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85mm: Buy the 1.8 or rent the 1.4?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by cculler, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. cculler


    Aug 12, 2008
    So with the relative success of my first wedding shoot, I've booked a few more weddings in the next year. Looking around at other wedding shots, I see a lot of pics taken with the 85mm lens. I have the opportunity to buy the 1.8, or, I could take that money and rent the 1.4 several times over.

    I've been drooling over the cream machine, and I'm sure how much I'd use the 85 mm focal length. (Then again, I said that before my 50 and I use that one all the darn time).

    Thoughts? Opinions?
  2. I hear you about usuing the 50, or fixed lens of any length. I grab my zooms 90% of the time. I would be inclined to rent the 1.4 at least once and see how it fits into your style of shooting. I shot with a friends 1.8 a while back and it was spectacular also. But I need zooms for my shots.
  3. bigshot


    Aug 17, 2008
    Hollywood, USA
    Business expense for your taxes.

    See ya
  4. Hi,

    I suggest renting the 85/1.4 at Glazer's to try it out and seeing if it fits into your shooting. If it's a weekend wedding, and you pick up the lens anytime after Friday at 3pm and return it anytime before Monday at 10am, they only charge you one day's rental -- $30 for that lens.

    They will also rent the 85/1.8 in the same way for $20.

    I rented the 85/1.4 in the above fashion last October. Loved it so much that I saved up and bought one in great condition from a nice Cafe member for ~$850.

    However -- I do wonder if a fast zoom won't be more useful for a wedding for you, especially if there are a lot of indoor shots when you'll need more ambient. E.g. 17-55/2.8, 24-70/2.8, and maybe the 70-200VR.
  5. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    I shoot weddings too.

    Earlier I used the 105VR for portraits (DX) and everybody was happy, but I have to move back sometimes because of the 105 x 1,5.

    Now I have the 85mm f/1.4 and I love it. Even I now have FX, and the 105VR then would be nicer than on DX, the 85mm f/1.4 have a special touch.

    The 85mm f/1.8 is a fantastic lens, too - look here:


    My interpretation is, that if you rent the 85mm f/1.4 you will love it so much, that you will buy it later, so maybe spare the renting money once and for all and bite the bullit - or if not - buy the 85mm f/1.8 and do not look back and be tempted.:smile:
  6. cculler


    Aug 12, 2008
    My question is in addition to a fast zoom. I will be renting a couple fast zooms, but I'd like to have an 85 prime for portraits, candids, etc.

    I just want to know if the 1.4 is amazing enough to make me not buy the 1.8. There is zero chance I'll be able to afford the 1.4 anytime soon, so it's just a question of renting.

    I think I will ask around and see if any of my buddies has a 1.8 I can borrow for the weekend, and on a subsequent weekend, rent a 1.4

  7. I'm thinking of picking up an 85mm 1.4, but the hope that an AFS version is making me hold out. How do you guys find the focusing on a pro body such as a D2X/D3? Thanks!
  8. The 1.8 is a really great lens. Just buy it and don't ever think about the 1.4.
  9. Hi, Chris! Congratulations on getting a good start in the wedding photography business. The 85/1.4 is the cherry on the ice cream sunday, but imho you have bread and butter issues to attend to first. You don't show a backup camera in your list of gear, and you need f/2.8 glass for the critical "normal" range. That could either be a pro zoom, like the Beast (28-70/2.8), or a couple of primes, like the 35/2 and 85/1.x pairing.
  10. There are countless threads here debating the merits of the 85/1.8 vs. the 85/1.4, and everyone's got an opinion. Mine is that if you want a lens specifically for portraits, the 85/1.4 is a better choice. To my eyes, much better bokeh at f/4 and wider.

    If you want, there are a few side-by-side comparos on the Internet I can post links to ...
  11. Let's say I want to focus on candid low light shooting, like subways or restaurants. Would I be better off with the 1.8 but at a smaller size or the 1.4 with wider aperture but hulking size? I can't decide!
  12. Probably the 85/1.8. The 85/1.4 would be overkill for street/subway candids.
  13. Thanks Uncle Frank,

    I might just pick up an 85 on my day off! :smile:
  14. There are a few for sale here. I just got the 1.8. It's an odd focal length for me, but it sure is a sharp and flattering lens (sometimes TOO flattering).
  15. I agree with Uncle Frank (as usual). You need a fast, normal zoom before a bokeh beauty. Of course, for the price of the 85mm f/1.4, you could get yourself a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 AND have cash left over towards a back up body . . .
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2008
  16. SMH77


    Feb 11, 2006
    Honestly, the 85 f/1.4 shouldn't be described as 'hulking in size' regardless of what your comparing it to. It really isn't that big to carry at all. My point of comparison is a 70-200 VR--that is big to carry (though one gets used to it).

    All this coming from a short guy who didn't have a problem with carrying around a 200 f/2 VR with a D3 attached--so I might be a little warped! :biggrin:

    Seriously though, the 85 f/1.4 is far from 'hulking'...

    To the OP: I agree with UF's first post whole-heartedly: get yourself a backup body and a fast normal zoom lens first (35-70, 28-70 or 24-70 all f/2.8). Get backup flashes, CF cards and batteries.

    When all that's done, just buy the 85 f/1.4 straight up and don't look back...

    Also, charge more and make it happen sooner, or make an investment and commit to paying it back...

  17. cculler


    Aug 12, 2008
    You guys aren't listening to me. Forget the zooms (I'll be renting those). I don't need to buy a second body (I borrow a buddy's).


    Is the 85 length useful enough to warrant spending the money to HAVE the 1.8? Or is the 1.4 so amazingly perfect that it would be worth doing without until those specified weekends (just 3. This isn't my new career) when I could rent.
  18. I love my 85 1.4. But, if you are only going to use it on 3 weekends and could rent the lens for $30....why don't you just rent the 85 1.4. Then you could see how it works for you. If you really love it, you could try to book more weddings to save up enough for purchasing one.

    What else do you commonly shoot? I've been using the 85 for family photos. It's great.
  19. Chris,

    Not meaning to sound rude or disrespectful, but only you can answer that question for yourself. You are asking if the 85mm length is useful enough to warrant a purchase, and most of the people answering have obviously made that purchase, whether it be the 85/1.8 or the 1.4, and i haven't seen any negative feedback regarding the focal length. And plus, no one can really know if the 85 length will be useful to YOU..that is something you need to figure out through your own use. What people CAN help you with, however, are comparisons between the 1.8 and the 1.4, which im sure many are willing to post examples of for you to see (or you can search the forum...there are plenty of great images taken with the two).

    The general consensus is that the 85/1.4 is an amazing lens and worth the investment if you are getting your income from the shots it produces. IMO though, the 85 1.8 is also an excellent lens that can produce amazing images as well.

    Your question is hard to answer because it is not so cut and dry, but i wish you luck. Hopefully you can get one soon and share some images. That is our favorite part in discussing this lens =).
  20. If you're shooting with only 1 body you may find the 85mm focal length to be a little inconvenient for the event/wedding. If, on the other hand, you have 2 bodies then having the 85mm f/1.4 on one of them is fabulous. I'm not sure I would want to try to shoot an entire event with only the 85mm focal length.

    While the f/1.4 is a better lens in many respects, I don't think you'd be missing anything by shooting with the f/1.8. It's not like you're going to shoot wide open the whole time. That can bite you in the arse if you're not careful.
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