Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S lens that was announced with three other lenses in August of 2010. Ever since the manual focus AI-s version of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens was introduced back in 1981, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lenses have been used as references for superb sharpness, best-looking bokeh and beautiful color renditions. The last autofocus AF-D version of the lens produced in 1995, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D, was often called the “king of bokeh”, yielding extremely pleasing out-of-focus areas, in addition to producing tack-sharp, colorful images when shooting wide open at maximum aperture of f/1.4. Its legendary performance made the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D lens a must-have for portrait photographers and many professionals have been heavily relying on this lens for their commercial work. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S lens is the latest update to the 85mm f/1.4 line, which replaces the outdated AF-D version with the latest optical and technology innovations from Nikon. In this review, I will not only provide information on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lens, but will also compare it against the older Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lenses.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G

The highly anticipated Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S is a professional-grade lens that is specifically designed for portrait, studio and wedding photographers that need an ultra-fast, high quality lens with a large aperture of f/1.4 for low-light situations and shallow depth of field to isolate subjects from the background, without compromising image quality and sharpness. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is built to work extremely well on both FX and DX sensors, yielding very sharp results in the center frame, as shown in the following pages of this review. Nikon has incorporated the latest technology and optical formulas to this lens, including AF-S silent-wave focus motor and Nano crystal coating. Just like most Nikon professional lenses, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G has a 77mm filter thread and is also sealed against dust and tough weather conditions for outdoors field use.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Image Sample

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Image Sample @ 1/125, f/13, ISO 1600

In this review, I will be focusing my efforts in showing center and corner sharpness of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lens under different conditions, both indoors and outdoors. In addition, I will do my best to provide a thorough analysis of this lens, along with image samples and comparisons against other Nikon portrait lenses such as Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G and the older Nikon 85mm f/1.4D.

1) Lens Specifications

Main Features:

  1. High performance FX-format f/1.4 medium-telephoto lens is perfect for portraits, low-light applications offering beautiful Bokeh (background blur) and outstanding picture quality.
  2. Use of Nano Crystal Coat further reduces ghosting and interior flare across a wide range of wavelengths for even greater image clarity.
  3. Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus without changing the length of the lens, retaining working distance throughout the focus range.
  4. Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
  5. Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both FX and DX-format.
  6. M/A Focus Mode Switch Enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
  7. Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
  8. Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm renders more natural Bokeh (background blur)

Technical Specifications:

  1. Focal length: 85mm
  2. Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  3. Minimum aperture: f/16
  4. Lens construction: 10 elements in 9 groups (with Nano Crystal Coat)
  5. Angle of view: 28°30’ (18°50’ with Nikon DX format)
  6. Minimum focus distance: 0.85 m/2.79 ft.
  7. Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.12x
  8. No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
  9. Filter-attachment size: 77mm
  10. Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): Approximately 86.5 x 84 mm/3.4 x 3.3 in.
  11. Weight: Approximately 595 g/21.0 oz.
  12. Supplied accessories: 7mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-55, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Image Sample #2

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Image Sample @ 1/640, f/3.5, ISO 200

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