Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens: “the best 85mm lens in the DxOMark database”

Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.8G DxOMark test score

DxOMark published their test results for the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens ($496.95 vs. $1,649 for the f/1.4 version) which received the highest score in the current DxOMark database:

"With an Overall DxOMark Lens Metric Score of 35 the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is the best 85mm lens in the DxOMark database and well exceeds the average DxOMark Overall Score of 28 for this type of lens."

Here are the are top ten lenses based on their DxOMark test score:

Best lenses DxOMark

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  • Richard

    wow best bang for the buck…for 1/3 the price of the 1.4G

  • So it only beats the 1.4G because of CA? Money-no-object I’d say the 1.4 still is king… but man, for less than 1/3rd the price, the f/1.8 is really the best buy for sure.

    • dusanmal

      First, 1.8 is better in distortion (less of it), vignetting (less of it) and CA (particularly less of it). 3 out of 5…
      However, what this test fails in is accounting for the facts of what 1.4 brings in. First of all, it brings apertures down to 1.4. That costs money in glass. If you do not need that much light and/or that much bokeh – answer is trivial. However if you need those, 1.8 simply does not have them.

      • I bought the 85mm 1.4G 1 year ago, and tried out the 85mm 1.8G for comparison. Both are great lenses, but the 85mm 1.8G focuses very slowly compared to the 1.4G

      • No longer Pablo Ricasso

        The 1.4 has a bit more sharpness and I would imagine the bit of more vignetting is because it’s a * 1.4 lens. (Imagine) I bet if you shot both lenses at f2 that it would be the same or better. But hey, my manual focus f1.8 is one of my best lenses ever… Don’t read the cumulative score. Read the part of that that is important to you and then understand what it means.

        • MyrddinWilt

          The difference is one point and it all depends on how you weight the factors tested. Bokeh is not tested even though it is the reason to buy the cream machine in the first place.

          But your point is completely right, the lenses have to be compared at the same aperture. Specifically how good is the f1.4 at f1.8 and how good are they both at f2?

    • scottD800

      agreed, also with the low weight and smaller size it becomes a fantastic lens for travel. I have the sigma 1.4 and it’s great, but adds even more weight to my over-stuffed bag, and im usually shooting it at 1.8-2 anyhow…

      • Michael Choong

        I have think so long time what is the set up for travel, end up: 16-35 F4 as primary, 70-200 F4 as secondary, 50 1.8D for night portrait

    • 85mm 1.4G resists flare much better and contrast is a little better1.4G also has tougher build quality.. I have both…

    • Sharpness isn’t everything. Event shooters and Wedding photogs wouldn’t mind paying that extra dough for the 1.2 or 1.4. It’s part of their workflow and will always be. For beginners and amateurs like me. it’s a different story.

    • Agreed. DXO is just a score, though it also has some value and clearly the 1.8G is a tremendous value.

    • bertbopper

      I put them all side to side, and the winner is the 85mm 2.8 PCE. It is the sharpest 85, it has almost no aberation/vignetting/distortion, AND it has the cleanest Bokeh. Maybe not as much bokeh as the 1.4, but it looks smoother. And you can focus it at normal distances. The 1.4 often locks when a face is too close.

  • pieefi

    goodbye canon

    • Uh yeah, about that. I guess they weren’t invited to the party.

    • Will Humber

      Ah yes, DxOMark; the company who says the Canon 75-300 is sharper than the 300 2.8 IS mk2. Yes, Canon users must be shaking in their boots.

      • No longer Pablo Ricasso

        Did you consider that if they give one score for a zoom that it would have to be a composite of all focal lengths? I’m sure the lens is soft as all hell at 300 and it’s narrow max aperture and I’d guess that they understand as much when they give you their results that you don’t understand. Thanks for the profound mental image.

        But then, I just looked and the score they gave the junk zoom indicates precisely that it is a junk zoom and the score that they gave the good lens indicates precisely that also. This means that you are probably a disgruntled canon troll who resents the fact that somebody has taken the time to indicate to you that your equipment SUCKS. Please go back to canonland.

        • Will Humber

          They redid all their scores recently and they’re a bit closer to reality now. However, for a long time they had the 75-300 ranked higher than the 300 2.8 IS II. Also, grow up; you make everybody look bad with that nonsense.

        • “somebody has taken the time to indicate to you that your equipment SUCKS. Please go back to canonland.”

          You sound like me, but without the knowledge or taste.

      • No longer Pablo Ricasso

        You caused me to read their scores and I believe you are erroneous. The 300 has an excellent score and the consumer zoom has a low score. Also remember that the score of a zoom is going to be an average of many focal lengths and that it’s actual performance at the longest length is most likely the worst component of the score that is posted. Also remember that the maximum aperture testable at that length is a full two stops slower than the maximum aperture of the better lens. Also remember that the maximum focal length of the cheaper lens is probably not actually 300…

  • Rhonbo

    Looks like high MP cameras are going to make prime lens sales go up in the future due to the poor DxO scores of zoom lenses. $1,000 is a lot to pay for that extra stop of light though. It’s also good to know that reasonable priced lenses can be had that perform really well.

    • peteee363

      there is less glass in prime lenses, and less corrective lenses in prime lenses, this is why they are king for sharpness. most zoom lenses have extra glass to correct problems with distortion at certain focal lengths, this extra glass lowers overall sharpness. the less glass between your film/sensor, and subject, the sharper the image will be. zoom lenses just make it easier to compose photos. but with 36 mp cameras, you can overshoot with a prime lens, and you have plenty of resolution to crop to the perfect image. i always did this in 4 x 5, and now i can do it in digital.

      • I liked everything you said except for the ” plenty of resolution to crop” part 🙂 What happened to using the right lens for the right job?

        • peteee363

          well, when i shot 4 x 5 some locations were impossible to put the tripod. and with 35mm if i am using my 85mm, or my 20mm, the perfect crop may be in the middle of traffic, or in water. so by over shooting, i can crop the image. sometimes i will use a zoom lens, but if the shot requires a fixed prime lens, it is easier to overshoot. and i do have a full compliment of prime lenses, from 14mm to 300mm, but i cannot carry every lens to every location, so i rely on cropping to get the shot right. also when using my pc lens, i need to use a tripod, and it is easier to choose the best location for the tripod, over picking the right location for the shot.

          • Fair enough… agree that getting the shot with what you have at hand matters over not getting it at all 🙂

        • peteee363

          another thing is the finished print size. if my image will only be an 8 x 10, 36 mp is way overkill. so i have plenty of spare mp to crop out. but if i am shooting for max res, for max print size, then i try to get as close to perfect crop in the camera.

          • IMO 36MPs at 8×10″ is pretty close to the ideal for images that should be looked at up-close. You get slightly above 300dpi for reds and blues and more for greens.

            • peteee363

              at 12 mp, i am producing respectable 40 x 60 prints, and exceptional 24 x 36 prints. if you need a 36 mp to make an 8 x 10, you must not be using the right lens. at 24 x 36 i am not even seeing the pixels yet, but this is on my d700. with my d300 the pixels would show. the sensor in the 700 is exceptional, it will be hard for me to move on from that camera.

            • “if you need a 36 mp to make an 8 x 10, you must not be using the right lens. ”

              I agree that it’s overkill but since we’re talking about cropping we can’t forget the increase of noise that comes from that. I.e. cropping a D800 image to 12MPs and printing it to the same size as a D700 image will put the D800 image at a significant disadvantage.

              ” the sensor in the 700 is exceptional, it will be hard for me to move on from that camera.”

              If 12MPs is all you need, have you tried resizing the D800 images down to 12MPs? The newer sensor is better and more efficient compared to the old 12MP one.

            • peteee363

              i am not saying that i detest the 36mp, i am saying the feel i get is somewhat different. on the d800 i like how i can overshoot using a prime lens, instead of bringing out a zoom lens to crop closer in. so my 180mm is alot like shooting a 300 or so, then when cropping in, the resolution still holds up. perhaps after shooting the d800 a while i will get the feel of it better, i am a newby to it, and still practicing with it. but the d700 will not collect dust just yet, i will hang on to it for a while.

  • There’s a reason people buy the 1.4 model and no chart is going to show it. Bokeh. It’s the Cream Machine that people want. If I just wanted a low-light lens with low cost, I’d use my 50mm f/1.8.

    • timon_comment

      I knew that Nikkor 85 f1.8G is a quite well lens. And, Nikkor 50mm f1.8G is a very good well lens. (The f1.8G models are somewhat more plastic inside the lens, and is like the d600).

      but, do not believe DxOmark Lens Scores and Camera Sensor Scores.
      In Lens Scores, DxOmark has much more pseudoscience juggling wherein.

      DxOmark “Lens Metric Scores” listed the top line “Sharpness”,
      But, DxOmark “Lens Metric Scores” did not say about the Border and Corners.

      DxOmark “Scores” is no Bokeh,
      DxOmark does not know about what “Bokeh”.

      if you demanded to see about more optical qualities with a lens dxo-score, maybe you merely found deeper untrustworthy of DxOmark Scores, —- the DxOmark Score is no so much therein, but is much fewer! That is more like play game scores —– DxOmark “Scores” .

      • timon_comment

        DxOmark “Scores”
        Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF = 31 Score
        Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical = 31 Score
        Sigma AF 85mm f/1.4 EX DG = 31 Score

        DxOmark “Lens Metric Scores” did not say about the Border and Corners.
        DxOmark Score has much more pseudoscience juggling

        French Beauties were gained world renown
        French Brandies were well known worldwide
        French DxOmark Scores discredited global

    • bertbopper

      The 85mm PCE makes better cream, and it is a lens that delivers professional object photography too, at the same price of the 1.4. It is MF, but it focusses damn smooth for portraits too.

  • n11

    Where would my 85 F1.4D cream machine rank?

    • 5DollarFootlong

      Who cares about these pathetic scores anyways. Let your eyes be the judge…the 1.4D is a very very very good lens. (better than the 1.4g [bokeh wise] ) imo 🙂

      • If you like the 1.4D’s bokeh over the 1.4G’s bokeh, you must love the bokeh of mirrorlenses too 🙂

    • JK

      Hard to say. The D has great bokeh, but it’s the G has better corners at the wider apertures and gets sharper a little quicker as you stop down. Handles back-lighting better too. There’s nothing wrong with the D, but the G is a step up. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s noticeable. As is the price, unfortunately.

      • Spy Black

        The G is sharper at the principal point of focus, but that sharpness comes at the expense of bokeh. The bokeh s ratty on the G. The D and earlier Ai optics, while not as sharp at the focus point, have the bokeh that made the 85 f/1.4 a legend. Ironically the only modern lens that’s matched it for bokeh is the Samyang, and now possibly the new Sigma.

  • One More Thought

    Interesting data…no doubt more confirmation that the 85 1.8 is a great lens, esp. when considering the cost…however, DxO scores do not and cannot tell the entire story about a lens…

    • It is indeed only the glass inside that is tested, not the focus, overal handeling,… But it gives a very good comparisson of lenses.

  • 5DollarFootlong

    Could it be Nikon has made too many 1.8g’s and in order to sell them they’ve contacted DxO Mark?

    I mean, whilst the lens is great, it in no way can touch either 1.4d or 1.4g

    • Spy Black

      Why not? F/1.8 isn’t that far away. The 1.4 D is a truly great lens, the 1.4G is not.

      • jake

        try both 1.4G and 1.8G and read all other reviews on these 2 and you see it is so odd, only DXO and SLRgear saying that the 1.8G is optically a bit better lens than the 1.8G.

        also, I think DXO numbers for the Zeiss 100/2ZF2 seem too bad to be taken seriously, I think we have to take DXO lens test with a bit more than just a grain of salt.

      • JohnM

        I’ve gone from the 1.4D to the G. The G is superior in every way.
        Pretty well all primes are sharp and can do test charts. The real test of a lens is what the images look like, not what the pixels look like.

      • Mike

        The D version is a specific lens. It’s amazing at close range. At infinity wide open (dimly lit church/hall/room) it loses a lot if contrast and AF is iffy. The G is more generalist. It’s shaaarp and contrasty wide open at all focus distances, more accurate AF by far and it’s colour matches my other G lenses… Easier/faster time in PP. The D is a classic portrait lens. The G is a modern do it all lens. I onced owned the D version and loved it. But there are enough minor changes in the G to make it a worthwhile addition.

    • This might come as news to you but lenses are sharper at smaller apertures. Lenses like f/1.4s and f/1.2s, etc. are expensive primarily because of their max aperture which requires more glass for their complex optical designs. And if you use commonsense (a tall order for most photographers) or at least have heard about Occam’s razor, you’d figure that a simpler lens performing just as well, if not better, than a more complex lens under the same conditions (aperture) is not a big surprise.

      • umeshrw

        I think that your real name is Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

        • No longer Pablo Ricasso

          I agree that he is plenty an unlikeable fellow, but he is completely correct in his observation.

          Assuming equal quality, the score of the 1.4 lens should be lower than the other because in order to test it like they test the narrower lens they will have to include the resolution that they get when shooting it at f1.4, something they can’t do with the smaller lens. No lens is at it’s best at max aperture and the max aperture is bigger on the bigger lens. Shoot them both at F2 and it’s likely another story. Add contrast and it’s another story yet again…
          The same applies to the amount of vignetting or light fall off…

          And really, I don’t think anyone here cares much about the small difference in distortion. They are both fine in that regard. The main point is that the 1.4 lens scored HIGHER in resolution and did so despite the fact that it was tested at an aperture which the other lens wouldn’t even reach. DXO scored it as such, and if you aren’t hung up on the cumulative/composite score you can see plainly that the 1.4 gives the 1.8 a bit of a smackdown. They are both great lenses and, for general use, I still love my 1.8 manual focus that I paid a hundred dollars for and prefer it over my 1.4AIS. I want to try the new G lens. All things for all people.

          • umeshrw

            You are right there and so is he. It’s just that the way you said it and the way he said it are very different. Hence Dr. Sheldon Cooper who is also right ……..

          • “I agree that he is plenty an unlikeable fellow”

            Fewer people to cajole that way 😉

            “Shoot them both at F2 and it’s likely another story.”

            It doesn’t have to be. If you look in to how lenses have always been designed, it’s clear that if a lens has a very large aperture, that’s the main thing they’re interested in. For other apertures, there would be better performing optical designs. As an example from recent times, why is Leica’s new 50mm Summicron (f/2) more expensive than their 50mm Summilux (f/1.4)?

            And also this:

            “Add contrast and it’s another story yet again…”

            Typical MTFs is actually all about… unless the data is normalised. I don’t know how DxO does it… don’t care about it either. But I have a feeling you’re referring to flare-induced global contrast. In that case:


            “DXO scored it as such, and if you aren’t hung up on the cumulative/composite score you can see plainly that the 1.4 gives the 1.8 a bit of a smackdown. ”

            And it doesn’t apply only to lenses either. As I always say, if a site boils complex measurements down in to one single number, it’s an indicator of its audience… idiots.

          • No longer Pablo Ricasso

            From what I could see with your first link the faster lens appeared sharper and with more contrast at every aperture from f2 to f5.6 and held up reasonably well at max aperture. But max aperture sucked compared to the same lens stopped down a bit, as is the same as I have always observed.

            Leica is different than Nikon in that Nikon follows their approach only with the cheapest lenses where they use conservative designs but then cut corners to deliver at a low price point. From there up they increase both optical clarity and speed at the same time, which is like trying to make a car go faster and get better mileage at the same time. This makes lenses like the 20 f4 and f3.5 so exceptional. The competitors and the third party people that try to undercut them also do the same. Macro lenses are the way around that because the difficulty in making them work forces them to use both quality materials and conservative designs. Their use does come at a price of some light fall off that appears when shooting at what otherwise would be somewhat reasonable apertures. Unfortunately, some cult classics were successful in bringing a bit of speed into the equation and now they are trying to make macros that do everything. I suppose that is good if you want an all in one lens and don’t mind paying for it and probably at the expense of close up clarity.

            This plays well for Leica and to some extent Zeiss.
            Fortunately, Nikon seems to be making a moderate effort to impart some quality into their new line of f1.8 lenses and their new f4 zoom, so all is not lost. One other good slower lens is the last AIS 35f2. It is probably on par with the f1.4. The coated version of the ancient telescope size 200 f4 is a poor man’s dream. I haven’t tried the last AIS 28 f2.8 or f3.5, but I have heard good things and suspect the first is good because of it’s close focus capability.
            My thought is that if Nikon put as much effort (cost) into the f1.8 that it would wipe the floor with the larger lens at every aperture except one. For now I will continue lugging large expensive lenses to shoot at f5.6 because that’s the way they make me do it. On the “bright” side, it does tend to make focusing very easy…

            • Should remember to link to this post whenever people say _I_ write a lot 🙂

        • I have many names 8D

  • Pat

    I have the 85mm f/1.8G on the D800E. Fantastic lens – the sharpest in my collection on the 36mpix sensor. sharper than all of 14-24, 24/1.4, 24-70, 70-200VR2. and that says a lot! The Photozone MTF test also suggest it has the highest resolving power among the recent lenses. For indoor portraits the 85/1.8G has retired my 70-200/2.8 VR2 to the shelf.

    I consider the $500 retail price of the lens a good deed by Nikon. Rarely are such goodies available for such reasonable prices.

    • Richard

      In my opinion the new 28mm 1.8G ($600). 50mm 1.8G ($200) are all fantastic buys along side this 85mm 1.8G…such bang for the buck. If these 1.8G are released before the 1.4G are on the market, it will definitely kill the sales of the 1.4G. But nikon chose to play that game again and release the cheap-and-good stuff later….blah.

      • jake

        I ‘d have to agree with you on the 85mm and 28mm f1.8G are great bang for your buck.
        On the other hand, the expensive 35f1.4G is just an average lens and as many reviews have already pointed out it is not as sharp as the Zeiss 35mmf1.4ZF2 or the Sigma 35mmf1.4HSM .
        in fact to my surprise even the cheap 28mmf1.8G beats it, and infact the 28mmf1.4G may well be the sharpest wide angle prime in Nikon F mount..
        so, there are soem real bargain glass existing.

        • Pat

          agreed…according to photozone MTF tests the 28/1.8G seem to resolve better than both of 24/1.4G and 35/1.4G. and again only for $700 , versus $1999 and $1599.

          I’ve had the 24G and 28G but sadly the AF-S motor on the 28G is far slower than the one on the 24G. 24G can track moving kids okay, 28G quite a bit less so.

  • Nikon AFS 85 1.8 rocks. I bought mine for my D800 and haven’t regretted it since. Plus, it leaves me more change for extra glass.

    • jake

      try the f1.4G or the Zeiss 100f2 , then you’d become more realistic and probably see why all other lens reviewers disagree with DXO results.

      Imatest is better than DXO analyzer.

    • Well Noel I’m a D800 user too. It’s really hard to shoot at the widest aperture. Most likely I shoot at 2.8 because all those megapixels just exposes the focusing flaws or user errors.

    • So that’s the reason why Nikon is suggesting to use the 1.8 primes. Not only them but also the other pro’s like Ming Thein. At first I wasn’t believing in them until I tested it myself. At wide open like 3 out of 7 shots I usually miss that critical focus so I just kept on moving those focus points till I get it right.

  • Mike

    The 85 1.4G is one of two lenses I have that I don’t think of as expendable. The other is my 14-24. You cannot replicate the look of 1.4 with a 1.8 lens. Plain and simple. A one point difference by DXO only tells the academic difference. The difference visually is palpable.

  • lorenzo

    Uhm… better than the 85mm f/1,4?

    • Kroky Kroket

      Yeah…go figure.

      DxOMark has always been about tech specs and never about the finished product – an actual photograph.

      For those still confused re 1.4G vs 1.8G…go and talk to pro photogs and ask them for an opinion, and I pretty much know what the answer is going to be.

  • Darren B.

    Sorry but as a full time wedding and studio photographer I couldn’t but ignore DxO mark results this time. I have had both 1.8G and 1.4G versions, and kept the 1.4G even though it’s a lot more $$ and much heftier overall.

    The 1.4G version has been giving me what 1.8G couldn’t, it was the subtle 3D effect combined with subject isolation unmatched with any 85mm prime, Canon 1.2 L included. If you take the same photo with the 1.8 and 1.4 Nikon variants you will notice the difference straight out of camera, and no one seems to be discussing this ‘little’ detail, they’re all focused on tech properties and numbers.

    Oh and the AF speed, corner to corner sharpness as well as ability to go to 1.4…sorry but the 1.8G simply doesn’t deliver in those areas. And those are the features that matter to us who shoot for living, as well as some hard-core enthusiasts out there longing for the best they can afford.

    I also suggest reading this article, it may bring home some of the points I made above:


    • mandule


      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Like you I also had a privilege to own both, but sold the 1.8G which compared to 1.4G was producing flat results I always had to boost later in post.

    • jake

      100 % agreed , extremely well said.

    • ” subtle 3D effect combined with subject isolation unmatched with any 85mm prime, Canon 1.2 L included. ”

      Every time someone starts off in a post saying they’re a pro photographer, it’s like a guarantee that they’ll say something absurd and unsubstantiated and expect people to take it as gospel.

      Perhaps if you had spent more time learning the subject instead you could explain things instead of covering the bottom of your face with a cape and going “subtle 3D”. And care to explain how this f/1.4 lens gives better subject isolation than the said f/1.2 lens?

      • Nathan

        Here we go, a resident egocentric bully is in full swing once again. Let it go and for once get over your ego.

        • georgeforeman

          arguing with an idiot of the worst kind, a pixel-peeper cry-baby with
          little knowledge about photography, the good news is that he’ll most
          certainly say something absurd/stupid back that will amuse you. Please
          refer to these links of his past comments to see what i mean:

          thant’s right, i’m here too. The link list will just get longer

          • Ronald Patterson

            Good God you’re right…I’ve just skimmed thru those links, the guy is a mental case. Wikipedia entry for a psycho egocentric should use him under references.

          • When I told you in that other discussion to create a new nick name and try again, I didn’t realise I’d be encouraging some multiple personality disorder of yours LOL

            Umm thanks for the unsubstantiated claims, stalking, name-calling and the abuse, btw… finally you have something to share with your grandkids some day 😀

            • Luke

              As if you’d have anything better to tell your grandkids

        • One guy claims f/1.4 isolates better than f/1.2 and a few posts back another guy claimed he can make better photos than “99.99999%” of the population yet here you’re barking at me for pushing for facts. You must be proud of yourself.

          • Shawn

            Hey, of course I can take better pictures than 99.99999% of the population, most people don’t care about the quality and aesthetics of their pictures, they just point & shoot. So yeah, all of us here with serious interest in photography will create better photos. I believe that we are a very small portion of the overall population. Feel free to disagree.

            I was not saying I can take better pictures than 99.9999% of serious photographers.

      • Shawn

        OK, I know you all want to attack him, but I’m a little baffled by the original poster’s comparison to the 85 1.2. How can you get better subject isolation at f/1.4 than you can at f/1.2? It’s a physical impossibility, unless Canon has overstated the true focal length by quite a bit.

        Please post a side by side example to prove that the Nikon 1.4 is a better isolator than the Canon 1.2. I will thoroughly believe it when I see it.

        • No longer Pablo Ricasso

          I think he means that the image has a little more “pop” when shot at a wide ap with the 1.4 lens rather than how blurry the background actually is. That depends on contrast as much as resolution, and is likely what someone is thinking about when talking about a “subtle three dimensional quality.”

          Depending on where we are standing it’s sometimes possible to get all the background blur/ “subject isolation” you want at F2 or higher, so at that point the vividness of the captured image becomes as or more important than that aspect of the “bokeh.’. And, of course, the Canon lens is necessarily hitting on a different sensor, so the comparison isn’t totally fair….

          I should also note that some lenses that people really like have less depth of field than what a textbook might suggest and some seem to have a little more than what a textbook would suggest. I prefer the latter and my thoughts are that the person who is liking the 1.4 g also does. In fact, I’ve almost sold some lenses for giving me too little depth of field and only later figured out what I had and that it could be useful. An example of what I’m saying is that I found through testing that my basic old lenses peak at f8 and better old primes peak at f5.6 and actually give a longer actual depth of field there than they would at f8 because the lens is performing so strongly at that aperture. All lenses of the same length and aperture are going to fall off at about the same rate when you get so far away from the plane of focus, but when you are really close to it they tend to behave much differently and some would prefer one over the other. I think as much depends on the situation and what you are trying to get from it. This will probably get much argument… Of course I could just be a smarty pants and tell you to get a larger format… I think SOMEBODY has done that repeatedly…

          • Shawn

            Got it. Thanks.

            I’d generally have to disagree. I follow a few portrait photographers who shoot 85s with the Nikon 1.4 and the Canon 1.2 and I do find the Canon 1.2 looks beautiful shot wide open, and appears to have better subject isolation.

            But now we’re in personal opinion territory, which I think we were to begin with, so it’s all a matter of taste.

            I’m pretty damn happy with my 85 1.8G on my DX sensor. I can still make pictures better than 99.99999% of the population with this combo (and willing subjects). Now I just have to convince them to give me money for it. 1.4 and FX is a future reinvestment goal.

            • No longer Pablo RIcasso

              Well, if you like using that lens and you are using a cropped camera, then you understand that you will want to get a 135 f2 when you go full frame. Right?

              People think this is one of the best Canon lenses. And they also rave about the Nikon DC, preferring it over the 105, although some say it needs replacing because of chromatic aberration. Some people like the Zeiss, which has a version for all three mounts. I like the AI/AIS because it produces the richest darkest, most saturated Nikon colors, something like that of a good oil painting. And it is SHARP, putting a bigger smackdown on my best zooms than even my 85. However, People DO say not to use it closer than about ten feet, which doesn’t bother me much because I don’t find myself wanting to. I might hate the lens if I was one to get close with it.
              Just the same 85 x 1.5 = 127 and 85 x 1.55 = 131.5 or about 135. The 85 that you use on a cropped camera will look like a 55 macro on a full frame.

            • Shawn

              Thanks. I’m well versed in crop sensor dynamics. I would plan on keeping the 85 1.8 and eventually upgrading to the 1.4 if I get an opportunity to move into FX. I would just have to learn to use my FX lenses differently. I actually have 35 1.8, 50 1.8, and 85 1.8… so I’m pretty sure I would just shift my usage down one.

              The reason I am considering FX has everything to do with increasing subject isolation through closer focusing than the same framing as DX.

            • “The reason I am considering FX has everything to do with increasing subject isolation through closer focusing than the same framing as DX.”

              Yeah that comment alone says you haven’t used a FF yet…

            • Shawn

              Ouch. You’re right that I’ve never used FF, but I have studied and studied and studied images from photographers who do use FF and I find they have much better subject isolation than with crop sensor cameras. Even the same photographers who upgraded to FF using the same lenses I can see the difference.

              Care to explain your remarks in a little more detail?

          • “And, of course, the Canon lens is necessarily hitting on a different sensor, so the comparison isn’t totally fair….”

            Guess you haven’t seen this:

            • Shawn

              This is AMAZING! You are one of the few who are willing to put your money where your mouth is. This test was very well done. The only thing “missing” would be an “isolation” test. You showed the bokeh up close, but how about placing a single subject in the center and then comparing the backgrounds at a more zoomed out level?

              I can already see by the bokeh comparison, that the 1.2 is a better isolator, but I believe that quality is only visible when you view the entire frame at once. Do you happen to have the individual samples still around?

              Nice test, I am very impressed.

            • Thanks.

              ” You showed the bokeh up close, but how about placing a single subject in the center and then comparing the backgrounds at a more zoomed out level?”

              Actually that’s not a crop of the out of focus areas up close. That’s the entire frame with both lenses focused at exactly same distance (closest common focusing distance iirc). So if you put a subject in the middle, the bokeh would still be exactly like that.

              Here’s another crowd favourite test:

        • “How can you get better subject isolation at f/1.4 than you can at f/1.2? It’s a physical impossibility,”

          Actually it’s totally possible in theory but not in the case of the 85 1.4G vs. the 85 1.2L (II). I’d hate to give the answer away because I’d like to see what interesting explanation Darren B. has… but I doubt he’ll show.

          The image of an object (point) focuses on to one perfect point on the image plane (film or sensor)… but this is the ideal case. With most lenses and especially fast lenses at wide apertures, this is a blob instead of a sharp point. A better lens’s DOF’s maximum focus would consist of a very fine line of sharp points where as a lens with aberrations will have a softer region that’s not sharply defined. In the latter case, the difference between in-focus and out-of-focus area would be less and therefore will create a deeper DOF. So in theory it’s possible to have a f/2 lens produce shallower DOF than a soft f/1 lens.

          Again, this is not the case when it comes to the 85 1.4G and the 85 1.2L II… the latter is actually sharper (mainly in the center) at f/1.2 than the other at f/1.4. See my link somewhere above/below for example.

    • James Duffy

      Frankly, whenever photogs start spewing “subtle 3D” blah, blah, my eyes start rolling. I’ve owned both, the 1.4 & 1.8. As shown by photo zone, DxO, etc…the 1.8 is actually better overall lens other than resolution at f4 > f5.6. Who (in their right mind) buys a $1600 f1.4 lens to shoot at f5.6?!? The f1.8 is better or as good at f2.8 than the f1.4 in every way including bokeh. Thom Hogan and others have embraced the f1.8 over the f1.4. Many who spent the money on the f1.4 have a need to justify their purchase and fabricate (imagine) reasons. Build quality is the only true advantage on the f1.4 imo. Beyond that, it’s about bragging rights.

      • No longer Pablo Ricasso

        I do. I first bought old primes because they were supposed to be better than zooms. Then found otherwise, at least for landscape, and noted that the zoom had a further advantage of allowing me to get better framing and avoid losing resolution cropping. Frustrated in my pursuit of quality I tried buying the faster primes. My first tests indicated they had nothing on the slower lenses. It was when I opened them up a stop from the f8 that the zooms and lesser primes were maxing out at that I found they worked best. Nothing can beat the best primes at f5.6.

        **** I do have to admit that MY old 85 f1.4 sucks compared to my f1.8, but I don’t use it close up as it was likely intended for. The 24 f2 lens is basically about the same as the ai/ais 2.8. The 20 f3.5 and f4 is mainly better than the f2.8. There are too many fifty mm lenses to discuss and they are all great and all have problems too. *****

        That disclaimer aside, you should know that the fastest AI/AIS 28, 35, 105, and 135 are the best choice for when you stop them down to f5.6. The difference is even larger when you get to the fastest version of the 200, 300, and 400 lenses.

        Then, when actually using them I found that some of them produced awesome results even at apertures wider than the slower lenses and zooms would go.

        But my initial object was not to go fast. I usually shoot in the daytime and at 100 speed. I just wanted the best resolution within the format.

  • DonD

    Where have I been? I’ve intentionally never bought the 85 1.4G because I always heard it was really not that great of a lens. So what am I hearing now? How did it get so good all of a sudden? Maybe that explains why the 1.8 version beats it.

    • Ronald Patterson

      You’ve been hearing a noise from tech-spec biased armchair photogs and gear head reviewers. Maybe a time for hearing aparatus investment, at least you could afford that now with all the savings you made with 1.8 over 1.4 version?
      Sorry I wasn’t meant to be abrasive nor offensive to a fellow forumer but your post just asks for it.

      • DonD

        Ok, Ronald, riddle me this. Lets’ say what tou are saying is true about the gearhead reviewers. Compare if you will a lens that the gearheads say is a great lens. Wouldn’t that lens comparatively be much better to the non-gearheads. All of the lenes are great lenes, I’m just trying to separate out the really great ones. I have a 14-24 which, IMHO, and a lot of gearheads is one of the best. I think non-grearheads would agree. So, I know they are totally different types of lenses (the 14-24 and the 85) but how does the 85 compare greatness wise, to the 14-24. I’m betting not that well. Also, I already have the Nikon mount Sigma 85mm 1.4. Is the new Nikon really going to be that much better? For that matter, would the 85 1.4G really be ANY better than the Sigma. Some gearheads say NO. What do you say?

  • lorenzo

    DXOmark soon will say yet that the D600 is better than the D4 and D800

    • No longer Pablo Ricasso

      Maybe not as good a camera physically, but as far as image quality, it’s on par. Kind of like the good old film days when you could just use a Nikkormat or an EM if you didn’t want to carry an F2 or F3. I like that. I like that a lot. Soon it will be a fifteen hundred dollar camera too.

      But don’t worry. There are other ways you can distinguish yourself. You can buy some new clothes or jewelry. Maybe you can get another car and leave the stupid price sheet on the window…

      • lorenzo

        I don’t have to distinguish myself; I don’t have a D4 or a D800 or the car you suggested.

        Just seems strange that Nikon makes an 85mm f/1.4 lens at much higher price of the f/1.8 and DXOmark considers it inferior. Or are the buyers of the 85 f/1.4 totally stupid?

        I have big doubts about these evaluations, maybe they have some commercial interest behind. That’s all I wanted to say.

        Anyway, thanks for your wise suggestion!

        • No longer Pablo Ricasso

          When I saw the first test photos from the D600 I knew it was going to be within a point of the D800 and that it was better than the D3X. It only took me a couple of glances. I said as much on here before the company released the scores. If you dig hard enough you can probably find it.
          Why would Nikon have a commercial interest in telling this company to score their lower lines of product better than their top? The difference in the cameras is mainly build quality.

          The score reflects the reality. Also, if you look at the components of the score, they said the 1.4 is sharper. It just has more vignetting, largely because it’s a f1.4 lens, and distortion, not enough of which to care about. Also, due to the difficulty of the optical design, it has a bit more CA, probably in the corners, where you are looking at pure blur (“bokeh”) in many actual uses. The fact that they rate the composite sharpness higher despite having to include one test at a higher aperture than the other is capable of indicates that the lens is optically superior to the slower lens. That the company had to score the lens lower indicates that they use a very autocratic and unbiased method of compiling the final score. I encourage you to read the individual components of the total score and then take them for what they are.

          Remember the scores don’t indicate color saturation, contrast, nor “bokeh.” The best lens to have is probably both. The best camera to have is the cheapest one that works good enough.

          • lorenzo

            BTW what happened to the original Pablo?

            Well, you might be right, we saw a similar situation on Mansurovs for the 50mm f/1.4 and the cheaper f/1.8, which I ended up buying. However, from what I know, Nikon performs camera tests with the 50mm f/1.4. It is hard to understand that a cheaper object is better of one 3X more expensive; going back to cars it is like saying that a Toyota is better than a Ferrari 🙂

            Sure the 85 f/1.4 has more glass but does it cost more because of that or because the golden ring tells us that Nikon takes more care in building it and in Japan while the f/1.8 is made with less quality requirements and in Thailand?

            The commercial interest I was talking about wouldn’t surprise me as we saw that Nikon seems to sell more D600 (and advertises more on them) than D4/D800. They don’t care much about professional (which I am not) today but rather about consumer. So instead of selling let’s say 10,000 gold ring f/1.4 lens they can sell 100,000 f/1.8 and make a better profit; besides, it fits better with the D600 as price line! We tend to investigate and analyze the details, the specs, the tests, while in reality the game may be very different.

            Perhaps it’s me that became skeptical reading on this forum what happened to many Pro Nikon owners and the response from Support, showing that Nikon cares more about Coolpics or other point and shoot than pro camera and lenses 🙁

            • No longer Pablo Ricasso

              I googled the name and it appears that somewhere there is/was a photographer calling himself that. Weird coincidence. So I suppose I wasn’t the first one to mock myself by goofing up some artist’s name. I’ll have to be more creative next time.

              However bad the support is for the “pro” cameras, I can’t imagine what it is for Coolpix. I also think that a substantial portion of the whiners you read from were some glib shameless trolls who work in a competing marketing department. I really think that.

              I don’t disagree with the results I see posted because the individual scores match what I see. I also trust photozone and photodo for the really old stuff. Again, always looking as closely as possible to the smallest individual components of the score rather than the total and remembering that they are only scoring a portion of that which is to consider.

              I also appreciate the fact that they do a good job making one hundred, two hundred, and five hundred dollar lenses. I am from the film era and I would have never got started if I thought I had to shell out more than a thousand for one part of what I needed. There are a lot of lenses that I like that can be found for almost nothing. The “competing” brands, not so much… (Don’t I sound like a troll?)

            • lorenzo

              I see.The real Pablo might have sued you 🙂

              From my side I am surprised with all the lorenzo in the world that I was able to use my real name.

              I also come from film, had a F2, F3 and F4 (I kept only the F3) but had cheap lenses those years except for a 1,000mm f/11 reflex. Now I am still with a D100 and a D300s and very few decent lenses. Before that I had a Coolpix 950 but never sent it to service so I can’t tell you if they cared more or less than the pros. It still works, has some hyperactive pixels on the LCD.

              You are right about the whiners and trolls. For instance if you check the B&H reviews for the D800E, out of 50 super happy that give all stars there are a couple that complain and because of that many think that the camera is a piece of junk. Forget about those that tested 4, 5, 6 cameras and returned them; it is not statistically possible to get so many defective units in a row. But these people may scare many with their comments.

              I will buy the D800E when I have the money for it, now have no job, no income and can’t retire, so isn’t easy..

              Sometimes a piece of glass that one values nothing gives you so great and crisp pictures. I remember in the 60’s to have a Zorky-4 Russian Camera and perhaps some Zenitar lenses. That less-than-$50 equipment was almost as good as my F2, when it came out. Years ago I bought a Sigma 70-300 and thought was a piece of junk, instead it competed with an 18-70 Nikon – but it loses against the 70-300 Nikon. The mechanics, well that is another story: I trashed a Tamron 10-24 after 3 days and got the Nikon.

              No, you don’t sound like a troll but like a person of the old school that doesn’t want to spend much when it isn’t necessary… no offense 🙂

  • I was just looking at both the 85mm f/1.4G and 1.8G and the 1.4G is no doubt a beautiful pro lens. Well-built, heavy, fast AF. The 1.8G feels like a toy, very much plastic-y, but of course super-light. If you don’t need a pro lens for heavy use, the 1.8G is definitely a good route for IQ.

    I checked out the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 as well. It’s a good balance between the two. Better build quality and faster aperture than the 1.8G at a price that’s right in the middle of the two Nikons. The IQ is pretty good as well.

    • Drazen B

      Very good and balanced comment.
      And I agree with your ‘feel in hand’ observation comparing the two Nikon 85mm lenses.
      Bottom line is both 1.4 and 1.8 have their use and following. The important thing is that both 1.4G and 1.8G owners are happy with the choices they made.

  • Yeah, when you consider the slightly faster AF speed, slightly lighter weight, and of course the price, the 85 1.8 G is a clear no-brainer for 90% of buyers…

  • Mansgame

    where does the 1.8D rank?

    • peterw

      ranking is hardly of importance with these portraitlenses, as you can see from the comments here :). It is partly about taste and ‘feel’, and DxO is making a subjective choice when adding the results.

      that said:
      the 1.8D has visibly less IQ than the 1.8 G – especially in border sharpness (not at all bad in the D) and ‘bokeh’ (not so good in the D). I had two 1.8D ‘s and one 1.8G. Both are great lenses for the price ans size. Off course, they can not be compared to a 1.4 lens for subject isolation and background blur, but the blur the 1.8G gives is very much closer to the 1.4 lenses.
      (I find it very pleasing that you can both use autofocus and override with manual focus with the AF-S lenses without having to switch some switch on camera or lens.)
      If I am not mistaken, the most appealling photo ever – the Afghan Mona Lisa of photography – was made with an 85 1:1,8 ai-s? Is that true? Or was it a 85 1:2 ai-s?
      (Hopefully my English is good enough even if it doesn’t meet the standards.)

      • Mansgame

        Thanks, that was very helpful 🙂

  • Steve

    Ok, so the pixel peepers say the 1.8g is “better”, big whoop! Last time I checked, photography is about taking pictures, not seeing which gear has better stats. All of this techie stuff is fine for computers, but in photography, newer isn’t always better, and nobody cares about what you use if your photos can’t back it up.

  • Sean Sylvan

    It could be informative to take a look at the-digital-picture,

    and see the ISO 12233 crops at the same apertures for both lenses. You can compare the sharpness, vignetting and CA by your flesh eyes one apture at a time. (For those who would claim that the black and white ISO 12233 pattern does not tell how the lens would perform in real color scens, please be reminded that white light is composed of full spectrum color lights and if a lens performs well with patterns of sharp edges it would more likely perform well with less sharp patterns.)

    One really can’t figure out how DxOMark mix the magical Cool Aid for all the quality attributes and apertures.

  • $1200 for the AFD was borderline fair when I bought it but $1700!? youre a sucker for paying that. the performance is not worth $500 more. if you overpayed for a lens with not much if any better performance then of course youre going to say “great lens worth every penny” youre not going to say I got azz raped.

    the AFD/G 1.8’s are great lenses and those looking for a razor sharp lens, dont hesitate for a second. less than a third of the price and on par performance. even wide open they are amazing. its also very fast for weddings. just have the AFD on a camera with strong motor. price of a lens doesnt indicate performance.

    I wonder what many of the peoples portfolio look like who so badly side with the 1.4g. that to me says it all.

    here’s mine

  • dhuksha

    “Its best characteristic is homogenous sharpness with no edge softness
    even with the aperture wide open at f/1.8. Heavy corner shading that
    requires correction in post-production is evident at f/1.8 and the
    problem isn’t totally eradicated until the aperture is stopped down to

    but not everyone wants homogenous sharpness in a portrait and vignetting can be an issue esp down to f4. I find the metrics very useful, the conclusion less so.

  • Shawn

    Hmmmm, no DXO mark rating is going to get my 3 year old to hold still long enough to stay in focus at f/1.8. I’m sure it’s a great lens, but it will probably stay in my bag until I get a willing subject.

  • ModifiedJason

    I own and regularly use the older 85 1.4D and wouldn’t hesitate to replace that with the 1.4G if given the chance. As many “benefits” as the 1.8G has, the 1.4 excels in areas that are not tested or compared. The numbers don’t lie, it’s a great lens for the money, but the 1.4’s have it in real world use.

  • Boo hoo… I bought a 1700$ piece of glass and now my pen… I mean glass is beaten by a 500$! I am a pro! I have the largest glass! Cool it down please. The 1.4g, based on limited testing is a very fine lens which has larger aperture and better flare control than its little sibling. The 1.8g, for the price is the lens to buy. At 1.8g tests have shown it is sharper than the stopped down 1.4g. If you’re a pro and need top construction and don’t really mind the price hike get the 1.4G, there is no need to belittle the 1.8g because of it, trying to justify your purchase…

    DXO is just a score. Doesn’t mean better pictures.

  • chabis

    I just wish they made an FX 35mm 1.8 of that same quality/price ratio…

  • WOOOOOO and I own it!

  • Michael Choong

    I’m using the 1.8G quite a while and know it, but some people just thought the more expensive do the best job.

  • Ozkan Ozmen

    Hi everyone!
    I have just uploaded a video comparing Nikon
    85mm f1.4 g vs Canon 85mm f1.2 for those who
    are interested :

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