Ilkka, your post has raised the hair on my neck. Not so much from what you say, but from the recollections it brings to the forefront of my mind.
    First, there is no doubt in my mind that the current round of lens redesigns is a thin veil for staggering price increases to us end users. Just consider this 85D 85G, or the 200VR to 200VRII, and up and down the line. Every time we get a new product announcement, I now cringe at the effect on my pocketbook. These all come with staggering cost increases and nearly intangible performance increases (and arguably performance decreases in some case).
    On the other hand, I have no sympathy for lenses that are too sharp and contrasty, there are plenty controls on PhotoShop to take the edge off of them, but no way to make a poor lens better.
    That's my two cents.
  26. personally, i'm getting the Sigma for use on DX and FX. it's in my amazon cart right now. here's my rationale:
    • -the G version is overpriced. no way around this.
    • -the AF-D focuses poorly in low-light. this is an important consideration to me, since i shoot concerts and live music stuff all the time.
    • -the Sigma appears to be better at wider apertures than the G version. I don't buy a 1.4 lens to shoot at 5.6. i'm most interested in the performance wide open to 2.8.
    • -i already own the sigma 30/1.4 and 50/1.4, as well as the nikon 24-70 and 70-200 VRII. i'm no "bag snob"--if i were, i'd be posting on the Leica forum--but i choose my kit based on needs, performance, and price (roughly in that order).
    also, reviews of the sigma have been very good. haven't seen a bad one yet. Lenstip, for instance, tested both the Nikon G and sigma 85s and also tested four copies of the sigma on both Canon and Nikon FX and DX bodies, including the D3x, which i would expect to be somewhat unforgiving on lenses. here's what they say: "The Sigma is cheaper, better and it comes with a longer guarantee – as simple as that. You must be really very infatuated with “Zeiss” or “Nikkor” magical words to prefer their lenses to the Sigma."
    the full review is here.
  27. On the other hand, I have no sympathy for lenses that are too sharp and contrasty, there are plenty controls on PhotoShop to take the edge off of them, but no way to make a poor lens better.
    Dan, if you're shooting in low available light at high ISO, the contrast is often so high that the shadows are seen as very low intensities on the sensor overwhelmed by thermal noise. If you take such an image in a raw converter and reduce the contrast, there will not be revealed any useful detail in the shadows; they are just gray, noisy, and ugly, after contrast reduction. By using a lower contrast lens this mapping of the shadow areas of the image can keep those tones at higher levels less affected by the thermal noise. I shoot in these kinds of conditions a lot (10000-15000 images per year), and prefer to choose an appropriate lens that renders the subject beautifully instead of engaging in a futile battle to bring information where there is none. A lens which for example handles high contrast stage lighting gracefully is the 200/2 AF-S (old version; have not used the new one).
    I also don't have the time to spend time developing local adjustments in post-processing - I've seen what others do, such as use Portrait Professional, and that kind of thing disgusts me. Even what they do in magazine covers is awful; there is often no way to distinguish whether the picture of a real person or not. I can perhaps buy what lens I need, but I cannot acquire more time to develop image processing algorithms that make a harsh image look good and in good taste; there is enough of a development backlog in my life. In my opinion that is the task of the camera, lens, and software developer. Of course, when a noise-free sensor is developed with infinite dynamic range then this will not be a concern and a high contrast lens is good.
    Your mileage may vary.
  28. @ Andrew - My first step is to open the file in Lightroom and try the CA slider in the lens profile section. If this doesn't work, I try my Hue/Saturation adjustments, (Blues) in Photoshop. Finaly, if these two methods fail, I resort to the same process you use.
    @ Everyone else, great comments...I think I've made my decision, but keep the comments coming as I love to hear the different perspectives.
  29. There are other options if AF is not needed...the amazing cheap korean version and the amazing $$$ zeiss version. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there doesn't seem to be a bad version of 1.4 85mm, any brand...
  30. Frank, that link is about an entirely different lens. i thought you were going to link to a report of someone who had the sigma 85 and found fault with it.
    personally, i've had good luck with sigma glass, unlike poor Alex, which is why i wouldn't hesitate to buy another one of their lenses if that's what i wanted. i've never had a front-focus or AF issue, other than a slightly jittery HSM motor in AF-C with a 50-150 on a d300. but that can happen in AF-C, period, with any lens with a hi-speed motor on a pro body. Sigma may have had QC problems in the past, and i always read about people on the Internet complaining, but, strangely, it's never happened to me. i've also read about folks who have had issues with pro Nikkors from the 17-55 to the 70-200 to the 24-70, so i wouldnt expect the 85/1.4 G to be any different in that regard. unless you hand-build every single lens to exact specs and tight tolerances, and never transport or ship it except hand-carried on a bed of dethorned roses wrapped in bubble wrap and encased in specially-cradled memory foam, stuff is gonna happen. for me, i'd rather take a chance on a 'bad copy' than overpay by $800. as they say, YMMV.
  31. Kent - The Sigma 85mm has modern coatings designed for digital and should outperform the older 85mm D lens just for that reason alone.​
    I've been using the Nikon for years, and have never noticed any coating issues. The lens has a very high contrast, and quite good flare resistance for something with a front element that size. The hood has FF coverage, and is pretty wide. There's a longer, narrower B+W metal hood that improves flare resistance even more when used on a DX camera.
    Frank - The AF/D lens has aperture ring and is easier to use on bellows, reverse mount ring, extension rings.
    If you have a better Nikkor lens for Macro/Micro, this does not matter to you.​
    There's really no point to reversing long SLR lenses, either directly on the camera or on a bellows. They're terrible macro performers, requiring huge extensions to deliver even modest magnification, and rewarding you with a very short working distance for all your trouble. And the massive weight isn't fun on a bellows, even a sturdy Nikon PB-4. If you've got a bellows, a Nikon 85mm or 105mm enlarger lens, for $25 on eBay (or free, if you really scrounge) is so much better a performer that factoring macro ability into the purchase of a $1000-2000 portrait lens is just plain silly.
    But for the occasional insanely shallow DOF closeup, the aperture ring is a non-issue, as even the new G lens is fine on a Kenko extension tube set: you have full aperture control from the camera.
  32. The Sigma 85mm has modern coatings designed for digital...​
    Explain, please.
    - Leigh
  33. the reason to get a sigma 85 over a nikon D would be AF speed and open aperture performance. it may surpass the G in those areas too. however, anyone who is already using the D, i dont think that's enough reason to switch. and if you've already decided to get the G, then fine by me. i will be getting the sigma because i just cant justify $1700 for a portrait lens when i already have the 70-200 II. i dont know anything about macro capabilities of portrait lenses or bellows extentions so joseph's post went completely over my head. seemed informative, though...
  34. Eric - thanks for the link. Interesting read.

    Richard - ta, I'll give that a try. Good to know the method I invented for myself (not being a Photoshop expert) is an accepted approach!

    Leigh: There's a theory that a digital sensor is more reflective than a piece of film (although not if you count the sensor that's in Hubble, which has some impressive coatings), therefore lenses "designed for digital" (Sigma's "DG" designation) have extra coatings to cope with internal reflection coming from the sensor which wouldn't have been significant in a film camera. Whether this makes any difference to the optical design, and how many lenses from the last decade do not have such a coating is another matter. I can't vouch for the 85mm lenses in particular - just that "digital coating" exists as a concept, at least in marketing. I hope that helps.

    there doesn't seem to be a bad version of 1.4 85mm, any brand​
    That's probably true, but it depends what you're looking for. Some are definitely much sharper off-centre when used wide open than others AF-S vs AF-D, Sony's/Zeiss 85mm. Some have significantly worse bokeh. From my perspective, they all seem to have distracting LoCA, which is why I don't own a fast 85mm (or 50mm, except the f/1.8). Whether any are bad compared with other focal lengths is another matter - a fast 85mm is close enough to a fast normal lens that I wouldn't expect the optical requirements to be too challenging (they're neither retrofocal nor telephoto, and seem to be variants on the Planar design from about a hundred years ago - excepting Canon's f/1.2 aspherical). If they're all fairly similar, that makes it so much more important for gear heads like us to be able to make an informed decision!
  35. I recently purchased a Nikon 10-24 zoom lens, and returned it when I found that it was made in china.​
    So just to clarify, you were really satisfied with it until you noticed it was made in China (with a capital "C" by the way, just like any other country's name), when it suddenly started feeling really cheap so you returned it? This is what you said a couple of days ago:
    So I bought the Nikon 10-24mm. It has noticeably better sharpness and less distortion.​
    And this:
    Tamron 10-24 if you need the big range, Most all the reviews say it isn't too sharp, it'a a compromise for the big range..​
    No such compromise for the Nikon 10-24mm.
    - Leigh​
    You should have just covered "China" with a tape and written "Japan" or whatever makes you feel better on it.
  36. IM[-H]O the G is overpriced and cheaply made. I didn't check the country of origin, but I'm willing to bet it's made in china.

    I recently purchased a Nikon 10-24 zoom lens, and returned it when I found that it was made in china.​
    Since we're picking up on that... Firstly, according to KR (who I assume actually checked this when he had one in his hands), the AF-S G lens is apparently made in Japan.

    Secondly: I'm vaguely aware that Nikon tend to make their more big-budget items in Japan and the more common stuff in China - presumably the start-up cost is lower in Japan, near HQ, but mass production is lower in China. That may be a misconception. Nevertheless, is there actually a known quality control issue with Nikon's Chinese production facilities? I'm lucky that I've never seen any lens from anyone fail on me (unless you count a couple of Sigma zooms that weren't very good in the first place), but it would be interesting to know whether there's significant sample variation in Nikon's Chinese lenses, or if they have higher failure/return rates.
  37. From my perspective, they all seem to have distracting LoCA, which is why I don't own a fast 85mm
    Without owning one, how can you ascertain the significance of the problem in your practical photography? I think it takes from months to years of use to really find out the strengths and weaknesses of lenses in practical use. Please don't refer to lens tests which show images that seek to illustrate problems without any sensible photographic goal (most internet test sites are filled with images shot by people without the ability to identify a good subject and good light, which makes the sample images posted difficult to put in perspective since a good photographer would never shoot something like that in that kind of light). There are testers of course who are photographers also.
    If you are intent on criticizing the fast 85's, would you mind showing your own images, preferably an image that would be a good, interesting photograph without the LoCA but fails due to the aberration (i.e. the aberration is so significant that the interesting content and good lighting is left unnoticed because of the artifact). As for the 200/2, yeah, I have that too, a great lens, extremely impractical to use, but creates wonderful images if you don't mind the pain of lugging it where you need it, and if your subject isn't scared away. I wouldn't pay 5000 EUR for an 85 to avoid LoCA with the 85/1.4. I'm sure Nikon's decision to not use ED and SuperED glass is partly due to price and limited impact on the final image. Also, high saturation which is a characteristic of ED lenses may be contrary to the goals of the portrait photographer (yeah, again you can adjust stuff in PS if you shoot very little).
    I think the current prices of the f/1.4 AF-S primes border on the insane. But people's love for AF-S (and Nikon having starved prime users of it for 20 years) is such that they'll sell like hot cakes anyway, at just about any price Nikon dares to ask. (They're excellent lenses but perhaps 30-40% overpriced IMO).
  38. Without owning one, how can you ascertain the significance of the problem in your practical photography?​
    I own (and still have to get around to selling) a 135mm f/2 DC, which has distracting LoCA that's a problem in my practical photography. I admit that lens tests are my reason for believing that the 85mm lenses will behave similarly to the 135mm in this respect, having established that the aberration itself bothers me. That doesn't mean it necessarily bothers anyone else who views my images, or that it might rear its head for anyone who shoots things differently.
    If you are intent on criticizing the fast 85's, would you mind showing your own images​
    I'm sorry Ilkka - I'd tried to make it clear that I consider any "bokeh fringing" on the 85mm lenses to be something that (assuming reviews aren't all wrong) bothers me, in the specific scenarios in which I shoot. I'd not meant to sound unduly critical - no lens is perfect, some artifacts are more objectionable in some circumstances than others, and some viewers will have different feelings about different aberrations. The 85mm fast lenses have a lot of happy customers - I merely meant to respond to the Leslie's comment that "there doesn't seem to be a bad version of 1.4 85mm, any brand" by suggesting that I was able to find something to object to - not that this made the lenses "bad", just unsuitable, by my judgement, for my personal use. Note that, as far as I know, this applies to all fast 85mm lenses, and I'm not intending to get at any particular manufacturer.

    Much of my use of a fast portrait lens is for shooting images of people playing tiddlywinks (odd, but true). This means colour photos of dimly-lit people leaning over white felt mats in dark rooms with messy surroundings. Shooting often at or near wide-open to lose the background and because of the light, white/black transitions in a colour image are a pathological case for showing up LoCA. Green borders distract me from an otherwise monochrome background. For that reason, I stopped using my 135 f/2 DC for these scenarios pretty quickly, otherwise I'd offer some images. There's a crop showing my 135's dayglow borders here, from a thread when I first discovered it. (Yes, I made the mistake of relying on reviews that failed to mention the LoCA.) I don't have full images to hand, I'm afraid.

    As mentioned, I've since had a bit of an issue when I tried using the same lens at a friend's wedding, where her blonde hair turned technicolour as it went out of focus. I'm sure 99% of people looking at the image wouldn't notice, but since I did, it made a lens I'd particularly bought in the interests of losing the background a bit pointless for me. Were I to acquire an 85mm f/1.4, it would be for a similar reason, hence my lack of enthusiasm; the problem goes away as you stop down, but buying an f/1.4 lens to use at f/4 seems wasteful. I'd meant to indicate, by the admittedly ridiculous lengths I went to in order to have a way of removing the background without visible LoCA, that I'm fully aware that I'm slightly more insane in the context of this aberration than I am in general.

    There are plenty of difficulties in my providing a good and interesting photograph, LoCA or not! (I'm still learning, and I'll be posting when I feel I've had the chance to improve my abilities; for now, excuse my shyness?) I make no claims that a LoCA-free lens makes me a good photographer, or even that most would care given my images. I just prefer not to have this particular feature in my shots. Others hate eight-pointed sunstars or accept blurry corners in a fast lens - to each his own. I'm not expecting Nikon to prioritise an ultra high-end 85mm without LoCA just for me - most customers are happy with the decisions Nikon have made with these lenses, and I'm happy that I don't have to lust after every lens Nikon make. I'm poor enough after buying the ones I've got.

    Apologies to any lens designers who read my comment and whose noses may have been put out of joint by my comment. I don't expect the minority containing me to be catered for, in this case.
  39. (They're excellent lenses but perhaps 30-40% overpriced IMO).​
    This kind of cuts to the chase. Either you have to bite the bullet and hope to amortize the costs over the long run, buy used, or go third party. That's why recent FX 3rd party lenses like the sigma 85 and the tokina 16-28 have seemed so encouraging, particularly the Sigma as it has AF-S equivalent. FWIW, according to thom, there may be another price hike in February--Canon and Sony have already announced one, and Nikon may follow. This translates to utter insanity IMO. it was hard to justify the 105 VR when it was $750, and right now, it's hard to justify a new nikon 85/1.4 AF-D at $1100 when you save $200 and get faster focusing speed with the Sigma. if 3rd party glass keeps getting better and maintains reasonable affordability, then either Nikon has to give us some decent goodies without resorting to highway robbery, or accept the undercutting from non-OEM lensmakers. Resale value and bragging rights have no impact on image quality,i'm afraid.
  40. there may be another price hike in February--Canon and Sony have already announced one​
    Alas, you can't blame the camera manufacturers on this one. Look to the US economy and the strength, (or lack thereof), of the dollar when compared to the yen to get to the underlying reason for price increases on Japanese products in the US.
  41. I'm glad I don't want any more nikon lenses. Maybe the 24nn 1.4 down the line via secondhand...
  42. ...but it would be interesting to know whether there's significant sample variation in Nikon's Chinese lenses, or if they have higher failure/return rates.​
    Apparently, higher return rates don't mean much either, since people are returning them just because they are made where they are...
  43. I ripped through the above but didnt see anyone comment on one of the major selling point of the Nikon 85 1.4 g for me, it nails focus nearly every time. My few days of learning the lens have been at 1.4 from 3-12 feet (with bgs from 6- 24) and it nails the 6-12 subj distance almost perfectly. Since most were candids, some of the few misses were probably subject movement-ok, photographer movement on a couple. Under 5 feet there is less than an inch of dof, and it is still consistently right on. I cant speak to the sigma, and I am a fan of their 50, but I am amazed at Nikon 85's focus accuracy and the bokeh, well, its like budda. In the real world, the last thing I want is a once-in-a-lifetime moment out of focus, what good is IQ without it?
  44. I purchased the 85 D last Christmas and used it heavily for a year before selling to buy the G. I used it exclusively for portrait shoots last year. I do tend to agree with Bob Bill that the D sometimes would mis-focus in low light. I always made sure to take a few extra shots since I would inevitably get some that were totally out. I haven't used my G on a real portrait shoot yet but from what I've read, it does better in that area. The color is definitely warmer with the G but I'm not totally convinced that is better yet. However, I was known to complain some about how the D ran really cool. I definitely treasured the D and was constantly impressed with the images it produced. It was my first "expensive" lens. I love the build quality as well and miss that a great deal. The G definitely feels cheap in comparison. I've even considered purchasing the D again since it has such a soft place in my photographic heart. :) The G has improvements but I'm not sure that they are worth the price difference. If I had the G purchase price back and had the choice to buy it or the D again I would probably just buy the D and put the difference toward a 105mm f/2 since I love my 135mm f/2 so much.
  45. Having used the D version for almost three years and just sold it for the sigma version I see no reason at all why anyone would buy the D. The sigma beats or trounces it in every area especially flare control (which was awful on the D), AF performance (with the D forget anything that moves) and corner sharpness all for around the same price. That is 15 year old tech vs current tech. I also bough the sigma over the new G which from test results has compromised centre sharpness or sharpness at the very corners at 1.4. I would not even consider the 1.8, the bokeh (main reason for buying these lenses) is poor.

    I was very leery about buying a sigma lens but wedding pros were gushing over it and the test results from lenstip and slrgear convinced me. I sold my D version for not far what I bought it for new 3 years ago ;)
  46. The sigma beats or trounces it in every area especially flare control (which was awful on the D), AF performance (with the D forget anything that moves) and corner sharpness all for around the same price.​
    exactly the type of head-to-head comparison i was looking for. AF performance is particularly important to me, and since i already have the 70-200 VRII, 1.4 to 2.5 performance is also a criteria. thanks, mark!
  47. After testing the Sigma and both Nikkors for a few days, (on both a D300s and a D700), I've finally made my decision to purchase the 85mm f/1.4D. Both the Sigma and G lens have the D beat hands down on focus speed and accuracy. The Sigma wins in real world sharpness tests vs the D, (especially the corners on FX vs. the Nikkor). And the Sigma and G have just slightly better flare control than the D lens.
    Here's the reasoning on the D: It produces a "look" that I cannot seem to replicate on either of the new lenses. I can get close on the G, and I do prefer the focusing on that lens, but I don't think it's worth spending the extra $500-$600 to get it.
    I'm not sure why I can't reproduce the look...perhaps it's the fact that this lens isn't really a "sharp" lens...perhaps it's the way it reproduces colors... and perhaps with some Photoshop wizardry I could reproduce the look the D gives, but I'm really into streamlining my workflow, not adding steps.
    Maybe everyone can tell me that my reasoning is flawed...that I should believe sites like Lenstip and SLRGear...that I shouldn't waste my money on 15 year old lens tech...that I shouldn't believe my own eyes...ah well, the decision is made. While the 85mm f/1.4 D is lacking in certain areas, my personal opinion is that it produces better subject isolation and a certain quality of image that just cannot be matched by the newer lenses.
    I hope this thread helps anyone else looking to purchase an 85mm lens in the future.

  48. Richard, its your vision, if the lens fits it and your style of shooting, its for you. Dont give a darn what others think or numbers say. Kinda like the wife who catches her husband in bed with another woman and he says, are you going to believe me or your lying eyes.
  49. Richard, although I did purchase the G, the SLRGear review actually made me question that. I don't know if perhaps they have some bias toward the old D but their comparison comments made me think twice. I definitely think there are three different "looks" involved here and it comes down to what you prefer. As I said above, I really do love the look of the 85 D (plus the build quality is superb) and may end up owning it again. Personally, I have a hard time spending that much on a Sigma but that's just my own bias mostly fostered by other biased reviewers. I have owned a few Sigma lenses and they were fine but when I have a choice I prefer to spend my money on the Nikon.
  50. As an owner of the D version, I totally understand what you mean about the look! There is just something about the "cream machine" that just can't be duplicated! Congrats on the purchase.
  51. I've had time to use both lenses. I chose the 85mm 1.4G over D. I prefer the edges on the G. They look more natural to my eyes. I made comparisons, side by side, different apertures on the same D300s interchanging these two lenses and was more pleased with the G. Also, some people said that the D feels more robust? well... I still prefer the G, to me the G feels just great, well built and looks very professional, so clients will have an impact as well. Is a win situation if you can afford it. That is my personal opinion though.

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