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

Started May 17, 2013 | Discussions
Austin101
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 19, 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

I bought a Nikon 135 f2 DC a few weeks ago and love it plus its very sharp at f2, I also have the 85 f1.4D which again is very sharp from f1.4, I tried both the 85 f1.8 and 1.4G lenses prior to getting the 1.4D and although they were both very sharp with excellent colours but I found that they were both a little too clinical in the images they produced, the 85 1.4D and the 135 f2 produce images with a more natural look to them, wide open they have slightly less contrast which gives you more room to work during PP.

If I were photographing say birds or similar then I'd go with the newer G lenses but for people shots I'd go with the D version.

as to which you should get first I'd say the 85mm and later add the 135mm, if you buy them used you could get both for the price of either new, I bought my 85 1.4D in boxed as new condition for less than the price of the 85 1.8G, the 135mm I ended up buying new as they rarely appear on the used market and when they do they often sell for close to the new price.

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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 Cytokine, May 19, 2013

Cytokine wrote:

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.

I had the D for a couple of years and replaced it about a year ago with the G, mainly for its low light focussing ability. I've had a lot of use out of both.

The D was superb and I loved it, but if you want sharpness ouside of the centre the D is not really useable until it's well stopped down. There's a substantial difference.

Focussing is much better in low light with the G, whilst the bokeh is very similar in that both equally produce gorgeous results.

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Guidenet
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Not the reason for f/1.4
In reply to AllMankind, May 19, 2013

AllMankind wrote:

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.

I agree, in a studio, there may not be any advantage for the 85 f/1.4 over the f/1.8 model, but otherwise there could be for many photographers, and it isn't the small additional speed.

Indeed, if the only difference between the 85 f/1.4G and the 85 f/1.8G was that slightly faster aperture, I'd have sprung for the cheaper lens without a doubt, but you're buying a lot more when you plunk down the additional cash for the 85 f/1.4G model.

For starters, you're buying a better build level which can't be denied. You're also buying additional aperture blades which allows the OFF regions to decline way more gracefully as you go to smaller apertures. When I shoot an outdoor portrait at f/5.6 with the better lens, I get a much nicer bokeh to the OFF areas. Neither are slouches wide open or at f/2, but thoughout the aperture range, I believe it's a major advantage to the more expensive lens.

Also, the Nano coating makes a good bit of difference in my eyes. I see a better micro contrast, again thoughout the range than I do with the more clinical character of the f/1.8 lens. I see smoother, more silky gradations of tones. I also see a better resistance to various kinds of flare and veiling.

I've purchased two 85 f/1.8G models for my gal and daughter and one 85 f/1.4G for myself. I wouldn't trade mine regardless of price. I think if one were looking for a purely sharp tight landscape lens or a studio portrait lens, the 85 f/1.8G might be the better buy, but if one is looking for the special character only the 85 f/1.4G can give, spending the extra is well worth it. Only the photographer can make that decision and his wallet.

Again, my point is that you're not really just paying for the difference in aperture. There's a lot more there to consider.

Take care.

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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:

Cytokine wrote:

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.

I had the D for a couple of years and replaced it about a year ago with the G, mainly for its low light focussing ability. I've had a lot of use out of both.

The D was superb and I loved it, but if you want sharpness ouside of the centre the D is not really useable until it's well stopped down. There's a substantial difference.

Focussing is much better in low light with the G, whilst the bokeh is very similar in that both equally produce gorgeous results.

I would say the 85 1.4G is one of the best lenses Nikon has ever made, but as Photozone remarked

The Nikon 85mm f1.4G

"As you'd expect from a fast portrait lens the quality of background blur is in a very high level. However, there's a tad of nervousness, especially in the transition zone. Stopping down slightly helps to reduce the issue, though".

The Nikon 85mm f1.4D

The AF-D 85/1.4 delivers high quality in this regard, with smooth backgrounds right from its fastest aperture setting. There is a slight tendency towards some nervousness in the transition zone, but otherwise the background as well as foreground bokeh is very pleasing.

G

"There is a small amount of outlining and some traces of Bokeh fringing"

D

"There is almost no outlining, but some traces of LoCAs".

So while the G gets gold in the pentathlon, I think it is silver in the portrait event by half a whisker!

If you look at both lenses by the queens neck in the test photos you will see similar small diagonal lines, are Nikon using the same secret source or production method?

Their is an interesting Article from Zeiss on Bokeh in which they say that for a lens to blur rapidly it has to have very good optics.

John

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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 Cytokine, May 19, 2013

Cytokine wrote:

John Motts wrote:

Cytokine wrote:

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.

I had the D for a couple of years and replaced it about a year ago with the G, mainly for its low light focussing ability. I've had a lot of use out of both.

The D was superb and I loved it, but if you want sharpness ouside of the centre the D is not really useable until it's well stopped down. There's a substantial difference.

Focussing is much better in low light with the G, whilst the bokeh is very similar in that both equally produce gorgeous results.

So while the G gets gold in the pentathlon, I think it is silver in the portrait event by half a whisker!

We'll just have to agree to disagree that it's half a whisker then. My eyes tell me otherwise.

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joejack951
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Austin101, May 19, 2013

Austin101 wrote:

, I bought my 85 1.4D in boxed as new condition for less than the price of the 85 1.8G,

Does that seller have another? That's a smoking deal! Most of the used 85/1.4Ds I see being sold go for well over $700.

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teknos
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to joejack951, May 20, 2013

thanks all for the replys, great info and something to think about. im heading towards buying the 135mm and renting out the 1.8/1.4g and 1.4d versions of the 85mm to see which i prefer most for the cost.

also jonathan, thanks for the reference pics, you have some great work!

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RyanJ7
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to joejack951, May 20, 2013
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slimandy
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to teknos, May 21, 2013

All things being equal I'd take the 135mm for portrait, but given the space I have available where I'm most likely to use it an 85mm is more practicle for me. I have used the Nikon 85mm f1.4G and liked it, but I went for the Sigma 85mm f1.4 HSM based on cost and I'm very happy with it. I have also used the Nikon 85mm f1.8G which is much smaller and lighter, but I prefer the IQ of the Sigma (and it's a tad faster of course).

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nathantw
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Cytokine, May 21, 2013

Cytokine wrote:

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 +

Now that's interesting information. I never knew that. Thanks.

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billimbriale1
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to nathantw, May 21, 2013

The 135 mm length is too long for classic head shots and too short for true telephoto; as such it is a compromise and may be right for those seeking a one lens telephoto solution.

The classic portrait focal length is 100/105.The 85 provides allows a nice distance for head and shoulders portraits.

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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 23, 2013

I cannot understand why someone would look at both ends of the prime portrait lens focal length range and ignore the middle ground. The difference in focal length affects working distance with your subjects and the compression of features to provide a more pleasing perspective. Not difficult to take a 70-200mm or 80-200mm or 24-120mm or similar zoom lens that covers the 85-135mm range and take shots with the lens set at 85mm for an hour and then take shots with it at 105mm for an hour and then do the same at 135mm and get a sense of the distances involved and review the images and sort them as to good, better, and best, and see how many 85, 105, 135 images fall into each bucket.

In a day of zoom lenses and digital film it continues to surprise me how few people go out and experiment and look at the results to get far better and more relevant information than can be gotten by asking people for their opinions.

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Guidenet
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to calson, May 23, 2013

calson wrote:

I cannot understand why someone would look at both ends of the prime portrait lens focal length range and ignore the middle ground. The difference in focal length affects working distance with your subjects and the compression of features to provide a more pleasing perspective. Not difficult to take a 70-200mm or 80-200mm or 24-120mm or similar zoom lens that covers the 85-135mm range and take shots with the lens set at 85mm for an hour and then take shots with it at 105mm for an hour and then do the same at 135mm and get a sense of the distances involved and review the images and sort them as to good, better, and best, and see how many 85, 105, 135 images fall into each bucket.

In a day of zoom lenses and digital film it continues to surprise me how few people go out and experiment and look at the results to get far better and more relevant information than can be gotten by asking people for their opinions.

You obviously make some good points and your technique is often expressed on forums to choose between two or more focal lengths. The issue here might be a little different. The OP specifically asks between two different lenses that happen to be at different ends of the focal range for portrait lenses. That's only one difference among many between these two lenses.

The OP would have to buy and evaluate both lenses in order to truly be able to choose. Asking others might be the second best way and hence the reason for these forums.

Have a great upcoming weekend and take care.

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Leon Obers
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Zeiss 135/2.0
In reply to teknos, May 23, 2013

As it comes to 135mm, I should definitely choose the Zeiss 135mm/2.0
The best lens ever I tried in this focal length, for sharpness, colour, bokeh, freedom of CA and LoCA

If you have a bit more time waiting, Sigma as well Nikon should have 135mm/1.8 versions in their next line-up of lenses.

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psylvest
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to Aly Oops, 10 months ago

If you want a better one, rent both of the lens for a day; take pictures with both lens (their focal length, F value & price are different);

If you ask people for their opinion, you might not reach any conclusion. A guy who has bought 85mm 1.4G will always justify his buy (he will never accept 135mm which he left out, is slightly better)

I see peoples comment ;

"I own a D800" & I love my 85mm 1.4; I wont trade my 85mm for anything"; " I " "I"...

Please note the following,
1) 135mm f2 DC, you can get a decent one for 1000 USD or less than that. How much is 85mm 1.4 G? its expensive.
2) what do you shoot? (landscape?/potrait/sports?/) how often you shoot in 1.4?
3) Which is a sharper lens? (dont trust anyone; try it your self & look at MTF chart) - 135mm is sharp, no doubt.
4) Which has better bokeh? 135mm, no doubt. (85mm 1.4 is equally good; however you are paying more)

I'veb used both; I dont own neither of these lens; simple conclusions - 135mm is sharper (no doubt), 135mm is cheaper, 135mm will soon be a antique piece (may be a huge demand), 1355mm slightly slower than 85mm 1.4G (there are ffaster lenses out there )

this is 135mm f2 (Canon), I will get 135mm f2 Nikon one soon; both are super sharp!!
http://500px.com/photo/48004998

-Sylvester

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ricko5
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Re: Which would you choose? 85mm 1.4g or 135mm f2 DC?
In reply to psylvest, 10 months ago

With any of these you are going to end up with one hell of a lens, it really is just about choosing the best focal length for your application. This is a bit waffly but my experience...

I've had the 135 and 180 for a good few years, and have had the 85 1.4D for about 2. All on FX.

I would say the 85 is more versatile, but for me (D version) as much as I wanted it to, it has never quite matched the magic look of the 135, it must be the extra compression probably, and the colors are frankly amazing on the 135. Mine is sharp to very sharp at f2, and ridiculous by 2.8. I understand the 85G is a bit punchier than the D.

If money became tight and I had to look at offloading any of these, I would look to swap the 85 for a cheaper 1.8G or D version, or try and make do with a 50mm.

At a push I'd sell the 180, but the 180 is a great little lens with a fantastic combination of aperture speed and portability, it would be hard to replace as I hate large zooms but the length does make it less versatile for me than the others. As someone else suggested though it is an option and does great headhsots if you can get used to the distance.

The 135 would be the last to go, I love it. I hear the Sigma 150 is a fantastic lens but I just cannot see it giving me as much satisfaction as I get from using that legendary 135.

• f2 fast with great compression second only to the (very large) 200 f2

• beautiful bokeh second only to the (very large) 200 f2

• quick to focus

• built great, but not too heavy

• colors amazing

• looks the absolute dogs

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