If you’re looking for a relatively low-cost portrait system,
pair the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G with a Nikon D7000 and
you’ll be in business.
with a beautiful background blur.
But since we’re talking numbers, it’s important to
point out that those two 85mms with their f/1.4s are
not cheap: The Sigma sells for $899 while the Nikon is
almost double that at $1,699. Are they worth it? It depends on how much you crave that fast aperture, and
for some photographers there’s no substitute.
But let’s say you’re on a tight budget—and who
isn’t these days?—and find you can live without the
f/1.4? Well, there are many more affordable options
out there including another recent entry in the Nikon
stable: the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.
For that drop in aperture (along with a few other
changes), the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G gets a significant
drop in price to $499. The build quality of this 85mm
isn’t quite as robust as the f/1.4 version but some might
like its lighter ( 12. 4 ounces) profile, making it particularly suited for travel and outdoor headshot work.
We tested the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G with an early sample unit of the full-frame Nikon D4 (look for a review of
the D4 next month in PDN ) and found the combination
to be stellar. Jordan Matter, a photographer I frequently test Nikon products with, is a diehard 85mm shooter
and he loved this lens.
Matter used it to shoot headshots, portraits and for
his ongoing series “Dancers Among Us,” and was struck
by how much he didn’t miss having f/1.4 as an option.
“I shot with the 85mm a lot, often set to f/1.8,” he
says. “Its focus is very consistent, more so than with
my old Nikon AF 85mm f/1.4D or the new Sigma.”
When mounted on a Nikon DX-format (aka APS-C
size sensor) DSLR camera body, the 85mm magnifies to
a 127mm equivalent lens, meaning you’ll have to stand
further back from your subject and you’ll get addition-
al compression. Some might not like having the longer
range for portraits but for me, anything up to 135mm
is perfectly fine. Put this lens on a Nikon D7000 and
you’ve got a relatively low-price headshot machine.
Though this prime lens has a slightly narrower
build than the f/1.4 version, it’s got solid optics inside
including nine optical elements and a seven-blade
diaphragm, which helped us create pleasing bokeh
that really made our subject pop in the foreground.
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G doesn’t have the Nano
Crystal Coating that the pricier f/1.4 version has, so
it’s not as resistant to ghosting and flare. This wasn’t
a huge issue when shooting portraits, as long as we
stayed away from extreme backlit situations. The lens
does utilize Nikon’s Super Integrated Coatings and
without getting into the confusing technical details
about how these differ from Nano Coatings, let’s just
say, the results were vivid with accurate color and very
little distortion in our portraits.
As all good stealthy lenses should be, the 85mm
f/1.8 was extremely quiet because of Nikon’s Silent
Wave Motor, which muzzles the autofocus sound in
the lens, letting you shoot portraits or movies undetected. The lens has two focus modes: M/A (
manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual), giving you options
to experiment and test your creativity.
THE BOT TOM LINE
Nikon portrait shooters who want to save themselves
a few bucks would be wise to resist the urge to shoot
at f/1.4 and go with the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.
Along with the slightly slower maximum aperture,
a few of the luxe details have been trimmed on this
85mm Nikkor lens but it’s less than a third of the price
of the f/1.4G model. And that’s what we call a bargain.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm F/1.8G
Pros: Great image quality with consistent
sharpness; produces pleasing background
blur; quiet and accurate; more affordable
Cons: Won’t cure you of your f/1.4 jones;
no Nano Crystal Coating so avoid extreme
Adobe’s image management software adds video
support, book publishing and other features at a
(Editor’s note: The following review of Adobe
Photoshop Lightroom 4 by PDN contributor Theano
Nikitas initially appeared on pdnonline.com/gear in a
slightly different version in March. You can access the
original review here: http://bit.ly/xBhUag.)
After almost two months in public beta, Adobe re-
leased the finished version of its Lightroom 4 (LR4)
image-editing and organizational software in March.
Along with adding a number of new features to LR4,
including Develop module advancements, broader
video integration, geotagging, book layout and direct-
to-Blurb publishing as well as the oft-requested soft
proofing functionality, the software features a new,
reduced price: $149 full version; $79 upgrade.
DEVELOP MODULE CHANGES
LR4 continues the modular interface of its predecessors, although with the addition of two new modules:
Map and Book. But the first time you’ll encounter a noticeable change is in the Develop module’s Basic panel.
In addition to a new process version, which you can
elect to apply (or not) to images that have been treated
in Lightroom 3, the default starting point for all the adjustment sliders is a neutral “0.” This gives users more
leeway to move through the various Develop settings
and is one of the program’s notable improvements.
Even more obvious is the disappearance of recovery,
brightness and fill light. These are replaced by highlights,
shadows, and the ability to modify white and black
points (and, therefore, clipping) individually. Newcomers
to Lightroom will find these changes more intuitive but
current users will have to adjust their workflow—and
their mindset—to accommodate the new sliders.
I have a soft spot for fill light and, even though it