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

Started May 22, 2013 | Discussions thread
Lance B Forum Pro • Posts: 30,699
Re: How to be a Tastemaker

MarkJH wrote:

MisterHairy wrote:

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

It's interesting: as nathantw and Grevture point out, this opinion appears on the forum once a week or so; and when people post comparative photographs showing the "obvious" better-ness of an 1.8 (D or G) variant at various apertures, I seem always to prefer the frames from the 1.4!

A worthless thread without "proof" from the OP to back up his statement.

The OP must be the only one who makes the claim that the 85 f1.8G "simply slays" the 85 f1.4G which flies in the face of all the tests that I have seen and anecdotal evidence, Photozone and DXO, DXO giving the 85 f1.4G the sharpest lens that I have seen them test on the D800 as is nearly the case with Photozone, the only sharper lens that I have discovered is the 200 f2 4076 compared to 4016 from the 85/1.4.

However, it is close to the 85 f1.8 to be splitting hairs, literally.

Maybe I just have bad taste.  

I think anothermike actually has the most useful opinion I've read on this.

Mike is about the best.

He can speak to it better than I can, but I'll paraphrase and he can correct me if I misspeak: he likes to point out that lens performance is so deeply linked to photographic subject--to focal distance, to lighting conditions, to the peculiarities of the body on which you use it--that proclaiming a "best" lens can be a deeply misleading business.

Not to mention the aperture used at those various camera to subject distances can have a major effect on the result compared to other apertures from the same distance etc. So many variables!

There might well be a number of circumstances in which the 85 f/1.8G does outperform the f/1.4G, but probably not all.  (If I had to guess, I'd imagine the f/1.8G is a little sharper at stopped-down apertures (say, f/5.6 and higher), at distances, and in situations that don't involve backlight, bright specular highlights, or other direct reflection.)   Does that make it a "better" lens?   No, not if you're shooting outdoor portraits in interesting light.

Honestly, I kind of hate these "The Cheaper Lens is Better!" celebratory posts for that reason: they pick one circumstance in which the inexpensive lens performs extraordinarily well and then assume it speaks for every use, for every taste, for everyone.


In so many situations, the level of performance we're getting from these optics really does delve straight into taste--because they're all sharp, they're all reasonably well corrected, they all resist flare pretty well.  That's something to celebrate--that there's a real art to these designs that takes some discipline and experience to appreciate.  Just jumping on sharp photographs as an opportunity to proclaim one's taste "superior" and determinative of "best" ruins the better opportunity for everyone else to talk about what's really going on.

Both are superb lenses and both deliver the goods. If you can't afford, or don't need the 85 f1.4G, the 85 f1.8G is a logical pick and a fantastic lens. However, please do not insult our intelligence by wild claims of the 85 f1.8G "slaying" the 85 f1.4G, it is just garbage and ignorant.


 Lance B's gear list:Lance B's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +13 more
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