I typically only review gear I buy for my own personal use and I do an extensive amount of research before I shell out the cash because, well… I don’t hate my money. If you’ve been following PhotolisticLife for some time now you’ll probably realize I’m not super technical, I don’t give a butterfly fart about all the graphs and charts posted on various other sites that try to bury you in technical jargon that only other technical writers understand. I just want to know if my photos will look good. So naturally, that’s who this review will appeal to. Instead of getting caught up in minute differences between two comparable lenses that only a microscope could discern, lets see if the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G can deliver the results you care about.
The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is weather-resistant, matched with a solid build quality that will most likely outlast your camera body. The closest comparison to this lens is it’s bigger brother, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G which is 3 times more expensive, larger, and heavier than the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G .
If you’re on the fence between the two lenses I’ll give you the hard truth (sorry if you already own the f/1.4 larger, heavier, and more expensive lens), the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G makes more sense for everything but studio work.
Shot at ISO 400, f/4
Superb. DXOMark ranks the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G as one of the best prime lenses for the Nikon Df (it’s number 5 on a list of 30 and it’s one of the least expensive). The lens is sharp, captures beautiful bokeh (that’s the out of focus background you see in some photographs with wide apertures), and has minimal distortion that’s easily correctable in post processing.
ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/500 sec..
Note: If you’ve done your research and are considering the heavier, larger, more expensive Nikon 85mm f/1.4G then you may have noticed that the f/1.4 renders images a little warmer than the less expensive f/1.8 version… This should not even be a consideration if you use even the simplest post processing software, it’s an easy adjustment of the white balance.
The Bokeh the lens captures is beautiful.
The only downside I noticed shooting with the less expensive f/1.8 as opposed to it’s bigger, heavier, more expensive brother (the f/1.4) is that lens flare can “flare” up in very difficult lighting (by difficult I mean I was shooting directly towards the sun). You may be thinking “why would you shoot towards the sun?” and I’ll tell you it happens more frequently than you’d think.
Should lens flare be a consideration for you? I don’t think it’s out of control, the example above is an extreme situation where I was literally shooting directly into the sun. Changing your angle could eliminate all of the flare. With that being said, there are a good number of people who ADD lens flare in post processing… It’s all about preferences. I don’t own any lenses that would not have lens flare in this same situation, it’s just varying degrees.
One of the most important consideration most people have is the cost. In a perfect world lenses would be affordable for everyone but in the real world good lenses usually cost an arm and a leg. Luckily, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G doesn’t require you to sell your first-born child to buy. The lens costs less than $500 and because of the demand it holds its value very well (Used lenses sell for only $10 or $20 less than brand new ones).
Simply put, for the cost of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, as opposed to the Nikon f/1.4G, you get a lens that’s 97% the lens that the f/1.4G is for a third of the cost. The money you save buying the f/1.8G version can be used to buy another lens or even a decent back up DSLR.