These are questions for the ages - I decided to pit two of Nikon's best lenses ( 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii & Nikon 85mm f/1.4G) against each other in a field test death match. This is Chevy vs Ford, PC vs Mac, Coke vs Pepsi for nikonians. Let the fun commence....
When I purchased these two pieces of glassware I was less than stoked about the prospect of dropping $5,300NZ (seemingly about a year's wages at present) on two lenses. I was especially freaked about my illogical decision to buy the 85mm f/1.4, as it seemingly made very little practical sense for landscape photography (which comprises the bulk of my work). So, now that my Nikon D800e is finally with me I decided to have a bit of a side by side shoot off between the big zoom and the porky prime just to see if there were any real image quality differences between the two lenses.
The results of my tests surprised me so much that I had to re-shoot them to ensure I hadn't buggered it up. I don't want to spoil the rest of the review, so I won't elaborate - enjoy the review and be sure to share it around if you think it may be of interest to others. The fine print - all shots are:
- Made on the Nikon D800e
- Locked down on a Really Right Stuff BH55 ballhead & Benro tripod
- 3 second mirror lockup delay
- Aperture priority
- All other camera settings remain the same between shots
- Images straight through Adobe Camera Raw with no adjustments (except sharpening 25 to all shots)
- 100% crops
- focus set manually by Liveview on the grey willow tree in centre frame
- if this methodology infuriates you in any way please go straight to here
Sharpness Comparison : Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii v Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G - at f/2.8 - click image for full sizeNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii vs 85mm f/1.4G - Centre Sharpness Comparison @ f/2.8
Sharpness Comparison : Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii v Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G - at f/5.6 - click image for full sizeNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii vs 85mm f/1.4G - Centre Sharpness Comparison @ f/5.6
Sharpness Comparison : Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii v Nikon 85mm f/1.4 G - at f/8 - click image for full size
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii vs 85mm f/1.4G - Centre Sharpness Comparison @ f/8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii vs 85mm f/1.4G - Centre Sharpness Comparison @ f/11[/caption] f/11 notes: centre sharpness on the zoom really falls away at f/11 on the D800e while the 85mm still looks pretty good. Diffraction really is something that you need to consider before paying the premium to purchase a D800e vs a D800 - any resolution gains that you may make on the D800e are rapidly eroded after f5.6.