Nikon 85mm 1.8 vs 1.4: Prime Lens Showdown

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 is more affordable and lighter than the f/1.4 variant, which offers superior low-light performance and bokeh. The f/1.4 lens is premium-priced, appealing to professionals demanding the highest optical quality.

The debate between the Nikon 85mm f/1. 8 and f/1. 4 lenses often centers around the trade-off between cost and optical performance. Photography enthusiasts looking for a high-performing portrait lens without breaking the bank lean towards the 85mm f/1. 8.

It delivers sharp images with a pleasantly shallow depth of field at a significantly lower price point. Professional photographers who prioritize maximum aperture for low light situations and exquisite bokeh may opt for the 85mm f/1. 4. Despite its higher cost, the f/1. 4 lens excels in delivering unparalleled clarity and beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds that make subjects pop, justifying the investment for those who rely on these fine details in their photographic work. Choosing between these two excellent Nikon lenses largely depends on individual needs, budget considerations, and the specific demands of one’s photographic pursuits.

Nikon 85mm 1.8 vs 1.4: Prime Lens Showdown


Capturing The Perfect Portrait

Focal length and aperture are vital for portrait lenses. Nikon’s 85mm lenses offer great options for photographers. A shorter focal length can create a natural look. Portrait shots benefit greatly from this.

Aperture size also affects the image. Wider apertures like f/1.4 allow more light. This means better shots in low light. It also gives a softer background, or bokeh. This makes your subject stand out more. The f/1.8 is also good and often more affordable.

Feature Nikon 85mm f/1.8 Nikon 85mm f/1.4
Aperture f/1.8 f/1.4
Bokeh Very good Excellent
Low Light Performance Good Better
Price More affordable Higher
Nikon 85mm 1.8 vs 1.4: Prime Lens Showdown


Diving Into Nikon 85mm Lenses

The Nikon 85mm lenses stand out in portrait photography. The f/1.8 is lighter and more affordable. Its plastic build makes it easier to carry. Yet, its optical performance is impressive.

On the other hand, the f/1.4 version feels more premium. It has a sturdy metal body. The lens delivers superb image quality with beautiful bokeh. It is heavier and has a larger price tag.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 Nikon 85mm f/1.4
Light and portable More substantial build
More affordable Expensive
Plastic material Metal construction
Excellent sharpness Top-notch sharpness with creamy bokeh

Aperture Analysis

Aperture is key in a lens’s performance. It controls light entering the camera. A wide aperture, like f/1.4, lets in more light and provides a shallow depth of field. This creates a soft background blur, known as bokeh, which is great for portraits. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4 excels here.

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 has a slightly narrower aperture. It means less light and a slightly deeper depth of field. This is still useful for creating blur, yet with more sharpness in the scene. Both lenses offer great bokeh, but the f/1.4 goes a step further. It’s about personal preference and use.

Sharpness And Image Quality

Nikon’s 85mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses are both known for their impressive sharpness. Tests show that the f/1.4 version delivers slightly better center sharpness at wide apertures. As you stop down, both lenses offer excellent center-to-edge resolution.

The f/1.8 version shines with its great value, providing stellar sharpness that rivals its pricier counterpart. Photographers notice that the edge sharpness improves noticeably by f/2.8 for both lenses. It’s at smaller apertures, such as f/5.6, that their sharpness peaks, making them incredibly sharp across the entire frame.

Different apertures affect resolution in each lens. The f/1.4 version shows a bit more detail at wider apertures compared to the f/1.8. Yet, the differences become minimal once both lenses are stopped down to f/2.8 or narrower. Thus, both lenses are excellent choices for photographers who prioritize image quality and sharpness.

In The Field: Real-world Performance

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lenses differ in low-light shots. The f/1.4 aperture allows more light. This means it’s better for dark settings. Photos come out brighter with less noise. But, the f/1.8 is no slouch. It still performs well and is less costly.

The handling of both lenses is top-notch. Yet, the f/1.4 version is heavier. This can tire your hands during long shoots. The f/1.8 is lighter, which makes it comfy for carrying around. Both provide a smooth user experience, with easy focusing. Choosing depends on how much weight you want to carry.

Nikon 85mm 1.8 vs 1.4: Prime Lens Showdown


Considerations Beyond Image Quality

Price to performance plays a key role in the Nikon 85mm 1.8 vs 1.4 debate. The 1.8 version offers a more budget-friendly option. It delivers excellent sharpness, making it a great value for its price. Comparatively, the 1.4 variant is significantly pricier. It does provide superior bokeh and low-light performance.

Weight and portability are crucial for photographers on the move. The Nikon 85mm 1.8 is lighter, providing ease of handling and convenience. Its compact size allows for effortless transportation. On the other hand, the 1.4 model is heavier. This could lead to hand fatigue during prolonged shoots.

Final Thoughts: Choosing Your Champion

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and 1.4 lenses both offer high-quality portraits with minimal distortion. The f/1.8 version is lighter in weight and more cost-effective, making it ideal for hobbyists and beginners. Its faster autofocus is beneficial for shooting in action.

On the other hand, the f/1.4 model stands out with its superior low-light performance and exceptional bokeh, perfect for professional portrait photographers. It’s the go-to lens for creating artistic images with a shallow depth of field.

f/1.8 Pros f/1.4 Pros
Affordable and lightweight Excellent in low light
Fast autofocus system Superior bokeh effect
f/1.8 Cons f/1.4 Cons
Less optimal in dim light Heavier and pricier
Bokeh not as creamy Focus speed may lag

Frequently Asked Questions Of Nikon 85mm 1.8 Vs 1.4

What’s The Price Difference Between Nikon 85mm 1.8 And 1.4?

The Nikon 85mm 1. 8 is generally significantly less expensive than the 1. 4 variant. Price differences fluctuate depending on the retailer and any ongoing discounts. Expect the 1. 4 version to cost roughly double or more than the 1.

8 lens.

How Does Aperture Impact Nikon 85mm Lens Performance?

Aperture affects depth of field and light intake. The 1. 4 version with a wider aperture allows more light and shallower depth of field. This results in increased low-light performance and a more pronounced bokeh effect compared to the 1.

8 version.

Is There A Weight Difference Between The 85mm Lenses?

Yes, the Nikon 85mm 1. 4 is usually heavier due to additional glass elements required for the wider aperture. This weight difference can impact portability and handling during lengthy photo shoots.

Can You Notice Image Quality Differences In Practical Use?

In practical use, image quality differences are subtle but present. The 1. 4 lens offers marginally better sharpness and bokeh quality. However, both lenses perform exceptionally well, and the differences may only be noticeable in side-by-side comparisons or demanding conditions.


Choosing between the Nikon 85mm 1. 8 and 1. 4 lenses depends on your needs and budget. The 1. 4 offers superior bokeh and low light performance but at a higher cost. The 1. 8 variant presents remarkable value with sharp images, making it ideal for enthusiasts.

Prioritize your style and investment for the best fit in your photography toolkit.

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I am a photography enthusiast turned blogger, sharing my passion and expertise on her blog, "CallofPhotography." Growing up surrounded by nature, I developed a love for capturing moments through my lens. After studying Fine Arts with a focus on photography, I launched my blog to share tutorials, gear reviews, and my own photographic work. Through engaging storytelling, I invites readers to join her visual journey, inspiring and empowering photographers of all levels worldwide.

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