Review Nikon 85 mm 1.4G with Nikon D7100


This time, we reviewed the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G on a Nikon D7100. This combination has a field of view that corresponds with the field of view of a 135 mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. It used to be that this was a very popular focal distance as a short telephoto lens, but with a lower brightness than this Nikon f/1.4 lens. Today, for vacation, landscape, bridal or street photography, we choose a zoom lens, such as a 70-200 mm. But advanced photographers know the value of the fixed focal distance lenses. In our previous review, we were very pleased with the image quality of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. How would the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G compare to its less expensive little brother?

Nikon lens review, Nikon 85mm 1.4g review

Review Nikon 85 mm 1.4G @ Nikon D7100

Construction and auto focus

The Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G is delivered including a soft lens bag and is a professional telephoto lens with a large aperture, designed for use with Nikon’s FX SLR cameras. On the D7100, it becomes a short telephoto lens, which is good for use in street photography, nature photography or portrait photography. Given the high brightness, concert photography, available light and night photography are also obvious choices. With a weight of nearly 600 grams and a filter size of 77 mm, this is not a small, light lens. It has a completely renovated optical construction (10 elements in 9 groups) with respect to its predecessor.
A built-in SWM (Silent Wave Motor) really delivers noiseless, accurate auto focus. In comparison with the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8, I had the impression that the spread when focusing in the dark at full aperture was less reproducible. It is a known phenomenon that the smaller the focal depth, the more variation you can expect in focusing.

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Because this lens is designed for use on a camera with a full-frame sensor, the vignetting is already low starting at full aperture. After stopping down 1 stop, you can even say that vignetting is completely absent.


 JOP4396miniWith a bright, short telephoto lens, you isolate this bird beautifully from the background.
Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G + Nikon D4s @ f/1.4. Click on the image for a larger version.


Most short telephoto lenses show little distortion. If you use a telephoto lens that is designed for use on an FX sensor on a camera with a DX sensor, then the distortion is even lower. Distortion is usually most present at the edges of the image.

On a Nikon D7100, you never have trouble with distortion when you use the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, however demanding the subject—think about architecture—may be.




Nano Crystal Coat, according to the specifications, reduces ghosts and light spots. And that is clearly the case. Nikon puts really puts forth a great performance on this point. Many bright lenses are sensitive to flare from backlighting, but even when you photograph directly into a bright light source, the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G has remarkably little trouble with it. You would almost think that the included sun cap is more for protecting the front lens than for protecting against backlighting.

Sharpness Nikon 85 mm 1.4G

At full aperture, the image is clearly less sharp than the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G, although the comparison of f/1.4 with f/1.8 is not entirely fair. But even at f/2.8, the less expensive version beats out the f/1.4G. At f/4 through f/8, this lens puts forth an absolute top performance and is then even better than the 85 mm f/1.8G: sharp from center to corner. Only at f/11 does the sharpness drop off as a result of diffraction. That will also be the reason that the smallest aperture is limited by Nikon to f/16. Even a Nikon is subject to physics.


 JOP4325Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G + Nikon D4s @ f/1.4

Chromatic aberration Nikon 85 mm 1.4G

Kleurbokeh2Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G + Nikon D4s @ f/1.4

With a sophisticated lens design, lateral chromatic aberration is nicely limited, as can be seen in the unedited RAW files. Nikon cameras automatically correct lateral chromatic aberration in jpg files, so you won’t have problems with red and blue edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners.

It’s rather different with—no big surprise for photographers accustomed to working with very bright (<f/2) lenses—longitudinal chromatic aberration. In some shots, as in the practice shot above, you do see green and purple edges at sharp contrast transitions. Longitudinal chromatic aberration can occur throughout the image. There are very few bright lenses that don’t have trouble with it.


Nikon 85mm 1.4G bokeh @ DXNikon 85 mm f/1.4G + Nikon D4s @ f/1.4 & f/5.6 (mouse over)
Even at f/5.6, the bokeh is even better than with many other lenses.

Butter-soft bokeh!

The aperture of the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G, with nine rounded lamellae, produces soft, pleasant background sharpness. The bokeh at f/1.4 is visibly softer than with the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8. That’s an important reason why some photographers are so devoted to f/1.4 lenses. It makes your pictures distinctive. Even at smaller apertures, f/2.8-f/4, the difference in bokeh between the lenses is clearly visible.

Click on the link in the table below for a comparison of the bokeh of the two Nikons (at full-frame) by Matt Granger.
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Conclusion Review Nikon 85 mm 1.4G with Nikon D7100


Look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: “What you see is what you get”.

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ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. {insertgrid ID = 309}


  • Very high image quality: sharpness at f/5.6 is phenomenal
  • Little vignetting for a bright lens
  • High brightness, beautiful bokeh
  • Professional construction quality


  • Color bokeh at apertures < f/2
  • Not inexpensive

Many photographers who choose a camera with a DX sensor do that partly due to the lower purchase price in comparison with an FX camera. Technically seen, it is very difficult to keep lens errors proportionally low as a lens becomes brighter. Therefore, the costs increase enormously in designing a bright lens. Exceptions aside (the Nikon 50 mm f/1.4G is very inexpensive for its brightness), an f/1.4 lens costs more than a thousand euros, while an f/1.8 lens with the same focal distance costs only a few hundred euros. Seen from that perspective, the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G is formidable competition for the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G. The construction quality and brightness of the 1.8G are lower than the 1.4G, but the image quality is just as perfect, and the price is significantly lower. Those who photograph under the most extreme conditions will value the extremely high construction quality of the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4. That also applies for those who like to photograph in the dark and want to score the best possible bokeh without using an FX camera.


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