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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:52 pm 
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Some might have seen it, but a new Nikon Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8D arrived at my home in replacement for the Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D which I simply used too seldom. Esp. in comparison to my Nikon AF 35mm f/2.0D with 1:4.2 magnification.
So I looked around for some high quality prime to fill the gap between the 35/2.0 and the Sigma 150/2.8 micro. 85mm focal length seemed like an ideal inbetween lens esp. as the f/1.8 should give some good dof-control. reviews looked very good with excellent potential for an FF/FX body unlike the 85/1.4 which has serious problems in the corners on an FF/FX body! I assume Nikon will be replacing the AF 85/1.4 pretty soon with a AF-S 85/1.4 just like it did with the AF 50/1.4 a few weeks ago. As the new AF-S 85/1.4 will certainly not be cheaper than the old one you can expect a price only a tad below 1000€ which was too much for me to justify a 600€ price diferrence to the AF 85/1.8!
So that's why I went for the 85/1.8 and can bring you some first hand experiences, images and lab-tests in my review that you can read exclusively on - tataaa - Camera Labs :wink:

As always have some patience with me as I'm doing this in my limited spare time and feel free to chime in with questions, comments and additions.

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Last edited by Thomas on Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:14 pm 
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Before turning to the tedious facts from the catalog let me put some likes and dislikes here up front:
+ relatively moderate price :)
+ small, lightweight, pocketable :D
+ should be sharp :)
+ good dof-control :)
- no AF-S: focus ring turns with AF :(
- no VR: Nikon should develop an in camera IS for the next body :(
- screw-in, non-reversable lens-hood :(
- only 1:9.2 magnification :cry:
- no zoom :lol:
Of all the dislikes for me the limited magnification is the major one. I love to get up close and personal with various small subjects and this lens is definitely not the best instrument for such ventures!

Alas, fast forward to the main facts from the catalog:
Size: 72x59mm w/o lens-hood = nice size :)
Weight: 380g w/o caps but including lens-hood = very "bearable"
Optics: 6 elements in 6 groups = that's the benefit of a fixed focal :)
Closest focus distance/max.magnification: 85cm / 1:9.2 :cry:
Filter-thread: 62mm = small and cheap :)
no VR = sad :(
AF: does not AF on D40/x/D60-bodies :( , focus-ring turns with AF :(
Covers full frame/FX or smaller = normal :)
Comes with no pouch :?
Price: around 350€ new = quite resonable :)
The front- and rearlens-caps Nikon style :D
Distance information is relayed to the camera, so the Nikon body can do all the advanced exposure-related stuff with this lens :D
Aperture ring = yes :) I love the aperture ring!
lens-shade included, but screw-in type and not revertable for transport :?
Tripod-collar = no, but you don't really need one :)
Sealing: no :?

Alternatives come all with the same limitations (or even more) :( :
- The Nikon 85/1.4: heavier, larger and much more expensive, with worse corners on FF/FX
- The Zeiss Planar 85/1.4: heavier, larger and much more expensive. No AF :cry:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:18 pm 
This is going to be an interesting one!

You got some pretty sweet reviews Thomas! I love them, i browse them when i m bored :P

Waiting for the "boring" stuff


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:44 pm 
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There are already some insights based on real-life images with some strange observations about the correlation of aperture and contrast under adverse circumstances here.
But you've already seen that one, Alex!
Image

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Last edited by Thomas on Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:04 pm 
I've seen some tests & samples of this lens...I simply love it. It's the best 85mm lens existent (well,Zeiss doesn't count :) too darn expensive)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:16 pm 
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Here's an image I shot on Saturday. It's at 1/125sec, f/8.0, ISO 400, -1EV, so don't expect anything critical. Image-processing set to vivid, no other processing. I've uploaded the full-rez jpg for you. Just click through the image.

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:20 pm 
excellent shot thomas.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:21 pm 
Yeah i seen that thread, so you have noticed.

I pixel peeped that photo as well, right of the bat 400 ISO on the D300 sure does deliver a good IQ for prints (side tracked there) but as far as the lens goes, its looks sharp and nice! A nice image to illustrate the lens :)

Thanks


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:32 pm 
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One sad thing to report of this factory-fresh lens is: I need +12 micro-AF adjustment to get the sharpest results. This can be easily done with a D300/700/3 but other bodies don't have the macro-AF-adjustment function and would deliver worse results.
Normally I would assume that front-/backfocus is an idividual problem, so your copy of this lens may be perfectly ok. It's just sad to see that Nikon cannot always deliver a perfectly focussing lens.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:19 pm 
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Thanks for the report so far Thomas - looking forward to learning more about it...


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Another hitch of this lens is longitudinal CA (often called "bokeh-CA"). This is a color abberation where some out-of-focus structures behind the focal plane get a greenish tint or a redish tint if they are in front of the focal plane. Bokeh-CA is especially nasty as it cannot be corrected in software - as opposed to lateral CA. Reminds me of the Nikon AF 180/2.8D I once had.

Wanna see?

Image
shot at f/1.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 200, -1EV, 100% crop

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Last edited by Thomas on Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:45 am 
Where is that crop from: top/bottom left/right corner?

Yeah i can def see some bokeh CA there as you stated, but once again please correct me if i m not wrong, is that only at 100% crop? That would not be a problem for prints Below A3 sizes so to speak?!

Now i was wondering about that micro-AF? What is that, its not something that i have come a crossed before, is that where you adjust the AF (front/back focusing)

I m quite amazed that the general quality control on the lenses these days seems to be very bad, i m fully aware that they cannot economically speaking, check the quality of every single lens that hits the market but they should have a relative high control ratio, when it comes to this issue how does Nikon deal with this if you are not 100% satisfied with the product you received?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:29 pm 
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This was a 100% crop pretty much near the centre. See the complete picture:
Image
Please bear in mind: Longitudinal CAs are a totally different kind of beast from lateral CAs. They don't increase in uglyness from center to corner but depend only on the position of the subject behind or in front of the focal plane. And they cannot be corrected by in-camera or post-processing CA-reduction!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:29 pm 
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Next up is another problem of this lens: purple fringing and bokeh.
Look at the following 100% crop taken at f/1.8:

Image

You can see some nasty lilac highlights in the foreground and the oof circles in the background really show all the bad behaviour that you can imagine:
- not uniformly lit but doughnut shaped
- with a green border and a lilac centre
This is as ugly as it can get. And just to avoid any questions: This is not the result of the inferior LightRoom RAW converter but was converted from RAW with CaptureNX2 to jpg!

It reminds me a little of a similar test with my (once) Nikkor 50/1.4 here. But honestly: the 50mm looks much better to my eye!

Any comments and opinions?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:32 pm 
So are you going to keep this lens?


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