Along with the Nikon D3100 DSLR camera, Nikon also released the long-expected and overdue Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S – an update to the legendary Nikon 85mm f/1.4D that has been our top choice for portraiture and wedding photography. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4D has always been the “king” of bokeh and because of this, has been considered to be one of the best lenses for portraiture and low-light photography.
NOTE: A full review of this lens can be found in my Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Review article.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Lens Specifications
The new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G replaces the AF-D version and comes with completely redesigned optics. Check out these lens specifications:
- Focal length: 85mm
- Maximum aperture: f/1.4
- Minimum aperture: f/16
- Lens construction: 10 elements in 9 groups (with Nano Crystal Coat)
- Angle of view: 28°30’ (18°50’ with Nikon DX format)
- Minimum focus distance: 0.85 m/2.79 ft.
- Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.12x
- No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
- Filter-attachment size: 77mm
- Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): Approximately 86.5 x 84 mm/3.4 x 3.3 in.
- Weight: Approximately 595 g/21.0 oz.
- Supplied accessories: 7mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-55, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118
From the Nikon Press Release:
A highly anticipated lens for professional photographers with no room for compromise, the new AF-S 85mm f/1.4G ED is an ultra-fast classic portrait lens boasting amazing picture quality, high performance and the ability to create dramatic background effects (bokeh). This lens is engineered for professional portrait, studio and wedding photographers wanting to shoot at fast maximum apertures while retaining the highest performance. The 85mm lens is also well suited for portraits and low-light shooting situations because of its ability to create a shallow depth of field with exacting sharpness and detail. The AF-S 85mm f/1.4 is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both FX and DX-format D-SLR cameras, and features two focus modes, M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual) to further enhance versatility and adapt to a shooters needs. Additional features include Internal Focus (IF) that allows the lens to focus without changing the barrel length, Nano Crystal Coat to reduce instances of ghosting and flare, and a rugged construction build to endure aggressive field use.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 85mm f/1.4D
So, what is the difference between the new 85mm f/1.4G and the older 85mm f/1.4D? While basic specifications like maximum/minimum aperture and focus distance stay the same, the biggest changes are lens construction and addition of the Silent Wave Motor (SWM). The new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G sports 10 elements in 9 groups with Nano Crystal Coat, while the older AF-D version had 9 elements in 8 groups and no Nano Crystal Coat. The addition of 1 element adds to the overall weight of the lens, making it 45 grams heavier. The Silent Wave Motor brings quiet AF operation, in addition to AF-S, which means that the lens will work perfectly fine on all current Nikon lenses, including Nikon D3000/3100, D5000 and older Nikon DSLR cameras with no AF motor. Other minor updates include a new M/A switch, which lets you override autofocus by moving the focus ring and a bayonet hood. If you want to switch the lens from autofocus to manual focus on the AF-D version, you have to move the ring to “M” position before touching the focus ring. Now you do not have to do that, which makes it much easier to focus manually. The hood on the 85mm f/1.4DD is also a nuisance – it attaches to the lens filter thread and putting the lens cap is too painful.
What about sharpness? Let’s take a look at the MTF charts of both, side by side (Left: 85mm f/1.4G, Right: 85mm f/1.4D):
The MTF chart on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G indicates that sharpness-wise, both lenses perform very similarly in the center, with a slightly better performance in the center. The situation is a little bit different towards the corners – the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G gradually lowers in sharpness, while we can see a sharp drop on the 85mm f/1.4D. So the corner performance on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is clearly better. The MTF line is more straight instead of curved, which means that the image should look sharp in the center and off the center, getting a little softer towards the corners. This is great news, because it means that the new 85mm delivers sharper images both in the center and towards the edges! What about bokeh? See how close the dotted and dashed lines are on the new 85mm – this indicates a little better bokeh!
The MTF charts do not always portray the full picture, obviously, but we will see how this puppy performs in a real environment – I will be receiving it very soon…