Considering buying 85mm f/1.4

Started Mar 17, 2011 | Discussions thread
dorff Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: Considering buying 85mm f/1.4

photous wrote:

Do you think it would be a bulkier lens? And what about the f/2.8? Would that matter - compared to f/1.4 of 85mm? I do understand that at longer zooms a higher f/ number would be fine (i.e. f/1.4 @85mm vs f/2.8 @ say 150mm).

To be honest, the 70-200/2.8 might do well at portraits, but for the purpose it is not nearly the best tool. I have two small kids myself, and a 70-200, and they don't often meet in real life. A small but significant factor is the closest focus. Kids are often closer than the 1.5 m a 70-200 can manage. Another thing is size and weight. It is about two times bigger than an 85/1.4 and about three to four times bigger than an 85/1.8. If I had to buy a lens only for family portraits, it would be the 85/1.8. I already have the 85/1.4D and also the 60/2.8 Micro AF-S. The latter also works well for portraits, and has the dual advantage of being a superb micro for close-ups. If you do not have a micro yet, then I'd suggest the 60 over the 85/1.8.

Perhaps another thing to consider: You are likely to use an 85/1.4 in the f/2-5.6 range, because at f/1.4 the depth of field is very little, and it requires real skill and a cooperative sibject to get the focus exactly where you want it, e.g. on eyelashes. The margin for error at wide open aperture is too small in my experience. At f/2.8 it is more forgiving, even if not much, and overall the contrast and sharpness also perk up a bit. Based on that, I also wonder about how useful the large aperture is for your purposes, and whether the extra cost and bulk is worth it.

A note on Sigma lenses: I know that some Sigma lenses are the equal of Nikon in sharpness and bokeh etc. But I seriously distrust Sigma's finishings and build quality. I have personally had a Sigma lens become unusable because the paint on the inner barrel became tacky (obviously because of low quality materials being used). I have seen numerous samples of zoom lenses stripping the helicoids after a fall or even just a bump, and in some cases the lens barrels falling apart. Probably less of a concern with a prime, but it doesn't speak well of the company in general. I am sure Sigma maintains the same sort of profit margins that Nikon does, and the price difference has to be explained somewhere. I'd rather therefore trade down the Nikon line instead of changing to a 3rd party option. Also, Sigma lenses tend to have much lower resale value than Nikkors. The reason is of course that used Sigmas tend to be used up, whereas Nikkors tend to withstand much more use. Although the situation differs from one lens model to the next, the brand reputation determines a large part of the resale value.

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