Nikkor 85mm 1.8 vs. Sigma 85mm 1.4

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by HalfOnWhole, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. HalfOnWhole macrumors member

    May 23, 2011
    Hey guys, I recently returned a Nikkor 85mm 1.8 lens that I bought new for $480. I found the low light to be worse than my 35mm 1.8 and overall the quality and sharpness was disappointing. Not to mention it had some trouble focusing.

    I use a D7000.

    I don't have a a huge budget, but I'm getting into commercial photography and need a good portrait lens. The Sigma seems to have good reviews (but so did the nikkor), and from my 5 minute trial at my local shop i found it to have a nice bokeh and seemed a bit sharper than the nikkor (even wide open). This lens is twice the price of the Nikkor at almost $1k.

    What are your thoughts on the upgrade? Is it worthwhile or bust? Any input is appreciated. The popular nikkor 85 1.4 isn't really a consideration, at about $1,350 its definitely a bit over my budget for such lens.

  2. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
  3. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    Had the Sigma for a while.. LOVELY.. spectacular lens.. get it over the Nikon DEFINIETLY...
  4. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Extreme sharpness is not generally a primary criterion in a portrait lens[1]. However, Photozone's tests of the lens show it to have excellent sharpness at all apertures, so either you had a bad sample or your camera needed AF fine tune adjustment- did you adjust the camera for that particular lens?

    Additionally, you don't say what sort of portraits you'll be taking under what conditions, so it's difficult to give advice.


    [1]Unless you have a top-line makeup artist and 16 year old models with perfect skin.
  5. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    hmmm I've used the 85mm and found it quite sharp. The 105mm Nikkor was equally as sharp. I suggest you try before buying. Maybe it's user or setting in your camera? I know when I don't use the right shutter speed, my images lean towards soft side. But when I press and hold the AF lock, especially in low light, my photos are a lot sharper. Practice holding the camera steady also helps.

    I would suggest renting before buying. Check out I've rented several with them. This way I would know what to expect.

    On my D90 I've increased the sharpening in the custom setting. Bumped it up by 2. Before when I had my D50, I started using the AF/AE lock button. This way the focus is locked when I shoot. Also, practiced a lot with just pressing my finger or squeezing the shutter release button.

    I don't have a lot of shots using the 85mm online but here is one.


    Here is one with 105mm

  6. HalfOnWhole thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2011
    Thanks all, I appreciate the feedback. I happened to notice the lens also made Popular Photography Mag's favorite gear of 2011 which was cool. It's a big jump from the 1.8 i returned, but I've decided to go for it. I'll let you know how the lens shapes up after a few test runs.
  7. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    When I saw Tony's review a few months back, it was almost enough to make me sell my 85L.


    I just can't part with the Canon. It's such a sweet lens.
  8. HalfOnWhole thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2011
    Got the lens yesterday. Well worth the extra money over the Nikkor 1.8!
    It's certainly my new favorite lens. Here's a couple test shots from this morning- taken on my D7000.

    They were taken at f1.4. Pretty sharp with pretty low chromatic aberration (definitely better than 1.8, but not perfect!)

    Attached Files:

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