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105mm Micro or 85mm f/1.4

Steve Gaucher , Sep 13, 2008; 12:42 a.m.

I'll keep this short and to the point:

I'm replacing my 18-200 with a prime for most walk-around stuff. I'm just not sure whether to go with the 105VR Micro or the 85 1.4.

Thoughts? I think the Micro would give me more versatility as I constantly find myself trying to get closer to little fiddly things as I walk around, but I don't know how its IQ compares to the 85 1.4.


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Michael Axel , Sep 13, 2008; 12:51 a.m.

I think you've got it right. I'd choose the 105mm also. I have the last version (not VR), and it is a very good lens. The 85mm has its use as well. I'd actually change the choice to the 105mm and the 85mm f/1.8. I often put on the 85mm on my D200 and just leave it. I also think the 60mm would be a good choice too, and probably does more to enhance the versatility of your choice. Of course, on a DX sensor, the 85mm and 105mm are pretty long anyway. The 60mm is a pretty good all around lens for portraiture, micro work, and just a normal lens.

Steve Gaucher , Sep 13, 2008; 01:11 a.m.

The only reason I don't consider the 60mm is that, looking back at everything I took with the 18-200, 95% of it was at 18mm or 100-200mm. I did very, very little in between that. I'm picking up the Tokina 11-16 (whenever my local store gets some stock) to cover the wide end, and want something to cover the long. The 85 would do (and I have eventual plans to pick up a dedicated telephoto), but I think the 60 would be too short for most of what I end up doing.

Juanjo Viagran , Sep 13, 2008; 01:19 a.m.


I had the 85mm 1.4D and changed for the 105mm 2.8VR, IMO is a more versatile lens... Faster AF, can go from sport to micro photography in a second.

the one thing I like about the 85mm 1.4D is that is the best looking lens from Nikon.. hands down. ;)

Robert Body , Sep 13, 2008; 02:37 a.m.

85mm f/1.4 is a sweet lens........ but......... you need to have a right purpose for it, it's great at portraits.

105mm f/2.8 macro is a lot more versatile, good for portraits, not great. The bokeh i personally am not impressed with, especially for sources of light which are out of focus, or just bright spots.

For versatility, 105 f/2.8 macro, but if you are going to be taking pictures of portraits only, and you are aiming at perfection, definately the 85mm f/1.4. $770 vs $1025......... different use for each

photo with 105mm f/2.8 macro - use tripod if you can

Robert Body , Sep 13, 2008; 02:43 a.m.

There are times when 105mm f/2.8 macro is great at portraits, like here - note there are no sources of light or out of focus bright spots:

1/1000s f/2.8 IS0-200, 105mm, 43% crop

1/350s f/2.4 ISO-200, 85mm, 74% crop

The quality of light and framing makes so much difference... this is all natural evening light, the last half hour of June light, maybe some filtering through the leaves of a tree. It's all about the light.

Robert Body , Sep 13, 2008; 02:55 a.m.

One more with 85mm f/1.4 - this one has some good light

Unless you know WHY you want a 85mm f/1.4, you don't want to spend the $1000 on it. You could rent it (like from www.BorrowLenses.com), and rent a 105mm f/2.0 DC lens and compare them in same situation if you want..... but chances are the 105mm f/2.8 macro can do for you what you want, plus it can do macros (even though it has some issues of its own, like if you point it down, it goes out of focus quite quickly).

Oskar Ojala , Sep 13, 2008; 07:35 a.m.

Quite different lenses -- the 85/1.4 is significantly smaller and lighter and is two stops faster. The 105/2.8 has AF-S, VR and goes close with good quality. The question is, what matters to you?

Omega NC , Sep 13, 2008; 10:34 a.m.

"105mm Micro or 85mm f/1.4 "

I'll pick 85 f/1.4. It's two stops faster, as mentioned, and it will compensate for the lack of VR.

You need more reach? Put a Tele converter on. Some may say you'll loose some quality... yeah but shooting NEF gives you someway to get that back.

You need closer focus? Put on some extension tube.

Vincent Peri , Sep 13, 2008; 10:48 a.m.

What camera(s) are you using? If you use one that will meter with manual focus Nikkor AI and AI-S lenses, you could get a Nikkor 105 f/2.8 Ai-S lens for about $200-$250, depending on condition. It's a lot cheaper than an autofocus version, so you might be able to get the 85 f/1.4 AF lens too.

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