Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?

Started May 17, 2013 | Discussions
teknos
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Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
May 17, 2013

hey all, thought i would get some opinions.

im a hobbyist photog, i do alot of travel photography/street portraits, i am looking at buying another lens for portraits for the d800, either the 135mm or 85m 1.4g. which would you prefer and why? im considering buying the 135 then saving abit and getting the cheaper 85mm 1.8g.

is the 1.4g really worth the extra coin?

other lenses i already have,- samyang 14mm, sigma 35mm nikon 50mm 1.4d

Nikon D800
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Steven Sax
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 17, 2013

they're both terrific. And the 135 is so retro and built like a tank. The 85 however focuses ridiculously quickly and I believe is significantly more versatile. you can't go wrong...

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bencope
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 17, 2013

If you're shooting on a DX body I would pick the 85mm for sure unless you're exclusively doing work outside where you will have the enough room between you and your subject.  On FX, I find I use the 85mm 1.4G for indoor/studio work and the 135mm f/2DC outside if I don't want to carry a bigger lens like the 70-200mm.

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primeshooter
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 17, 2013

hey all, thought i would get some opinions.

im a hobbyist photog, i do alot of travel photography/street portraits, i am looking at buying another lens for portraits for the d800, either the 135mm or 85m 1.4g. which would you prefer and why? im considering buying the 135 then saving abit and getting the cheaper 85mm 1.8g.

is the 1.4g really worth the extra coin?

other lenses i already have,- samyang 14mm, sigma 35mm nikon 50mm 1.4d

I have the 135mm f2 dc and an 85mm 1.4. I'd recommend you getting the 135 and add the 85 1.8 later. The 135, due to it's longer focal length provides extra compression which of course lends itself well to it's intended purpose. This lens has a huge learning curve but you will enjoy every minute. I have lots of examples using this lens and it adds to the 'look' i want everytime. It is of course a subjective, almost magic quality that it is.
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John Motts
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 17, 2013

If it's a choice between getting just an 85mm f/1.4G and an 85mm f/1.8G and a 135mm, I would go for the latter, personally.

However, my suggestion would be to try first buying an 85mm f/1.8G which is a fantastic lens for the money. The 1.4G is a better lens, but the law of diminishing returns comes in with a vengeance.

Then if you still find yourself wanting something longer, then get the 135mm.

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Guidenet
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 17, 2013

teknos wrote:

hey all, thought i would get some opinions.

im a hobbyist photog, i do alot of travel photography/street portraits, i am looking at buying another lens for portraits for the d800, either the 135mm or 85m 1.4g. which would you prefer and why? im considering buying the 135 then saving abit and getting the cheaper 85mm 1.8g.

is the 1.4g really worth the extra coin?

other lenses i already have,- samyang 14mm, sigma 35mm nikon 50mm 1.4d

Personally, I'd get the Nikon 85 f/1.4G over any of them. In fact, that's what I've done. I think 85mm is the definative portrait length because it allows the freedom to move around a bit yet still has that pretty compression. It's has a bit of a magical rendition where the 85 f/1.8 is more clinical.

The 135 is a good length too, but I find it way to limiting for everyday use in the studio or out. If you're shooting mostly pure headshots or outside, it's fine. When I need that, I move all the way to 150mm or 300mm quite honestly.

I may one day buy another 135mm lens even though I tend not to use the ones I've owned over the years. I'll probably wait though for Nikon to upgrade the old 135 f/2 that exists today.

Good luck and have fun.

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Lance B
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Guidenet, May 18, 2013

Guidenet wrote:

teknos wrote:

hey all, thought i would get some opinions.

im a hobbyist photog, i do alot of travel photography/street portraits, i am looking at buying another lens for portraits for the d800, either the 135mm or 85m 1.4g. which would you prefer and why? im considering buying the 135 then saving abit and getting the cheaper 85mm 1.8g.

is the 1.4g really worth the extra coin?

other lenses i already have,- samyang 14mm, sigma 35mm nikon 50mm 1.4d

Personally, I'd get the Nikon 85 f/1.4G over any of them. In fact, that's what I've done. I think 85mm is the definative portrait length because it allows the freedom to move around a bit yet still has that pretty compression. It's has a bit of a magical rendition where the 85 f/1.8 is more clinical.

The 135 is a good length too, but I find it way to limiting for everyday use in the studio or out. If you're shooting mostly pure headshots or outside, it's fine. When I need that, I move all the way to 150mm or 300mm quite honestly.

I may one day buy another 135mm lens even though I tend not to use the ones I've owned over the years. I'll probably wait though for Nikon to upgrade the old 135 f/2 that exists today.

Good luck and have fun.

I'd have to agree, Chris. Love that 85mm f1.4G!

Crop

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calson
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

When I got a FX camera the first lens I sold was my 85mm f1.4 lens which was too long on my DX cameras and too short on my FX ones. I bought the 105mm f2 DC lens to replace it.

The 85mm on a DX camera was effectively a 135mm focal length lens and I found it too long when shooting indoors. There often was not enough space between me and my subjects. I like the camera to subject distance of the 105mm focal length with 35mm film and it was my favorite lens for years before digital cameras came on the scene.

For outdoor use I prefer the 70-200mm f2.8 lens for subjects. Longer is better and this lens is still manageable hand held.

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AllMankind
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Personally
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

I would go with the 85mm f1.8.  Actually, that's the lens I own and use.

I went with the f1.8 because it is so much cheaper than the f1.4, and because shooting wide open is not something I do. So paying extra for a feature I would not use would make no sense.  I use my 85mm in the studio where the 135mm would just be too long to work comfortably.

The problem with asking questions like should I buy this lens or that lens, is that only you know the circumstances and conditions under which you intend to use it.  I explained my rationale for buying the 85f1.8.  That's what works for me.  I don't know what works for you.

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Aly Oops
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

I use the D800 with my lenses and love it.

For indoor and portraits, the 85mm f/1.4 is worth the extra cost.  If you need that extra lighting.

The 85mm f/1.8 is cheaper but you may want to consider 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, which I have.

I'm blown away with this lens.

It is sharp, detailed, resolution wise, fast, has as good bokeh as the 85mm f/1.4 and better than 85mm f/1.8 from my results. You will have the reach and all those in between focal length.

I also have the 24-70mm f/2.8 which I use primarily as my landscape lens.  It just great and you can get good bokeh with it.

I have the 105mm f/2.8 VR (actually VRII), it great for closeup that can't be done with the other lens I have, but for portraits it not as good but nicely usable. Not that good for landscape.

You have to decide what you need. I didn't want to compromise or live with almost what I wanted. I needed 3 lens to cover all my interest.

The fourth lens could be wild life, but not my interest at this time.  I did try the new doubler version III, I like it, it a nice way to get 140-400mm on my 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. Sharp but not detailed, lacked some resolution on closeups. If I can't see the dandruff on the flowers, don't consider it as good resolution, otherwise is great.

Hope this helps in your decisions.  Save and get what you really need.

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Guidenet
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Lance B, May 18, 2013

Lance, nice image. I'd like to point out something to others.

Notice how an experienced photographer doesn't automatically go to f/1.4 on a lens such as this. He went to f/5 which was just enough to blur the background and isolate the subject and yet allow easy recognition of that background. In my opinion, that's what makes an environmental portrait work well at times. Nicely executed and a good lesson for all of us.

Another nice part is to notice how the background gracefully changes as the aperture becomes smaller. The bokeh doesn't become too busy. Everything still creams nicely. I think is is one of the real strengths and why you might pay more for the Nikon 85 f/1.4G.

Thanks, Lance, and take care.

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RichyjV
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

I'd go with your gut: the 135 and then the 85 1.8. Not because the 85 1.4 isn't great, it's just that the 1.8 is as sharp and nearly as good in other regards for much less money, the benefits of better technology improving newer lenses, even the cheaper ones. The 135 dc is capable of shots that are quite different from regular lenses, so I'd get that in a heartbeat.

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Jonathan Siegel
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to RichyjV, May 18, 2013

It would be a coin toss for me. I love both lenses, although I own the 85mm f1.4AFD, not the G, however I do not think there is an enormous difference, optically, between the D and G. Here are a few samples of the 85mm on a D700:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/8745678001/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/8719195453/
and the 135mm on a D700:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/8356261533/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/8354128366/
Depends entirely on what you intend to shoot. I have managed a few macro-looking shots with the 85mm, but would never both trying that with the 135mm. The 135mm does give me a lot more space between myself and my subject. It's fantastic for portraits, and I might be able to swing some landscape shots with it. I really love both lenses.

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anotherMike
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

85/1.4G in a hearbeat. Does everything better than the 135, although it might not be long enough for you for closer street portraits. Nikon is rumored to have a new 135 or 105 design out at some point - I'd wait that out myself.

-m

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Keith Aitken
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

The 135DC f/2 and 85mm f/1.4G are both great - I use them mostly in completely different situations. On FF, 135mm is a more appealing and useable length outside, where I find 85mm too short, but if you are using the crop mode on the D800, you may have the best of both world.

If you do much low light work, the f/1.4 minimum aperture makes a huge difference, compared to f/2, whether for a concert, church interior when travelling, or social shooting inside. Also, some users find that the 135DC f/2 is not as sharp as they would like at f/2, but good at f/2.8 and amazing at f/4.

Both lenses are heavy and chunky, so perhaps not always ideal for lightweight travelling, depending upon your style. The 85mm f/1.8G is also bigger than one expects, with fantastic performance - a fine lens which many have chosen as a better value alternative to the f/1.4G.

If weight or cost is a major consideration, have you looked at the 85mm f/1.8D ? It is an older underrated lens offering wonderful bokeh and great IQ. Its f/1.8G successor and the f/1.4G are better lenses overall, but for great value and high performance, the f/1.8D is appealing, plus it is very small and lightweight, making it less obtrusive for street shooting, where the 85G and 135DC are bigger and more noticeable.

Another thought : Nikon's longtime 85mm f/1.4D is a great lens for half the price of the 85G. The 85 f/1.4G is generally a better lens but at that performance level, the differences become harder to identify. The f/1.4D was designed to offer centre sharpness and less sharp edges/corners - the 85mm f/1.4G has more impressive overall sharpness across the frame, but often we are just looking mainly for subject sharpness.

Though I love the 135mm length on FF, another excellent lens to consider for outside work on FF is Nikon's 180mm f/2.8 AF. Relatively lightweight for its 180mm range, way less expensive than both the 85G and 135DC and offering incredible IQ, plus appealing bokeh. When I am travelling, either the 135DC or the 180 f/2.8 find their way into my bag

Lining up lenses is a constant balancing act betw cost, value and actual use. The 135mm and 85mm lengths are sufficiently different that their uses do not overlap. Getting back to your question : Only you can decide about a length best for you, and whether that amount of cash is worth it to you. There are completely acceptable, and less costly alternatives

Good luck,

Keith

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John Motts
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Jonathan Siegel, May 18, 2013

Jonathan Siegel wrote:

It would be a coin toss for me. I love both lenses, although I own the 85mm f1.4AFD, not the G, however I do not think there is an enormous difference, optically, between the D and G.

Not a huge difference at the centre but the G is very different at the edges. Even right open the G is much sharper at the edges.

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Bohemien
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I'd get the Nikkor 85 f/1.8 or Samyang 85 f/1.4...
In reply to teknos, May 18, 2013

...the Samyang offers really great IQ if you don't worry about focusing manually, which is ok for staged portraits IMHO.

Then I'd wait for the rumored Sigma 135 and see what happens. Or get one of the Sigma 150 and 180 macro offerings.

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Vera Cognome
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Re: I'd get the Nikkor 85 f/1.8 or Samyang 85 f/1.4...
In reply to Bohemien, May 18, 2013

Bohemien wrote:

...the Samyang offers really great IQ if you don't worry about focusing manually, which is ok for staged portraits IMHO.

"Staged Portraits" and "Street Photography" are two very different skills.  The OP asked about the former.

I suggest everyone in this thread read this response.  Once someone's has developed their street style to the point where buying a $1000+ prime make sense, they won't be asking about focal length.  They'll already know.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/32338506

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Lance B
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Guidenet, May 19, 2013

Guidenet wrote:

Lance, nice image.

Thank you very much, Craig.

I'd like to point out something to others.

Notice how an experienced photographer doesn't automatically go to f/1.4 on a lens such as this. He went to f/5 which was just enough to blur the background and isolate the subject and yet allow easy recognition of that background. In my opinion, that's what makes an environmental portrait work well at times. Nicely executed and a good lesson for all of us.

Another nice part is to notice how the background gracefully changes as the aperture becomes smaller. The bokeh doesn't become too busy. Everything still creams nicely. I think is is one of the real strengths and why you might pay more for the Nikon 85 f/1.4G.

Thanks, Lance, and take care.

I am glad that you noticed this, Craig and I really appreciate your comments. As you say, too often people immediately go for too shallow DOF in order to utilise the lens' excellent capability in that area, but without thinking about what will be enough DOF. As you obviously realise, when you are this close to a subject with a lens fo this focal length you need an aperture like f5 to get decent DOF, yet enough to keep the subject nicely isolated.

Thanks again.

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Cytokine
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to John Motts, May 19, 2013

John Motts wrote:

Jonathan Siegel wrote:

It would be a coin toss for me. I love both lenses, although I own the 85mm f1.4AFD, not the G, however I do not think there is an enormous difference, optically, between the D and G.

Not a huge difference at the centre but the G is very different at the edges. Even right open the G is much sharper at the edges.

Thom rates the above 85's as second only to the $5000.00 200mm f2 prime for portraits. He also says that the 85 1.4d is not a flat field lens, so you can't judge the corners on a flat target, in the real 3d world the corners are fine, I think he gives the edge to the G version but that could just be for the in-built motor. I think the G version is slightly better as an all rounder, but I think I prefer the Bokeh on the D version.

To answer the OP I would get one of the nine bladed above 1.4's then get the 135 next. Having the 85 already it might well be my next lens.

If buying a non Nikon portrait lens with a molded aspherical design, look for onion rings in the Bokeh circles. This is caused by the machine marks in the female mold tool, which is why Canon use a precision ground aspherical in their portrait lens. but it cost $2000 +

John

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