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85mm f/1.4 D or G

Richard Snow , Jan 24, 2011; 07:24 a.m.

Good morning Photo.net community.

I know this has been re-hashed a thousand times before on Photo.net and every other photography forum out there, but since it's been a few months since the introduction of the 85mm f/1.4G, I thought I'd get a fresh perspective.

I have the chance to purchase a brand new Nikon USA 85mm f/1.4D, (yes there are a few still kicking around), for around $1100. Is there a significant enough increase in IQ or Performance in the 85mm f/1.4G to justify an additional $600? The only thing that I think could sell me is the ability to MF on the fly, but since I use a few other lenses that don't have an AF-S motor, I think I could live without it.

BTW, I shoot 2 D300s' and this lens would be used primarily for portraits and weddings. I am also planning on purchasing an FX format camera when the D700 replacement is announced.

RS

Responses


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Matt Laur , Jan 24, 2011; 07:58 a.m.

You can also get AF-S behavior (quick, quiet AF with instant manual override) and some great looking results from Sigma's new 85/1.4 HSM. It's a serious consideration at $900.

Richard Snow , Jan 24, 2011; 08:38 a.m.

Matt -

Unfortunately, you lost me at Sigma. With as many QC issues that I've had with them in the past, (it took 4 tries to get a good copy of the 17-50mm f/2.8 back in 2007, at which time I decided to stick with Nikon and purchased a 17-55mm f/2.8 for more than double the price) I will no longer consider them when purchasing a new lens. I know Sigma has come a long way in the past few years, but I cannot justify taking the chance again.

Side Note: I have no issues pointing anyone towards a Sigma lens when there is a question since, as stated above, their QC seems to have improved. However, you will never find a Sigma lens in my bag...

Shun Cheung , Jan 24, 2011; 08:42 a.m.

The 85mm/f1.4 AF-D used to be a $900 lens for a new, gray-market version before the big Japanese camera price increase 2 years ago. I see B&H currently still has that for $999. If you want to save money, maybe try used as some people should be upgrading to the new AF-S version.

Personally, I have been waiting for the AF-S for a while. If I get one, I want the advantage of AF-S. Hopefully the price will come down a bit after the initial demand subsides.

Kent Staubus , Jan 24, 2011; 08:58 a.m.

I too would go for the Sigma. I've owned two of their newer, pro lenses, and each was perfect. I compared the Nikon 35mm f1.8G to the Sigma 30mm f1.4 side by side, and kept the Sigma. The Sigma 85mm has modern coatings designed for digital and should outperform the older 85mm D lens just for that reason alone.
Kent in SD

Frank Skomial , Jan 24, 2011; 09:00 a.m.

... and there are many other 85/1.4 lenses.
search web for 85/1.4, and possibly find lower/higher cost Vivitar, Zeiss, Contax, Bower, PRO Optic, etc.

...returning to the original question:

The AF/D lens has aperture ring and is easier to use on bellows, reverse mount ring, extension rings.
If you have a better Nikkor lens for Macro/Micro, this does not matter to you.

Matt Laur , Jan 24, 2011; 09:23 a.m.

Richard: I've chosen plenty of Nikkor lenses over third party options. Like you, I went with Nikon's 17-55/2.8, and have also chosen their 70-200/2.8, their Micro lenses, and others. Like I said, it's a consideration! On these big fast primes, lenses like Sigma's 50/1.4 show a significant departure from Nikon's design priorities and the resulting optical recipe, and your shooting style/subject matter has as much to do with whether that's the right fit than does the QC. I'm using three of Sigma's EX lenses, and they've been perfect from day one, and have held up to years, now, of my Neanderthal style in the field. In the case of the fast primes, I also simply like the visual results better than their Nikon counterparts. This is not true of the wide-normal and tele zooms, and hence my choices. I'm certainly not debating your preferences or doubting your experiences - merely relating mine.

Dan Brown , Jan 24, 2011; 09:46 a.m.

I think it's a choice between the new 85/1.5G with the AF-S and Nano coating and latest optical formulation versus the 85/1.8D. Yes you lose a fraction of a stop, but the 1.8 has certain optical superiority. If you go fro the 1.4D, I'd shop around for a bargain, they're out there for around $800 if you have patience.

Andrew Garrard , Jan 24, 2011; 09:54 a.m.

The AF-S lens's optics are different from the AF-D's. KR's review suggests that the corners are significantly sharper; the main objection I'd have is the hellacious degree of longitudinal chromatic aberration (aka spherochromatism) - but the same applies to its predecessor, and this defect bothers me more than it seems to bother most others (which is why I have no personal experience of either lens and am only collating internet reviews).

I would guess the corner performance of the AF-D probably won't bother you as much on a DX camera as on on FX; how much do you rely on the corners of the image being sharp in shots taken wide open? This seems to be a matter of shooting style - much as some complained about the 70-200 VR1 at 200mm on a full frame body, and others didn't notice the corners were blurry.

Good luck. I'm sure you'll be happy with either.

Jose Angel , Jan 24, 2011; 10:05 a.m.

Lenses at such price may be considered an important investment by some... I wonder if ten years from now screw type lenses will be still usable on most cameras. If the tendency is to avoid focusing motors on bodies, I see a better future for an AFS lens.

I currently prefer AiS over AF/AFD lenses. I got rid of many AF units in favour of AFS ones. Personally, the value of AF/AFD lenses are highly reduced if updated with AFS. My intention is not to buy new screw-type lenses anymore.


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