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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:07 pm 
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Update: my 85mm shootout is here.
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I just received a package containing the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G and its predecessor, the AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D.
Together with my AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G (tested on a D300 and D700 here) these lenses will be at the heart of a 85mm-shootout.
I had already tested the old 1.8D in November 2008 (see my report here) but some of my findings and test-images from this lens did not sit well with some readers. So here this oldie (released in the current form in March '94) can prove its worth again in my new test-setup on the D800.

Some prelim testing shows that the new 1.8G indeed seems to continue Nikon's aspirations in their latest batch of f1.8G lenses (DX 35/1.8G and FX 50/1.8G) to offer quite some performance-bang for the buck.

So look forward to the usual slew of Siemens-star test-shots accompanied by a selection of real targets to answer your questions about which 85mm lens to get from Nikon (the old 85/1.4D is discontinued). As usual you'll be seeing results that are relevant for DX-shooters and (aspiring) FX-owners.

And while I'm busily beavering away in my secret lab you can already throw any kind of questions (regarding these 85mm lenses of course) at me. Have fun!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:42 pm 
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Here's a first quick shot of the new 85/1.8G fully open at f1.8 from my (new) test-target with the (new) D800:

Image
Nikon AF-S 85f1.8G at f1.8 501530 by Thomas, on Flickr
For correctly interpreting this image you need to keep in mind that you're only seeing one quadrant of the lens/sensor. The center of the sensor is the small target on the mirror (which was not used for focusing) in the upper left corner of the image! Click through the image to access the full-res version of this shot (or to be exact a quarter of it).

Now, what can we observe?
Lo and behold!
- Shockingly sharp in the FX-corners on a 36MP monster-sensor :D
- (not so shockingly but) sharp in the center :)
- only so-so at the DX-corner point :?
As lenses normally lose IQ the further away from the center you get, so the last observation might raise some eyebrows - and it certainly warrants having a closer look at this phenomenon (which I'll be doing). But looking at the MTF-curve published by Nikon it might well be a characteristic of this lens and/or it may be aggravated by some strange field-curvature. The latter (field-curvature) might not be relevant when shooting other than flat subjects but can be eliminated by focusing specifically at that point - which I'll be trying.

Mind youÖ this is all early days of my testing. And I'm specifically not yet decided on the best was to process the test-images: From RAW with CaptureNX2 or Lightroom4, or as jpg sooc (straight out of camera). Give me some time to think (and see) it all through for the great 85mm shootout!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:47 am 
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Arrrgh, wanted to do some landscaping with the sun nicely shining, but while I drove to my fav spot (the "unremarkables" :wink: ) for test-shots I was stopped by a crash on the autobahn and the resulting traffic jam. And when I finally arrived at the site a cloud bank made it impossible to do finish shots with the required diligence :(

But enough whining! Wanted to update you on current street prices of the lenses in Germany (all incl. 19% VAT):
85/1.8D: around 380 EUR (AF only with D80/90/7000 and up)
85/1.8G: around 480 EUR
85/1.4G: 1400-1500 EUR (the discontinued 85/1.4D is still available at around 1100 EUR)
The Zeiss ZF.2 Objektiv Planar T* 85mm 1.4 (non-AF) is at 1100 EUR
The Samyang 85/1.4 non-AF can be had for 300-400 EUR
and the Sigma AF 85mm 1.4 EX DG HSM is at 800-850 EUR

All prices valid at time of writing. If you want to look up prices in your country or you're in for shopping, please use this page to support Camera Labs

Conclusion: If you exclude the Samyang (I wouldn't recommend manual focus on a large aperture prime) the f1.8 Nikons are in fact the cheapest alternative to get one of those much sought-after large aperture 85mm primes.
Who would have thought that I mention "cheap" and "Nikon" in one sentence :wink:
But have a look at my reviews of the AF-S 35/1.8G (only DX) and AF-S 50/1.8G and you see a trend here: Nikon is in for offering some of the most interesting lenses after the standard/kit zooms at great prices and with a very good image-quality.
Mind you, the IQ of the new 85/1.8G still has to be thoroughly tested by me before I can offer a verdict. But initial impressions are positive so far.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:12 pm 
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Did some testing for longitudinal CAs (green tint of background subjects, magenta tint of foreground subjects).
The 85/1.4G was very prone to loCA and unfortunately the new 85/1.8G is not any better in this respect.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Last week the weather was very good for doing a series of comparative test-shots under (almost) identical conditions.
One of those was a nice "infinity" test shot from a hill down onto a town with the morning sun in my back. Because Gordon always shows images from the famous "Remarkables" as a standard test in his camera-reviews I called my test-scene the "Unremarkables". :wink:

Image

Developed from RAW in Lightroom4 with camera-standard settings, no lens-profile, CA-red=ON, NRed=OFF, sharpening=70/0.5/36/10, idential WB plus a little fine-tuning to make the exposure of these images totally comparable.

I've uploaded this material in full resolution at flickr so that everybody can have a look and compare the performance of these lenses directly. These files are for personal evaluation only and cannot be used in another publication or website without permission.

Here are the sets: AF-S 85/1.8G, AF 85/1.8D, AF-S 85/1.4G.
(older images in these sets were shot with the D300)

First impressions:
- The 1.8D is clearly lagging behind the other two
- The 1.8G indeed looks very good in contrast, sharpness and freedom from CA
- The 1.4G renders less analytical than the 1.8G wide open but possesses a very good sharpness too. There are some magenta CA at bright subjects (axial/longitudinal CA or purple-fringing). From f4.0 on little difference to the 1.8G (you can recap my review of this lens on the D300 here).

Further uploads will follow (e.g. from the Nikon AF-S 70-200/2.8G VRII at 86mm), but my complete Shootout/review will still take some time.Last week the weather was very good for doing a series of comparative test-shots under (almost) identical conditions.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 7:04 pm 
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Some other tidbits for these lenses.

Minimum focus distance (MFD): 1.8D: 0.85 m/2.8 ft., 1.8G: 0.8 m/2.62 ft., 1.4G: 0.85 m/2.79 ft.
Maximum magnification: 1.8D: 1:9.2, 1.8G: 1:8.1, 1.4G: 1:8.3
The new 1.8G indeed focuses closest of the bunch, also when compared to the competition which goes to 0.85m (Sigma) or only 1m (Samyang, Zeiss). But these differences are almost meaningless: Unless you buy a 85mm macro lens you wont get more than 1:8 - 1:10 magnification from any 85mm f1.x prime lens.
Focus throw (rotation of the focus ring from infinity to MFD): 1.8D: 95°, 1.8G: 100°, 1.4G: 100°.
Focus speed (from infinity to 0.85m): 1.8D: 0.5 sec, 1.8G: 0.6 sec, 1.4G: 0.6 sec. There is a little advantage for the old 1.8D but that may depend on the body you're using, as the body's motor is the driving force for the 1.8D.
So again, not much to be seen here.

Weight: 1.8D: 380 g/13.4 oz., 1.8G: 350 g/12.4 oz, 1.4G: 595 g/21.0 oz.
Size (diam./length): 1.8D: 72 x 59 mm/2.8 x 2.3 in., 1.8G: 80 x 73 mm/3.1 x 2.9 in., 1.4G: 87 x 84 mm/3.4 x 3.3 in.
So the drive-less 1.8D is the smallest but weighs 10% more than the 1.8G. That makes it feel like a pretty solid lens. The 1.4G is pretty heavy in (although the Sigma 85/1.4 comes in at 719 g and 85 x 88 mm) and makes the 1.8G feel light in comparison. That added weight can be felt around your neck an in your hand. Whether this gives you a system that can be held stable at longer shutter-speeds is still open to debate.

But I can add a word of warning from a long day of shooting: hand-holding a 85mm lens on a D800 (or a D7000) means avoiding shutter-speeds below 1/200 sec for critical sharpness. If you're shooting at 1/100 sec or below look for support!

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:02 pm 
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After a final shooting of the three lenses for comparison I packed them up and sent them back. Hope to have enough quality-material for analysis and examples to show you in the review.
Here's the parting shot:

Image
85mm Nikkors 52399 by Thomas, on Flickr

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:03 pm 
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The results from my contra-light test speak for themselves. See the 1.8G (left) pitted against the 1.8D (right):

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85mm contralight by Thomas, on Flickrflickr

The 1.8G and the 1.4G on the other side look pretty similar.

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Here's the new Nikon AF-S 85/1.8G (left) side-by-side with its predecessor the AF 85/1.8D (right) at f2.0 to find out about the quality of bokeh:

Image
Nikon 85mm 1.8G vs 1.8D @f2.0 by Thomas, on Flickr
The image above is presented at about 22% magnification. If you click through the image you get access to a larger version at 50% magnification.

Pretty clear who the winner is...

---
P.S.: The AF-S 85/1.4G looks similar to the 85/1.8G under the same conditions. Although my full review will reveal subtle differences.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 10:13 pm 
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My review is now up here. The lens duly earned a "highly recommended". Enjoy!
Any questions, comments? Post'em here.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 8:10 pm 
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I find it hard to justify the jump in price from 1.8 to 1.4 Same issue for me with the 50mm. Still a nice review.

Wenn ich das Geld hätte, würde ich mir natürlich das 1.4er holen. Sieht einfach schnuckelig aus. Leider habe ich nicht genügend Geld z'sammen.

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 8:43 pm 
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The real deal comes when I have written up the shootout posting 100% comparable crops from different series against each other.
And I'll especially look into two aspects of performance: sharpness and bokeh.
And then there is the question: how much brighter is the 1.4G really compared to the 1.8G fully open. Maybe different transmission characteristics make the delta larger or smaller than the nominal 2/3 of a stop.

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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 6:57 pm 
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First of all, congratulations on your new test-target. :wink:

Could you use portraits as your sample images, for this particular lens? It seems it's more fit for those, in real life use, than for landscapes.

I currently own the 1.8D. The one thing I don't like about it - having grown accustomed to the 35mm 1.8G - is the relatively clunky auto-focus (mechanical noise, not very fast).

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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 7:28 pm 
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Luis: The 1.8D and 1.8G are no longer in my hands - so no portraits are possible.
Btw.: imho portraits are technically the least challenging (from a technical stand-point). So if a lens performs well on the Siemens-star test-target (at 40x focal length) and at landscapes you can be pretty sure that it performs well in almost any other situation.
The comparison between all three lenses is still in the pipeline, where you will see that the new 1.8G is clearly ahead of the 1.8D.
My writeup on that comparison is just a little behind because the new Nikon 28/1.8G is currently on the bench...

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:39 pm 
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Update: I'll include the Sigma AF 85mm 1.4 EX DG HSM in that comparison as I'll get one for testing soon!

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