122 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2010
The new lens is faster to focus and more accurate than either the 85mm 1.4D or 85mm 1.8 D. I have used both and shot over 50,000 photos with the 85mm 1.8 D as it was my bread and butter for several years. Is this a better lens than it's predecessor? YES!
If you already own the 85mm f/1.4 should you go out and sell it? Probably not, unless you are a mainly prime shooter. On the other hand, if you are looking for an upgrade to the 85mm 1.8 and use it heavily this may be a great buy. I mainly stick with the 35mm, 85mm & 135 lens in Nikon. I find that primes actually help my creativity. This lens will be my new workhorse.
Update: May 4, 2011
As a wedding and portrait photographer this has become my main lens. If I had to guess, I would say during engagement photography I use this lens 80% of the time and during a wedding around 40%+ of the time. I use this on my D700 and switch between this, the 35mm 2.0 and 135mm 2.0 and sometimes the 70-200mm. Using the 85mm all day instead of the 70-200mm all day is a back saver.
After shooting over 30,000 images through this lens all I can say is....Amaaaazing.
124 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2010
I procrastinated on getting this lens for a few years now, with the mentality of "why would I pay a grand plus for a 85 prime when I already have the 70-200 2.8 that covers the zoom range already?" It seemed pretty redundant to have overlapping focal lengths.
However, day after day, the recurring thought that popped into my mind is, " I should get this lens." So after two + years of waiting and procrastinating, I saw the AF-S version and jumped on it!!
I have to say that the colors and contrast that I get from this lens at f/1.4 rivals or exceeds my 70-200mm @ the f/2.8 setting. It's been sitting on my camera ever since the first day I received it.
This lens is MUCH MUCH sharper then the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 wide open!! and renders Bokeh (the dreamy looking areas of the image) with such poetry that it makes my brain dance every time I look at the images produced by this product @ 1.4
The 3 Feet min focusing distance is a much welcomed feature compared to the relatively far 5 feet min focusing of the 70-200 zoom. It allows you to get closer to the subject and offer a more communicative shooting experience.
The secret to good photography is imagination + interesting subjects + fantastic lens
I'm happy to report that this lens is the most fantastic lens that I have ever used!
80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2013
Lots have been written about this lens. Here's a few thoughts.
This is my most-used lens. If I could only have one lens, this would be it.
I own about 22 lenses, 15 cameras, and have a darkroom. Yeah - I'm that guy. I also own a printer with 44" wide rolls of paper. I print big and I can see huge differences in lenses. I'm not a pixel peeper - I am a print maker. I still use my Sinar 4x5 studio camera, and I know quality when I see it.
Every year, I gather statistics from Adobe Lightroom concerning the lens I use, aperture, etc. to gain an understanding of what I actually do, not what I think I do. Year after year, the 85mm lens is top of the heap. I owned the previous 85mm f/1.4 AF D lens - a legendary lens in its own right. I wasn't sure it was worth the money to upgrade (downgrade?) to the AF-S version. Well, it was. Beyond my wildest dreams.
How good is this lens? Faced with the need to shoot an event, I had a choice between using a zoom lens for flexibility (24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S) or the limited focal length of the 85. Images are so good from the 85, that I decided that I'd rather not bother with shots I can't make with it. Group shots that need wide angle? Sorry, but I'll have to pass. The shots with the 85 are so good, I'll simply accept that I can't get all the other shots.
That being said, I added a D800 with a 24mm f/1.4 AF-S on one shoulder, and another D800 with the 85mm f/1.4 AF-S on the other. They complement each other well. While I own all the Nikon pro zooms (14-24, 24-70, 70-200), nothing delivers as many knock-your-breath-out images as the 85.
I would suggest you sell every lens you own to get this one. It is that good.
(FYI - I shoot this lens on D800 and D700 bodies. I'd rather get a cheaper D610 and this lens than any other lens with a D4. You invest in the lens. The camera is just visiting for a while.)
102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
I own the prior version of this lens (the non-AFS 85mm 1.4), and it's one of my all time favorites. There's something almost magic about it for me - I almost can't take a bad picture with it.
So when Nikon released the updated version, I was a little hesitant to upgrade - at least until I went to audition the new lens in one of the big NYC camera shops. After using the new lens firsthand, I just couldn't resist. Now, I own the new one, and the older one is on eBay.
To be clear, by my eye, there's not a huge difference in image quality, as the older lens was already excellent on all counts. The updated version is maybe slightly sharper in the corners on an FX body, colors seem perhaps a bit more vivid, and it seems a bit less prone to flare when you point it directly at a bright light source. It focuses a few inches closer than its predecessor and weighs maybe an ounce or two more. Still, it's not like one is "bad" and the other "good" - just slightly different, and not at all a dramatic difference for most users.
To me, where the compelling value comes from is the new AFS focusing setup, making autofocus nearly instant and incredibly accurate. Thanks to the wide f/1.4 aperture, you always get a bright image, and on both my D3 and D300, focus is blindingly fast and dead-on accurate. This was my only real gripe with the previous lens, and I found myself often either missing shots because of the slow autofocus, or I'd spend a lot of energy manually focusing instead of composing the exact shot I wanted. Now, with the new 85mm f/1.4G, I get fantastic image quality, plus much better and faster handling - and to me, that makes it worthwhile.
Still, the older lens is no slouch, and I suppose if I had neither one and was on a tight budget, I'd certainly have no trouble going with the older lens. There seems to be maybe a $500 premium to get the AFS version, although that might narrow as more lenses get into the market and we see some better discounting.
Of course, if you're questioning whether to upgrade, the pro-grade Nikon lenses hold their value very well, and although I haven't sold mine yet, I'm thinking I'll get 80% of what I paid for it when it was new several years ago, and that makes the transaction easier to handle.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2010
I shoot with a D300S (i.e., DX) and the lenses I used for portrait before this Nikkor 85mm f1.4G are: Nikkor 50mm f1.4D and f1.4G, Nikkor 60mm f2.8 macro, Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro, Nikkor 105mm f2.8 macro, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro.
I bought this lens mainly to take picture of my two-month old son.
Since I have never owned a 85mm lens (either 1.4D or 1.8D), I can't provide a meaningful comparison; hence, my review is purely based on how image quality (sharpness, colour, bokeh), auto-focus speed, and build of this lens.
The parametre of the testing: I set the aperture to f1.4, ISO 400, using natural light. The main subject is a wine bottle with a basket next to it and a second wine bottle. Pictures are taken in door handheld. I have posted the picture for your reference.
1.) Image Quality. Pictures taken with this lens are extremely sharp. At the largest aperture, it gives you a very nice blurry background/bokeh and the subject in focus seems like just "popped" out from the picture. Bokeh is smooth and creamy, and the colour is rich and contrasty. I have also included two pictures of butterfly shoots for your reference.
2.) Auto-focus speed. It is fast, accurate and quiet under low light condition; however, I have better experience with Nikkor other lenses, such as the Nikkor 70-200mm II f2.8G, Nikkor 50mm f1.4G, as I feel more assured with them. It is until the AF is locked and you heard a "beep" that tell you your image is sharp.
3.) The size of this lens has grown from before (I compared it to the 85mm 1.4D and 1.8D) but still manageable. Well build but not too heavy. It should balance well with a D300, D300S, and lighter camera such as D90, D7000.
A couple of observations: -
1.) One the things I have experienced using it wide open (i.e., f1.4) with this lens is that the shallow depth of field can be very thin and any slight movements of the subject will cause the image to lose the sharpness. Hence, practicing how to use this lens properly is important.
2.) For indoor shoots during night time, even with all the light switch on and set the aperture at f1.4, I still need ISO of between 500-1000 to take decently sharp images with my DX format DLSR.
The copy that I bought has front focus issue (i.e., the area of sharpness is in front of the area you focused). Instead of making adjustment on my camera, I sent it (together with my camera) back to Nikon for re-calibration (I got the lens and camera back from Nikon within 24 hours, in case you want to know). It is now razor sharp. I raise this just in case this is a common problem for this lens.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2012
From an emotional standpoint, the lens is MAGICAL. Subject isolation, low light ability and bokeh are as beautiful as it gets. Creamy backgrounds, fantastic in low light. Not suprising for a large aperture 85. Now, the real treat. From a technical standpoint, this lens is a masterpiece. EXTREMELY SHARP in the corners while all the other large aperture 85mm lenses ever made (zeiss, canon, sigma, nikon's others) don't have anywhere near the corner resolution. that's what you're paying for - the ability to get creative with subject placement, and to use it for landscape and other photography without sacrificing extreme sharpness. No other 85 currently comes close (as of November/2013). I'm not sure any other lenses come close, period. Check out DXOMark or Photozone.de for comparison purposes. Few lenses even approach the resolution of this lens, and I know none that surpass. As for chromatic aberration, it is low - the max it gets is 1 pixel width at f/2. Autofocus is far more reliable in low light than the older 1.4D. Having this lens in your arsenal will result in absolutely amazing photographs. I rarely take it off and am disappointed when I do. I cannot say enough. There is nothing like it. Pure magic.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2013
No wonder this is the best DXOMark-ranked lens, it brings out sharpness, clarity, bokeh and colors I never thought possible before. An example, with my D800 an early morning hand-held shot of a flower 1 meter away brings out the tiny little dews on the flower petals even better than some close-ups with my Nikon 60mm macro lens on a tripod (I haven't compared to my Nikon 105 mm macro lens yet). I've been able to achieve outstanding portraits, unobtainable otherwise, with both my D800 and D3200. Just a note: this lens also out-resolves the D3200, with which the 85mm photos in side-by-side comparison with those of the D800, do show a little lesser resolution, albeit still exceptional. Bokeh-wise, this lens lives up to its legendary artistry; with both D800 and D3200, it easily isolates the subject in focus from the rest, front and aft, with silky smooth and absolutely pleasant 3-dimensional-like bokeh.
I now have had a chance to compile a shoot-out of about 100 shots (F2.8 and narrower apertures) of different subjects, light conditions and compositions (adjusted for about the same coverage areas) between this lens and my Nikon 105mm lens with both my D800 and D3200. With the same apertures, both cameras picked the same shutter speeds for both lenses in 90% of my test shots, which showed how close they are in terms of light transmission capabilities. Looking at RAW (NEF) files in Photoshop at 100% to compare sharpness-wise, the two lenses are virtually the same with my D3200 shots, but this 85mm lens is a tad better than my 105mm with my D800 shots; in the case of my D800 shots, the results could have been affected by the fact that my 105mm shots were taken with the D800 positioned farther away from the subject (to adjust the compositions for differences in the focal lengths). For bokeh at F2.8, my 105mm (being longer focal length) produces more pronounced bokeh effects. For color brilliance and vibrancy, both lenses are very indistinguishable, except for my test night shots, each seemed to have its own "character" emphasizing slightly different color spots. That concludes my very subjective comparison of Nikon's two best lenses ;-)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2012
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D has always been regarded as one of the best portrait lenses out there, often called the "Bokeh King," but its older design was long in need of a refresh to take advantage of the latest technologies.
Enter the long anticipated AF-S 85mm f/1.4G. This lens has been on many wish lists for the last few years and the update doesn't disappoint!
The new optical design delivers all of the magic of the older lens and improves on it in a number of key areas, especially edge to edge sharpness when shot wide open. This lens is incredibly sharp, even at f/1.4 and offers phenomenal acuity, even when pixel-peeping D800 files at 100%. Sharpness wise, it's a toss-up between this lens and my Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF.2 - together, these are the sharpest lenses in my bag by a mile.
The quality of the Bokeh is also simply stunning - super creamy just like it's older sibling, but without the low contrast veiling present in the older design wide open. I'm amazed at how Nikon was able to acheive high contrast *and* superlative OOF foreground and background blur. Flare resistance is also very good, likely due to the addition of Nano Crystal coating and overall contrast has been greatly improved, especially when shooting into strong light sources.
The AF-S focusing performance seems a little faster than the older 85mm f/1.4D, but not "70-200 f/2.8G fast." I would compare it more to the 85mm f/1.8D speed wise, but it is VERY accurate, which is critical when shooting with such a narrow depth of field.
The new design also seems to have good environmental sealing, as everything moves internally for focusing and the magnesium inner housing should help the lens stand up to lots of rough handling.
I was surprised that the lens didn't include any exotic components such as Aspherical elements or ED coatings, but Nikon's designers seem to know best and the performance of the lens speaks for itself. One addition I am glad they left out is VR - While VR could be useful in some situations, I believe it would add extra cost, complexity and bulk and could disturb that serene Bokeh, which is why you're really buying this special lens!
Would I recommend this lens? For me, it's magic. If you're looking at it, you probably already know if you need it. For isolating your subject and making the background melt away, there is nothing better. And 3-4 stops of optical performance beats VR any day of the week for low-light situations.
It's one of my favorite lenses in my bag and if you add the 24mm f/1.4G and the 35mm f/1.4G, you have all of the bases covered!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2012
I bought this lens about 5 months ago, so I had time to do a lot of shots with it.
On 85mm prime, I previously owned both Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D and 1.4D.
Whether the f/1.4 both D and G are really better than the f/1.8D, clearly yes. And I'm not trying to justify the huge knock I took when I bought the f/1.4, nor that I am trying to show-off with some futile exclusive status of owning such expensive glass. The photographs taken at large apertures with the 1.4 are phenomenal, with the 1.8 are great, period.
Whether the improvement from the 1.8 to 1.4 lens is enough to justify the massive price difference, that is a very personal and individual view based on what is reasonably affordable for you. I don't think one should reduce the rating of this lens based on one's perception of price fairness.
Is it worth selling your 1.4D for the new 1.4G?
It is if like me, you use your 85mm wide open from f/1.4 to f/2 most of the time. The G version is clearly sharper wide open.
And the manual focus override of the G version is awesome as compared to the irritating auto to manual switch of the previous version.
Of course, you have to be very careful when shooting at f/1.4, as the slightest forward or backward movement will simply throw you out of focus.
The combination of my 85mm f/1.4G and D700 has a slight front-focussing problem that I can't perfectly sort with the camera's dedicated fine tune option. I learned to leave with it using the manual override of the focus ring.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2012
A little background. I shot with with Canon and Nikon in the past and have owned several of their 85 mm lenses. The Nikon 85/1.8 and 1.4 and the Canon 84/1.2. I also still own the Korean manual focus 85/1.4 sold as Rokkor or Shamyan (not sure about the brand names).
I was hesitant for some time and finally ordered it. Now I regret I didn't oder it before! I do a lot of portrait photography and love to use very narrow depth of field in my work. This lens is one of the best lenses I have ever owned! It is already great and reasonably sharp wide open and gets razor sharp once stopped down a little. Even with a D800 (36 mp) I feel comfortable shooting at 1.4. The AF-S system is not a rocket but very accurate. That is one of the most important things with fast lenses. I lost many good shots with other lenses because it is always a challenge with nail focus. With this lens I get a noticeable higher success rate.
It's a large lens but doesn't weight a ton. It feels lighter than the size suggests. Bokeh is beautiful and smooth. Vignetting is also very low for such a fast lens. There is no other 85 that I tried that overall performs so well and reliable. Yes it's expensive but I think it's worth it.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but keep in mind, not everyone needs a high end lens like this. If you are on a budget, it makes no sense to spend all your money on one lens only. The Nikon 85/1.8 is a valid alternative for a lower budget. It doesn't reach this lens in terms of sharpness and bokeh, but it's pretty close.