Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.

Started May 22, 2013 | Discussions
ScottRH
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

MisterHairy wrote:

Had a chance to compare an 85mm/1.4 G lens with our 1.8 G today, and had time to try a few mid-distance scenic shots as well as some studio portraits. Very interesting indeed. Interesting because the 1.8 fared better than the 1.4 in almost all circumstances.

Sharpness is a no-brainer. The cheaper lens simply slays the 1.4 all the way up to f/5.6 or 8. It's not even close for the first couple of stops. CA is also worse on the 1.4, and while the cheap lens vignettes a bit more, I personally don't mind that at all.

Much has been made of the superior blur characteristics of the 1.4 lens, but that is frankly hugely overblown. We had to really look to find anything that would lead us to favour the 1.4 over the 1.8 lems.

Frankly, we tried and tried to help the 1.4 lems to fare better than the 1.8, but the simple truth is that it just couldn't keep up. This was on a D800E, and we put a lot of effort into making sure that the 1.4 lens was focusing accurately. That raises another point; the 1.8 lens yields much more accurate and reliable AF, even wide open.

It seems that the various comparisons out there in internet land are on the money. Much to my surprise.

So there you have it. If you are looking for a sharp 85mm prime with good blur and a very pleasing drawing style, save your money and get the 1.8 G. It's actually the better lens.

Clearly you have a defective or damaged 1.4.

it is God's lens.

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MisterHairy
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Lance B, May 23, 2013

But have you personally tried and compared the 1.8 lens, Lance? It seems to me that it would be a little difficult to make any claims about the relative performance without having first hand experience.

Also, I know that it's easy to fall into the trap of name calling, but I'd appreciate if you would try to show some restraint. I am neither slow nor ignorant, thank you, just curious and open minded enough to compare a couple of lenses and anecdotally share my results. Sorry that I touched a raw nerve.

The 1.8 lens is in no way "beloved" to me. It's a lens and I am able to maintain some perspective in my life.

p.s. Have you tried the 1.8 lens personally?

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J2photo
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Daisy AU, May 23, 2013

I have had both of these lenses.  The 1.8g is a very nice lens for very little money.  It can compare in sharpness with the 1.4g but it looses in focus speed, build, colors, contrast, and flare resistance.  These are shot at 1.4

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Daisy AU
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to J2photo, May 23, 2013

J2photo wrote:

I have had both of these lenses.  The 1.8g is a very nice lens for very little money.  It can compare in sharpness with the 1.4g but it looses in focus speed, build, colors, contrast, and flare resistance.  These are shot at 1.4

Hi J2,

Thank you for those examples. Very nice results!  For me, it must be a balance between IQ and cost.  Although I accept that the bokeh obtained with the 1.4 is absolutely beautiful, the significant price difference compared to the 1.8 is not worth it for me.

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Lance B
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

MisterHairy wrote:

But have you personally tried and compared the 1.8 lens, Lance? It seems to me that it would be a little difficult to make any claims about the relative performance without having first hand experience.

I am not making the claims, you are, and that is what I am calling you on. Do I have to say it again? Sheesh! you stated emphatically:

"Sharpness is a no-brainer. The cheaper lens simply slays the 1.4 all the way up to f/5.6 or 8. It's not even close for the first couple of stops."

You basically canned the 85 f1.4G, not just simply said that the 85 f1.8 might have been a tad better say, when value for money is considered, but you canned it outright.

Also, I know that it's easy to fall into the trap of name calling, but I'd appreciate if you would try to show some restraint. I am neither slow nor ignorant, thank you, just curious and open minded enough to compare a couple of lenses and anecdotally share my results.

I didn't call you a name at all, I said you were a little slow on the uptake. That is not necessarily an indictment of you, just that you may be in this case.

Sorry that I touched a raw nerve.

There is no raw nerve, I am just calling you out on your claim, which flies in the face of all evidence, anecdotally, review and test.

The 1.8 lens is in no way "beloved" to me. It's a lens and I am able to maintain some perspective in my life.

LOL. Really? Making such an outlandish claim? That certainly doesn't seem as though you are able to maintain some perspective in life.

p.s. Have you tried the 1.8 lens personally?

I don't need to as I have seen extensive photographic results from both lenses from accomplished photogs and I have also read the just about every review and can make a very good judgement from that. My thoughts would be similar to those of these reviews, and that is, both lenses are excellent:

The 85 f1.4 G is a smidgen sharper from f2.8 to f5.6 and better in the corners and has wonderful bokeh in certain circumstances. It has low CA, is well built and focuses quite fast, is quite expensive but you get what you pay for.

The 85 f1.8G is a smidgen sharper at the wider apertures, also has wonderful bokeh in certain situations, has reasonably low CA, is well built, a tad slower to AF and is a real bargain.

However, overall both lenses are very close, both are sharp, both have relatively low CA, both well built and both focus well. So, regardless that I have never used the 85 f1.8G I am sure when I say that, neither slays the other in any respect.

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Art Jacks
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

I own the 1.4 G 85, I bought the lens because at the time there was no 1.8g version ! I would not be comfortable posing an opinion on this forum based on a few test shots in a short space of time, I found I needed time to perform some rudimentary fine tuning tests and time generally to come to terms with adjusting my technique to get the best from the lens, at 1.4 DoF is narrow for regular subjects dropping down to minuscule when nearing minimum focus distance, once I  became comfortable I found that  my 85 is used for approx 95% of my images, coupled with my d800e and my 351.4g I feel I have the perfect setup for my needs.

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J2photo
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Art Jacks, May 23, 2013

I would like to give a couple more.  As many have said it is very very important to AF fine tune.  Also use AF-C with a single point of choice. These are higher resolution and all shot wide open.  I felt the 1.8g is a very solid lens but it felt "stale".  The 1.4g has life. I know that sounds dumb but thats the only way I can explain it.

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Daisy AU
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Lance B, May 23, 2013

Lance B wrote:

MisterHairy wrote:

But have you personally tried and compared the 1.8 lens, Lance? It seems to me that it would be a little difficult to make any claims about the relative performance without having first hand experience.

I am not making the claims, you are, and that is what I am calling you on. Do I have to say it again? Sheesh! you stated emphatically:

"Sharpness is a no-brainer. The cheaper lens simply slays the 1.4 all the way up to f/5.6 or 8. It's not even close for the first couple of stops."

You basically canned the 85 f1.4G, not just simply said that the 85 f1.8 might have been a tad better say, when value for money is considered, but you canned it outright.

Also, I know that it's easy to fall into the trap of name calling, but I'd appreciate if you would try to show some restraint. I am neither slow nor ignorant, thank you, just curious and open minded enough to compare a couple of lenses and anecdotally share my results.

I didn't call you a name at all, I said you were a little slow on the uptake. That is not necessarily an indictment of you, just that you may be in this case.

Sorry that I touched a raw nerve.

There is no raw nerve, I am just calling you out on your claim, which flies in the face of all evidence, anecdotally, review and test.

The 1.8 lens is in no way "beloved" to me. It's a lens and I am able to maintain some perspective in my life.

LOL. Really? Making such an outlandish claim? That certainly doesn't seem as though you are able to maintain some perspective in life.

p.s. Have you tried the 1.8 lens personally?

I don't need to as I have seen extensive photographic results from both lenses from accomplished photogs and I have also read the just about every review and can make a very good judgement from that. My thoughts would be similar to those of these reviews, and that is, both lenses are excellent:

The 85 f1.4 G is a smidgen sharper from f2.8 to f5.6 and better in the corners and has wonderful bokeh in certain circumstances. It has low CA, is well built and focuses quite fast, is quite expensive but you get what you pay for.

The 85 f1.8G is a smidgen sharper at the wider apertures, also has wonderful bokeh in certain situations, has reasonably low CA, is well built, a tad slower to AF and is a real bargain.

However, overall both lenses are very close, both are sharp, both have relatively low CA, both well built and both focus well. So, regardless that I have never used the 85 f1.8G I am sure when I say that, neither slays the other in any respect.

Each to their own ... I, for one, appreciated MisterHairy's real life comparison and don't see it as an attention seeking (or whatever else you called it) thread.

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ThePaleRider
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Lance B, May 23, 2013

Geez! Why so hot and bothered? Some guy, a complete stranger, posts an opinion on a forum and you go into a bit of a melt down.

As the poster above said it does not read as like the OP is seeking attention. Hes just saying what he sees. You dont know what hes seen, so you can't refute his claim without seeing the same thing.

The OP has said hel'l post some images later. You've said that you have not used the cheapo lens. There is a strong consensus on the interwebz that the 1.4G lens is bettered by the 1.8G, so it looks asthough the OP is just finding out what many before him have also found.

A counter-claim is still a claim.

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tiko
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

I have a 1.4G and bought the 1.8G recently to try and save some money. After all what I read I thought if I can get ~1k back in my pocket, why not! However after using it for several days alongside the 1.4G I decided to keep the 1.4G because of focus speed, contrast and overall IQ. While the 1.8G was very good overall, something about the images from the 1.4G made them look more alive/contrasty, to me. As for sharpness @1.4, I find it sharp enough.

@Sandbanks Provincial Park

Again this is my opinion of it, and to me it's worth the difference. Others may disagree and this is fine since each one of us values the lens' aspects differently.

Cheers

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@AT

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Cytokine
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"A picture is worth a thousand words"
In reply to J2photo, May 23, 2013

J2photo, Those are fabulous shots.

As stated above you cant evaluate a lens in a few hours.

I posted a few days ago how good Nikon top glass is, and the old saying put your money in the optics, comes to mind.

John

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Jose Rocha
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

Skin tones seem better on the f/1.4, while the cheaper lens gives more punchy colors. That's the only practical difference in IQ between them, from all comparisons I've seen. There's a good comparison on youtube from ThatNikonGuy showing how close they are.

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John Motts
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

MisterHairy wrote:

Sharpness is a no-brainer. The cheaper lens simply slays the 1.4 all the way up to f/5.6 or 8. It's not even close for the first couple of stops.

Sorry, but that's where you lost me.

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Cytokine
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Re: You have a great copy.
In reply to ken6217, May 23, 2013

Ken, Start at about 12 feet away that should give you about 6 inches of Total DOF (focus on the eye), At close distances DOF is nearer 50/50 either side of the focal point.

John

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MisterHairy
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Something interesting
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

Before I start to prepare our evening meal, I have snapped off a few test shots. However, before I show them (not that there is much point, as the single attached image will show) I have noticed something interesting.

The 1.8 lens is consistently giving me shorter exposure times, by 1/3 of a stop or so for the same aperture setting as the 1.4 lens when shot in A mode. This is at every aperture, and while my test shots were conducted outside, I see the same indoors under more controlled lighting as well. In addition to this, the 1.4 lens appears to be giving me slightly more DOF than the 1.8 lens at the same nominal aperture, which makes me think that the camera (D800E) is stopping the 1.4 lens down too far, since I think (can't be arsed to check now) that the 1.4 lens is supposed to be faster in T-stop terms than the 1.8 at the same aperture. If anybody knows otherwise, I'd be grateful for the information.

In any case, this is a screengrab of Lightroom with the two f/2 images open in Compare. Images were imported using the "Default" setting with the default sharpening of 25/1.0/25/0 in both cases. No subsequent manipulation has been done in either case. Tripod, liveview focusing on the nose and 3s exposure delay. A mode. This is the image centre in each case.

The 1.8 lens is sharper at the point of focus, but it's not a slaying, I have to confess, which means that I shall revisit the model shots from yesterday and work out what the differences were.

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joejack951
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to Daisy AU, May 23, 2013

Daisy AU wrote:

Each to their own ... I, for one, appreciated MisterHairy's real life comparison and don't see it as an attention seeking (or whatever else you called it) thread.

What did you appreciate about it? As Lance has pointed out, the OP stated a number of things that fly in the face of every review available from a credible source.

His general tone and even thread title seem clearly aimed at getting attention. I personally wouldn't have bothered with this thread if it were yet another "85/1.8G = great value!!!!". However, as the thread title contradicts everything I've read about the 85/1.4G, I felt intrigued. Turns out that I probably should have just ignored it as there's zero substance to the claims being made.

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Gittix
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

I've had the 85 1.8D, 85 1.4D, and recently got the 85 1.4G. I really liked the 1.8, love both 1.4's. I have not shot with the 1.8G but I'm sure it's very nice. Are the 1.4 lenses "better" enough to justify the difference in cost? Nope. But I wouldn't trade back for the cash difference either. Sometimes there's something special that justifies the difference for each individual. Why argue about which one is best? Everybody get out and shoot with their 85 of choice. It's National Photo Month.

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MisterHairy
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Re: Something interesting
In reply to MisterHairy, May 23, 2013

Here's the same setup with both lenses at f/5.6. The 1.8 is still a tad sharper (splitting hairs, really). The 1.8 is also more faithful in terms of colour. Same processing as for the f/2 images and once again, both images treated the same.

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MisterHairy
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Re: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4 lens not so hot.
In reply to joejack951, May 23, 2013

I have now posted a couple of images which do show the 1.8 as being sharper and in actual fact (you'll just have to trust me) more colour neutral. I have concentrated on sharpness as this is what Lance has objected to so strongly. It's not the best test subject, but it does illustrate my point, so you're welcome to retract your "zero substance" comment whenever you like.

joejack951 wrote:

Daisy AU wrote:

Each to their own ... I, for one, appreciated MisterHairy's real life comparison and don't see it as an attention seeking (or whatever else you called it) thread.

What did you appreciate about it? As Lance has pointed out, the OP stated a number of things that fly in the face of every review available from a credible source.

His general tone and even thread title seem clearly aimed at getting attention. I personally wouldn't have bothered with this thread if it were yet another "85/1.8G = great value!!!!". However, as the thread title contradicts everything I've read about the 85/1.4G, I felt intrigued. Turns out that I probably should have just ignored it as there's zero substance to the claims being made.

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The Fashionable "Bad Copy."
In reply to ken6217, May 23, 2013

ken6217 wrote:

Don't beat him up. I just received my 1.4g today. This is my first prime in like 25 years. I was about to post and ask why I cannot get a clear image at 1.4 on my camera and then I saw this thread.

I am not a pro, but I cant understand why I can't get a clear image at 1.4 on my D800E? At 1/2000 it certainly isn't camera shake. I'm just taking a picture of my son.

I am hugely disappointed. It could be operator error but I don't see how it could be. I take the same picture at 2.8 on my 24-70 and it is crystal clear.

Ken

Ken, it's very clearly "operator error."  Your statement, here, is longhand for "I don't know all the factors at play in getting sharp focus."

It has become fashionable around here to talk about "good copies" and "bad copies" of various lenses like they're vintages of wine.  It's lame.  For your own sanity, I recommend saving the "bad copy" cry for an occasion in which you've actually covered all the bases.  Or at least a few more of them.

Because you write as though you think your camera should always achieve a perfectly accurate focus and slow-shutter camera shake is the only factor that might blur your photographs. Cue the sad trombone on that.

Consider:

  • Fast lenses with spherical elements project more than one focal plane when shot wide open.   Look up "spherical aberration" on wikipedia for an interesting illustration.   Since there isn't a single sharp focal plane to pick, your poor D800E will have a hard, hard time nailing the perfect "one" you have in mind.
  • When using through-the-viewfinder "phase detect" autofocus, Nikon cameras evaluate the scene with an f/5.6 pupil.   In other words, if you shoot wide open, the camera's autofocus sensors can't really see how shallow the depth of field actually is, and so the camera is more or less taking a guess at where, within an f/5.6 depth of field, the f/1.4 focal plane you want actually is.   (The camera sees 4 inches of sharp depth, and guesses where the actual half an inch of sharp focus is within that 4 inches.)  It's a calculated, educated guess based on the lens design and a number of other factors, but still a guess.

Want to know more?  Start here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50045281

So, while your quick shutter speed is a good start, you also need to help the camera out in a number of other ways.  Such as:

  • No AF-S Focus Recompose
  • AF Fine Tuning
  • Or: Live View (it uses a different, more accurate system to evaluate focus)
  • Or: AF-C, taking care to set the camera's evaluative delay to zero and making sure it snaps with focus-priority, not speed priority.

I think some other folks in this thread have told you the same, so let me add a +20 to all of those comments.  They're not leading you astray or trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.  Shooting a fast prime wide open is different than shooting an f/2.8 zoom, and your statement, above says in a very obvious way, "I didn't know that!"

M.

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