Ever since it was introduced back in 1993, the DC Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC has been a classic – it was one of the most favored lenses for film portrait photographers and when digital came about, many photographers continued using the stellar lens to create stunning portraits. It took Nikon 23 years to bring out an update in the form of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED – a drastically different lens in every way. Although Nikon decided to eliminate the de-focus control feature on the new 105mm, the biggest change is in fact the maximum aperture: at f/1.4, it is a much brighter lens compared to its predecessor. A full stop brighter, which is a huge difference for a portrait lens of this class. With this update, Nikon claimed another “world’s first” title, since no other manufacturer has ever been able to make a 105mm telephoto lens with such a wide aperture.
This week is an exciting week for Sony mirrorless fans, because two more lenses have joined the native FE mount in the form of FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM and 85mm f/1.8. While Sony has already brought out the stellar 85mm f/1.4 GM lens last year, it is an expensive pro-grade lens, so there was a gap to fill for an enthusiast-grade lens and that’s what the 85mm f/1.8 is all about. At $599, it is a third of the price of its big GM brother, so it will be an appealing choice for portrait photographers on a tight budget. The Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM joins the ranks of high-end GM lenses that are designed to deliver outstanding contrast, sharpness and other optical characteristics with the latest and greatest technology the company has to offer. Although it has a relatively slow aperture of f/2.8 (for a portrait lens), it is also designed specifically for portrait photography, since it is the first Sony FE lens to feature a sophisticated optical design that incorporates “Smooth Trans Focus” technology that uses apodization filter, similar to the Fuji’s 56mm f/1.2 APD lens. Sony promises very smooth and pleasing bokeh, so it will be interesting to see how the rendering of the lens would compare to its 85mm f/1.4 GM lens.
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 sharp, colorful images when shooting wide open. Its legendary performance made the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D lens a must-have for portrait photographers and many professionals heavily relied on this lens for many years for their commercial work (and some still do). The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens is the latest update to the 85mm f/1.4 line, which replaced the outdated AF-D version with newer 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 to both the older Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and the lighter and smaller Nikon 85mm f/1.8G.
While John and I were attending the Photo Plus show in New York, we had an opportunity to interview Lindsay Silverman, Senior Product Manager at Nikon USA. The highlight of the show were obviously the newly announced Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR, along with the 19mm f/4E PC-E lenses. Both are premium offerings specifically targeted towards working professionals, so we could definitely see quite a bit of people approaching the Nikon booth to see pre-production samples of these lenses. Although we have already provided our initial report on the handling concerns when using the new 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR, in this particular interview, Lindsay explains the reasoning behind the swapping of the zoom and focus rings. According to him, the new change is actually better for handling, as detailed below:
More Photokina announcements are rolling in today and this time it is Sigma, with its headline-grabbing releases of upcoming Art and Sport-series lenses. With stellar lens designs such as the 35mm f/1.4 Art and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses, we have been waiting for Sigma to release an 85mm f/1.4 Art lens for quite sometime now, so Sigma has finally delivered. The new 85mm f/1.4 Art promises to be a superb lens both in terms of sharpness and bokeh. Although Sigma is yet to provide MTF charts and lens construction images, the fact that there is no aspherical element in the lens design is an indication of the lens being optimized to yield pleasant-looking bokeh without onion rings, something that has plagued other Art-series Sigma lens designs. Its price is a bit steep at $1,199 MSRP, but it is still $400 cheaper than its Nikon counterpart.
Nikon has been on the roll in the past few years, releasing one amazing lens after another. We have seen a refresh of the f/1.8 prime lens line with some amazing optics, but those craving for more have been patiently waiting for a modern replacement of such lenses as the Nikon 105mm f/2 DC and Nikon 135mm f/2 DC, absolutely amazing and beautiful lenses in every way, capable of rendering stunning bokeh for portraiture. Well, the waiting for the first lens replacement is finally over, because today Nikon gave us something truly groundbreaking – the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED. While the de-focus control feature on the previous 105mm f/2 lens allowed one to modify the bokeh rendering of the lens, it would end up changing the field of view and it was a bit hard to get used to utilizing that feature effectively for many photographers. Plus, the maximum aperture of f/2 put it in competition with the superb Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (review soon to be updated), as the latter is a faster lens and has superb rendering capabilities wide open. For these and other reasons, many photographers having been choosing the 85mm f/1.4G over the 105mm f/2 DC for portraiture, while the 135mm f/2 DC remained untouched. Now that the 105mm f/1.4E is out, let’s talk about what is so amazing about this gem and why we can mark today as an important milestone in the history of lens making.
Update: Our in-depth Nikon 105mm f/1.4E Review has now been posted.
One of the most exciting news from today is Sigma’s announcement of the 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens designed for APS-C sensor cameras like the Nikon D500. That’s another f/1.8 constant aperture zoom lens from Sigma with a groundbreaking design! With an equivalent field of view of 75-150mm, this lens will surely be a popular choice among sports and portrait photographers, especially when working in low-light situations. Thanks to the complex optical design that incorporates 21 elements in 15 groups, the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art is optimized to yield excellent sharpness at its widest aperture throughout its zoom range. And with its MSRP of $1,099, this looks like a killer offering for cropped sensor cameras. The only downside is its weight – at 1,490 g (3.28 lb), the lens is almost as heavy as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II! But what did you expect from a constant aperture f/1.8 telephoto zoom lens?
Thanks to the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2016 that is taking place in Japan this week, we have a slew of exciting announcements from different camera manufacturers. Tamron was the first to make a big announcement last night, presenting two brand new lenses designed for full-frame cameras. The first one is a significant release, because it is world’s first image stabilized 85mm f/1.8 lens for full-frame DSLRs, the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD. This is an important release, because Tamron is now upping its game like Sigma has done with its latest-generation lenses, allowing both lens firmware and AF fine tuning to be performed using an external USB dock.
It is time for yet another awesome giveaway / contest for our dear readers and this time we are partnering up with the folks at KeepSnap to give away some amazing prices! All you have to do is submit your best outdoor / event portrait photograph and you will have 3 different chances to win prizes! If you have never heard of KeepSnap, check out our overview post, where we’ve introduced the company and the service they provide to photographers. The beauty of what we are doing with keepsnap, is that this is a combination of a giveaway and a contest. If the portrait image you submit is so good that it is picked as the winner by the judges, you win an 85mm f/1.8 lens of choice, along with Spyder5 Express. If you don’t win the grand prize, you still have a chance to win the second prize – a 35mm f/1.8 lens. All the participants will be included in this random giveaway. And if your photo is strong enough for PL readers to vote for it, you have another chance to win the third prize, which is a 50mm f/1.8 lens, along with yearly access to KeepSnap directory. If you are not interested in any of the prizes, you will have a choice to select the cash prize, which is basically the dollar equivalent of the value of the prize. Cool huh? Well, what are you waiting for – time to enter this awesome giveaway / contest!
When testing out the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, I really wanted to get a hold of the legendary Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 lens to see how the two lenses from different generations compare optically. Unfortunately, I could not obtain a good sample of the Noct-NIKKOR at the time, but after scouting eBay for a while, I finally found a pristine copy of the lens from a photographer in California. Being a collector item, the lens was barely used and had been sitting for years in a closet – exactly what I had been wanting to get. I really wanted to make sure that the lens performed as close to its original specifications as possible, because I was on the quest to measure its optical performance, particularly at its super wide f/1.2 aperture. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.