Would you replace a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G with a f/1.8G?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by cjk, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. cjk

    cjk

    I would love to have some experienced advice here.
    Last year, hoping to do a lot of portrait photography and maybe sell some portrait sessions, and in a moment of very severe NAS, I went crazy and bought a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G.
    About a year later now, having learned that equipment does not a photographer make, I realize that I barely used the (very nice) piece of equipment. Lack of time (I have a day job and 2 small kids), lack of drive, etc.
    I am still very interested in portrait photography and am doing some, but mostly in a home studio where I think the more affordable f/1.8G would work as well as its big brother. Heck, I wonder if I couldn't just "get by" with my beloved 70-200 f/2.8 (which I use mostly for sports).
    I hate the idea of having a very expensive lens sitting in a drawer depreciating, so my questions:
    1) Would you sell the lens, take the hit on it (I guess the cost of learning) and replace it with the f/1.8G while freeing up some cash?
    2) Would you sell the lens, take the hit on it and just use the 70-200 f/2.8 for portrait photography (i already own that one)?
    3) Would you keep the lens since it's already there and paid for, and since good Nikon lenses don't seem to depreciate that much?
    Everything I read about the f/1.8G says it's a great lens and I know the 70-200 is already a great lens too (bulky though).
    I guess it really boils down to figuring out if I might want or have to use a 1.4G in the future or not...
    Cesar
    Note: I am currently using a D7000 and plan to move to FX in the next 6 months.
    Note: I don't have an immediate need to free up the cash (but I wouldn't mind having it!)
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have used all three lenses you mentioned. If you don't need the money, I would suggest hanging onto the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S; it is an excellent lens. So is the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S. If you are starting from having no 85mm, I would highly recommend the f1.8, but since you already have the f1.4 and as long as you don't need the cash, you might as well hang onto it.
    The 70-200mm/f2.8 can be used as a portrait lens, but it is big and it is not as fast.
    Availability of the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S has eased and the value has dropped a bit, but most likely it will keep its value quite well from now on. Unlike DSLRs, should you decide to sell the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S in the future, most likely you won't lose any more value, unless you damage it.
     
  3. On a similar basis, for similar reasons, I've been wondering about my under-used 85mm 1.4D and whether to swap it out for a 1.8G, so I can use it on my V1, D3200 and D5100.
     
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mike, your situation is different. It makes a lot of sense to switch to the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S version so that you gain AF on the D3200 and D5100.
    I captured the following two images with the f1.8 and f1.4 AF-S versions, respectively, both wide open, both at 1/80 sec. I am very happy with both of them. It is the same girl in the two images.
    [​IMG]

    85mm/f1.8 AF-S @ f1.8 on D800, ISO 3200
    00b5CM-506589684.jpg
     
  5. I realize that I barely used the (very nice) piece of equipment​
    Will that likely change? If not - sell. But if it doesn't - then why get the f/1.8 to replace it - to have a cheaper lens sitting unused on the shelf?
    Shun already covered the financial side of this thoroughly.
    The 70-200mm/f2.8 can be used as a portrait lens, but it is big and it is not as fast.​
    Not seeing how this is a negative in a studio setting. And outdoors, the ability to change focal lengths might come in handy. But of course one isn't going to get the thin DOF of the 85/1.4 or its bokeh.
     
  6. cjk

    cjk

    Shun: thanks for your answer.
    Your reasoning is along the lines of what I've been thinking to justify keeping the lens. It makes sense to me.
    On the other hand, and unless there is a remote chance that its value increases (I doubt that), if there is only a limited chance I might need the f/1.4 aperture (not sure why), wouldn't it make more sense to sell it now that it is still in pristine condition?
    After accumulating gear for a couple of years now, I am starting to believe that maybe I should just get what I need now and/or what I am pretty sure of using rather than the fanciest thing available...
    Decisions, decisions :)
     
  7. The obsession with the 85/1.4 is interesting, but if you need to free up some ca$h I'd go with the 85/1.8 and you can certainly do stunning portraiture with a 70-200/2.8.
     
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Just take a look at the two example images I posted. I was aleady using the D800/D800E at ISO 1600 and 3200 with those lenses wide open without flash. The 70-200mm/f2.8 is not going to give you that same low-light capability. At maximum f2.8, either you have to boost the ISO even further, thus compromising the quality even more, or you risk a slow shutter speed. Even though VR will help a bit, subject motion will still be an issue.
    If you like to shoot indoors without flash as I do, I would stay with an f1.4 or f1.8 lens. 1.4 is like 2/3 of a stop faster, but the f1.8 can get the job done at 1/3 of the price.
    Will that likely change? If not - sell. But if it doesn't - then why get the f/1.8 to replace it - to have a cheaper lens sitting unused on the shelf?​
    That is a very good point. If you are not going to use the 85mm, it makes little sense to replace the f1.4 with an f1.8 that you will also not use.
    With two kids growing up, though, I think you may start shooting more portraits in a few years.
     
  9. After seeing the results from several local portrait photographers, I'd rather have the Sigma 85mm f1.4 than either of the Nikons. That said, you mention you've spent a lot of money on a lens already, and will also spend a lot of money on a camera. I saw no mention of you spending money on the most important thing for pro portraits--a lighting system (monolights, modifiers, stands, maybe a battery pack, etc.)
    Kent in SD
     
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    After seeing the results from several local portrait photographers, I'd rather have the Sigma 85mm f1.4 than either of the Nikons.​
    Kent, are you suggesting that such results are mainly due to which lens they used rather than those portrait photographers' skills? :)
    I have never even seen the Sigma 85mm/f1.4, but either Nikon is excellent. I can't imagine using a Sigma lens will make all that much of a difference.
    And getting some lighting set up is not going to be the answer to every single question. :)
     
  11. Once I buy a piece of gear then I just keep it and use it for the life of the item. So, no I would not sell the lens. However being a family guy and one that watches my hobby money I would not have bought it to start with especially with the crop sensor camera's that family folks usually buy. A 50mm f1.8 makes a great portrait lens or general purpose lens with the D7000. Actually the D7000 is a very nice camera and I would prefer that to whatever FX camera you wish to waste more money on.
     
  12. Twice the OP has mentioned selling it while the price is up. I doub't that wonderful lens is going to depreciate much if any over the years. They are $1650 on B & H and over $1500 used on Ebay so why not keep it until you are certain.
    You appear to be seriously over-gunned for what you want to do. You said as much when you said:
    After accumulating gear for a couple of years now, I am starting to believe that maybe I should just get what I need now and/or what I am pretty sure of using rather than the fanciest thing available...​
    This happens pretty often. People buy way more than they need. Having said that. I agree with Chun. If owning this lens is affordable then keep it. You won't lose much in the long haul and you may grow into it. If you DO think that you have gotten in over your head and need the money for other things then let us know and we can talk about a good basic kit for you. It is, it would appear in your case, just about the money. If that doesn't matter then it is all academic. I suspect the money does matter or you wouldn't have asked the question.
     
  13. lwg

    lwg

    I would sell it if you want to free up the cash. You can probably buy a replacement used one for about the same price. I love the f/1.8 version on FX. I find 85mm is too long for portraits on DX much of the time, especially when indoors. If I was in your situation I probably wouldn't buy the f1/.8 version until I got an FX camera, since you haven't been using it much on your current camera.
    The obvious other choice is to hold onto it until you buy an FX camera and reevaluate the lens at that point. For your uses it may be better than the f1/8 version. For my uses the f/1.8 version is better (smaller and sharper).
    If you don't have it, the 50mm f/1.8 AFS is very nice. So is the f/1.4. You may find one of those to be more useful on the D7000, and you will still be happy to have it on the FX camera.
     
  14. cesar, keep the lens. you may find you use it more when you jump to FX. since you already have it, it's kind of pointless to downgrade to the 85/1.8G. from shun's pics you can see how much better the 1.4 is. also, if you don't need the cash, no reason to sell right now. the answer to your query is simply to shoot with the lens more.
    i also have the 70-200, along with the sigma 85. the 70-200 is a great lens but the 85 is also. i could probably get by with either, but it's nice to have both. it's not always practical to take the 70-200, and the 85 is great at open apertures.
     
  15. Here are some side-by-side comparison shots done under controlled shooting which illustrates the differences between frou 85mm lenses including the 85mm f1.4 and f1.8.
    http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Nikon_Nikkor_85mm_telephoto_lens_comparison/
     
  16. I'm of the camp that if you don't use it, don't let it lounge around, costing you (although, I don't agree that it will depreciate; it doesn't matter whether you sell it today or in 2 years, you'll get about the same price for it). As to replacing it with either the f/1.8G or just substituting your 70-200mm, well you need to decide what kind of portraits that you shoot. If you stick to the classic 85mm, and you're open wider than f/4 or f/2.8, then obviously one of those 85mm lenses is necessary. However, one of Nikon's most famous portrait lens, still used often today, is their manual focus 105mm f/2.5. Your 70-200mm zoomed to that focal length compares favorably to that lens, and even at 70mm on your current DX camera, it's a good focal length, but just a stop slower. Or, as you see from Shun's photos, the depth of field is rather thin wide open, so perhaps for your portraits, you will be stopping down to f/4 or so, but this is all personal preference, as there is no right answer. Some people love using their 85mm f/1.4 or 135mm f/2.0 wide open, while some people use backdrops and do their portraiture at f/8. I've seen some that use their focal length to get that shallow depth of field, using a large space and shooting with their 70-200mm wide open at 200mm instead of an 85mm at f/1.4. Well, in that case, as long as you don't mind hanging the 70-200mm lens off of the front of your camera, there are a lot of things I could do with $1,000.
    As for needing the larger apertures for capturing light, unlike Shun, I never find myself in a situation where I'm maxed out on my ISO, maxed out on my aperture, and at the limits of handholdable shutter speed, although given the popularity of image stabilization, I seem to be in a minority. If I anticipate going into those situations, I either use a bounce flash or continuous light (if you're doing portrait photography as a business, then you WILL have artificial lighting), use a tripod, or turn on more lights. Even a $150 LED light panel or two, if you have the capability to control lighting in your environment, will be better than trying to stick with available light. This also allows me to turn down the ISO, preserving image quality. For studio and posed portraiture, aperture will be more about depth of field than light control.
    And last, I definitely agree about buying what you need rather than the fanciest thing available. As of 3 years ago, one of my photo mentors was still using his D200 for all of his paid architectural work, despite the D700, D300, and D3 being out. Another was using a Minolta point and shoot to create a book. They definitely taught me that you just choose a tool that's good enough to do the job you need. Also, stepping up to the best gear is the quickest way to burn yourself out. Start small, and only move up when you start reaching the limits of your current gear. That probably means putting your full frame camera on the backburner, until you have exhausted the limits of your current camera. I never understood the obsession with jumping straight up to the best, like a guy I recently met who never used a DSLR before a year ago, and liked his D5100 so much that he is now shooting a D800. I guess, if that works for you, but I would never do that. To me, it seems like wanting to learn how to drive, and going straight up to a Lamborghini as your first car.
    So, I guess to provide Cliff's notes: If I were in your position, I'd see what I need to shoot. If I never shot my portraits at 85mm, I sure as heck wouldn't keep my 85mm around! If I decided that 85mm at f/1.4 was my bread and butter, I'd keep that lens. If I did like 85mm, but I found that I always stop down to f/2.8-f/4, then I'd sell the current 85mm, and either deal with the weight and size of the 70-200mm, or I'd get the cheaper 85mm, which will be nigh-indiscernable at those apertures.
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    from shun's pics you can see how much better the 1.4 is​
    Eric, I am curious about why you feel that the f1.4 is so much better.
    I am happy with both the f1.8 and f1.4 versions, but I have not used them side by side for a close comparison. To me, the f1.8 AF-S is very good also, and it is a much better deal at about 1/3 of the price. The f1.4 could be "better," but it is hard to justify 3 times the cost.
     
  18. Agree with Eric .The second picture is much better,the bokeh is wonderful while in the other is so so.That mimic my experience with the two 85mm lenses.
     
  19. I do not own an 85 1.4G, but I owned (and loved) a 1.4D for a long time. I understand that the performance of the lens for slower-moving work is extremely similar, so hopefully my personal experience will be of use to you.
    I found that on a DX body (most recently the D7000), using the lens at f/2.8-f/4 produced very similar results to my 70-200 f/2.8. The 85mm was just a hair nicer, but the extra 15mm (22.5mm or so on DX) was just enough that the 70-200 was significantly easier to use indoors, despite the larger size. However, I did find the 85mm to be sharper at f/5.6, and the 70-200 to have diffraction issues a little later in the aperture range. I have not tested this lens on any APS-C-sized sensor camera made since then, so I have no idea what it's like now.
    I found that on an FX camera (D700, at the time), the 85 1.4 was substantially better. Not only was the 85mm lens now very easy to work with, but the 70-200 was quite soft in the corners. This was the 70-200 Mk1 though; I understand that the MkII has solved this problem. Either way, the overall look of the 85mm lens was better in every way and at every setting than the 70-200mm set at around 85mm. Considering the great leap the D800 made over the D700 in terms of sharpness and print size, I would suspect that the 85mm is a huge improvement over the 70-200mm on the newest FX cameras.
    The reason why I no longer own an 85mm f/1.4, even though I really like it, has nothing to do with the lens itself, and everything to do with the bodies. I regularly print large, but I also shoot a lot of medium and large format film, and almost never shoot any of the stuff that I might want a big print of with my digital cameras. Because of that, I see no need to buy an FX camera anytime in the foreseeable future. And without the FX camera, there's no major advantage for me to have the 85mm lens. And so away it went.
    I realize that's convoluted reasoning, but that's sort of the way that I think :)
    Anywhoo, hope that rant was useful!
     
  20. 1) Would you sell the lens, take the hit on it (I guess the cost of learning) and replace it with the f/1.8G while freeing up some cash?
    I re-read this, and if you're really going FX in 6 months, I'd keep it at least until then. It is a long lens to use in Dx for available light. A 50/1.4 would be more practical.
    2) Would you sell the lens, take the hit on it and just use the 70-200 f/2.8 for portrait photography (i already own that one)?
    Wait 6 months. For other than unavailable light or minimal DOF, the zoom is big, but it will do a great job.
    Get a 50/1.4 if you don't have one. It will work well with Dx and as a normal lens for torso-length or further on FX.
    Any of these lenses are amply good enough to make you the most famous portraitist that ever lived, if you did your part behind the camera.
     
  21. If you don't need the cash, I would not sell it to get the f/1.8 version. I would only sell it if you really feel you have no desire to own an 85mm prime lens. The f/1.4 is technologically a better lens with less CA. The "is it worth 3x more than the f/1.8" question is a personal issue that varies from person to person.
    As far as the lens not getting a lot of use, I think many of us here are in the same position as hobbyists (with full time jobs, families, and other interests). Personally, I have a 105mm VR micro that I bought in February and have used only three times since, but I absolutely love macro when I do it. Maybe I could have saved some money and rented the lens when I needed it, but every time I used it, it was on an occasion when I woke up saying "I feel like going out to shoot some macro today." Hobby versus job. I have a buddy who has $2500 golf clubs and only hits the course four or five times a year. He's not a terrible golfer (not great either), but he wanted the Callaway clubs because of the quality and reputation. Hobby versus job...if you have the means to enjoy a hobby, then by all means do it as long as you don't bankrupt doing it. You may not use the lens very much, but on that morning when your kids are in order for a great shot or your significant other has that certain look you want to capture that only the 85mm can give you with its 1.4 aperture, you'll be happy you had it in that drawer.
     
  22. I know I'm a bit late to the party, but here are my thoughts. While it sounds to me that it would have been more
    appropriate to your needs to get the 1.8 G version, now that you have it, I wouldn't part with the 1.4. I am frankly amazed
    at this lens and see it going down as one of the greats. Now that you've used it, going backwards would not be enjoyable
    - it is almost painful for me to mount my old 85mm 1.8 AF on my camera - the difference is shocking. I know the 1.8 G is
    a better lens than its predecessor, but I still think it isn't worth it.

    Enjoy your lens and find more excuses to shoot with it.
     
  23. Shun--
    A competent lighting system isn't the answer for everything, but for portraits it often is. Portrait work is more about lighting than anything else. As for the OP, I think the smart thing to do is simply start selling portraits and raise the money to buy more stuff. I seriously doubt he'll earn more money if he spends the big bucks for an FX camera. I would sell the lens and put the money into a portable lighting system of the type you can do location senior photos with. I'm looking at it from a business angle, not a gear angle.
    Kent in SD
     
  24. Have you tried using the 70-200mm f2.8 for portraits? I have and I like it a lot for portraits. At f2.8 (or stopped down further), you likely would not see much of a difference if any between the various lenses at 85mm.
     
  25. No matter if acquired in a heat of NAS or with a wish of images to come, one thing is certain, this is a fine lens. And expensive, but you bought it. You own it. I say keep it. With a growing family, you may never be a position again to buy another. Bodies will change, but in 15 years this lens will still be working magic for you.
    Felling pangs of guilt? Lost some motivation? Not shooting enough to justify? There are ways to combat that by focused effort. Instead of selling the lens, use it's high value as a excuse to motivate yourself lest you waste those precious dollars invested. Insist on using it several times a month. You'll feel better about an asset being used and your photography will improve. Once you move to full frame (as is your stated objective), this high quality lens becomes even a more important tool in your kit.
    Years ago I did the exact same thing with my Canon FD outfit and sold the fine FD 85mm f/1.2 L lens and got the FD 85mm f/1.8. The reasons were similar to yours. I used that outfit for over 25 years but was never able to go back and afford the faster lens again. Although the slower lens worked OK, I kicked myself for years for selling it.
     
  26. cjk

    cjk

    Thanks to all, lots of food for thought. A few clarifications:
    - I do have a nifty fifty (2 actually, the f/1.8D and the f/1.8G) and use it extensively for candid portraits in low-lit events. Love it.
    - I do not think the 85 is too long on DX. I actually really like it for portraits (which I still do a lot of, just not in the way I envisioned initially).
    @Kent: Yes, I have a home studio setup, with lights, lightboxes, umbrellas, light stands, backdrops, various other light modifiers, etc. But it's exactly in that tightly controlled environment that I feel I do NOT need the 1.4G aperture. In studio I generally tend to shoot at around f/8. I've played a bit with very shallow DOF portraits but, while they can look cool from time to time, it's not something I do a lot of. As for selling portraits, we'll see how that goes. I've been focusing on selling my sports photos (swimming and soccer) with some success (well, enough to pay for the gear!).
    @Ariel: >> And last, I definitely agree about buying what you need rather than the fanciest thing available. <<
    That's probably the difference between a pro and an enthusiast. The pro buys the tools she/he needs to get the job done. The enthusiast buys what she/he wants to enjoy themselves! Nobody *needs* a Ferrari but you can still want and buy one (if you can afford it) even if you're a crappy driver, right? ;)
    @Zack & Louis: thanks for sharing your experience. Very helpful.
    @KJ: Absolutely agree! It's all about the pleasure you derive from your hobby. When I got my first D-SLR in 2007 (D80) I hesitated because of the (then perceived) high cost. Since then, I have made some photos of loved ones that I would have never gotten with a P&S and that today I would give a kidney for (just barely exaggerating).
    - Regarding $: it's just a rational investment decision (my field of work). If I put $1500 in an asset, I expect either to 1) use it (to produce self-fulfilling pleasure or revenues) or 2) have its value appreciate (stock, land, some real estate, interest on money in the bank). If it's neither, then that money is better used invested elsewhere (inflation loss + opportunity cost).
    My takeaways:
    - One of the advantages of the f/1.8 would be its smaller size. I realize that the bulkiness of the f/1.4 and its cost have probably refrained me from using it more for candids in low-lit situations. I tend to rely on my 50 f/1.8 and even there I prefer the 1.8D rather than the bulkier 1.8G (I have both). I've avoided taking the 85 f/1.4 with me to events because of its size and because I am always worried about someone bumping into it and damaging it.
    - Using the 70-200 in place of the 85 might work for posed portraits but it would be just too bulky and intimidating for candids (and very heavy!). And as Shun mentioned, the extra stop provided by the 85 is definitely a big big plus both for indoor low-light and for background separation.
    - @Eric: In Shun's photos, I have to admit that I do like the rendition of the 1.4 more but then again it might be other factors (light) than just the change of lenses.
    So it seems to me that the 1.8G wins on flexibility (smaller and lighter so will be used more) while the 1.4G wins on performance and (maybe) rendition. Also, performance seems to differ on FX from DX. If indeed I do move to FX in a few months, it might make more sense to wait until I have tried it on FX before deciding.
    I guess the logical next step would be to go with Louis and Joel's advice and try and take the 1.4G "out" more. I'll see then if my concerns about it size are warranted. If not, then I might as well keep it. Otherwise, I will then look at what selling it would fetch me. If the loss is not too great, it might make sense to sell it and get the smaller 1.8G ...
    Many thanks to all. That has been very very helpful,
    Cheers
    Cesar in KSA (for now)
     
  27. Shun's point about speed makes sense if you are really shooting low light, but is that going to happen in a studio that often? Just as important to me, is that both the 85 1.4 and the 70-200 have the sweetest <gasp that word> bokeh of all the Nikon lenses and both make fine portrait lenses. Yes, the 70-200 is big and heavy.
     
  28. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I wouldn't compare the two earlier images because the settings were quite different. While it was the same girl, I (and therefore the camera) was much closer to her for the f1.4 image, and the settings were quite different.
    But last night I was having dinner with her again at a restaurant, and this time I brought the D800E with both 85mm lenses. As usual, I sat across the table from her. The two images below is a much closer comparison. I don't think the difference is huge. Do you know which one was captured with the f1.4 and which one f1.8? Both lenses were wide open, and the depth of field from the f1.4 is a bit shallower.
    Once again, at 1/3 of the cost, I think the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S is the far better deal. And I totally agree that inside a studio where you have full control of the lighting, I would typically shoot portraits around f5.6. However, I rarely use a studio.
    00b5Mk-506657684.jpg
     
  29. The one on the right. DOF shallower and the exposure is a touch lighter (although her position may have effected the look of the exposure). If I'm wrong then I'm selling my f/1.4 and I'll buy the f/1.8!
    I've owned the f/1.8D, and one thing I will say is that the color fringing from f/1.8 to about f/2.8 was horrible...downright unacceptable. If I was outdoors, I would not shoot any wider than f/2.8 in most situations. When I bought the f/1.4G, this issue was much more controlled. I used my buddy's f/1.8G once and noticed that the fringing appeared to be a little more controlled, but not as good as my f/1.4G. One day I'm going to borrow his lens and put it through the extreme test with the f/1.4G and an f/1.8D. The point I make is that the differences in the two lenses is about more than bokeh and sharpness, which is obviously an issue of splitting hairs in the images above. There are some other factors that go into the price difference. Again, 3X the cost is a personal decision that will vary from person to person.
     
  30. I've owned the f/1.8D, and one thing I will say is that the color fringing from f/1.8 to about f/2.8 was horrible...downright unacceptable.​
    Very interesting - photozone tests show more CA for the f/1.8G than for the f/1.8D and also less bokeh fringing (LoCA) for the D version; they do mention the tendency of the D version to emphasize purple fringing (which from your description is likely what you are referring to). I am still debating whether or not to exchange my f/1.8D for the f/1.8G - not sure if losing about $200 on that deal is worth it.
    Shun, I can't tell which one of your two images is shot with the f/1.4. I expect that you were at most 6 feet away - so the difference in DOF between f/1.4 and f/1.8 is a mere quarter of an inch. To me, the images look identical - maybe differences would be more clear if the images were larger. I am guessing that 4309 (on the right) is shot with the f/1.4 - but I really can't tell a significant difference to the one on the left. At least I don't seem to have any reason to include a $1500 lens over a $500 one in my purchase considerations.
     
  31. the exposure is a touch lighter​
    Confused here - why would that be a distinguishing feature between the f/1.4 and the f/1.8? The camera should just select a 2/3 stop faster shutter speed to achieve the same overall exposure.
    Made a mistake regarding the DOF in my post above - it's not a 1/4 inch difference, it's a 1/3 inch - should be evenly split at 1/6" before and after the focal plane. Still can't tell the difference though.
     
  32. Dieter,

    That nasty purple fringing is exactly
    what I'm referring to. That really
    frustrated me with that lens, because
    otherwise it's excellent. The size was
    perfect, the weight was fairly negligible
    compared to other lenses I own, and it's sharp enough for me by f/2.2.

    When I said the exposure looked
    lighter with the shot I'm assuming is the
    f/1.4, I'm really splitting hairs. Not sure
    how Shun shot those frames, but if he
    shot in manual and just switched
    lenses and changed the (only)
    aperture, then that would account for
    any perceived exposure variance. But I
    would image he made a more apples
    to apples comparison and made an
    exposure adjustment when he changed
    lenses. As I mentioned, this is splitting
    hairs...what I may see others may not
    see or see it differently. Also, a litany of
    things could cause any perceived
    exposure difference (subject position,
    precise camera position, any slight
    change in the ambient lighting). The
    specific dynamics of the lens wouldn't
    be the first thing that comes to mind, I
    just threw it out there.
     
  33. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The settings of the last three images were similar. We were having dinner at different restaurants at a table that sits two on each side. In both cases I was sitting diagonally across the table from her so that I could take pictures. Last night, she was wearing that green sweater and my wife was sitting directly across the table from her, and I was next to my wife. The girl was I would say 5, 6 feet from me. She is a very active 9 year old and does not sit still.
    Since now I have both the 85mm/f1.4 and 1.8 AF-S, I'll do more side-by-side comparisons. Unfortunately, I have no access to the Sigma version. But I'll say this again, Nikon's 85mm/f1.8 AF-S is a bargain. For most people, there is no need to spend 3 times the cost for the f1.4. But since the OP already has the f1.4 and doesn't really need the money, he might as well hang onto it. When his kids get a bit older, he may have some subjects that are similar to what I have here.
     
  34. Cesar, for what it is worth, one of my favorite portrait lenses for a DX body is the Nikon 35mm f 1.8G lens. I like it much better than my 50mm f 1.8 AF lens. Like Elliott, I have taken excellent portraits of my three year old grandchild and my wife with my 70-200mm f 2.8 on both FX and DX bodies. I am a great believer in selling what you do not use. Or stated another way, if you were buying all over again, what would you buy today, nothing, the f1.4 of the f1.8 85mm?
    Joe Smith
     
  35. I would guess the one on the left is the 1.4 lens.
     
  36. Stuart, GUESS? a 50:50 bet is surely avoiding the issue!
    It's definitely the left one for f1.4..... definitely.....for sure....without doubt.....isn't it??
    1/3 the price, hummmmm, well that's just interesting! Looks like my 1.4D might be for sale soon....;-)
     
  37. Yep the left one is the f1.4. At least I want the left one to be the f1.4.
     
  38. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Ok, I am the first one to admit that I myself have a hard time telling images by the two lenses apart, as long as the shooting conditions are similar. That was why I marked down the image numbers earlier so that I wouldn't get confused myself. However, LightRoom is not going to lie.
    I captured over 90 images over dinner last night. So I can easily put up two more for people to guess. :) But seriously, the f1.8 version is very good.
    00b5TM-506727684.jpg
     
  39. KJ: If I'm wrong then I'm selling my f/1.4 and I'll buy the f/1.8!​
    Saved - care for another try?
    Mike: Looks like my 1.4D might be for sale soon....;-)​
    Start looking for a buyer ;-)
    Stuart: At least I want the left one to be the f1.4.​
    You can get what you seem to be after at 1/3 the price ;-)
    Shun, how about two that are shot at the same ISO?
     
  40. I felt the shot on the left is more 3 dimensional. It seems to have a bit more pop too. I don't want the new 1.8 or the new 1.4 as I can't use them on my FM2. I got the Samyang 85mm 1.4 to try on my FM2 not sure how it is going to turn out yet. Still have to develop the roll. I gave it a quick try on my D300 but I can't tell when it is in focus. It's too hit and miss without a decent focusing screen.
     
  41. @Dieter - I'll take another stab at it for sure!
    Off topic, but that D800E looks pretty nice at ISO 1600. I love my D800!!!
     
  42. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Since one lens is f1.4 and one is f1.8, it is never going to be exactly the same. With the advantage of f1.4, I can get away with a lower ISO in some situations.
    Again, I myself have a hard time telling which image is captured by which lens. But since I have both lenses now, I am going to try them out side by side under different conditions. I'll be happy to share my observations with everybody in the future. Maybe I'll demonstrate that I have wasting a bunch of money getting the f1.4 AF-S, which I have wanted for years and that was why I was avoiding the 85mm/f1.4 AF-D for a long time, on top of the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S, which I bought early this year after testing a Nikon sample.
    Here is another example from last night.
    P.S. The D800 and D800E are 98%, 99% the same camera. They are quite good at ISO 1600. Check out the pixel-level crop below.
    00b5Ug-506739984.jpg
     
  43. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pixel level crop
    00b5Ui-506740084.jpg
     
  44. I think it's ridiculous to buy gear that you're afraid to take out and use. If you're unwilling to take the 85mm lens out as it is, what is going to happen when you're throwing it onto a full frame $2,000-$3,000 camera instead of onto a $500-$900 camera that you have today? Going back to our car analogy that we have fallen into, I'd rather have a Nissan that I am not afraid to take to the track on weekends, and drive hard and enjoy when I feel like, than a Ferrari that I am afraid to put any miles on or rev above 3,000 RPM. If you invest heavily enough that you are becoming a slave to your gear, however nice it is, consider unburdening yourself. Someone recently got on me in another thread about not having newer gear, but that's one thing I love about my D200: today it is a $400 camera, and the Tamron 17-50mm and Nikon 35mm that I use for 90% of shooting are respectively $400 and $200 lenses. Because of that, I'm willing to go out there and take photos that I otherwise might think twice about. The image quality of a camera or lens that is in your hand is infinitely greater than that of one that is safely locked away at home.
    Stuart, the shot on the left probably seems more 3 dimensional to you largely because of the plane of focus, with her zipper and writing on her sweatshirt being out of focus, which is what tricked people into guessing that one into being the f/1.4 shot. Kudos to you guys that decisively chose correctly, as I am looking at the two photos, and can't really distinguish anything myself. I suppose I could put it into Photoshop and work some wizardry on it like upping the contrast and such to try and see something, but Shun, you've got me sold. If I didn't have free reign to my friend's K-5 with 77mm Pentax lens, I'd definitely have the f/1.8G lens.
     
  45. have to admit, i couldnt really tell the difference between shun's shots. if i didnt have an 85 already, i'd probably go for the 85/1.8g. and if i had an 85/1.8d, i'd definitely upgrade to the g, just for the smoother bokeh. but the devil is in the details; there is no way nikon would intentionally cripple the sales of a $1500 lens for a $500 one. the 85g has the nano crystal coating, and reviews say, the flare resistance on the 85/1.8g isn't quite up to the level of the 1.4g--an area the sigma excels in, btw--and there isn't really enough distance between subject and background to expose the differences in the 1.8's OoF rendering compared to the 1.4. i can trick my 50/1.8's bokeh into appearing less nervous than it actually is by keeping the backgrounds close, so that's likely what happened here.
     
  46. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    there is no way nikon would intentionally cripple the sales of a $1500 lens for a $500 one.​
    Eric, that was exactly what Nikon did, and the reason is very simple. If Nikon only provides a $1500 f1.4 option for a modern 85mm AF-S, people would find other alternatives such as the Sigma, etc. Nikon is simply not going to sell very many lenses at $1500 each one way or another.
    That was why Nikon started with the f1.4 version of the 85mm AF-S first, in the fall of 2010. Back then the price stayed at $1699 for a long time and there was a lot of shortage. (The 2011 Japan earthquake probsably didn't help.) And that was why I intentionally held off my purchase, but those who can afford $1699 must have bought one by now.
    Back in January this year, I was delighted that Nikon was introducing the D4 with an f1.8 version of the 85mm AF-S at only $500. I was really happy with my test sample and bought one shortly after. In the mean time, not surprisingly, the price for the f1.4 version gradually dropped as supply finally exceeds demand.
    Now that I have both versions, I'll use them side by side for a few weeks under more different conditions. But frankly, I think it is going to be hard to justify the $1500 price tag for the f1.4. And while I can afford to keep both versions, I may consider selling one. Having both is certainly excessive.
     
  47. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Just for fun, here is another comparison from Sunday night over dinner. In this case the D800E stayed at ISO 800. The f1.4 version has a faster shutter speed to compensate for the faster aperture.
    Again, my point is that the difference between the f1.4 and f1.8 is small. If you also have a hard time telling them apart, I am sure you have a lot of company.
    I'll check the lenses out for flare, etc. later on. Since I have both now, it is easy to make A/B comparisons.
    00b5cY-506807584.jpg
     
  48. cjk

    cjk

    @Shun:
    Thanks for the comparisons you've been posting. I think they're very helpful for all of us. If I had to buy one now, I most certainly would have gone with the f/1.8G, which didn't exist when I bought my f/1.4G.
    If you indeed end up selling one of yours, I will be very curious to see which one you would let go of (the f/1.8G or the f/1.4G)!!!
     
  49. Which image was captured with the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S and which one f1.8?​

    Shun, the picture on the right is with the 1.4. Now what did I win? The 1.8?
     
  50. Nikon should forbid Shun to post these comparison shots - it's going to cripple the sales of the f/1.4 lens ;-)
    Astonishing that it is so hard to tell the difference - I'm calling the right one (4531) for the f/1.4.
    there is no way nikon would intentionally cripple the sales of a $1500 lens for a $500 one​
    I don't buy this "cripple sales" argument - in the old MF days, Nikon had at least two options for many of the prime lenses. To me, a $1500 85/1.4 isn't a purchasing alternative to a $500 85/1.8 - in other words, if Nikon only offered the f/1.4, I'd make do without a 85mm prime or would look to third party lenses. Unless I was really into that focal length and could use the f/1.4 aperture to my advantage. Or I could value its "differences in detail" and be willing to part with a lot of cash to get it. A $500 lens will attract a lot more buyers than a $1500 one - I bet that Nikon makes a lot more money selling f/1.8 lenses than from selling f/1.4 ones.
    and there isn't really enough distance between subject and background to expose the differences in the 1.8's OoF rendering compared to the 1.4​
    Interesting argument - in Shun's latest posting, the background is at least at twice the distance as the focal plane (and a lot more for the upper third of the image) and it's hard to tell the difference - how far away does it have to be for the f/1.4 to play out it's advantage? In the shots of the girl though, the background is indeed a lot closer - and hence rendered almost identical with both lenses. Even using the "inferior" 85/1.8D in that situation might not have resulted in a much different OOF appearance (though it would sure be nice if the D's rendering of OOF foreground was actually the way it does render the OOF background. The 85/1.8D OOF rendering appears to be a lot like the one from the 50/1.8D; I exchanged my 50/1.8D without hesitation for the 50/1.8G - maybe I should do the same with the 85/1.8D as the differences to the G version seem to be of similar magnitude.
     
  51. Eric, that was exactly what Nikon did, and the reason is very simple. If Nikon only provides a $1500 f1.4 option for a modern 85mm AF-S, people would find other alternatives such as the Sigma, etc. Nikon is simply not going to sell very many lenses at $1500 each one way or another.​
    Shun is correct. Nikon is not crippling sales of the f/1.4, and it if is, we are talking very small volumes. When the f/1.8G was not available, I don't think people with $500 budgets were saving up money to buy the f/1.4G. They simply stuck with the f/1.8D or went with another brand. Now that it's available, there may be some with a $1500 budget who may buy the $500 f/1.8G instead, but I'm not one of them. The f/1.4G is hands down my favorite lens (followed by the 70-200/2.8 and the 14-24/2.8), and based on my experience with the f/1.8D and the nasty color fringing, I went all out with my follow-on purchase.
    And the photo on the right (4531) was shot with the f/1.4G. The bokeh is quite obvious. The f/1.8G is holding its own though!
     
  52. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I'll quote Steve Jobs again:
    If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will.
    Apparently, Nikon's management understands that very well. Back in 2007/2008, the D3 was great at $5000, but Canon and Sony had ~$3000 FX options and Nikon must have one as well. That was why they added the D700, which certainly took a lot of sales away from the D3, but Nikon also managed to sell a lot of D700 and it benefits the company overall.
    After introducing the $2400 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR II in 2009, now they have a cheaper f4 version.
    After introducing the $3000 D800 in February this year, they added the $2100 D600 in September.
    In every case, Nikon always introduces the high-end, expensive model first, let it run its course for a few months to a couple of years, and then Nikon adds the "economy model" for the popular market. If Nikon has no economy model, Canon, Sony, Sigma, Tamron, etc. are just going to kill them. In other words, Nikon simply cannot "protect" the sales of their high-end models anyway, due to competition.
    In my case, I got the 85mm f1.8 first and then the f1.4 a few months later. Potentially I might have wasted a lot of money on the unnecessary f1.4, but I'll check them out side by side for a few months and then decide what to do. Most likely I'll just keep both. The 85mm/f1.8 AF-S is $500 new; I can't possibly get that much by selling it.
    P.S. I chose the new comparison with the boy with images containing a lot of background. Since the 85mm is mainly a portrait lens, my examples so far all have a child. I can take pictures of some static subjects for a closer A/B comparison.
     
  53. the 85/1.8 and 85/1.4 sandwich the sigma 85/1.4 in terms of price points. so i understand that marketing strategy. my point was that the 85/1.4G has got to have some special sauce to it to justify that high price point, which is much higher than the AF-D version. from a resolution standpoint, the 1.4 receives very high marks, however the 1.8 in Shun's latest example seems sharper wide open. how is this possible? well, the motion of the subject's hand results in foreground blurriness which distracts from the sharpness of the pic. also, the left pic, which i assume is with the 1.8, caught the light better--from the side, which captures more contrast. i would definitely like to see more scientific shots with static subjects, as well as some posed formals, but for casual users, there's probably no reason to splurge on the 1.4.
    the background is at least at twice the distance as the focal plane (and a lot more for the upper third of the image) and it's hard to tell the difference - how far away does it have to be for the f/1.4 to play out it's advantage?​
    good question. assuming there is some advantage to the 1.4, i'd say farther than a few feet. in this case, neither of those backgrounds quite "melt" so therefore it looks like the 1.8 is practically equivalent in bokeh. this can't possibly be the case, or can it?
    in my case, i bought the sigma mainly based on focus speed, which a few reviews touted as better than the nikon D and G 1.4s. once i had it, i found the sharpness at open apertures was quite good. i dont regret not getting the 85/1.4G, but had the 85/1.8G been available then, i might have just swooped that. however, if i had the 85/1.4 G, i would just hold on to it.
     
  54. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Eric, it is actually common that each additional stop costs a lot more money. I also have both the 300mm/f2.8 AF-S (first version) and 300mm/f4 AF-S. The f2.8 was around $4000 back in 1998 and the f4 around $900 in 2002 or so, both gray market, both without VR. Due to its much larger front element, the f2.8 version costs 4 times as much.
    The 85mm/f1.4 AF-S is about 2/3 of a stop faster than the 85mm/f1.8, and the front element is much larger (77mm filter vs. 67mm). Therefore, paying 3 times as much for 2/3 stop is not out of line. The f1.8 is a mass produced consumer/prosumer lens made in China while he f1.4 is a high-end lens produced in Japan in smaller numbers. That also accounts for some of the price difference.
    Along that line, I still find the 70-200mm/f4 AF-S VR, made in Thailand, expensive at $1400 without a tripod collar compared to the $2400 f2.8 version. I think the f4 version will drift towards $1000 in the next year or two.
    00b5q3-506907584.jpg
     
  55. Now, if they'd have put VR into the 1.4 version, it would have made the near-identical IQ (with the 1.8) and very disparate prices more bearable for those that ponied-up the cash......:)
     
  56. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun, the picture on the right is with the 1.4. Now what did I win? The 1.8?​
    You could have aimed higher. :)
    00b671-507077584.jpg
     
  57. Dang... with these samples, it is really hard to justify the 1.4, other than I always wanted one. Let me ask this of Shun; does the weight of the 1.4 help any? You mention the 1.8 is from China, and the 1.4 from Japan, is there a real difference in build?
    I think you convinced me more than all the other stuff I have been reading. I wonder about the build. I got the 16-35/F4 and love it, and I am not one to have it sit at home, it bounces around in my bag and gets used in sand storms (well, maybe snow and rain is more like it), I'm in CO and I go jeeping a lot for pics. I have a new grand daughter and was thinking the only thing missing in my bag is an 85 (and a long prime). Point is, the 16-35 is new this July and it has a few marks on it already. So, build has consideration. I can't tell the difference and bokeh was the other, and you took care of that.
     
  58. Shun, good demonstration. A side by side comparison is more telling than some speculation about bokeh differences between f1.4 and f1.8.
    There are differences between the 85/1.4 and 85/1.8, but there's no major single thing that tells them apart, which makes the comparison difficult. While I would say that the 85/1.4 looks better in some circumstances, the 85/1.8 is clearly better value and I ended up buying the latter and another lens to complement my shooting with short teles.
    My answer would then be that if you have to ask, then the 85/1.8 is more likely to be the lens for you.
     
  59. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When I reviewed the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S back in March, April this year, I was very happy with it, happy enough to buy one myself: http://www.photo.net/equipment/nikon/lenses/85mm-f1.8-g-af-s/review/
    At $500, I think the f1.8 is a bargain.
    Concerning the comparison between the f1.4 and f1.8, I need to make a lot more side-by-side comparisons under other conditions, not merely indoors wide open. However, since the f1.8 is very good, clearly it is going to be difficult for any lens to be much much better.
    The 85mm/f1.8 AF-S G has similar construction as other recent f1.8 AF-S lenses such as the 35mm DX, 50mm, and 28mm. They all have a plastic shell and in fact so does the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S. IMO the construction is fine. The f1.4 is a lot heavier due to the large front element, and usually the extra weight gives people the impression that the quality is better, but I always feel that using weight to judge quality is deceptive.
     
  60. Well... I was hoping for information about the actual build. I know weight has nothing to do with build. Since you have both (in your hands) for several months, I was hoping for; Yeah, I would not care if it was in my backpack, hiking in thee woods and the pack fell three feet and rolled down a hill type of opinion. The nearest place for me to go look at them would be 80 miles from where I live. Which I am planning to do in the coming weeks.
    I have a consumer 28-70, and its build feels light, like when you handle it for the first time in a store. However, it has a great build and has servied hikes and falls worst than the above (a biker not paying attention drove over the D200 with this lens on top of a tripod). It just does not handle water too much, but great in snow. After it dries out, it works again. so, I was wondering confidence levels and such since you have spent time with it. I also have a D4, but if I can avoid weight, hey, you know how that goes.
     
  61. cjk

    cjk

    I love this lens :)
    00bBiQ-511393584.jpg
     
  62. cjk

    cjk

    And at f 1.4...
    It's decided, I am keeping it :)
    00bBiS-511393684.jpg
     
  63. Good decision. If you never use it, sell it and don't buy the f/1.8G version. If you do use it and like it, just keep it. If you care about size and weight a lot, sell it and get the f/1.8G version.
     
  64. reading through the comments, I stumble again and again and over again across a comparison of two pictures of a young lady, provided by some Mr Chung.... excuse me, is that a photographer's blog? you are comparing a close up face only shot to a half body shot, obviously shot from farther away, since the focal length remained the same, and you are comparing bokeh and DoF quality based on these two images??? hasn't anyone told you that this is impossible due to the totally different compression factor between these two photos? doh!
     

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