Nikon 85mm AF-S f1.8G Nikkor Lens

Nikon 85mm 1.8G AF-S verses Nikon 85mm 1.4D AF IF Bokeh King – Review

Nikon 85mm AF-S f1.8G Nikkor Lens
Nikon 85mm AF-S f1.8G Nikkor

Got my shiny new Nikon 85mm f1.8G and tested versus the Nikon 85mm f1.4D.

Even with the AF-S, the focus speed of both lenses seems about the same… Impressive feat for the Bokeh King 85mm 1.4D.  Little disappointed the 1.8G didn’t focus a tad faster … at 1/3 the price …

The 85 1.8G does seem to have an edge though, with fewer issues seeking final focus and seems to have better refocus ability.

What do I mean by these nuances?

If I zoom focus out to infinity and refocus on something close, or vice-versa, both lenses seem to focus at about the same over all time.

If I am already focused on something close and am refocusing, the 1.4D seems to hunt and grind a bit more.  The 1.8G seems to zip into a settled focus much more quickly.  It’s gears hum and buzz more quickly to final focus… Quieter too.  The 1.8G focuses more quietly than the 1.4D.

Also, when focused on something close, I get a sense of a better refocus accuracy with the 1.8G.  With the 1.4D, after I have move my focus point by shifting my camera, sometimes does not seem to reshift focus.   Below f2.0 focus is razor-thin …  This lack of refocus concerns me.

The 1.8G seems much more accurate and responsive in shifting of the near focus point, due to small movements of subject, camera or focus point.

What else?

If I need a prime, one need is to be focusing close…  I have the already great 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II AF-S, which only focuses to something over 4 feet, though it does focus faster than the 85mm 1.8G.   This said, one of my reasons to even have an 85mm prime is to be able to focus closer …

Neither of these 85mm Nikon lenses focuses very close, but the 85mm 1.8G focuses to 2.62 feet with a 0.12x max reproduction ration while the 85mm 1.4D only focuses to 2.8 feet with a 0.11x max reproduction ratio.

What’s 0.18 feet you ask?  About two inches.  Zoomed in close to a model or cat or other movable object, a one to two-inch movement can mean the difference between a shot and a blurry image.

What else?

The 85mm 1.4D takes fabulous images and is the Bokeh King…

Still, the sharpness and contrast of the 1.8G are better, view MTF curves by clicking here.

The 1.4D has 9 aperture blades while the 1.8G has 7.

How do the 7 vs 9 blades effect bokeh?

Wide open, they do not

Hello, the blades are out of the picture wide open. Aperture blades only effect the shot when stopping down.  So, at f4 or something, the aperture blades will come more into play, or with lens flare on a sunset, or with specular highlights off car chrome in a studio shot.  I have other 9 bladed aperture lenses.

The 1.8G is a tad smaller than the 1.4D.  This means I need 67mm filters.. The 1.8D takes standard pro 77mm filters.  But, the 1.8G is much smaller than my 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II AF-S… So, if I need a sharp fast small lens, this baby looks smaller than many kit zooms.

The 1.4D is a classically built like a tank piece of fine Nikon workmanship, a made to last example of professional sturdy glass and metal.  The 1.8G is of fine build, has fewer moving parts… though not the tank the 1.4D is …. And, the 1.8G lens hood could be a bit less flimsy …   The 1.8G is also less than half the price of the 1.4D …

What I need an 85mm for are for sharp close images with medium telephoto and with good bokeh.  I do not really use a lens hood on these lenses …

In review, the only thing I really give up between the 85mm 1.4D and the 85mm 1.8G is half a stop of light speed and bokeh.  The bokeh is still very good at f1.8.  In fact, the 85mm 1.4D is often shot at a slower speed for a bit more sharpness… Ha!

Digital cameras, like the Nikon D7000 which I shoot, have great high ISO performance.  The boost in lens speed is not so urgent.   Additionally, if I need the speed, I have a Sigma 50mm HSM F1.4, great lens, and being a touch shorter, I can hand hold it more easily than an 85mm.   For more bokeh, I can shoot the 70-200 VR2 zoomed to 200mm @ f2.8 and get similar bokeh to the 85mm @ f1.4.

Or, and in the digital age, hello, we can shoot with the 85mm f1.8G, and do a bit more blur in any part of the bokeh area we feel necessary using Photoshop post processing.  Something we probably do with the 1.4D as well.

Choice of which lenses to keep or buy are impacted by many factors including kind of photography we do, budget constraints and by what we already have.  If money were no object, I would buy the 85mm f1.4G.  

So what am I doing with my lenses?

Selling the 85mm f1.4D, keeping the 85mm f1.8G, and pocketing the extra few hundred bucks…

Click here to order the 85mm f1.8G on Amazon.

Click here to order the 85mm f1.8G from Adorama.

Click here to buy a new or used 85mm f1.4D from Amazon.





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