Sharpness and Bokeh @ 85mm / f4.5 - six lenses

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Harry Lavo, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Well, that's not quite right, because one was shot at f/5 (by accident) and another was shot at f/5.6 (because it couldn't open up more). But here is a pretty well controlled informal test of a bevy of lenses in "normal" use...all shooting a revealing object for sharpness, background, and color. The lenses included (not the most logical, just what I own) are as follow:

    Sigma 70-300 f/4.0-5.6 APO Super Macro
    Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 ED
    Nikon 85 f/1.8 D
    Sigma 70-300 f/4.0-4.6 APO DG
    Nikon 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 AF-S
    Nikon 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 AF-S

    I've included full size jpegs in pbase for pixel-peeping....and there are some surprises. The sharpest point is the upper right hand juncture of the back side-rail and cross-bars, so that should be your main focus of interest. This point is just to the right of the center of the lens....perhaps 33% of the way from center to edge.

    Have at it and post your comments here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2008
  2. Harry, I had #'s 3, 2 and 5 as the sharperst (in that order) and then was not surprised when I looked down at the titles/descriptions.
  3. A fair amount of convergence with my own opinion, there. Thanks for looking.
  4. I'm not sure why you all think the 24-85 is so bad, but it does good for me on my D80. :smile:

    Nothing but a resize for this shot. I'm a rookie when it comes to shooting flowers, too.

    Edit, and this was shot hand held.

  5. Nice shot, John C. Certainly sharp at this size.

    BTW, I didn't say it was "so bad"....what I said was that I thought among my lenses at this focal length it would be the worst...this after using it for about two weeks..and it objectively seems to be....but this is pixel-peeping....full scale inspection of the print...equivalent to a large, large print. At the sizes shown on monitor, or in even an 8x10 print it will do fine.

    One of the reason's I was interested was that Thom, Ken Rockwell, and others have praised this lens, while objective testing shows it inferior in sharpness to the 24-85 f/2.8-4, which is the lens Nikon chose to keep in the lineup. Others have dumped upon the lens. I had a chance to pick one up at a decent price, and wanted something to fill the gap between my 12-24 and 80-200, so took a chance. I was curious to see how it fared in a fairly rigorous test.
  6. I agree with the order of 3, 2 and 5. I am surprised the Siggy with APO is still a laggard.
  7. Sweet effort Harry, thanks for sharing.
  8. Hi Maji. Those three are pretty unanimous. I personally think the new Sigma APO (DG) should be in (or at least tied for) the number three spot, but I don't particularly like it's color or especially its bokeh. The older Sigma Super Macro has absolutely lovely color and bokeh, but is clearly not as sharp. And from experience I can tell you it flares quite easily when confronted with high-contrast light-and-bright subjects.

    Thanks, Charles. These kinds of comparisons always teach me something....not always what I expect.
  9. Samaritan


    Dec 29, 2007
    Buckeye State
    I agree with the 3, 2, 5 and I have those three. The 18-135 was one of my first lenses, pretty sharp for what it is. Thanks for the comparison.
  10. Larry, there seems to be unanimity that these are three fine lenses. I love both the 85 1.8 and the 80-200, and find the 18-135 gives me more quality out of a walkaround lense than I could hope for. Thanks for looking.