F/1.4 or F/1.8

OnTheFly7

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I am looking at a couple of prime lenses (35mm, 50mm and 85mm) and am contemplating either the F/1.8 or F/1.4.

For those who have used both, is the difference between the two drastic enough to warrant spending the extra money (which seems to average around $1k per lens)? I know both lenses are getting great reviews. Some say the 1.4 is much better, others have said the 1.8 is very good and there is no need to move into the 1.4.

Your thoughts are appreciated!
 

desertrattm2r12

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It is my opinion that there is a mindset floating around that a high speed lens is the only way to go. You don't buy a Ferrari with an 800-hp motor to commute every day in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Do you need the extra speed? Do you just take bokek photos that ignore how lousy and o-o-f the main subject of your photo is? Do you take photos inside of sewers at night and never boost your ISO? If so, you need that extra oomph.
Bragging "my lens lets in more light than your lens" will not make better pictures.
On the other hand, if you're Donald Frump and have a few grand to blow -- go for it.
 
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OnTheFly7

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Thanks for the replies thus far!

They are going on an 810, where my main lens is a 70-22, 2.8. I do shoot quite a bit in low light (dawn/dusk). Fly fishing scenes, fish, etc. Also, there are quite a bit of low light situations during mid-day (overcast). That said, some sample images that I have seen with the 1.8 are darn nice, under dark conditions.
 

sashbar

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Depends on what lense are you talking about. Some 1.4 primes have similar quality to 1.8 primes at most of the range, but deteriorate slightly wide open, such as Nikon 50 mm. In that case there is not much sense to pay extra for the wider range that you will probably avoid using anyway.
On the other hand, if a lense keeps its IQ wide open, an extra step or two are indeed useful especially for 50 mm and less. I thought I would never use it before I got my 50 mm 1.2 , that was excellent throughout the range, and I shoot it wide open quite often.
 

dannylightning

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2.8 is pretty good all the way around. you can get a nice shallow depth of field, pretty darn good in low light and all of that.
1.8 is great for low light and a really shallow depth of field. even at 1.8 a lens can get hard to use due to that shallow depth of field when you are close to your subject..
1.4 even better for low light. even shallower depth of field and can be harder to use.
1.2 even better for low light. even shallower depth of field, can be even harder to use..

for a example of a f/1.8 lens. check out this photo. notice how much of this is in focus and how much is out of focus.. this is why it can be harder to use. anything below 1.8 is not needed IMO but would be kind of cool to have if you do not mind spending more money..

generally lenses are not as sharp wide open so if you want the sharpest images with that lens you will probably need to be at F/4-f/8 anyways, depends on the lens. some are still very sharp wide open..

20151208-DSC_5501 by Daniel Caldwell, on Flickr
 

AlanKlein

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In the old film days, brighter lenses were often needed to shoot relatively low speed ASA (ISO) films compared to what's available today in high ISO digital sensors. That's not much of a factor today. Also, it was easier to look through the lens to see and focus with a brighter lens. (The aperture would stop down to the selected opening for the picture when the shutter was released.) That's another thing not needed with digital if you use the LED display and auto-focusing. So all you're left with is do you need one additional stop with your high DR digital camera? Also consider the weight difference. 1.4's are heavier than 1.8's. Good luck on whatever you decide.
 

jaomul

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If I had a camera as good as the d810 I'd get f1.8 because you have plenty iso ability if you feel an extra fraction of a stop is needed, and because f1.8 has plenty shallow dof if required on ff, and also because the picture quality on these f1.8 is so close to their 1.4,counterparts at a fraction of the cost
 

Vtec44

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You can shoot a f1.4 lens at f1.8, but you can't shoot a f1.8 lens at f1.4... or something like that :D

Generally more expensive fast primes have better build quality, coating, focus speed, weather sealing, and possibly bokeh quality. I have all the Nikon 35, 50, and 85mm in both f1.8 and f1.4. I keep the f1.4 versions because it's more inline with the work I do. It's a business investment for me so I don't have an issue with spending more. I shoot with a D750 and D800, and often push my D750 over 6400 ISO.
 
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AKUK

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You can look at it in a number of ways. The simplistic view is that an f/1.4 is 2/3rds of a stop faster than an f/1.8 lens. In moderate conditions that's like going from ISO100 to ISO160. In low light conditions, again not all that significant in terms of ISO. Certainly that 2/3rds of a stop is advantage to the autofocus system in terms of available light. Other than that, not a huge difference on paper, so you'd probably just lean towards an f/1.8 lens when factoring in the price.

The more complex analysis looks at the actual lenses themselves. How do they perform at maximum aperture? In the Nikon 50mm range alone you have 4 lenses (1.8D/G and 1.4D/G, as well as the non D versions). The same is true of the 85mm AF lenses. Throw in Sigma and Tamron's latest offerings into the mix and things can get real confusing really quickly.

If you require fantastic sharpness wide open, then you'd perhaps look at the Sigma 50mm Art offering. If you do a lot of low light event photography but can't use a tripod, then Tamron's new 45mm f/1.8 VC may be of interest. You own an entry level DSLR and want a sharp portrait lens but don't want to spend the earth, then you'd look at the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. Sharpness is just one factor. Bokeh is an important consideration for some photographers. Fringing, aberration and distortion may also be of concern.

What are you planning on shooting? What aperture are you likely to be shooting at as a result? Will you be printing your images in a large medium? When you consider most people just share their images on-line, in a compressed format at a hugely reduced resolution compared to the RAW files, often times most of the considerations above really aren't a major concern at all. For example, years ago I'd taken a picture of my nephew. It was a cute shot but the focus had missed where he'd moved at the last moment. By the time I'd finished with it and uploaded it, the eyes looked razor sharp. My dad even commented on the sharpness of the image. I then showed him the RAW file and he was quite surprised.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a lot of what is marketed to us as being important, don't really make a difference in the real world for the vast majority of photographers. Don't get me wrong, it's nice having professional gear and when you actually require it, you've got to have it but, unless your job depends upon it, most of the time you aren't going to be able to tell the difference between an image shot with an f/1.4 and an f/1.8 lens. I've licensed an image to a greetings card company that was shot on a Nikon D90 with a 50mm f/1.8D lens. A camera body that gets trounced by the sensors in today's lowest Nikon DSLRs and a lens you can pick up for less than $100.
 

PaulWog

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Don't forget how difficult it is to get a shot in correct focus at f1.4... or even f1.8... especially on a full frame camera.

If you are shooting with a newer full frame camera, then you can boost your ISO really high (up to 6400 nicely, and 12800 can still look good). As light dies down, one issue you will encounter is boring lighting, rather than ISO issues.

Speaking to the bokeh, I don't think it's worth a $1000 price hike. Sometimes the difference between f1.8 and f1.4 will make sense. But then dropping from f1.4 to f1.2 can also look pretty nice.

I would rather shoot with a 24-70 f2.8. For me, I would sooner miss a great shot because I had the wrong prime lens on my camera, rather than the amount of bokeh I could've gotten. I can also boost the effects of bokeh in Lightroom and/or Photoshop if I *really* want to get just an increment more effect.
 

Derrel

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In the new G-series, the 85mm f/1.8 is almost as good as the f/1.4 model....the two are numbers 2 and 1 in the DxO Mark performance rankings, out of over 75 "standard" lenses tested in a number of categories. In a four-lens 85mm test, the f/1.8 G is the best **overall, all-around** performer against the 1.8 AF-D, the 1.4 G, and the Sigma 84mm f/1.4 Nikon 85mm comparison review | Cameralabs

"Taking all results in the center, DX-corner, and FX-corner plus my experience from many, many real-life shots into account I come to the following conclusions regarding sharpness and contrast:

The Nikon AF-S 85/1.8G produces the best performance in the most consistent way. It is easy to focus optimally, shows very little magenta ghosting in high contrast situations and has very low spherical aberrations / coma. It also degrades surprisingly little from center to corner and when opening up the aperture. Plus it performs equally well at infinity or at portrait distances. Its only weakness is a slight dip in sharpness somewhere along the borders of the DX image circle."
**********

The 50/1.4 G is a tiny bit better than the 1.8 model, but focuses more slowly. I went with the f/1.8 versions of both these lenses, and have been very happy with the 85mm, and less so with the 50mm.
 

jbylake

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I was curious about the 50/1.4 G vs. the f/1.8. I've read several reviews, and as always many of them are at odds. However several state that the less expensive f/1.8 is superior (to varying degrees) to the f/1.4. Since you mentioned that you were "less so" impressed with the f/1.8, I'm wondering what your thinking now. I'm going to be purchasing one or the other, soon. If you had to do it all over again, would you go with the f/1.4? That's what I'm leaning towards, but I respect your opinions, and would like to hear your thoughts on these two.
Thanks,

J.
 

PaulWog

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I was curious about the 50/1.4 G vs. the f/1.8. I've read several reviews, and as always many of them are at odds. However several state that the less expensive f/1.8 is superior (to varying degrees) to the f/1.4. Since you mentioned that you were "less so" impressed with the f/1.8, I'm wondering what your thinking now. I'm going to be purchasing one or the other, soon. If you had to do it all over again, would you go with the f/1.4? That's what I'm leaning towards, but I respect your opinions, and would like to hear your thoughts on these two.
Thanks,

J.

The 50mm 1.8G represents excellent value for the money. I own it. I like it. I have the 85mm 1.8G, and I like that lens as well. If you want an f1.4 lens that represents the peak of technical performance, get the Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art.
 

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