Why I Love F1.8 Lenses More Than F1.4 Lenses

Photographers have long wanted to reach for f1.4 lenses while scoffing at f1.8 lenses. No, let me rephrase that. Photography snobs have long wanted to reach for f1.4 lenses. To many of them, they could easily and clearly tell the difference between f1.8 and f1.4. They claim they could even do this while looking at the whole image. This is a boomer point of view at this point. If you want a fast aperture, lean into it and go for an f1.2. But for the majority of work, I think f1.8 lenses are more than sufficient. And here’s why I prefer them.

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Under $1000: The Affordable 85mm Primes That Are Bokeh Beasts

If you are planning to jump into the world of portrait photography, you might want to check out these affordable 85mm primes.

There is a huge misconception about portrait photography (and many other genres of photography) that you need to spend boatloads of cash on very fast lenses to be able to create portraits that will stun people: this simply isn’t true. There are 85mm primes on the market that produce razor-sharp images with stunning bokeh that won’t break the bank, but these lenses are often overlooked. If you are planning to get into portrait photography, don’t let photography elitists make you believe that you need to spend thousands. Trust us when we say that the 85mm primes we share with you after the break are more than good enough for most.

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The Tokina 85mm F1.8 ATX-M FE Costs Just $499.99 (Sample Images)

The Tokina 85mm f1.8 FE ATX-M is promising good stuff for portrait photographers at a $499.99 price point.

Photographers using the Sony FE line of cameras are being treated with access to a new lens: the Tokina 85mm f1.8 FE ATX-M. This lens is offering not only a fast f1.8 aperture but also a bit of moisture resistance at the front at a super affordable price point. Unlike their previous 100mm Macro FiRIN lens, they’re claiming the motor won’t blow your eardrums. Even better, this is probably the most affordable autofocus 85mm f1.8 lens available for the Sony FE lineup of cameras. All of the juiciest details of the press release are after the jump.

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The Nikon Z 85mm F1.8 S Weighs Over a Pound and Here’s Why

The new Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S could probably have a few advantages over Sony’s 85mm f1.8 FE.

A Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S could be music to the ears of any portrait photographer who has adored their lenses and, with today’s announcement of the lens, other photographers could indeed be humming along to the tune. At the cost of $799.95, the new Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S is giving photographers what could possibly be more than what Sony is offering in its most comparable offering. The Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S weighs over a pound due to the extra elements. While the Sony 85mm f1.8 FE has nine elements in eight groups, the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S has 12 elements in eight groups. Like Sony, Nikon is also making their portrait lens weather sealed. In fact, Steve Heiner over at Nikon tells us, “The entire lens, including moving parts on the barrel, has been effectively sealed.” The Nikon lens will be noticeably larger than the Sony offering if the specs we’re reading are correct.

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Review: Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis (Sony FE)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.8 review product extras (6 of 6)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Portrait lenses: these two words can make a photographer’s heart melt when seen together. For years, Zeiss has dominated the portrait realm, though Sigma and Canon have had their share of lenses that sing. So when Zeiss released the first true portrait prime lens for the new Sony FE mount system, we knew that it had to be incredible. Indeed the Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis is a lens that can have that effect on you.

While this all sounds completely wonderful on paper, we needed to see if it really would make our jaws drop. Initially, we really thought it was something special. But did our love affair last? Or was this just another summer fling?

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First Impressions: Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8 (Sony FE)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis first impressions product photos (6 of 6)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

When Zeiss announced their Batis lens lineup, one of the lenses that came out was the 85mm f1.8 Batis. As one of Zeiss’s offerings to boast autofocusing abilities, these lenses were designed for Sony FE mount–otherwise known as full frame E mount cameras like the Sony A7r Mk II. Given a weather resistant design, these lenses are building on a new generation of Zeiss lenses that in some ways moves away from the DSLR and puts more emphasis on what’s possible with the mirrorless camera world.

Weighing only 475 grams and boasting a very big rubber focusing ring on top of a brand new LCD display on top of the lens, there is very little to complain about with the 85mm f1.8 Batis.

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The New Zeiss BATIS Lenses Have an OLED Screen

ZEISS Batis 1.8/85


Zeiss created their Loxia lens lineup for Sony full frame E-mount cameras, and today they’ve got something new. While the Loxia line has manual focus, the new Zeiss BATIS line of lenses can autofocus and have a special feature that we haven’t seen on lenses yet. These lenses have an OLED screen on the top that replaces the depth of field indicator and the focusing distance. It’s designed to display lots of important information to the photographer in low light situations where it is otherwise tough to get that reading. While a photographer can just otherwise look at the LCD screen for that info, it just makes more sense to sometimes look at the top of the lens.

The Zeiss BATIS line of lenses are said to be weather sealed and dust proof.

In July 2015, we’ll be getting a 25mm f2 and 85mm f1.8 lens offering to start out. From the sound of the press release, they’re targeting both professional and amateur photographers with the BATIS line. We’ve got no word on pricing yet, but tech specs are after the jump.

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Wondering Which Canon and Nikon Lenses Sell Best at Amazon?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer canon 50mm f1.4 product shots (3 of 3)

Well, here’s your answer:

Canon Lens Top Sellers

Nikon Lens Top Seller

Looking to buy any of these? Click the links above to be directed to the respective Amazon.com product page. Hurry up though, because some of these have only a couple units left in stock.

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Quick Informal Lens Comparison: Canon 35mm f1.4 L vs Sigma 35mm f1.4

I recently wrote about selling all of my Canon glass and going all Sigma. One of the biggest reasons: Canon has been letting me down as of late and one of the best and most affordable ways to take advantage of what my 5D Mk II can do is to use newer glass. As it is, Sigma’s 50mm f1.4 is better than the Canon 50mm f1.4 and Canon’s 85mm f1.2 L USM II is only a bit better than Sigma’s 85mm f1.4, but the latter beats Canon’s 85mm f1.8 USM.

That left one lens in the bag: the 35mm f1.4. Initial tests have come out testing the lens. Here’s a super quick and very informal comparison of the two; and this will be the first of a couple.

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I’m Selling All My Canon Glass, and Going All Sigma

I’ve stuck to three lenses for a very long time: The Canon 35mm f1.4 L, 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8. And I’ve loved them. They were great wide open, great stopped down, and overall have never failed me. But it’s time that I upgrade. In my personal opinion, Canon has been dragging their feet a bit and I haven’t been absolutely truly stunned by any of the lenses that they’ve made in the past year. With that said, I’ve decided to go all Sigma and replace each lens with its Sigma variant. Why Sigma? Though I’ve ripped into some of their zoom lenses in previous reviews here, I’ve absolutely loved their 85mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for a 35mm f1.4, and now it’s here. All of those lenses are all very well worth their weight in gold; and for my type of work (portraits and studio) I don’t really need to upgrade cameras. All of these lenses will be coupled with my 5D Mk II, and will take great advantage of the already excellent sensor. They all autofocus perfectly fine with the camera as well.

So why a full post dedicated to this? Because as I’ve stated in previous posts this year, I believe that Sigma needs to be congratulated on overcoming the myth of the third party manufacturer. To be honest, I never thought I’d see the day that happened. Their glass is wonderful, it autofocuses well, its affordable, and they have improved their quality control methods. In the end, it’s all the photographer who creates the images; but I’m at the point where I want more from my lenses. And at the moment, Sigma is doing that for me.

And now to be totally selfish, I’m selling each lens on eBay if you’re interested. You can check out the 35mm f1.4 L, 50mm f1.4, and 85mm f1.8 at the according links.

Review: Nikon 85mm f1.8 G

Nikon recently updated their 85mm f1.8 lens to the current G version: something it was in need of for a while. 85mm lenses are primarily used as portrait focal lengths are are preferred by many because it allows them to work up close to their subject and still not suffer from distortion. We’ve reviewed many 85mm lenses on this site, and the staff are in agreement that they’re amongst some of our favorite focal lengths.

But how does the new Nikon budget level portrait focal length do? After testing it out against the Canon 85mm f1.8 and showing off a couple of image samples, our conclusions may shock you.

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Battle of the 85mm Lenses: Canon 85mm f1.8 vs Nikon 85mm f1.8

I was recently able to test fire and show a couple of sample images with the new Nikon 85mm f1.8 on my D5100, however I also was able to get my hands on a D700. Being a Canon 5D Mk II and 85mm f1.8 USM owner, I decided to put the two lenses in a non-scientific and totally practical test using all available light at around 7pm in NYC and only shooting at f4 and wider for a portrait.

So how did the two lenses perform?

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Which One? Sigma 85mm f1.4 or Canon 85mm f1.8 for Portrait Photography

Portrait photographers often find themselves in a bit of a predicament trying to figure out what lens is the right one for them. For Canon photographers, you have two choices under $1,000 in the form of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 and Canon 85mm f1.8. We’ve reviewed both the Sigma and Canon lenses, and thought very highly of both. There are differences to both of them—but in real life practice only one is right for you.

The question is: which one?

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Can You Figure This Out? Sigma 85mm f1.4 vs Canon 85mm f1.8 Lens Comparison

Photo A

Photo B

One of these images was shot with the Canon 85mm f1.8 and the other one was shot with the Sigma 85mm f1.4. Both were shot on the Canon 5D Mk II and only had profile corrections applied. Can you tell which image is from which lens? Let us know in the comments below!

Full comparison review is coming tomorrow. The EXIF Data for each image has been left in tact, but no peeking! Click each image to view them at full size.

Primes Vs Zoom: Can You Tell Which is Which?

It’s no secret that many staffers here are big fans of prime lenses vs zooms. I had the crazy idea to compare the two: note that we’ve done this before many times with lots of great reactions. But this time, I chose to make it a bit more special.

In one corner, we have the Canon 85mm F/1.8—widely regarded as one of the sharpest non-L lenses (and said by many to be the sharpest.) In the other corner, we have my venerable Canon 80-200mm F/2.8 L “Magic Drainpipe”. Note once again that the previous sentence was not a spelling mistake. Please read carefully, it is the 80-200mm.

Both lenses were set on a tripod at around six feet away from the subject and were mounted onto the Canon 7D. Why the 7D? Most readers of this site own APS-C DSLRs, so to appeal and relate to the audience more, I chose this over my 5D Mk II. The focusing point was on the black/musical tie where the knot meets the front flap. Both images were shot at 1/160th, F/4 and ISO 400 with a Strobros Beauty Dish mounted onto a 580 EX II providing some extra fill light to accentuate extra details.

After this, the images were imported into Lightroom and exported into JPEGs

Now here is the question: Which image was shot with the ancient L zoom lens and which was shot with the non-L prime? Click the images and pixel-peep as much as you want (warning, 10MB files each) We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below along with an explanation of why you think so.

If you’re asking what the point of the test is: we’re trying to see if anyone can tell the difference between an L zoom and a non-L prime when used under similar conditions.

Update 02/23/2010: Image 1 was shot with the 85mm F/1.8 and Image 2 was shot with the 80-200mm F/2.8 L. Why the slight changes in light despite being in the same conditions? I’ll be talking about this more in a future article, but part of my belief is because no two F-stops are exactly the same. T-stops, however, are the same and that’s why you pay extra for it.

So in this test, we were able to proof that a cheap prime is able to keep up with the best of the best, top of the line L zoom lenses. Mind you, the lens will not be repaired or serviced by Canon anymore, but the good folks at Nippon and Chrystler camera have calibrated and worked on this lens for me. I rarely ever use it anymore and even considered selling it, but it seems too valuable in terms of usability. Despite this, a small prime seemingly outdid it according to many comments.

What do you take away from this? Let us hear it in the comments below.

Update again: I’m going to redo this test, the EXIF data says that I used the same lens for each photo but I in fact did not. I apologize to all our readers, it’s never my intention to throw anyone off and I don’t want anyone to feel that way. My job is to be an educator, but mistakes do happen.

Update yet again: okay here we go again trying to do this test. Same conditions. If you look at the EXIF data it will surely tell you that the images were shot with different lenses. Still the same lighting conditions as part 1 of the test.

Test photo 1

Test photo 2

Canon 35mm F/1.4 L Samples At a Chiptunes Concert

I shot a concert this weekend with the Canon EOS 7Dand my brand new Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USMand my Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USMlens. These are some sample images shot recently. If you’d like to know more about the 7D, you can check out my comparison of it against the Nikon D300sand how the specs stack up against the Canon EOS 60Dand the Canon EOS Rebel T2iin order to figure out which one is for you. A specially prepared comparison of the 7D vs the D300s for shooting concerts will be published in the next couple of weeks, so look out for it. And now the images.

Also, please respect my copyright. If you want to use them, just ask: chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com

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Why Everyone Needs an 85mm Lens

During the course of time that I’ve been a photographer, I’ve blogged about the 50mm lens and just how incredibly useful it is. Overtime though, the 85mm F1.8 for Canon has steadily become my go to lens for many situations. Not only is it sharp, delivers wonderful color and very useful, but it gives a different perspective on the things you photograph.

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