Thursday, August 9, 2012

D800e Recommended Lens | Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Lens Review For Landscape & Nature Photography

Many would consider the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G an odd lens choice for landscape photography, and maybe it is, but this lens is the one that I find on my new Nikon D800e more than any other - for both landscape and family photography.

The optical performance of the 85mm f/1.4G is so good that I have included it in my 'recommended for the Nikon D800 ' lens list.


Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens for landscape and nature
The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G - Does A classic portrait lens belong in a landscape photographer's bag?  It's damn well staying in mine!

You can read my full Nikon 85mm f/1.4G landscape lens review on sisson - New Zealand photography

Background

I don't recall having been on a drunken bender last April, but it may explain why I have little recollection as to how I ended up owning a Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.4G.  This lens is really not a traditional fit for a landscape photographer, in-fact the B&H description for the lens has "Traditional Portraiture Lens" splashed all over it.   Anyhow, I did order it,  so it was time to see how I could incorporate the lens into my landscape photography repertoire.  I am pleased to report that the 85mm f1.4 is now one of my favourite landscape lenses. Thank God - it wasn't cheap.....

In all seriousness, I purchased the 85mm f1.4 in preparation for the delivery of my new Nikon D800e.  Prior to the D800e I had been shooting Nikon DX and Canon Full Frame (5dmkii), I had wanted to return full time to Nikon for several years, but the right DSLR body for my needs had not been in the Nikon line-up.  When the D800 was announced it was obvious that it's 36MP sensor would settle for nothing short of premium optics and I had nothing in my bag that would stand the D800's onslaught of pixels.

The 85mm is an 'overlap lens' in my bag as I also own the superb Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii (review) however, I purchased the prime mainly because I love defocus in my portrait photography (mainly my kids these days) - the 85mm f1.4 is renowned for it's silky bokeh and after 12 years of professional photography, I figured it was time to treat myself to something a little exotic.

Unfortunately, that is not sound business practice for me - I make my money from landscapes, so I had to figure out a way to make the 85mm f/1.4G earn it's keep - here's how I use it for landscape photography.....

What's It For?

I consider the Nikon 85mm f1.4G to be one of the most 'creative' lenses in my camera bag.  By that, I mean that I rarely shoot 'standard' landscape images on the 85mm f/1.4 - I find that have to consciously seek uses for the 85mm.  Now, that may seem like putting the tractor before the haybale but for me that is a good thing - I need to stretch my photographic boundaries -  I think that the 85mm makes me a little bit more complete as a photographer.  So far,  I use this lens for four primary uses:

1. Subject Isolation Via Defocus


Frosty Tree: D800e, Nikon 85mm f/1.4G - @ f/1.4.  Shooting at f/1.8 delivered the razor thin DOF required  to successfully isolate this frosty little tree.  I enoy the creative overlap of applying portrait techniques to nature photography. 

(Download full resolution D800e & Nikon 85mm f/1.4g sample jpeg - password = freeD800pics

2. Panoramic stitching


I like to shoot panoramas that compress distance, primarily to give greater visual presence to distant mountains - I find 50mm and 85mm to be my most commonly used focal lengths for this purpose.  The 85mm f/1.4 provides unparalleled sharpness and detail when paired with the Nikon D800e.

I always shoot in vertical orientation in order to gain the maximum resolution from my stitched files - 85mm provides an excellent field of view when used in this way.

The following stitched panorama is 21,000 x 6,600 pixels wide and prints at 2.1 metres @300 DPI without any enlargement.


Panoramic Stitch from Nikon D800e and Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Lens. It's a little hard to get impressed this wide - how about a 100% crop....

100% crops from the above panoramic Stitch from Nikon D800e and Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Lens. The level of detail is simply stunning (a little sharpening has been applied) - this would happily enlarge to a 4m+ wide print. Please note that these look slightly better in the original file - pre-JPEG compression.

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