D700 + either 85mm f/1.4AF-D or 105mm f/2 AF DC?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by brooks_lester, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. I just bought a 105mm f/2.5 AIS and love it. It's my only portrait lens and lens over 75mm. However, I'm finding it quite difficult to achieve sharp focus on my two year-old's eyes when taking pics of her indoors as she moves about and shooting the lens at large apertures. I don't think I want to get a Katz Eye screen for the D700, so I've resigned myself to looking for another portrait lens, but this one needs to be AF.
    What would you folks recommend - the 85mm f/1.4D AF or 105mm f/2 DC? I've always coveted the 85 and it's "cream machine" reputation but after reading up on the 105 DC I find it a compelling lens as well. Both lenses are reviewed as sharp with superior bokeh. I find images made with both lenses are very pretty. Does one of these lenses focus faster than the other? Yes, I know they're both screw motor designs.
    One way of thinking is that I currently don't have a lens at 85mm so get the 85, and it's a little faster than the 105 f/2. DC. However, I really like the 105 perspective... so why not the DC and it has the DC feature as well. Either lens would be used for half body and tighter comps.
    What do you folks think?
  2. Thanks Jeremy
    A few notes: Points well taken on shooting a stop down from open for a little more DOF and sharpness. Yes, I don't put a ton of value in the DC feature as reviews laud the 105 DC lens for its bokeh even with DC set to neutral. In terms of improved focus, I find if I can get a focus point on the eye of choice using AF-C, I have a good chance of at least getting that eye in sharp focus and establishing it as the point of focus emphasis. With all of these lenses, shooting wide open or nearly so will mean that the other eye won't be sharp unless the subject's almost directly facing the camera.
    My screw drive AF and AF-S lenses are able to achieve focus in these conditions better than I can using MF; those conditions are ambient daylight interiors in my house. I'm shooting at ISO 800 to 6400, so the available light may be fairly dim even to the naked eye. That's where the rub is with the 105mm f/2.5 AIS: the eyes are not bright enough in the finder for me to be able to determine whether or not they're sharp. Perhaps another reason to get the 85 for the brighter finder aiding both AF and MF if I choose to use it.
    On many occasions I can successfully MF by eye or using the RF indicators but by the time I release the shutter my daughter has moved just enough forward or backward to go out of focus. Hence my desire to get an AF lens for these conditions. I just need the lens to be able achieve focus and then tweak itself an inch or two to keep the eyes sharp.
  3. I would primarily choose based on the suitability of the focal length for your task.
    Both DC Nikkors that I have autofocus accurately on my bodies, both FX and film (have compared with AF-S 105 and the (small) focusing errors were very similar). I did have a D200 which didn't focus the 105 DC quite right. I think this may be about specific body + lens samples.
    If you shoot at f/2 or thereabouts a lot, the 85 has the edge in sharpness. The 105 DC has exceptional resistance to flare and ghosting and very nice rendition of skin and fabrics. It would be my first choice for portraits (both studio and available light) if you aren't shooting wide open.
  4. You won't go far wrong with either one. I prefer the 105DC for candids of young people that won't sit still for you. At f4 the entire subject is sharp and you can use the DC to throw the (often distracting) background well out of focus. Great for kids.
    For older subjects, of course, the 85 at 1.4 permits one eye totally in focus while the wrinkles and blemishes are softened into a blur. Saves hours of photoshop time.
  5. umd


    I have both, and I have a 2 year. In my humble opinion shooting a 2 year kid with a manual focus lens is almost impossible, you'll have a frustratingly low keeper ratio. Shooting a portrait of a kid is about catching that momentary expressions in the face, unless I'm using flash, I use continuous AF and shoot at 6 fps.
    For the lenses, they both have similar (and very good) image quality, nothing to worry about that, I don't hesitate to shoot them wide open. My only minor gripe is the chromatic aberration in the out of focus areas wide open, both lenses have that, not a problem for portraits, rarely a problem at all. I had focusing problems with the 105 DC, I now use it at DC f:2 setting with a +20 focus adjustment and everything is fine. Soft focus feature (certain dc setting and aperture combinations give that) is sometimes useful esp at contrasty lighting. With 105 I can get tighter headshots (btw I use a D300, if I were using a full frame camera I would also consider the 135/2 DC).
  6. Well, it's not impossible to shoot a 2 year-old with a manual focus lens, just difficult:
    Thank god for digital...I would be much more judicious with film. And, an AF lens would make this easier. Thanks for the advice.
  7. Thanks, Jeremy[​IMG]
  8. Oh yeah, that picture of her above, in the hat, was made with and Auto Focus lens, the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8AF... eyes are sharp:)
  9. What a beautiful young lady! You are going to wear out some cameras with her as your subject. Lovely shots. Cheers.
  10. You could just add flash to the mix and use your current lens. Stop down a bit and either bounce or use a softbox/umbrella if you prefer soft shadows.

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