Deciding between 85mm lenses.. help!

CThomas817

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I went in to my local camera store to purchase the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-S. I have been renting this lens for a while and I am so impressed by it's quality, sharpness and consistency that I was pretty dead set on it despite the hefty price tag. However, it was suggested that I consider investing in the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 or the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 before taking the plunge for the Nikon.

I know that only the Sigma has image stabilization but I would prefer an overall sharper lens to this feature. I realize that the Tamron is only a 1.8, but at less than half the price, how much flexibility am I sacrificing by losing a stop (portraits)?

Any helpful feedback would be appreciated. I would rather make the best investment over saving money on the initial purchase.
 

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i never shoot portraits at f/1.8 so it wouldnt be an issue for me.
i guess it depends on what sort of portraits your taking. I shot 97.5% of mine against a muslin backdrop with 3 flashes in brollys so i dont need the wide aperture for light. I also prefer more than just my subjects face to be in focus so i always stop down the lens for DOF anyway.
i never felt i needed image stabilization on an 85mm lens, so thats not a dealbreaker either.
so for me, the older Nikon 85mm f1.8D worked out great as a portrait lens. you could also split the difference and get the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D, which is still one of the highest rated portrait lenses Nikon ever produced. The Cream Machine. (its true, look it up!)

i mean, its really a question only you can answer.
how much flexibility do you need with your 85mm lens? will you need that extra 2/3 of a stop for portrait work?
will you be shooting anything in low light with no supplimental lighting? or do you want a super thin depth of field?
dont forget, as far as background rendering you wont necessarily need a wide aperture to get things OOF, you just need to know how to adjust DOF, which is more than just aperture. focal length and distance to subject/background can be just as important. all 3 work together and can be utilized to adjust DOF. dont get caught up on just aperture.

if it were MY money, I would get the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and spend the rest on anything else you might need.
 
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CThomas817

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i never shoot portraits at f/1.8 so it wouldnt be an issue for me.
i guess it depends on what sort of portraits your taking. I shot 97.5% of mine against a muslin backdrop with 3 flashes in brollys so i dont need the wide aperture for light. I also prefer more than just my subjects face to be in focus so i always stop down the lens for DOF anyway.
i never felt i needed image stabilization on an 85mm lens, so thats not a dealbreaker either.
so for me, the older Nikon 85mm f1.8D worked out great as a portrait lens. you could also split the difference and get the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D, which is still one of the highest rated portrait lenses Nikon ever produced. The Cream Machine. (its true, look it up!)

i mean, its really a question only you can answer.
how much flexibility do you need with your 85mm lens? will you need that extra 2/3 of a stop for portrait work?
will you be shooting anything in low light with no supplimental lighting? or do you want a super thin depth of field?
dont forget, as far as background rendering you need necessarily need a wide aperture to get things OOF, you just need to know how to adjust DOF, which is more than just aperture. focal length and distance to subject/background can be just as important. all 3 work together and can be utilized to adjust DOF. dont get caught up on just aperture.

if it were MY money, I would get the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and spend the rest on anything else you might need.


Thank you this was helpful! I am shooting young children and at times outdoors where the background is not always something I want in focus. Being able to shoot at a low aperture helps me to virtually lose the background while using the benefit of natural light. I think I want to stick with the fixed focal length for now - I know that it affects DOF as well. Also, shooting babies up close the 1.4 is useful when I only want to focus on singular features. And yes, there are times when I am shooting into dusk and it's nice to be as wide open as that so that I can keep my shutter as fast as possible and reduce grain. I think I agree with you on the Nikon.
 

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Braineack

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Shooting babies up close with that lens at 1.4 means milimeters in focus. Plus that lens isn't great at 1.4. look at nikon's 1.8g as an alternative to the 1.4g at least Google comparison reviews of them to make an informed decision.

If I was looking at that price tag if toss the new 105mm 1.4 into the mix.
 
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CThomas817

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Shooting babies up close with that lens at 1.4 means milimeters in focus. Plus that lens isn't great at 1.4. look at nikon's 1.8g as an alternative to the 1.4g at least Google comparison reviews of them to make an informed decision.

If I was looking at that price tag if toss the new 105mm 1.4 into the mix.

Hi and thanks! I have used it before to focus on an eye, a curl of hair, etc. and successfully achieved the look I want. Beyond the f-stop, do you think the 1.8 is as good of a quality lens? I have looked at the reviews for both and I am still unsettled.
 
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CThomas817

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I went in to my local camera store to purchase the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-S.

OMG that lens is expensive!
Any helpful feedback would be appreciated.
Have you thought of the 85mm 1.8 G? That one is about 1/3 the cost of the 1.4.

nikkor 85mm f/1.8 af-s Buy or Learn at Adorama

I know =/ And I have thought about the 1.8. I want to invest in something that will give me versatility as I become more skilled. I am considering the Tamron 1.8 as a lot of reviews find it superior to the Nikon
 

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The Tamron has VC (Vibration Control), but tends toward some nervous, hard bokeh from what I have seen...very nervous IMHO. THe set of 20 fashion pics I saw made with the Tamron 1.8 VC lens were very ugly on the out of focus elements...really something that made me not even interested in the lens, despite the VC it offers.

I dunno...in trms of pure shaprness, the f/1.8 AF-S-G Nikkor is an amazing 85mm lens; in some metrics it is better than the much more-expensive 1.4 AF-S G model. WHY Nikon's 85/1.8 is so,so,so sharp, andr why therr 1.4 AF-S G model is not any better but is so much more-expensive makes me wonder WTH is going on.

Seriously...look at some Tamron 1.8 VC samples...harsh, UGLY bokeh...a major drawback.

I pefer the older 1.4 AF-D for bokeh rendering to ANY of the other lenses mentioned...better than the new 1.4 IMHO...but not as bitingly sharp across the frame, but more of a classic fashion/beauty/portraiture lens design. Has softer edges and fall-off, and looks fantastic on eople pics, but not anywhere near the landscape lens as the 1.8 or 1.4 AF-S G models.

A LOT of people who review lenses today have a reverence for sharpness over bokeh, and sharpness over rendering, and sharpness over lens drawing style. Not me--the exact,total opposite. So, to me the Tamron is out, and the Sigma is marginal.

At close range, f/1.4 is a recipe for disaster.
 

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My 85mm f/1.8 is my favorite lens. Love it, love the price and performance is stellar.

Tamron one...thumbs down. Sorry.
 

photo1x1.com

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I can't tell you much about Nikon lenses I'm afraid, but I've lately bought the Sigma 135mm f1.8. I am still impressed by the overall quality and look of the image this lens can produce. Same with their 35mm f1.4. Sigma has changed a lot in recent years, so looking at their lens lineup is something you really should consider. They are no more the company that produces cheaper alternatives for people who don't have the budget, but rather offer high qualiy lenses. But as Derrel said, there is more to an image than just sharpness. There is contrast, color rendering, focus speed and accuracy,...
Depending on where you live you may be able to compare the three or four lenses in question at your local photography store (or maybe amazon?), which I would highly recommend doing.
 

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Beyond the f-stop, do you think the 1.8 is as good of a quality lens? I have looked at the reviews for both and I am still unsettled.

Yes, I own it. I personally would never buy the 85mm f1.4G considering how close the 1.8G is and the price tag. My 85mm cost me ~$375 used.

The 1.8G is sharper from corner to corner, and produces just as pleasing of bokeh. It's a lot smaller, and weights a LOT less.

For the 1.4G, all you're paying for is the Nano coating. On paper, the 1.4D performs similarly -- when you read accounts of people who have used both, some prefer the D, some prefer the G.

They do render differently, where the D tends to be a cooler blue true rendering, and the G tends to be a warmer artsy rendering. The G will handle back-lit situations much better with the coating and tends to have better contrast.


I wouldn't hesitate, however, to own a 105mm 1.4G.

I also own the 58mm 1.4G -- it's the absolute softest lens in my arsenal, but has a really unique rendering.
 

davidharmier60

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This post speaks to Canon 50mm primes but I think my points are valid. I did a lot of comparison between a 1.4 and a 1.8. I find the 1.8 to take more pleasing photographs. The 1.4 in my opinion isn't the better lense.
Your mileage may vary but I say 1.8 or even 2.5 are fast enough.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
 

benhasajeep

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Sigma by a good margin is the sharper and better performing lens in 85mm f/1.4. Specifically the Art lens.
For the less expensive Nikon 85mm f/1.8 D and G models. The G model is slightly sharper, but the D is slightly in better light transmission. The G has more Chromatic aberrations over than the D.

For Sigma A 85mm f/1.4 versus Nikon 85mm f/1.4 D and G lenses. The Sigma again is the winner. This is for actual visual measurements, not af speed, build or anything like that.

Again the G is slightly sharper than the D model f/1.4 Nikons. Transmission the G slightly beats out the D. Distortion the D beats the G. Vignetting the D slightly beats the G. About the same for Chromatic Aberrations.

The Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Scores lower than the Sigma but higher than the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G. The Tamron has better sharpness, less transmission though, less distortion, same vignetting, slightly less chromatic aberrations.

This is from DXO's measurement charts and scores.

I have the 85mm f/1.8D lens and so far have not needed to replace it. With the sensors getting higher in resolution. I have been considering going to sharper lens lately though.
 

Derrel

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Sigma by a good margin is the sharper and better performing lens in 85mm f/1.4. Specifically the Art lens.
For the less expensive Nikon 85mm f/1.8 D and G models. The G model is slightly sharper, but the D is slightly in better light transmission. The G has more Chromatic aberrations over than the D.

For Sigma A 85mm f/1.4 versus Nikon 85mm f/1.4 D and G lenses. The Sigma again is the winner. This is for actual visual measurements, not af speed, build or anything like that.

Again the G is slightly sharper than the D model f/1.4 Nikons. Transmission the G slightly beats out the D. Distortion the D beats the G. Vignetting the D slightly beats the G. About the same for Chromatic Aberrations.

The Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Scores lower than the Sigma but higher than the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G. The Tamron has better sharpness, less transmission though, less distortion, same vignetting, slightly less chromatic aberrations.

This is from DXO's measurement charts and scores.

I have the 85mm f/1.8D lens and so far have not needed to replace it. With the sensors getting higher in resolution. I have been considering going to sharper lens lately though.

In all fairness: the Nikkor 85/1.8 AF and AF-D lenses are dreadful; loads of purple fringing on so,so many things. Really bad compared to the same-era f/1.4 AF-D model. Gave mine away to a friend in exchange for a vacation stay-over. The two 1.8 models AF, and AF-D, seem to be the same, and are bad 85mm primes, compared to the earlier Ai and Ai-S models, which were pretty good.

With higher test sharp sharpness often comes over-corrected spherical aberration, and AWFUL, harsh, or nervous, or hashy bokeh. This is where the Sigma and Tamron lenses fail and fall flat. The ART series has some of the ugliest bokeh one could ever hope to be saddled with...this is why the old 85,105,and 135 f/1.4, f/2, and f/2 Nikkor lenses of the 1990's were popular with people shooters, for so,so long; same reason the now-aging Canon 135/2-L is so amazing: pretty bokeh and the right balance of imaging characteristics.

The lenses that test high on resolution and are new and designed by third-party makers are often lacking that right balance of imaging characteristics, IMO. Line pairs per millimeter reolved is pretty danged unimportant if every image has hash for backgrounds, and if OOF elements tend to double-line and create annoying edges on objects.

It's easy for a Korean company like Samyang to build a lens that can separate and reveal fine lines on a test chart, but the lens itself has to offer smooth defocus, and decent bokeh, or it's rubbish for people pictures. The new Tamron 85mm f/1.8 with Vibration Control is exceptionally UGLY in the way it renders the out of focus zones on high-frequency detail like foliage, leaves, sticks, fencing, etc.. The new, cheap Korean 135mm lens that 'beats' say, the Canon 135/2-L on test charts: looks like rubbish, even though it "beats" Canon's 20-plus-year old,magical 135mm f/2 L USM lens on test charts.

Optical "flaws" can make an 85mm lens a beautiful imager on people pics...this is very different than designing a lens that scores high on star charts or USAF targets, or any other "fine-lines-on-paper" type of testing.

Sigma's ART lenses are, to me, a great example of harsh imagers...same with the Tamron VC 24-70 and their new 85 VC...awful pics....great test results on measuring sites.
 
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