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Vote: Which picture do you like better (105/2DC vs 85/1.4 shootout)

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by mchung, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. The left one

    103 vote(s)
  2. The right one

    14 vote(s)
  3. I can't decide

    8 vote(s)
  1. mchung


    Sep 17, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    Fun, unscientific comparison here based upon a different thread. Images were taken less than a minute apart, sunset light (therefore a bit warmer tone). D3, Standard picture setting, NEF 14-bit, processed in Capture NX2 just to set the same white balance and resaved as JPG. Background will be different because I moved to get the same field of view thereby changing the perspective. Both shot wide open at ISO 200, so 1/400+f/2 for the 105/2DC and 1/800+f/1.4 for the 85/1.4.

    Which do you like? Why? Can you see a difference? I'll reveal which lens is which later. :smile:


  2. mematsu


    May 2, 2007
    los angeles
    Hard to choose. I like the left. However, it's in the pose and the smile(both are very genuine and heartwarming) and not the technical aspects of the shot. Both give that super smooth and razor sharp feel.

    I read earlier that you prefer the 105 and I have always been curious about it. I have owned two copies of the F1.4 85mm as I like the length better on DX. When I go to FX, I have a feeling my 85mm may have to make room for the 105.
  3. mchung


    Sep 17, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    I really like both lenses but interestingly enough their character is quite different if one takes the time to look. I've taken enough comparison shots that I can usually tell the difference between the two and even my 8-year old daughter instantly chose the same one I like of the two posted. So I'm really interested to see if my own "eye" matches that of others. One thing I find is sometimes you shouldn't look directly at the pictures but should take in the whole picture by averting your vision a little bit. I find the differences sometimes jump out that way -- one picture becomes a bit more sterile, the other still fine.

    I don't really care about MTF or ultimate sharpness as both deliver in spades for what I need. Bokeh on both is exemplary as is build quality. They are probably more similar than different, much like siblings, but I do personally find one preferable for portraits and could go into a long treatise on why. Maybe a bit later. :wink:

    I've grown to really enjoy 85mm on the D3 as a walkaround length. It's a perfect in-between focal length for me. Wide enough, yet enough tele, and lots of subject isolation control and light gathering with the 1.4 aperture.

    My favourite lightweight (!) combination is the 28/1.4 and 85/1.4 with the D3 -- hey that's about as light as I can go! Or else the 24-70 and 105DC (simply because 85mm would be too close to 70mm) -- the 135 might be an even better choice.

    So you may grow to enjoy the 85 on FX. In some ways, it suits the wider perspective on FX better.

  4. TheCommons


    Jul 2, 2008
    LA, CA ;)
    The picture on the left looks better exposed to me.

    To answer your qn: My guess is that the right is the 85mm
  5. mchung


    Sep 17, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    Yes, there appears to be about a 0.2 stop difference, which indicates the peril of comparing like this. If you PP images enough, you might get both looking close to the other, or make one a clear winner over another, so where does one draw the line these days? For me, I simply choose on the basis of what gets me closest to what I like right out of the camera without having to do much PP -- I'm not sure what else I could do. :wink:

    Here's a comparison of the cheek area with equal exposure (tweaked histograms to be the same) and WB (different from the original post). Ignoring the slight focus differences, there is to me a tonal difference and more importantly, a difference in how flattering each lens is to the complexion -- there's more ruddiness/blotchiness on the right.

  6. PeteZ28


    Oct 5, 2007
    Newtown, PA
    Left is sharper, or at least better lit, but the softening effect of the one on the right can be pleasing at times too. I picked can't decide, but for THIS image, I prefer the left.
  7. Nick7


    May 12, 2006
    It's a pretty close call I reckon, which is interesting seeing as I was all set to buy the 85 1.4 but in the end went for a 105. I've voted for the one on the left due to skin tones, but tried to ignore the slightly warmer expression of the girl in that shot. Either way, I'm pleased with my 105 - and I seem to be one of the few who like the de-focus control too. :smile:
  8. Triggaaar


    Jun 15, 2008
    I've not read the thread, but I like the exposure of the left picture better. Right pic looks a little more under-exposed. Right pic also looks a little softer (perhaps the 1.4 with less dof?)
  9. Left pic is miles better.
  10. atoronto


    Jun 16, 2008
    I picked the left one, better IQ and better smile, very nice smile and sweet girl.
  11. I voted for the left one.
  12. Pianisimo

    Pianisimo Guest

    While the left is obviously better exposed, I actually like the bokeh of the right one better. And I believe that's the 105, simply because she looks slightly bigger. I dunno.. : )
  13. mchung


    Sep 17, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    The answer is...

    The left one is the 105DC and the right is the 85/1.4. After a lot of extensive shooting, this is what I've found for portraiture:

    The 105DC:
    - sharp (no question)
    - can get similar or better bokeh that 85/1.4 with DC off, and definitely with DC on (perhaps an unfair advantage, but hey, that's why Nikon put in DC)
    - warmer colour than 85/1.4, but not as warm as recent Nikkors (e.g. 105VR)
    - simply fantastic skin tones, almost has the ability to suppress flaws and blemishes
    - still has some contrast to it -- the shadows are darker than on the 85/1.4 even with relatively equal exposure, so it isn't just a low contrast, boring lens -- it has some punch mixed in with the great skin tones. This was a surprising discovery as I had figured portrait lenses would not be contrasty.
    - can get a tighter head shot image than the 85/1.4 -- the minimum focus distance is almost identical (33" / 34") while the focal lengths are different, a big consideration on FX
    - calculated depth of field is exactly the same for the 105/2DC as the 85/1.4 at MFD so they have the same razor-thin depth of field capability (about 1/4" at that setting!)
    - longer focal length gets you even more blurring of backgrounds

    The 85/1.4:
    - sharp (again no question)
    - great bokeh out of the box
    - has a cooler colour to it. The more recent Nikkors seem to have a warmer rendition which some people like, but IMO almost gets too yellow.
    - skin rendition seems less flattering. The cooler rendition may somehow contribute to bringing out skin flaws. I have noticed this especially under controlled studio conditions.
    - combination of sharpness, colour and the skin rendering can sometimes deliver a surprisingly sterile, clinical image.
    - less contrasty. It appears to bring out more shadow details, possibly by restraining or compressing the highlights a bit (I find my copy tends to run a bit hot on the highlights, too). This was an interesting finding, which would show good characteristics for low-light photography.
    - has a very useful extra stop of speed

    In general:
    - the differences can be subtle and hard to see but they are there, even in a casual comparison shot. Hopefully you can see it. They can be more obvious in studio situations.
    - many of the variations can be fixed with a little PP but the skin tones on the 85/1.4 really concern me -- it needs a bit more work in PP. I use the 105DC exclusively for portraits now.
    - both render wide-open with a little dreamy, soft-focus with sharp core. This goes away about a stop down.
    - both lenses' characteristics can be used to advantage! The shadow detail extraction of the 85/1.4 might make it better as an arty black & white image, like a figure study, for darker-skinned people, or darker shooting situations. The 105DC suits most other shooting situations a bit better, and perhaps a better choice for lighter-skinned people.
    - an important reason to favour the 105DC is on FX. It can get you a tighter headshot and give you more working distance to your model. I constantly hit the focus limit on the 85/1.4. It needs closer-focusing capability.

    Note that this is a relative comparison between two excellent lenses with outstanding reputations. To me, one was specifically tweaked for portraiture and it shows; the other is a general-purpose mid-tele that happens to do portraiture very well.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2008
  14. Nick7


    May 12, 2006
    Thanks for the thread Martin. I've never seen a direct comparison between these two lenses before and appreciate your time and comments. Having only shot with the 105, I've sometimes wondered if I should have got the 85 - generally after looking at Nute's shots! I picked the left shot and, whilst it's nice to know I picked the 105, I'd be dead chuffed to have taken either of them, and with either lens.

  15. The left one has better IQ, the right one has nice bokeh and is softer. I can't decide because it depends on the situation and what the photog is trying to do or what the customer wants.

    When I got my 50mm f1.4, I took pics of an older female friend of mine with it and my 18-70mm. I showed them both side to side on my iMAC. She did not like the pics from the 50 at all and preferred the 18-70. Why? She saw the very detailed (high IQ) wrinkles on her face that were shot with the 50.

    What's the moral of the story?
  16. andrzejmakal


    Apr 30, 2008
    Left one
    Thank you
  17. I am sure both lenses will do very well under better controlled light conditions. Both are excellent optics.
    In your example, the shot on the left looked better lit and sharp but as I said, both optics are excellent and they should be about the same rendering fine details.
    Thank you for sharing.
    William Rodriguez
    Miami, Florida.
  18. mchung


    Sep 17, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    Thanks for the kind words, Nick. Nute is definitely one of the masters of the 85/1.4, and may have had some influence on me getting one in the first place (did you hear that, Nute? :biggrin:) ! The 85/1.4 spends more time on the D3 for sure. It's just a lovely walk-around focal length.

    I debated getting the DC at length because I really didn't know if I'd see enough difference as I had the 85/1.4 and 105VR already. I sprung for a local mint used one, with fairly low expectations and the idea that I'd just sell it if I wasn't happy with it. Boy, was I surprised when I compared the three.

    Thinking about it more, the main justification for me to even consider the 105DC (besides total curiousity and probably a measure of lens lust) was that it can get a tighter headshot than the 85/1.4, which was an issue with shooting FX -- I couldn't get in close enough to isolate the face. I had also started noticing some of the IQ nuances with the 85/1.4 and wanted to see if there was a solution.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2008
  19. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    not only is there different exposure it appears to be a different WB as well. sorry, the flawed CONTROL in this test skews the results....;-)
  20. Martin interesting comparison. Eventhough its tough to judge without a controlled enviroment.

    The 85/1,4D certainly has a cooler rendition compared to some of Nikons new zooms, aswell as Nikons older portrait lenses like the 105/2 DC.

    Im quite suprised/happy that its not only me that see that the 85/1,4D certainly has a more clinic rendering and at times its not working in favour of the subject.

    However when you know these charachteristics, you can certainly use this lens as excellent portrait lens.

    I personally dont find the 85mm fl as inviting as it is/was on DX, as i see my self picking up the 100/2 more often on FX.

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