UPDATE: 85mm f/1.8G - no stock in UK or Europe! Does this ring true?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by purplealien, May 17, 2014.

  1. Some of you may recall that in March I posted about a lack of 85mm f/1.8G stock in Europe. I had ordered my copy from Calumet UK the very same day that the US Calumet went into receivership, and was worried the lack of stock was somehow related.
    Thank you to everyone that replied and calmed me down!
    Judging from a quick trawl of major suppliers' websites the supply problems in Europe continue, but my lens arrived yesterday. I complained to Calumet and they "pulled a few strings" on my behalf with Nikon. I waited 2 months in the end.
    The lens is wonderful - if you can get hold of one!
    Oh, and by the way, Calumet UK is still in business despite the website disappearing and problems with some of their e-mail accounts.
  2. Chris:
    There is no doubt it ia a great lens and I hope you end up lovein it like I do mine.
  3. Lovely portrait, well done.
  4. I am looking for this lens here in the UK, I cannot find it anywhere....
    I will try too at Calumet.
  5. Thanks Dan :)
    Don't let me put you off using Calumet, Francesco; but I doubt they will be any faster than any other supplier.
    In my case, they admitted that their customer service hadn't been very good (lack of response to e-mails etc), and made a special effort to put things right by going direct to someone senior at Nikon to find me a lens. Obviously, they can't do that for everyone.
    I had a rather nervy couple of months waiting and on a couple of occasions really thought I'd lost all my money. However, the extra effort they made to put things right has restored my faith in the company.
    Best of luck with finding a copy. I agree with Owen; it is a lovely lens :)
  6. I'd been meaning to get one of these for a long time, and took advantage of my last visit to Canada to get one, partly at the prompting of this forum. Knowing my luck, Nikon will now launch an update. (Just to be clear, my only indication of this is my luck...) Anyway - it's got a bit of LoCA (when I take a shot of my cat, the books in the background get green edges), which I knew, but otherwise I've got little to complain about.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    This lens was available all over the stores in the US until about two months ago when Nikon USA provided a $100 rebate for about two months. The largest mail-order stores are all out but it is available at some of the smaller stores.
    It was introduced only two years ago: http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/lenses/85mm-f1.8-g-af-s/review/
  8. I suspect the price difference between the 1.4 and the 1.8 was/is just too big (> x3!!)...and the 1.4 was also more expensive (x2) and some say not as good as the sigma.
    So roughly £669 Sigma 1.4 v Nikon 1.8 @ £375 v Nikon 1.4 @ £1180
    The result is a sell out of the Nikon 1.8 everywhere, poor availability of the Sigma 1.4 and a surplus of Nikon 1.4's.
  9. Well, I certainly found the 85 f/1.4 AF-S's price to be too big. A great lens for sharpness, but my pet bugbear, LoCA, appeared to be horrible, though not quite in the 135 DC class. I wasn't 100% convinced by the bokeh either, and for the list price, I wanted it to be very good. Reviews suggested to me that, of the cheaper options, the Sigma was just enough worse not to tempt me, and the f/1.4 AF-D was much too soft in the corners. Meanwhile, the 85 f/1.8 AF-D's bokeh put me off completely.

    At about £300, Nikon lost out to Samyang's manual focus f/1.4 - much less sharp, but very decent for the money. Unfortunately, manual focus on a moving subject at f/1.4 is a bit painful (even with a 90mm Tamron as a back-up lens), and - though better than the AF-D - it's not really up with the AF-S Nikkors for sharpness. If the 85 f/1.8 AF-S had been out when I was Samyang shopping, I'd have got one instead. Though I'm vaguely pleased still to have an f/1.4 option there if I need it.

    Message to Nikon: be reasonable on price/performance. If the 85 f/1.4 AF-S had been as optically perfect as one could make it, I'd have saved until I could afford it. It wasn't, so I didn't. Fingers crossed the new 400mm is that good - but affording it may take me a while.
  10. I'm not a fan of CA either, and my new lens clearly produces some. It's obvious on my daughter's left shoulder/arm in the portrait above.
    Most comments on CA are usually followed by the phrase "easily removed in post"! This is my first lens to show any noticeable CA; does anyone have any good tips for removing it? The CA reduction tools in Capture NX2 don't seem to be very effective......
  11. Lateral (radial) chromatic aberration is easy to remove in post - effectively the in-focus region is a slightly different size for each wavelength. If you scale the image (probably non-linearly) by a different amount for each colour channel, you can mostly get rid of the aberration, though doing it perfectly can be a bit tedious. Quite a lot of software can try to do this for you.

    Longitudinal (axial) chromatic aberration, a.k.a. spherochromatism, is caused by the lens not being fully corrected in terms of focal length for all the wavelengths (pretty much no refractive lens is perfect here). It gets much better if you stop down, which is why it tends to appear more badly in faster lenses. Because the foreground and background gain different colours as a result of the "cone of confusion" being a slightly different shape for each colour - usually out of focus objects in the background are green-fringed and in the foreground are purple-fringed - fixing it entirely automatically depends on heuristics. That is, because the camera doesn't know whether something that has a green fringe was in the background of the image or whether it really just had a green fringe (because you have no 3D scene information after you've captured the image), the software has to guess. Barring a light field capture technique (Lytro or similar, though it strikes me you could do it by focus or aperture bracketing...) it's only going to be feasible to fix this with a bit of human intervention.

    Photoshop and DxO have reasonably good tools for trying to remove this kind of aberration. If it's not too bad, they can do a decent job of recovering it - shoot in raw and play with the filter settings (there's usually a controllable strength setting so that you don't accidentally turn all your trees monochrome). My experience has been that they're good, but they can't handle everything - I have a first dance photo taken with a 135 DC where the bride's hair is mostly green and her jewelry is mostly purple, and automated fixing really couldn't cut it.

    My - time-consuming - workaround was to convert the image to Lab colour space, deselect the luma channel, then apply the smudge tool to the chroma (a and b) channels around troublesome edges. That let me get rid of offensively visible colour fringes, at the cost of losing a bit of colour accuracy; it at least left the most visible luma sharpness untouched. The result remains a bit soft, of course, but at least you have to be pixel-peeping to see it.

    My expensive workaround was to use a 200 f/2 for subject separation rather than a shorter telephoto, because it's extremely well corrected for LoCA. It says something about how tedious trying to correct the 135 was that this lens ended up on my credit card (though I don't regret it at all). The 150mm f/2.8 Sigma macro is a cheaper and viable alternative, though it can't lose the background nearly so well. Not so useful if you really need an 85mm, or something not big enough to draw attention, however.

    I hope that's some help. If you're interested, I posted a few images a while back to show the relative behaviour of a few lenses.
  12. Thanks Andrew, that is helpful.
    It's early days with this lens, so I'll see how I go. I suspect it won't be long before I'll get an image where I have to do something about CA. I can just about live with what I am seeing so far.
  13. pge


    Andrew, here is an example for you. Difficult lighting situation especially as a flash was not appropriate. Yes, easy to correct, nevertheless.... This was a dark bar with only one window, one full wall like a garage door style. It was the middle of the day and there were no lights at all on this performer, a daughter of a friend of mine. I guess it goes without saying that this was shot with an 85mm f1.8G.
  14. Phil: Yargh. I'll be a bit careful with backlighting for that lens, then. :) It's a bargain for the money, but I'm reminded that there was a reason I went 200 f/2 shopping!
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Phil Evans' example is a very extreme case. See how over-exposed the scene outside of that window is. It is at least 3, 4 stops over-exposed with all the details washed out. Compared to the middle of that crop where the background is the window bar instead of the outside scene. When it is not so over-exposed, the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S performs quite well.
    It would be interesting to see how other 85mm lens fare under identical, extreme conditions.
    I recently compared a 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S vs. a 24-120mm/f4 AF-S VR on the D800E. At 24mm. even the 24-70 AF-S has some chromatic aberration problems near the edges of buildings where there is a drastic bright-to-dark transition (and not as extreme as Phil's example).
  16. Yes, to be fair I don't think the 85mm is especially bad at LoCA for an f/1.8 lens - but it's certainly not apochromatic. If it was particularly bad, I'd have been steering clear; the f/1.4 AF-S is probably not especially worse, other than by the inherent amount at f/1.4, but it's enough of an issue that I'm far more willing to spend f/1.8 money than f/1.4 money on it.

    My issue with the 135 f/2 was that it would produce extreme colour fringes at f/2 (and pretty bad at f/2.8) even on images that were much less pathological than the one above. That said, others seem to have had much less trouble, even though I asked Nikon to check my lens out for this specific issue, so YMMV. Even the 200 f/2 will fringe slightly if you push it (as does the Zeiss 135mm APO).
  17. pge


    Before some PP my example was even worse than I showed previously as I struggled between being able to show some detail in the performers face yet maintain something in the background. I would call it a difficult situation but I would not agree with the term extreme.
    Yes the background is over-exposed but there was no way around that as in many situations. Note the histogram, just one of those situations where everything is either light or dark.
    My example screams for some fill flash, but when you can't you can't.
    I think this situation, although difficult, is not out of the usual.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I think this situation, although difficult, is not out of the usual.​
    That is not what I am questioning.
    What I wonder is how other lenses, such as the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S, 50mm f whatever AF-S, 105mm/f2.8 AF-S and similar lenses from other brands fare under identical conditions.
    I don't think the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S has particularly worse problems with chromatic aberration. Using an extreme example to single this lens out is misleading and unfair. Incidentally, the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S also has no ED elements. The 105mm/f2.8 AF-S VR macro is ED and so is, e.g., the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR. It would be interesting to do A/B comparisons with those lenses under the same condition.
  19. I've noted that the 70-200 is somewhat better than most of my smaller primes, although it helps that it's "only" f/2.8. Both the Otus and the new 50mm Sigma do have unusual glass in them to try to correct this - the Zeiss claims to be apochromatic, but they both show a little chromatic aberration (I don't believe the 58mm Nikkor has any special glass, though I could be wrong). The 150mm Sigma macro is exceptionally well controlled (though maybe not quite perfect), as is the Nikkor 200 f/2. Doing better requires harder to find lenses, like the Voigtlander 125mm APO-Lanthar and, especially, the Coastal Optics 60mm macro.

    Absolute perfection here is very hard to achieve, at least without going to reflector lenses and having a different range of problems. I'll be curious to see how the new 400 f/2.8 holds up now that it's got fluorite in it.
  20. To quote from the following review...
    The longitudinal chromatic aberration was more often than not a serious problem in the Nikon “primes”, presented lately. Especially the 1.4/85G model broke disreputable records – its aberration level was huge and it didn’t disappear even after stopping down by 2 EV. The Nikkor AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G is doing better in this category but it doesn’t mean the situation is good. At the maximum relative aperture the longitudinal chromatic aberration is high and it remains rather pronounced even after stopping down by 1 EV. Only when you stop down by 2 EV you see that aberration reduced to a moderate level.​
    The Nikon 105mm 2.8 macro and the Nikon 200mm f2 have negligible measured abhoration....the Sigma 85mm 1.4 is a bit naughty wide open but improves pretty quickly on stopping down.
    I think the ED makes the difference (as it's supposed to!) ....the 85mm DX macro is ED and shows very low abhoration. The 60mm AF-S Macro has ED elements but isn't so hot and suffers from both forms....maybe the exception proves the rule?
    The real-life example shows what the reviewers have measured....but, equally i'd like to see the same shot with the 85mm or 105mm macro from the same spot. Measurements don't always tell the full story!
  21. pge


    Using an extreme example to single this lens out is misleading and unfair.​
    I am certainly not trying to be misleading, nor do I think I was unfair. I'm just saying that under these challenging lighting situations this is how the 85mm f1.8g did. For the record, I think the lens is very good.
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Here is a different crop from an image I used in the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S review: http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/lenses/85mm-f1.8-g-af-s/review/
    You can find that image in my portfolio:
    • http://www.photo.net/photo/15808076
    • as well as another one captured seconds later: http://www.photo.net/photo/15808078
    I captured it with the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S @ f2.8 on a D800 set to ISO 200 and 1/400 sec.
    There is also a large window behind the subject and it was very bright outside. However, there is no metal pole for any microphone. At least I don't find any chromatic aberration that I need to worry about in this case or for that lens in general.
  23. Back in stock at WEX for £375 ($600) and Amazon UK have 8 left for £426 ($681)
    Amazon US have 1 left for $496 (£310)
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    In the US, B&H also has it in stock: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/838798-REG/Nikon_2201_AF_S_NIKKOR_85mm_f_1_8G.html
    But as of the time I am typing this, Adorama is out of stock.

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