Nikon 85mm 1.8G vs 1.4D - Contrast, Sharpness, Bokeh Side by Side Tests

Started Apr 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
Contributing MemberPosts: 629
Re: Not that big of a difference
In reply to Cha Chief, May 1, 2012

More power to you then, that saved 1100$

Although, photozone is hardly "reliable", am sorry about that, and lenses don't measure well simply resolution wise... shoot a lens near and far and the results will change dramatically; even the fabled 70-200 VR II is less than stellar far away... and photozone runs (or used to) it tests with near targets.

But, to get back to the 85G vs 85G, let me phrase it this way: I shot the 85 1.8D, 85 1.4D, 85 1.4G, and result is easy for me:

  • I don't care how sharp the 85 1.8D can be, I simply don't like its rendition. And yet, everyone says it's as sharp as a tack.

  • the damned 85 1.4D has a less reliable focusing than a drunk driver trying to park its caterpillar in a glass shop

  • the 85 1.4G is sharp , and gets the damn focus fine 99% of the time.

Guess what: my preferred lens is the 85 1.4D. Its rendition is simply different. It renders people in an amazing, read amazing way. Sold it because I wanted to move to primes only, and needed an 85 that was reliable in focusing, and am now sorry of that. Note: the 85 1.4G is wonderful too. But its rendition veers on the warmer side, and, well, up near, really near as in face to face, the old D had more than an ace up its sleeve even shot at 1.4. Give it a couple of meters more, and the 85 1.4G trounces the old one by a mile, of course.

Perhaps the 85 1.8G is as good as you say, but remember, sharpness is by no means the end-be-all of a lens. Colours, bokeh, and general feeling make the other 50% of a lens' worth.

My 105DC is an incredible lens whenever there's a person in the frame. It just performs magic tricks, and by 2.8, I would take it over the 70-200 VR II. Actually, I take it even at f2, as it is sharp enough for me, and renders so differently from the zoom.

And all this can be said of many lenses: take the other two G brothers. Shot wide open neither the 24 1.4 or the 35 1.4 are anything to write home about sharpness wise. And, yet, they impart a creaminess to the image, a delicate passage from focus to out of focus, that they are (to me) amazing, even though they really need f2.8 to start to be "sharp" (and the 24-70 at 35@4 is probably as sharp). But the 24-70 has a harsh colour rendition, strong and imposing, hardly flattering at all. It is just unpleasant . I was amazed at first, and then quickly got tired of its over the top painting. So that's gone, while the 2 less than stellar sharpness-wise wide open primes are here to stay...

Lastly, the 200/2. Now, that is probably Nikon's sharpest lens. Shot at F2, it is beyond belief. And yet, I assure you, it is delicate in the way it renders. You can count the pores of the skin, but it's never harsh or bad. Just sharp with wonderful, pastel like colours... To me, and to many, sharpness is just a fraction of a lens' value. And if I was strapped for cash (I am, but I have the lenses I need now! :D... I'd buy the 1.4D.

Good luck, and good fun with your shooting!

Cha Chief wrote:

I don't see that big of a difference to justify the f1.4 at OVER three times the cost. This is exactly why I purchased the 85mm 1.8G and I couldn't be happier with it. The 1.4G lists for $1699 which is essentially $1700! The 1.8G lists for $499 which is essentially $500. For the extra stops gained by the f1:4, I can simply increase the ISO while using the f1.8 "if" I were to even need the extra light which hasn't happened yet. How much more do you suppose it even costs Nikon to manufacture the f1.4 vs the f1.8? At the most $300 and that is even a long stretch? No way. My f1.8 is sharp as a tack and I use it primarily for portraits anyway with few exceptions.

At $1699 Nikon is killing folks with the f1.4 and nothing is going to change my mind on that one. Photozone essentially says the same thing about the f1.8 G as it is highly recommended and to me these pictures prove it. For $1200 less, the 1:8G is the one for me. In reality I didn't need it because I have a Nikon 70-200VR that is plenty sharp and bright at 85mm f2.8. The main reasons I bought the 85f1.8 G is I had a nice lens that I wasn't using and I used it as trade material and I figured I might like a bright, sharp, prime portrait lens and the 85f1.8 G fit the description. For the money, the 85f1.8G is a decent bargain for the quality you get.

It is one of the highest rated Nikon lenses on photozone and I couldn't be happier with mine.

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