Review Nikon 85 mm 1.4G with Nikon D810


The Nikon 85 mm f/1.4 lens is part of a professional series with very large lens apertures. This focal distance is very well suited for portrait shots, but this lens can also be used well for general documentary photography and studio photography.
The enormously high brightness is an advantage in poor lighting conditions; the viewfinder image remains nicely clear, and you get a faster shutter speed. The biggest advantage is of course the limited focal depth, so that you can blur out the background beautifully. This light-giant is a bokeh master.nikon85

Nikon 85 mm 1.4G @ Nikon D810


Construction and auto focus

The lens has a wide, rubber-covered distance ring. There is even a distance scale.
With a sliding switch, you choose between MF and M/MA. The SWM (Silent Wave Motor) provides noiseless and accurate auto focus. Built-in image stabilization is lacking.
The lens design consists of 10 elements in 9 groups. An aperture ring is also lacking; you have to set the aperture via the camera body.
The finish of this lens is outstanding, and this lens can probably take a beating. (We didn’t try it.) But it’s quite a heavy lens. With a filter size of 77 mm (67 mm with the f/1.8G), it also has an impressive appearance.
The lens is delivered including a soft lens pouch and a sun cap.{insertgrid ID = 289}


vignettering-voor-web-grootThe shot above is made at f/1.8. The vignetting is noticeable, although in this specific shot it adds something to the image. The attention is drawn to the subject. It’s a property that appeals to many portrait photographers. Vignetting is simple to correct with software, and even without correction, it’s completely gone after stopping down 1 stop.

Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G + Nikon D4s @f/1.4, 3200 ISO


As we’re accustomed to with a fixed-focus lens, there is practically no distortion. In landscapes, you can comfortably place the horizon far off center—no bulging horizons!


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. After that, though, the professional Nikon leaves its less expensive brother behind. From f/4 through f/8, this lens puts on an absolutely top performance: sharp from center to corner. Only at f/11 does the sharpness drop off as a result of diffraction. Even Nikon is subject to the laws of physics.jpgrezz


The bridge at Alblasserdam. 1/800, f/10. Hair-fine details.

Chromatic aberration

At large lens apertures, there is limited lateral chromatic aberration. Green and red edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the image are absent, even in RAW shots without corrections for chromatic aberration. And that’s really good.
As with most bright lenses, longitudinal chromatic aberration (“color bokeh”) is present. On the photo on the left below, you see in the reflections in the water in the foreground some magenta-green splitting. The aperture was f/5.6. A detail is shown next to it at 300% enlargement. These shots are made with the Nikon D810. Color bokeh can be removed with software, including Capture NX, but it’s a bit more work than the regular correction for chromatic aberration.Kleurbokehtegenlicht-CAtegenlicht-CA-detail



The Nikon 85 mm 1.4G lens is among the absolute top performers for bokeh.

Move your mouse over the image above for an illustration of the bokeh at f/2.2. A great bokeh is not limited to full aperture. In the frame below is a link to a video by Matt Granger, which compares the bokeh of the Nikon 85 mm 1.4G with the bokeh of the Nikon 85 mm 1.8G. At all apertures, the bokeh of the 1.4 version is nicer—and that’s while the bokeh of the 1.8G version is already very nice comparison with many other lenses! The price difference with the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8, which is intended for the consumer market, amounts to nearly 1000 euros. We think that’s a whole lot.

Conclusion Review Nikon 85 mm 1.4G with Nikon D810


  • High resolution, very little distortion
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Outstandingly built


  • Not inexpensive

This Nikon 85 mm f/1.4G lens is, in terms of construction, finish and pricing, is clearly intended for the (semi-)professional photographer. They get something for the money, because this lens scores very well on all points. At f/4 through f/8, this lens puts on an absolute top performance: sharp from center to corner. The bokeh is not only beautiful at full aperture; it’s also better at other apertures than most other cameras. Even so, with the 85 mm f/1.8, Nikon provides a solid, remarkably less expensive competitor for the 85 mm f/1.4G. For many people, that lens, in terms of price-to-quality ratio, is an attractive alternative.


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