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Nikon 85mm opinions

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lostinbids
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Posted Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:55AM

I am looking to get an 85mm Nikon prime.  I am wondering which one to get. Should I go for the new 1.4, the old 1.4 or the cheaper 1.8?  I would be using it for portraits and lifestyle stock. 
edelmar
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Posted Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:02AM
For most purposes, the 85 f1.8 AF-D is a fine performer. It does have an optical fault at f8 or f11 where a central brightness occurs in heavily backlit scenes. Reportedly, the bloom is a reflection of the aperture, and only occurs on digital bodies. That said, and as a user of this lens on 3 digital bodies, I've only seen the problem a few times in thousands of pictures.
If you can afford it, the new AF-S 1.4 is a world-class lens, likely to perform well on any body, regardless of pixel density.
The older AF-D 1.4 is nearly as good by all acounts, just a bit softer in the periphery, where sharpness in a portrait lens isn't specifically called for, anyway.
The f1.8 AF-D is a terrific value and one of my favorite lenses. It's inexpensive and performs very nicely, certainly up to the task of producing fine stock images. It may not have the "1.4 magic" that people goo and gaa about, but it focuses quickly, it's light, and I don't worry about taking it anywhere.
David_Ahn
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Posted Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:15PM
I have both old 1.4 and 1.8 D lenses.  The 1.4 D has less CA and better bokeh than 1.8 D but otherwise 1.8 D is a terrific lens for portrait for the price. Their AF is fast enough under normal circumstances. I found that AF of 1.4D is sometime slow when it gets dark or try to focus on the dark area.
esp_imaging
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Posted Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:25PM
I just tried using the 85mm PC at an event to do candid shots with DoF effects. Found it just too slow to focus manually, so reverted to AF with the the 24-70 and 70-200.
lostinbids
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Posted Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:16PM

Thanks for your replies guys.  I already have an 85mm pc and agree with Ed that it is a pain to focus. 


What I am looking for is shallow DOF but really sharp images.  I was using my 70-200 vrII at 3.2 and wasn't very happy with the results (it is ok but just no where near as good as 5.6).  A lot of the images I shoot are toddlers and babies so I need something fast to focus but also nice and sharp at f2.2.  I guess I am wondering if the 85 1.8 will be sharp enough at 2.2 and if the older 85 1.4 would be fast enough to focus. 
esp_imaging
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Posted Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:24AM
Most sharpness problems I get with fast lenses nearly wide open are down to focus error / camera shake /  subject movement / shooting jpegs at high iso (and being critical, these affect a lot of the images),  rather than the optical quality of the lens. If you are shooting in a (more or less) studio environment, you should have influence to reduce most of these factors much of the time.

I'm guessing you aren't expecting amazing edge sharpness at f/2.2, so I'm sure the 1.8 would be up to istock standards for centre sharpness?

If you go for the 1.8, I'm sure you'd get use out of it, and if you do decide to sell you wouldn't lose too much. They are more common 2nd hand than the 1.4 too.
realitybytes
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Posted Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:04PM
I have the Nikon 85mm 1.8. I love it! It has wonderful out-of-focus backgrounds and sharp faces. I studied them both before I made the purchase. The 1.4 has a little bit better bokeh but that's about it. And guess what? Only us pros can tell the difference, and even then it's miniscule.
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