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I get a bunch of questions about lens purchasing, partially because I have a love for so many different kinds of photography, ( everything from weddings and portraits to landscapes and travel ) …and partially because I have experience using about every lens ever made. For Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts, that is .
At first I thought this question was an eccentric, because they ’ rhenium two different focal lengths and I use them for wholly unlike purposes. however I think there is something to be gained here, so digest with me. These two lenses actually cost about the same come, ( fair under $ 500 ) …and they frequently go on sale with rebates for the exact same come besides ! ) ( Just under $ 400 ) They ’ re besides reasonably similar in portability and huskiness, a well as acuteness .
so, while a very feel photographer has probably picked their own favorite prime retentive ago, any novice or amateur photographer who is looking to buy their first prime will be considering both for certain. So, which one is right for you ?



Among the more know photographers who already have a darling prime, there constantly seems to be two camps – 50mm lovers, and those who love an 85mm+35mm two-prime jazz band. It good seems to be personal predilection .
I ’ ll be honest : personally I find that 50mm gets drilling after a while. I like having two primes, a wide-eyed and a tele. As a wedding photojournalist 85mm is far more utilitarian than 50mm for things like pallidly light up ceremonies, and erectile, dark reception halls. oppositely while we ’ re on the subject, 35mm ( or 28mm ) is fair gorgeous for close-quarters type candids, group photos, and even detail shots. 50mm, at the end of the day, is excessively “ center of the road ” for me. then again, that ’ s why some people love it !
Yes, I do own a 50mm, but I scantily use it compared to the two-prime jazz band of the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G and 85mm f/1.8 G. Those two babies are precisely crazy-sharp, and the perfect “ team ” for general photojournalism and portraiture .
flush if you shoot a bunch of 3-5 person portraits where 50mm is a great focal length, I still might not recommend the 50mm 1.4 G. Why ? Because the newfangled Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G is indeed flippin ’ amazing ! It is incredibly acute, possibly even sharper around the edges at f/2 than its f/1.4 sibling .
[ Rewind : Although it is aimed at professional marriage photographers, this gearing guide HERE greatly expands on buying decisions for lenses such as these… ] The buttocks trace is that in my opinion you have to be absolutely in love with 50mm in order for the f/1.4 to be worth it over the f/1.8, and even then I feel like anyone who is obsessed with 50mm merely hasn ’ thymine “ seen the lightly ” even. ; – ) But again, that ’ mho good my opinion .
indeed there you have it. If you ’ re on full-frame, a bang-up investment for general portrayal is the 85mm f/1.8 G, deoxyadenosine monophosphate long as you besides have something to cover the wide end. Try to get your primes when there is a $ 100 rebate available from Nikon !
Of course the hale discussion goes out the windowpane if you shoot on a crop detector camera, and you plan to do so for a while. In this case you might consider the 50mm f/1.8 G or the 50mm f/1.4 G, for general portraiture. then, for something across-the-board, consider a 20mm, 24mm, or 28mm flower. ( Our review of the Nikon 28 1.8 is HERE. )
oppositely, if you already know that you shoot more general candids and close-quarters type misc. shoot, then consider the 50mm f/1.8 G for full-frame cameras, or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G DX for crop-sensor cameras. But keep in mind that in my opinion, you ’ re generally better off with a jazz band of wide+tele primes to begin with.

nikon-85mm-f1.8-g-sample-portrait-engagement nikon-85mm-f1.8-g-sample-wedding-detailThe Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G, on FX, has great compression for both portraits and details…


The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G, on FX, has bang-up compression for both portraits and details… …Okay, but don ’ t the Nikon 85mm ’ mho focus kinda slow ?


unfortunately yes, broadly all of Nikon ’ s 85mm primes are not going to be as fast and crisp as pronounce, a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. however each Nikon 85mm ( there are a six different versions ! ) may have slightly different autofocus characteristics .
For exercise, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G is precisely slenderly slower than the f/1.8 G. Generally speak, all of Nikon ’ s f/1.4 G primes are slenderly slower than their f/1.8 G siblings. For that matter, all “ AFS-G ” primes are slenderly slower than the “ AF-D ” primes they replaced. This is equitable something that Nikon hasn ’ t seemed to work out so far with their dumb Wave Motor technology in general .
however the rebuff tradeoff in sheer speed doesn ’ t come without a huge benefit. The “ G ” primes are fabulously accurate in humble light, whereas the older “ D ” primes ( and earlier ) all seemed to have a little piece of concenter jitter in them that in truth hindered the keeper rate, specially using continuous concenter .
Although when lighting conditions get terribly benighted, I must admit I opt for my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 or my 50 1.8 G, because those two lenses are merely fabulously dependable with low-light focus. particularly with that “ laser beam ” red lighter focus assist from an on-camera hotshoe flash !
The reason for all this is that “ D ” and “ G ” lenses have different types of autofocus motors in them. The AF-D lenses are an older, “ gawky but fast ” type of autofocus that relied on a drive drive inside the television camera body itself, while the AFS-G lenses are the newer type of AF that has its focus motor built into the lens .
basically, even if I were on a budget I would preferably have a 50mm f/1.8 G than a 50mm f/1.4 D. The like goes for 85mm .
Bottom line- having shot in all sorts of absurd light, from black to absurdly bright sun / flare, I prefer the G lenses by a hanker shoot, and the f/1.8′s suit my style very well- I prioritize focus accelerate and snappiness a short moment more than DOF. oppositely if you ’ re chiefly a portrayal photographer and your subjects hold relatively placid, or an action photographer who craves shutter speed, then f/1.4 is the room to go and you might even wind up with multiple f/1.4 primes ! ( Heck the newfangled Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G might flush be worth it to you… )

Either direction, you need to pick the lens that defines your expressive style as a photographer, and invest the most in that lens first .
Thanks for take and take care,