Feb 032009

OK, as predicted, here’s another image made with the Nikon 85/1.8, and most probably the last for quite some time 🙂

Actually this lens is quite OK when you know about its limitations. The most annoying thing is probably the purple fringing, something that many of the older Nikon primes supposedly exhibit when used wide open. I can’t tell, the 50/1.8 and the 50/1.2 don’t, but I remember having read it about the 24/2.8 and the 28/2.8. Anybody who knows?

Anyway. With this lens the rule is simple: avoid all extreme point highlights that would burn out, then you should be on safe ground. Raindrops in sunlight are about as deadly as it gets 🙂

Actually I really should not complain at all. This is a portrait lens like its big brother, the 85/1.4, and that means its failures work very well in a portrait situation, where utter contrast and sharpness are probably unwelcome anyway. In fact, it is really not a lack of sharpness, it is a lack of micro contrast, just like a softening veil. There you have it: fine for traditional portraits, not so fine for everything else.

The Song of the Day is the Robert Johnson classic “They’re Red Hot“, today interpreted by the legendary Peter Green on his 2004 album “Hot Foot Powder”, the second in the line of his Robert Johnson albums. Deezer has the whole album for you to hear.

  4 Responses to “844 – They’re Red Hot”

  1. I disagree. I have some nice nature shots from 85. Maybe they’re portraits of the environment lol

  2. I guess there’s not much of a conflict yet. I suppose your nature shots were taken at a higher f-stop, maybe f5.6 or f8. The lens is superb at that apertures, it’s only below f2.8 that it is problematic, and then only when there are blown point lights. The problem is, that I frequently use my lenses under such extreme conditions.

    Chrome on a bicycle is pretty much a worst case scenario, and I LOVE bicycles 🙂

  3. I'm quite surprised that there's purple fringing. I have no noticeable fringing and I shoot mainly outdoors other than portraits. Wide open of course all lenses have some degree of purple fringing… Nikkor AFS 60mm on the other hand has heavy bokeh fringing, which is really problematic at times.

  4. You say "Wide open of course all lenses have some degree of purple fringing… ", and there you have it. The fault of this lens (and seemingly of most older Nikkors, at least the AF-24/2.8 behaves similar) is the amount of that "some". Good modern lenses reduce that to almost nil, while I've seen some images that I simply couldn't take with this lens. Wide open, yes, against the light, yes, but that's something that I expect from a general-purpose lens.

    But again: it's not a bad lens, to the contrary, it's only a much more specialized lens than I'd like. Nobody said it's a macro lens, but I still would like to be able to focus nearer than 80cm. Same with purple fringing and micro-contrast when used wide open: There are ways around, but I'd like to not having to care.

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