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Best 85mm solution

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by teddoman, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. teddoman

    teddoman SC Regular

    51
    Apr 4, 2013
    nyc
    I sold off my Nikon D7000 a while back, but I really miss my 85 1.4 AF-D. Part of me wants to rebuy that body/lens combo, which would be under $1,000. While I loved the colors and the look of the Nikon combo, I always felt dissatisfied with the focus accuracy. Some of that could have been the fact that it's a 1.4 lens but I feel like it was also because it doesn't have on sensor PDAF and I always found focus tuning tedious and not always helpful.

    These are some of the other 85mm-135mm equivalent options that spring to mind:
    Samsung NX1/NX500 (which I already own) with Samsung 85mm f/1.4
    Sony A6000 (which I already own) with Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 or Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
    Oly E-M5 with Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2
    Fuji X-E1 with 56mm f/1.2

    The Samsung 85mm is the cheapest of them all and I already own Samsung bodies but the NX1 is rigged up for video and I think I'd prefer a dedicated body for an 85mm.

    Any other combos you'd suggest? Which of these portrait lenses will I fall in love with? Not sure I know why I loved shooting with that Nikon 85 lens so much, I just found the images so much more pleasing to the eye.
     
  2. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    My thoughts on the Fuji combo (I own the 56, I use it on the X-T1, but a friend has the XE1 and I've used his a few times)...

    - The 56 optically incredible. That will never, ever be a concern - it's just crazily sharp even wide open, and the bokeh is pureed in a blender. The focus speed on it is middle of the road for Fujis - not slow, but not quite as fast as the newest stuff either. So for shots of things that aren't moving quickly, that's a non-issue. Tracking action can work, but it will never be great. It's a fairly fat little piggy, but not so big that it would be silly on an XE1... when you lift it, you're suddenly aware that there's a lot of glass in there making that glorious f1.2 possible.

    - The XE1 makes essentially the same files as the more expensive Fuji bodies, it's small, and it's dirt-cheap. It has VERY few of the great improvements of the past 2 years, though, so your focus speed / write speed / EVF refresh rate are all going to be "perfectly usable but noticably slower than the new Fuji bodies." It only goes +/- 2 on the EV Comp dial, it doesn't make Classic Chrome jpegs, it won't beam your photos over wifi to an Instax printer or your phone, etc. It's still a GREAT camera for the more "pondering" photography style, but as soon as you ask it to track action, you're going to begin living with moderate levels of frustration. If you don't care about Classic Chrome, wifi, or faster AF tracking, then it's a screaming bargain.
     
  3. stratokaster

    stratokaster SC Top Veteran

    886
    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    Pavel
    I think Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 is a great lens. I have used it on the X-T1 last summer and was very satisfied with the results.

    gI5QLQoLCnsuemLMrod5.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/gI5QLQoLCnsuemLMrod5.jpg

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    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/wsMcszK6rwHyO9c4JKqp.jpg

    JJG4XU94CwhO56xqE3G4.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/JJG4XU94CwhO56xqE3G4.jpg

    e5rz4Eayund6m2g7Udyc.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/e5rz4Eayund6m2g7Udyc.jpg

    It's true that this lens is a bit porky, but it's much smaller and lighter than Samsung NX 85/1.4.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
    • Like Like x 1
  4. stratokaster

    stratokaster SC Top Veteran

    886
    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    Pavel
    That said, Samsung NX 85/1.4 is no slouch either, essentially if you get a good copy of the lens. It's not terribly sharp at any aperture, but I think it's sufficiently sharp at f/2 and beyond. I also like its bokeh much better than that of Fujifilm 56/1.2. Fujifilm just makes the background objects melt away, while Samsung has some character to it.

    HqMXTRyOCznfyhJ5Ppwc.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/HqMXTRyOCznfyhJ5Ppwc.jpg

    ttPZVPX1dN5pAa9aM8sY.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/ttPZVPX1dN5pAa9aM8sY.jpg

    cs4SFpnTXL4s1J6ALWru.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/cs4SFpnTXL4s1J6ALWru.jpg

    t3xDCB446dvGHjVY3ezB.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/t3xDCB446dvGHjVY3ezB.jpg

    axcosPGzDyu2ps5TjtRv.
    Full size: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/axcosPGzDyu2ps5TjtRv.jpg

    9303787025_9f5d5849d1_b.
    Berlin Zoo
    by Pavel Urusov, on Flickr

    9306568846_b8d4bbc1de_b.
    Berlin Zoo
    by Pavel Urusov, on Flickr

    This lens is really huge and heavy, bigger than Nikon 85/1.4D. It's very uncomfortable on small bodies like Samsung NX300 and NX500.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. stratokaster

    stratokaster SC Top Veteran

    886
    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    Pavel
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. grillec

    grillec SC Veteran

    399
    Jan 16, 2014
    In my own opinion I wouldn't prefer the solution of a X-E1 and XF 56. The X-E1 is noticeable slower than the later Fuji cameras because it is technically a X-Pro1 without OVF. There is no phase AF, too.
    The old but newer X-E2 will get a firmware update for faster AF next month.

    At a few sample images I don't like the bokeh of the XF56. This could be caused of the aspherical element. The MTF chart shows a difference in sagittal and meridional dates (FUJINON LENS XF56mmF1.2 R) which is often a hint for a busy bokeh. But I don't own it to show direct comparisons. The XF90mm/2 I bought instead is another beast with a very smooth bokeh.

    The Sony FE 55mm/1.8 is rated by DXOMark as best solution for the A6000. The only drawbacks: in a few pictures the highlights shows onion rings, it is bigger/pricier than the SEL50F1.8 and has no image stabilisation.

    If Nikon is preferred I've heard the new 85mm/1.8G giving a good quality/price ratio. But I don't own this, too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  7. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Samsung has closing deals, which maybe good or not... Batis 85mm and Pana 42.5mm have both lens IS... I think all are good lenses. What about Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS, the cheapest of all of the above lenses (unless you want to upgrade FF)? Batis might be the hardest one to find, sold out since it's released last July. You can check these comparisons to decide:
    Cross-System (Panasonic Leica, Fuji, Canon, Nikon) 85mm Equivalent Lens Performance Comparison
    Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 Review Part 1 - First Impressions and Comparisons to 45/75m
    Portraits with Sony E-mount primes: Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs. 90mm macro vs. 55mm f/1.8
    Fuji 56mm f/1.2 vs. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs. Contax G 90mm f/2.8 - Admiring Light

    You can also check the forum samples:
    Showcase - Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8
    Showcase - Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
    Showcase - Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron
    Showcase - Fuji 56mm f/1.2 R
     
  8. teddoman

    teddoman SC Regular

    51
    Apr 4, 2013
    nyc
    If I'm being honest, I suspect some of my focus misses on the Nikon may have been related to poor technique on a longish unstabilized lens. Or perhaps a combination of that and all the flaws I mentioned.

    I actually do have the Sony 50mm OSS and it's my current portrait lens solution, in large part b/c the OSS truly does make it easier (compared to, say, the Samsung 45mm which I also recently picked up as a throw in when I got my NX1). I do like the images I get on both of these lenses, and I can't be sure, but I don't get the same feeling I used to get from the Nikon. Maybe I'm chasing a ghost. The Nikon 85 was my first really high quality lens compared to the lenses I had had up until that point. Maybe it's the Nikon colors and processing. Maybe it's the focal length or the aperture. Unfortunately I'm not as analytical about lenses and images as I could be, and though I do look at the images I can find on the Internet, at the end of the day I need to take some of my own shots to see what I am able to do with a lens/body on my own. I just know I consistently loved the images from that Nikon 85 combo so it became my favorite before I switched to mirrorless. And the portrait lengths images I shoot now are nice but I don't think I'm quite as enthralled with the images (nor can I explain why I'm not).

    I guess I'm leaning away from the Samsung 85 right now because it's probably a better fit for the NX1 than the NX500.

    I really did like the Fuji look from when I had an X-E1, and the 56 will surely be an upgrade from the lenses I had then. The X-E1 will definitely be a step backwards in terms of AF-C capabilities, but in other ways it would be a step forward in terms of traditional photographic control dials.

    I played with a friend's E-M5 briefly, and even with a lens it seemed so tiny. If I need stabilization, Olympus is the main option. Either the Panasonic 42.5 or even the Oly 45 would be stabilized. Otherwise, the Zeiss Batis would be the only other stabilized option.

    By the way, thanks for that great series of shots Pavel on the different lenses! I guess maybe something I could do is go back to my old Nikon 85 images and try to figure out exactly what enthralled me about those images so I can find a suitable replacement.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  9. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    • Like Like x 1
  10. teddoman

    teddoman SC Regular

    51
    Apr 4, 2013
    nyc
    I admittedly haven't followed Fuji much since I sold off my Fuji stuff. Didn't realize the 56 has mixed reviews. My brief searches on the 56 came up with positive feedback and I think a dpr editor just named it his best of 2015. But I will take a closer look now that I'm hearing its bokeh isn't so hot. How would you characterize the bokeh? I guess it looks a bit busy to me in the corners of those photos. Is that what you're talking about?

    I don't think I'm interested in the APD version of the 56 if you lose a stop of light and lose AF-C. The 90 would be a fit, though it's only been out a little while and I'm trying not to be too leading edge on this purchase. That's also a neg on the Zeiss Batis for Sony. I'm already bleeding edge enough on most of my stuff :)
     
  11. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    That one's a winner - like being there in person.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Based on your 50mm & 85mm experience, I think you should look for 85-90mm range which gives you 128mm-135mm on apsc cameras. Per rumors, Sony is also bringing a 85mm 1.4, but lately Sony shut its rumor mills... Also there is Olympus 75mm 1.8 where you can find more deals as it is an older lens, but then you need a camera too and it is more 150mm equivalent:
    Showcase - Olympus 75mm f/1.8

     
  13. grillec

    grillec SC Veteran

    399
    Jan 16, 2014
    I think the example pictures for the XF56 above your answer are meant to be ironical to show the contrary :)

    The XF56 is not bad and is sure one of the best f/1.2 lenses around.
    In my own opinion it could produce a very smooth bokeh but like almost every fast lens who is overcorrected the sharpness is priority one. Like every f/1.2 the bokeh with wide aperture could be a bit nervous on some conditions.
    Smaug

    At a Fuji forum the general opinion prefered the image quality of the 90mm if the focus length is not too long for distance and available light (because the lacking of image stabi).
    I prefer the shorter focus distance of the 90mm and weather resitance could be a goody, too.

    But I don't want to stick on Fuji. If I had to plan a portrait shooting I would consider the manual focused Samyang 85mm/1.4 on FF for example.
     
  14. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    539
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    If you are looking for equivalent field of view - I'd look into the Oly 45/1.8 in MFT, if Fuji, the 56mm is something to behold.

    If you want something closer to the 85/1.4 and probably one of the best currently made portrait lenses, look into the Olympus 75/1.8
     
  15. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    651
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    Ever considered a manual focus solution? I shoot all my portraits (~95% candid) fully manually and don't miss AF at all. YMMV.
     
  16. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    ^ I think, now that I've had the 56 for several years, that really I could happily live with a Rokinon MF version for about $300. They're really sharp, they're well made, and if you're just taking shots of things that aren't moving, you REALLY don't need AF.
     
  17. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    651
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    Back in the MF days I had more keepers of things that move than what I'd get these days if I would leave the job to the AF systems (continuous mode) on my current cameras. Fortunately AF systems and MF aids (focus peaking, split screen on the Fujis, ...) get better and better but most of the time I'd still prefer the direct, all manual, no BS experience of a good old SLR.
     
  18. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Regular

    193
    Nov 21, 2014
    Nikon has never made a bad 85.

    24198250321_91e262bfc5_o. Skate and Fun by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr
    1950s Nikon 8.5cm F2, wide-open.

    I prefer manual focus, with a rangefinder- get more keepers than using the 85 on the Df. The rangefinder is the original Phase Detection focus aid.

    If the 85/1.4 AF-D was coming up soft, most likely from missing the focus. You could try a newer generation DSLR with the lens again, things are always improving. With a DSLR you get a better chance of manually focusing the lens for when the AF is not doing it for you.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    When the subject is moving closer / farther from me, I still prefer the "mash and pray" method on the Fujis, just keeping the AF box on the moving subject and full-pressing once. That almost always nails a good single shot. When the subject is fidgeting around but not getting closer or farther, then absolutely, I either use AFL on an AF lens, or I just set a manual-only lens like the Rokinon and forget it. ...which is awesome. You really give up nothing whatsoever in that case with a MF lens, and in fact you sorta gain a little.
     
  20. teddoman

    teddoman SC Regular

    51
    Apr 4, 2013
    nyc
    In your set, I can see more of the same issue in the bokeh on the 56 actually. It seems to get very busy when there is grass. On the other hand, the bokeh seems to have a very nice character with certain other objects in the background. I like how it renders the bottles behind the bar. I also like the background in the hanging ceiling lamp picture. If I had to characterize it, this lens seems to be really character-ful on normal objects that really make the background a part of the scene in a nice way, except the backgrounds look nervous to me for anything long and fine like hair/grass.

    I wonder how it produces this bokeh look. Is there anything obviously different about the design?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016