The Best Portrait Lenses?

Started Mar 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: What makes the 85 1.4 so

markprincess wrote:

m_appeal wrote:

Not as flowery versed on lens stuff as others but I know what I like when I see it. The 85 1.8G was a meh lens to me. Sure it was sharp. The bokeh was good until f/4 then you could start to see octagon shaped bokeh.

The 85 1.4G is sharper at 1.4 than the the 85 1.8G at 1.8. But I think the extra elements, the coatings and whatever special sauce Nikon used also helps. You can believe the people who bought the 1.8 and believe it's better if you want. I'm sure most have never tried the 1.4G and rely on looking at web images to say stupid stuff like "it's not $1,000 better". They are trying to justify their purchase and confirm in their own minds they made the "smart" choice. If you don't use the focal length a lot or on a budget and don't do much portraits then the 1.8G is good enough I guess. But for me I want the best and know since I've looked at large prints from both and the 1.4G is visibly better.

I've owned the original 1.8 and 1.4D versions. I borrowed copies of the newest versions some time ago.

For a photographer these lenses have very subtle differences in how they render and again, this is what I found on my D800 (and previous D700).

1.4G - Better bokeh, nicely sharp below F2, but not much sharper as I stop down. This lens is capable of a "dreamy" type of look wide open and the rendering is wonderful, Portraits really pop.

1.8G - Bokeh is nipping at the heals of the 1.4G, but falls short. After carefully tweaking AF tune for both lenses, the 1.8G consistently gave sharper results, but the differences were all about pixel peeping and not photography. Above F2 I found the 1.8G sharper and shooting a group of people I found it a better choice when shooting at a very typical 5.6 or 6.3 for such shots. I recently bought a second copy of the 1.8G and it's even sharper than my 1st copy.

As I said, some call the 1.8 rendering "sterile" but I find it the more "honest" lens. The way it renders in a portrait fits my expectation more closely. It's a personal choice and I think the folks who prefer the 1.4 are no less right. A few of my friends (and my wife) think the 1.8G is the best 85mm lens ever! But I know other people  who prefer the 1.4G. I also know a pro shooter who insists that the 1.4D is still the best portrait lens and says the rendering of the new versions is "cold."

Oh boy! Bottom line: Great lenses all. I'm very happy with the 1.8G and if I thought the 1.4G would add anything significant...I'm simply buy it. It's a matter of taste and not outright performance.



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