Support Cameralabs by shopping at my partner stores or buying me a coffee!
Buy me a coffee!

Follow my RSS feed at Camera Labs RSS Feed
  Latest camera reviews

Lumix G80 / G85
Olympus OMD EM1 II
Sony RX10 Mark III
Sony RX100 Mark V
Nikon COOLPIX B700
Sony A6500
Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500
Nikon COOLPIX B500
Lumix LX10 / LX15
Fujifilm XT2
Nikon D3400
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Ricoh GR II
Canon G7X Mark II
Canon SX720 HS
Canon EOS 80D
Olympus TG Tracker
Nikon D500 review
Canon EOS 1300D / T6
Lumix GX80 / GX85
Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X70
Lumix TZ80 ZS60
Sony A6300
Canon PowerShot G5X
Lumix TZ100 ZS100
Sony A7s Mark II
Sony RX10 II
Lumix FZ330 / FZ300
Sony RX100 IV
Canon G9X
Fujifilm XT10
Nikon COOLPIX L840
Canon SX530 HS
Olympus OMD EM10 II
Canon SX410 IS
Panasonic Lumix GX8
Olympus TOUGH TG860
Sony A7r Mark II
Canon PowerShot D30
Olympus TOUGH TG4
Canon PowerShot G3X
Canon EOS 5Ds
Nikon COOLPIX S9900
Sony HX90V
Canon EOS T6s 760D
Panasonic Lumix G7
Panasonic Lumix SZ8
Canon EOS M3
Olympus EPL7
Samsung NX3000
Panasonic Lumix GM5
Nikon D5500
Panasonic Lumix GF7
Olympus OMD EM5 II
Nikon COOLPIX S9700
Canon SX710 HS
Panasonic TZ70 / ZS50
Sony Alpha A7 Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Fujifilm X100T
Nikon COOLPIX S3600
Sony Alpha A5100
Sigma DP1 Quattro
Sony Cyber-shot W830
Nikon COOLPIX L830
Nikon D750
Canon SX400 IS
Sony Cyber-shot H400
Panasonic Lumix LX100
Canon SX60 HS
Canon ELPH 340 IXUS 265
Canon G7X
Nikon COOLPIX P530
Canon SX520 HS
Canon G1 X Mark II
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40
Sony RX100 III review
Sony A3000 review
Canon EOS 1200D T5
Sony WX350
Nikon P600
Sony Alpha A5000
Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Panasonic TS5 FT5
Sony Alpha A6000
Canon SX700 HS
Canon SX600 HS
Olympus TOUGH TG2
Nikon AW1
Nikon D3300
Fujifilm XT1
Olympus STYLUS 1
Sony Cyber-shot RX10
Olympus OMD EM1
Panasonic Lumix GM1
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot A2500
Sony Alpha A7r
Canon ELPH 130 IXUS 140
Nikon COOLPIX P520
Nikon COOLPIX L820
Canon PowerShot S120
Panasonic Lumix GX7
Canon SX510 HS
Canon PowerShot G16
Fujifilm X20
Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72
Canon EOS 70D
Sony RX100 II
Canon ELPH 330 IXUS 255
Panasonic Lumix GF6
Fujifilm XM1
Olympus EP5
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Panasonic TZ35 / ZS25
Olympus XZ2
Sony HX300
Panasonic Lumix G6
Sony HX50V
Fujifilm X100S
Canon SX280 HS
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30
Nikon D7100
Fujifilm X-E1
Canon EOS 6D
Nikon D5200
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Canon PowerShot S110
Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Olympus E-PL5
Canon EOS M
Panasonic TS20 / FT20
Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon D600
Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot D20
Sony RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Canon SX500 IS
Fujifilm HS30 EXR
Sony HX200V
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
Canon 520HS / 500HS
Canon 110HS / 125HS
Nikon D800
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
Canon PowerShot A3400
Panasonic ZS15 / TZ25
Olympus E-M5
Nikon D3200
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Canon PowerShot A2300
Canon SX240 / SX260
Samsung NX200
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Panasonic ZS20 / TZ30
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Sony NEX-7
Panasonic GX1
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon V1
Sony NEX-5N
Canon EOS T3 / 1100D
Canon EOS 600D / T3i
Nikon D7000
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 550D / T2i
Canon EOS 7D

All camera reviews
  Best Buys: our top models
  Best Canon lens
Best Nikon lens
Best Sony lens
Best budget DSLR
Best mid-range DSLR
Best semi-pro DSLR
Best point and shoot
Best superzoom
Best camera accessories

Camera Labs Forum

Any questions, comments or a great tip to share? Join my Camera forum and let everyone know!
  DSLR Tips

Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G Thomas, updated June 2012

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G with D800 review

The Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G was announced August 2010. It's the longest of four prime lenses sporting an f1.4 focal ratio in Nikon's current range, with the 50mm, 35mm and 24mm completing the line-up.

I reviewed this lens back in March 2011 with the D300 and D700 bodies (see my Nikon 85mm 1.4G review), but this was prior to the launch of the AF-S 85mm f1.8G and the D800 body. The arrival of Nikon's 36 Megapixel D800 begs the question of how this lens performs on a full-frame body with three times the pixel density of a D700 - which translates into a 73% higher linear resolution.

In this update I've retested the lens with a D800 to see if Nikon's most expensive 85mm prime can deliver on a 36MP sensor. To that end I'll just repeat the Siemens-star resolution test as my earlier tests including longitudinal CAs and behavior in contra-light do not depend on the resolution of the body. As such this page is to be read as a complement to my existing Nikon 85mm 1.4G review - please take a look at both for a complete report on this lens!


Sharpness and contrast

What follows are near-center results (first column) followed by DX-corner results and FX-corner results on a D800. The D800 results from the DX-corner should be a very good approximation for performance on a 16MP DX sensor (like the D7000), because the pixel-pitch of both sensors are the same. But differences in the AA-filter and micro-lens-design of a D800 and a D7000 might yield different end-results.

Processing was done in Lightroom 4 from RAW at camera standard settings. This is another deviation from my former tests which were developed in CaptureNX 2. This was triggered by a close comparison of both RAW-converters: Lightroom 4 has a sharpening algorithm that can be better tuned for small details. Noise-reduction is set to 0, sharpening to 70/0.5/36/10, with no extra tone, color, or saturation-adjustment. White-balance was adjusted to a neutral white and I did some exposure compensation to make the brightness match. CA-removal is ON. Focus was achieved as usual live-view based and it was done separate for the center and the corners because the lens has slight field curvature.

These are 100% crops!

Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G with Nikon D800
100% crop from center
Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G with Nikon D800
100% crop from DX-corner
Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G with Nikon D800
100% crop from FX-corner
f1.4, 100 ISO
f1.4, 100 ISO
f1.4, 100 ISO
f2, 100 ISO
f2, 100 ISO
f2, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO

Now on the D800 as a new test-platform we can look a little deeper into the performance of the Nikon AF-S 85/1.4G. And it turns out that the performance is still very impressive at f1.4 and f2.0 in the center and the DX-corner. F2.8 produces a visible improvement and the center is almost at peak performance although the red coloration indicates some focus shift to the back. Stopping down to f4.0 still benefits the DX-corner but the center remains almost unchanged. Excellent performance continues at f5.6 and f8 while diffraction sets in at f11 and becomes pretty visible at f16 (not shown here).

The FX-corner suffers visibly from being looked at with a 1.7x larger magnification than on a D700. But there is still some good definition in the images wide open although cloaked by lower contrast and some obvious astigmatism. You need to stop down to f2.8 to see an improvement and only at f4.0 - f5.6 is the FX-corner up to speed with the center and DX-corner.


Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.4G sample images

The following images were taken with the Nikon AF-S 85/1.4G on a D800. Each image was recorded in RAW and converted with Lightroom 4 at camera standard settings. Noise-reduction is set to 0, sharpening to 70/0.5/36/10, no extra tone, color, or saturation adjustment was used. Some images have White Balance set to a standard daylight value to make them comparable. You can click on each image to access the large original. Please respect our copyright and only use those images for personal use.

The first image shows what you can achieve in a typical landscape situation. Not that many people think of a 85mm large aperture prime as a landscape lens. But the 85/1.4G produces very impressive images at infinity with fine details that are sharp right into the corners of the 36MP FX-sensor. At f2.8 center-performance is already very good and stopping down to f4.0 increases contrast a bit and reduces the magenta fringing.

Unremarkables: Infinity shot with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.4G on a D800
f5.6, 100 ISO; Below: 100% crops from center of main image at different apertures
f1.4, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
  f4.0, 100 ISO

The next row shows 100% crops from the lower right corner. Apart from the vignetting it's pretty astonishing how this lens performs even wide open. And from f4.0 on you get a very good performance.

Unremarkables: corner performance with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.4G on a D800, 100% crops
f1.4, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
  f4.0, 100 ISO


The second shot, below, is a good indication of the bokeh that this lens can produce wide open. Very important for applications like portraiture. The 50% crops are from the background, the sharpest point, and the foreground in the overall image. They demonstrate the extraordinarily smooth rendering of out-of-focus elements.

Tulips: bokeh shot with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.4G on a D800
Main image and all 50% crops: f1.4, 100 ISO

Other images shot with this lens are available on my flickr set here in full resolution. Have a look if you like.



This is just a summary of the points that we have learned from using the lens on the D800. For additional material and insights have a look at my full Nikon 85/1.4G review.

The pixel-density of the 36MP sensor shows that there are limits to the performance of this lens. But to be fair, that was to be expected: Almost any lens will show flaws wide open on a D800. And we are still talking about a very high level of performance here. Other than that the Nikon 85/1.4G confirmed its excellent resolving power and buttery bokeh of my first review. How it compares to its smaller brother - namely the 85/1.8G (see my Nikon 85/1.8G review) - will be subject to the upcoming 85mm shootout which will not only compare sharpness but also bokeh and other performance-indicators side-by-side to give you a final verdict.

If you have any question, comment or suggestion regarding the review head over here. A selection of my shots with this lens updated with new images shot with the D800 can be found there.
Und wenn es irgendwelche Fragen, Kommentare und Anregungen zu meinem Review gibt, hier gibt's die Möglichkeit auch für unsere deutschsprachigen Forums-Besucher. Und dort ist eine Auswahl an Bildern, die ich mit dieser Linse gemacht habe. Inklusive neuer Bilder mit der D800.

If you found this review useful, please support me by shopping below!

Like Cameralabs? Get the T-Shirt! I commissioned a local Brighton artist to create three unique designs, featuring cameras, coffee, beanie hats and sometimes all three! Check out all the Cameralabs Merchandise!
All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ Best Cameras / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs