Nikon 85mm 1.4D AF vs 1.8G, @ f8.0

Nikon 85mm 1.8G AF-S versus 85m 1.4D AF Heads up Review Comparison of Images and Bokeh

It has been asked for more clarity by way of direct performance review between the Nikon 85mm f1.8G AF-S and the 85mm f1.4D AF IF.

While I mainly shoot in studio at f8.0 or so, using studio lights, I arranged a bit of a bench test for y’all to see and judge for yourselves a bokeh and performance of contrast and sharpness test.

My subjects were three Nikon lens boxes… The chosen point of focus was the middle box, the yellow square Nikon logo, just right of box’s mid line.

Camera was Nikon D7000.  This is a crop sensor camera.

This means that perspective will be like a 127mm lens on a full frame.  It does not effect the bokeh of the lens…  Only the perspective.  The lens functions, bokeh-wise, exactly the same regardless of the body on which it is placed.

Focus mode was 9 point, AF-C.  D7000 was mounted to a tripod.

The very first shot, at f1.4 using the 85mm 1.4D missed the focus point… Second shot refocused to the correct point… The miss was by a mile…

Nikon 85mm 1.4D AF
85mm 1.4D @ f1.4 missed focus mark
Nikon 85mm 1.4D AF
85mm 1.4D @ f1.4

Once the focus was on, the bokeh looks great yes?

Creamy, smooth, buttery… everything we would expect from the bokeh king. Right?

So, what happens @ f1.8 shots with the 85mm 1.8G and 85mm 1.4D??

Nikon 85mm 1.8G Af-S Bokeh wide open
85mm 1.8G @ f1.8
Nikon 85mm 1.4D Lens
85mm 1.4D @ f1.8



Seemingly, bokeh is perhaps slightly more buttery on the 1.4D… Clearly, the 1.8G has better contrast and sharpness.

In fact, this increased contrast is perhaps the reason for the difference in apparent bokeh. The 1.4D bokeh looks as smooth as it does as a function of its lack of contrast.

Contrast is also what auto focus systems use to focus the lens…

Is this perhaps why the 1.4D misses a few focus points? Sometimes by a mile? Maybe…

I would expect the 1.8G will focus significantly more accurately, particularly in low contrast situations, like in subdued light.

Where are we in the comparison by f2.8?

Nikon 85mm 1.4D Nikkor vs 85mm 1.4G AF-S
85mm 1.4D @ f2.8
85mm Nikon 1.8G lens, AF-S
85mm 1.8G @ f2.8


Practically impossible to see difference in bokeh… However, we do see better sharpness and contrast with the 85mm 1.8G.

What happens at a studio like f8.0?

Nikon 85mm 1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens
85mm 1.8G @ f8.0
Nikon 85mm 1.4D AF vs 1.8G, @ f8.0
85mm 1.4D @ f8.0

Impossible to tell on a small shot a difference. However, on a large blow up, I can see a sharpness difference. The 85mm 1.8G is sharper…,

Here are some center crops to demonstrate sharpness and contrast differences …

Nikon 85mm 1.8G, sharpness and contrast, line resolution test, line resolution, sample
85mm 1.8G @ f8.0 - Note the line crispness, contrast and clarity
85mm 1.4D, sharpness and contrast @ f8.0
85mm 1.4D @ f8.0 - While lines are sharp, not as sharp or crisp as 1.8G


Clearly, the 85mm 1.8G is sharper and crisper with more contrast than the 85mm 1.4D.

Bokeh on both lenses are superb. The 85mm 1.4D has a more buttery feel to the bokeh, I postulate, due to the lens being kind of buttery smooth, as opposed to crystal clear, when wide open.

While I haven’t had a chance to test the 85mm f1.4G, I will surmise that it’s improved sharpness and contrast vs the 85mm 1.4D, will make the bokeh on the 85mm 1.4D seem superior, in the buttery sense, to that of the 85mm f1.4G‘s… In any event, to those keeping score, the 85mm 1.8G has better MTF curves, click here to view, than the 85mm 1.4D and better than the 85mm f1.4G

To buy or to check out more reviews of the 85mm f1.8G on Amazon, click here.

To buy the buttery smooth, less sharp 85mm f1.4D classic bokeh king on Amazonclick here

To buy the mondo, sharp, fast money is no object 85mm f1.4G king of the hill glass on Amazonclick here.


4 thoughts on “Nikon 85mm 1.8G AF-S versus 85m 1.4D AF Heads up Review Comparison of Images and Bokeh”

  1. While doing some research this morning on the Nikon 85 1.8g, I came across your blog and website. Very impressive I must say. Currently, I am in the market for one new lens. I am very interested in the Nikon and Sigma 50, 1.4. I see you have experience with both. It will be used mainly for portraits and street photography. I have a small home studio with speed lights. Trying to decide which lens gives better images and will get more use. I am leaning toward the 85, as I like to stand back but get tight shots. I have heard just so many great things about the Sigma. The rest of my kit includes D300/D5000, Nikon 35, 1.8, Tamron 28-75, 2.8 and Tamron 70-300VC. Finally, I know that it’s the tool behind the tools that really makes the image. Your recommendation will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Thanks you note Horace

      I have used Nikon 1.4d 50mm which will not auto focus on the d5000, will on d300.

      Have not used the 50 1.4g.

      I use the 50mm very little. The sigma works great for my purposes when I do. Instead, I use the 17-55 2.8 in this range.

      In the longer range, for street shooting and in studio, I use first the 70-200 2.8 vr2, a pricey top performer.

      Also in studio, I will use the 85 1.8g when I desire a closer working distance or a touch more clarity.

      So of your choices, I’d add the 85 1.8g… Especially as u lack any pro glass in that range.

      Best regards,


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