85mm Decision Time - 1.8g or 1.4d

 DavidJaan DavidJaan Posts: 284Member
edited January 2014 in Nikon DSLR cameras
I had an instance with shooting my recent portraits that has finally made me "need" an 85mm instead of simply relying on the 70-200.

I've researched all the reviews and it seems that if I'm considering between the 1.8g and 1.4g to go with the 1.8g. Now, my question is for the long term is if it would make sense to consider the 1.4d for build quality, bokeh and sharpness. I'd be mostly using the lens for portraits and not sure how much I'd be using it in my wedding work. I've read some about the slow autofocus on the 1.4d, but was curious to know if it's vastly slower than the 1.8g.

Any experience with either of the lenses would be great.


  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,494Member
    edited January 2014
    I rented the 85mm F1.4D a few weeks a number of years ago, and slow auto focus was not a problem. Focus speed with screw driven lenses depends entirely on the body used. The higher end bodies (D700/D800/D3s/D4) are simply faster at focusing them than the D80/D90/D7000/D7100 class bodies. Focus speed on the full frame bodies is faster than any of the AF-S G primes (but we are only talking about milliseconds here).

    Bokeh from the 85mm F1.4D is simply beautiful, while it might not be a match for the current 1.4G it is very good. I'm sure the 85mm F1.8G is very good optically, but there is no making up for the faster aperture of the 1.4D.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    A test in a jewelry store… 85mm f/1.8G wide open
    Bokeh Wide Open 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor
    Large: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/8590566104/sizes/o/in/set-72157630044833773/

    85mm f/1.8G bokeh at f/5.6
    Family of Man
    Large: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/8366083096/sizes/o/in/set-72157632130793563/

    The half stop in speed is unimportant to me….
    Msmoto, mod
  • JakesGTJakesGT Posts: 38Member
    I have the 1.8G and I think that's a great buy. It is better optically than the D versions from what I have seen. Plus quiet focus is very nice
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,494Member
    Sample of the 85mm F1.4D at F2.8.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,336Member
    edited January 2014
    I can't speak to the difference, but I am pretty happy with shots I've taken with my 85/1.8G.

    Christmas cherub bw
    Post edited by dissent on
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    I vote for 1.8g for price mostly and the quality is quite good. I like that lens very much.
  • SquamishPhotoSquamishPhoto Posts: 608Member
    edited January 2014
    I don't use my 85mm 1.4D very often anymore, but its performance has always been top notch. For me, it loses out to the ZF.2 100mm ninety nine percent of the time because of how much more pleasing the rendering is from the Zeiss. However, it has a really sturdy feel to it, built to last. Even comes with a metal hood which is always nice. Probably weighs a lot more than the 1.8, so that might be a consideration for weddings.


    Post edited by SquamishPhoto on
    D3 • D750 • 14-24mm f2.8 • 35mm f1.4A • PC-E 45mm f2.8 • 50mm f1.8G • AF-D 85mm f1.4 • ZF.2 100mm f2 • 200mm f2 VR2
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    If you can afford the 1.4D, buy that. If not, the 1.8G is a great lens.
  •  DavidJaan DavidJaan Posts: 284Member
    Thanks all for the replies and samples. It seems like it's a toss up of sorts. To throw another into the mix I was also looking into the 105mm f2.0 as I find a lot of times with the 70-200 I'm shooting in the 100mm range for my portraits. Does anyone have experience with the 105mm f2.0?
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Having the 85 1.8G has been a pleasure. It is one of the few lenses that never stays home when I go out shooting. I have found it's performance to be outstanding and the weight is very much appreciated.

    Here are some of the images I took with the 85 1.8G while we had dinner in Colorado.


    D4 ISO 5000 1/125 @ f/1,8


    D4 ISO 12,800 1/60 @ f/3.2


    D4 ISO 12,800 1/60 @ f/3.2


    D4 ISO 12,800 1/13 @ f/10
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    I have the 135mm DC 2.0, which is the big brother to the 105mm DC 2.0. I find it very comparable to my 85mm 1.4G. I would consider the 105mm DC 2.0 as almost equivalent to the 85mm 1.8G. These two lenses are "little brothers" to the finest two portrait lenses in the Nikon lineup, barring the $6,000 super teles.
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    edited January 2014
    I don't shoot 85mm that often so I went with the 85mm 1.8G, according to some its better than the 1.4G but you sacrifice durability, some light, and the 77mm filter (to me this matters but not enough to sway me since the price is so different). The advantages though are a reduced size and weight, for me this is a travel lens so it helps me fit everything else in the bag and not get sent to the "overweight" department on the airlines.

    If I used the 85mm more often I might have chosen a different lens.
    Post edited by scoobysmak on
  • JuergenJuergen Posts: 315Member
    All the 1.8 shots here are very nice, I would say it is a very tough call.

    Here is a 1.4 example.
    What I really like, as opposed to many other of my lenses is, that the bokeh is not turned into a wild, spotty, flat tissue (I apologize for my english, hope you get what I mean).
    I think this photo is a good example where in the bokeh a sense of depth is retained.

    85 1.4 @ 1.4, 1/50 sec, ISO 2000 handheld snapshot. From the settings you can guess how dark the place was. Not much post processing, just turned it in b&w

    Bike bw rear tire
    D4, D800E, Nikon 1 J2, 600 f/4, trinity, PC-E 45, PC-E 24, 105, 50 f/1,8g, 85 f/1,4, Sigma 150-500
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,494Member
    I'd also throw the 105mm F2.8G VR into the mix, it has very nice bokeh. Some might object to how sharp it is, for portraits, but I like it.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    I'd also throw the 105mm F2.8G VR into the mix, it has very nice bokeh. Some might object to how sharp it is, for portraits, but I like it.

    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    Own both the 85 1.4D and the 70-200 2.8 Mk 11 When the 85 1.4D came out it was one the technically best lenses Nikon made, To be fair I use the 70-200 most of the time, however if want Bokeh to really feature in the image the 85 1.4 D is superb. In the UK they are getting cheaper like most D type lenses now, if your budget will not reach to the later G lens.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,287Member
    I'd also throw the 105mm F2.8G VR into the mix, it has very nice bokeh. Some might object to how sharp it is, for portraits, but I like it.
    I would agree with that too, but if he's shooting DX it would be kind of tough- you need to stand farther away.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 567Member
    Like PB_PM and Golf007sd I have been using a 105 2.8 VR Micro - It works great. AF is not as snappy as on the pro zooms but fast enough.

    I have been testing the new 85 1.4G very good lens but I dont think it is worth 3 or 4 times as much as the 85 1.8.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 567Member
    @ PitchBlack: you are right. The bokeh is a little better on the 1.4 :-) Can you guess my reasons for testing the lens :-) I wanted the damn thing :-)

    When I moved to FX I was shooting a lot at F2.8 to get that narrow DOF and a creamy background. I ended up with a few good shots and a lot of shots with one eye in focus and the rest out of focus :-) I have later adjusted my shooting style and am now shooting a lot more at F4 - 4,5. I can still make an out of focus back ground that is pleasing - I can do that with my 24-70 2.8 - I just have to think about the relation between my main subject and the background. I now get a lot of in focus shots :-) People now have to eyes :-)

    But I do agree for some specific shooting styles you really need that little extra that a 1.4 leans brings to the table. If I really needed that I would go all in and buy the 85 1.4G.
  • EmceeEmcee Posts: 48Member
    edited January 2014
    I went through this exact same argument a few months back, and for some reason I went with the 1.4D. They say it's not super sharp wide open but I'm going to disagree. The 1.4D really has that 3D effect and smooth rendering of out of focus areas.

    I'm sure the 1.8G is great, but I'm sold on the 1.4D.

    Post edited by Emcee on
    D800 | 14-24 2.8G, 28 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 58 1.4G, 85 1.4D, 24-85G VR
  •  DavidJaan DavidJaan Posts: 284Member
    Thanks all for the great info again. It looks like if I go the 85mm route it will be the 1.8g, but after researching the 105mm f2.0 a bit more I'm really leaning towards that.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    You can add the Sigma 85mm F1.4 to the mix as well.

    I'm bouncing between the 85 1.4g, 85 1.8g & the Sigma (ranked in that order) as well. Cost is a concern (as always) but aside that, I dropped the 1.4D from the mix due to focus speed. The focus speed is what makes the 1.8g more appealing to me as it is the fastest of the mix. I have found the 85 1.8D to be a good low light sports shooter option where the extra reach along with the extra stop of light to be very advantageous when needed.

    The Sigma is an interesting option but a bunch of local pros had issues with really out of focus units, and after a few years of "pro" use, build quality of issues. When it works and if you have a good copy, it works really well.

    I have the 105VR and I really like that for portraits (especially for handheld available light) and find the ability for close focus a great advantage for children to fill the frame. I just love that lens.

    The DCs have a good learning curve to them, but the rewards are equally great.

    Fun video that compares a few mentioned.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited January 2014
    This video reflects my experience. I have 3 of the 4 lenses tested - well, I have the 135 DC 2.0 instead of the 105 DC 2.0. Both the 135 and 85 are sharp. The 85 has its own style, but there is a distinctive warmth to the 135 that is even better than the 105 and it throws the background out of focus perhaps a little better. I love shooting both of them.

    I also like shooting the 50mm 1.2 MF. Like the video said, it is a little cold. Depending on what I am shooting, I find the look appealing. I can stop it down to F2.0 if I want it to be warmer (and sharper).

    TTJ, just buy the 85mm 1.4G. You won't be sorry. Hell, even the 135.........
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,443Member
    Samyang 85mm F 1.4 ....
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Just a point of view about discussing these two lenses…. in order to actually compare them we need to be able to see huge sized images. Full size is best and Flicker will allow this. Looking at anything smaller than an image 3000 px on one side does not seem much benefit as both look great.

    Here is the 1.8 wide open and it kicks the 1.4 out of the game, IMO
    Cowboy_NRF_Full size_01_28_14

    But, one must view this in full size to appreciate the sharpness:

    Oh, yeah, this is a candid shot in a Starbucks….
    Post edited by Msmoto on
    Msmoto, mod
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