Nikon 85mm f1.4 vs. f1.8

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by heyjaehey, Nov 13, 2007.

  1. I am looking at these two lenses, but the price difference is significant. Is
    it really worth going for f1.4 rather than f1.8? I heard f1.4 is a little soft
    at wide open. Your answer is greatly appreciated.
  2. Tomasz Widlack has a post further down the page with a pretty nice comparative test of several 85's including the ones you're looking at:
  3. Ken, this helped a lot. f1.4 is a lot sharper than f1.8 is, but she makes good point that we don't need to see those details in someone's face since 85mm in crop body is mainly for portraits.

    Thanks again.
  4. PhotoZone suggests the 1.8 is sharper. Sample variation comes into play here.
  5. I had both, now I have the 1.4D.
    Both are great but once you have the 1.4D you no longer have your question.
  6. The Utopia Photography comparison is great. I have neither lens but have been considering a prime at that focal length for some time now.

    Moreover, I notice a similar difference in contrast and colour shift between the 50 1.8 and the 50 1.4. I feel like making a similar test to show the results on those lenses.
  7. What bill keane said. I have the 1.8 and can tell you it is my favorite lens. It is tack sharp on my D200's and produces stunning results for portraits (if you have the room), event photography, concerts, and I use it for indoor sports when I have a press pass.

    The 1.4 is very soft under f/2.0. So is the 1.8. However, after f/2.8 I find both lenses superb as do most.

    Not just my thoughts:

    Save your money and have room for another stellar lens. Both are great, but read the verdict on the f/1.8:

    More than that, I totally agree with the above reviews having shot with both lenses and now have the f/1.8. Was not a financial decision, but an IQ descision in that the 1.8 had consistantly produced better images than the 1.4.


    Good hunting!
  8. I suppose the question is how you define "better" IQ.

    I am with David and other posters but in agreement with what we know from other fast lenses a f1.4 lens is a specialist. Better only wide open up to f2 or f2.8 and obviously faster. Besides, the "signature" from 1.4 to 4 is very special. You can get "sharpness" in post processing if the resolution is there any time^^.
  9. I suspect the the f2.8 pic from the 85/1.8 on the Utopia photography comparison is a bit misfocused. The main reasons to buy the f1.4 is the better bokeh, better build and better performance below f2.0. The f1.8 has in turn advantages of its own, like size, weight and stopped down performance. See the photozone review.
  10. For me the difference equates to about 2/3 of a f stop. When photographing trains in the last rays of the sun at dusk, when the film is slow, the train is fast, the shutter speed is borderline, given the angle of the shot, you need everything you can get to achieve that photograph. Yes, I have a 85/1.4. For the same reason I also have a 135/2 and a 180/2.8 ED. The need for speed. That is why I did not buy the slower variants. And yes, I do put up with the extra weight of carrying all of them at once, mounted on 3 cameras, each with motor drives. By the way, the budget prevented the purchase of the 200/2 IFED. If only....
  11. John makes a great point for film and I am a film lover. However, for Nikon DSLR's 85mm becomes. . .you get the point.

    I don't think (after shooting both), the 1.4 performs at all any better below f/2. Maybe better bokeh, but not in overall performance.

    Yes, you do gain a 2/3 stop, but and per the photozone review of the 1.4: "Finding a verdict for the Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D isn't easy. From f/2.8 and up the performance of the lens is superb and neither distortions, CAs nor vignetting are something to worry about. However, at f/1.4 and to a lesser degree at f/2 the lens shows a couple of flaws - the border resolution is "only" good, the level of contrast is reduced and the results show a pronounced degree of purple fringing at harsh contrast transitions and longitudinal chromatic aberrations." I experienced the same. It is a better build and does have wonderful bokeh under f/2. But at what price for the price you pay for the price of a 2/3 stop.

    However, if you are a darkroom rat via the digi-world, upping the ISO can be your friend.

    There is no perfect glass. All have flaws and compromises. You just have to choose your medicine.

    Good luck.
  12. I have owned the MF versions of both these lenses, and both lenses are sharper then you need to take a great photo. I use the 85mm 1.8 for its small size and weight. When I need to blow away the background it does it as well as any lens can.
  13. I had a 85mm f1.8 and sent it back for a f1.4. It is a decision I have never regretted.
    The f1.4 creates wonderful images with a signature look. The f1.8 was sharp but uninspiring. Plus the tactile feel is dreadful, unlike the superb f1.4.
  14. People saying that the 1.8 is sharper og better in any way, must be talking against better
    knowlegde, or must have a faulty lens. I've had one 1.4 earlier wich I sold because I
    needed the $$, but I bought another one few months after. They are both RAZOR sharp
    from 1.4, and for portraits it doesnt get any better than this unless you go hassie or
    similar. The photozone review is redicoluos, and they also notice that the two lenses they
    testet are not equal in quality. At 100% magnification in CS3 my D200 delivers the
    sharpest images one could ever hope for - if I get the focus right with that small DOF :eek:)

    If you have the money and need to shoot at 1.4 get the 1.4, if you only shoot at smaller
    apertures it doenst matter. I shoot most of my portraits at 1.4, and actually I get 99% of
    my photoincome through that lens. I payed 1K$ for my lens, it's worth every penny and

  15. Uh, I have bought 1.4 lenses I had to send back that were faulty. If you line up 10 85mm/1.4 or 1.8 and shoot each one in an identical circumstance, there most likely will be variances.

    To say photozone's review is rediculous is a bit extreme in that they do a good job with proper lab tests.

    Both the 1.4 and 1.8 are great lenses. I just happened to get an extremely sharp 1.8, so why change when I shoot most of my portraits with the 50mm/1.4 and the 85/1.8 on a D200 as well.

    Yes, the build quality on the 1.4 is superior, but that does not make the 1.8 and inferior build. That is, having shot with both 1.4 and 1.8.

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