Nikon Cream Machine – 85mm 1.4D

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This is just a quick post post to introduce you to my new lens, the Nikon 85mm 1.4D a.k.a. the Nikon Cream Machine. Known as the cream machine due to the way it delivers silky smooth, creamy out of focus background, or Bokeh if you will.

This is a high quality, fast prime lens. At 1.4, it is 2 stops faster than a 2.8 lens. This means that it lets in nearly 4x times more light. This is easy to see with the size of the front element, which uses a 77mm filter. Having a 1.4 lens not only means having an advantage in lower light conditions, but that wider aperture means that the background will go even more out of focus for portraits, which is generally desirable.

Like all new camera kit, it takes a while to get used to. I have been used to the 35mm 1.8 AF-S for over a year and getting comfortable with it, now I have to get used to the extra reach of the 85mm, which works out at roughly 127mm on the D7000 body. I am now finding my self needing to stand further back to get full body shots in, while getting less background in due to the longer focal length. This will only be a problem if I ever want a fill length shoot indoors, unless I have 40 feet to back up, it will have to be a head shot or 3/4.

The D7000 body has a built in focus motor which is needed with this D lens, it does not have a built in focusing motor. So it will not work on my now backup D40 body. The lens is heavy and built well. I bought it second hand and it was in great condition, considering its an old lense that has since been replaced with the ‘G‘ version.

Initial impression of the lens are good. Focus is fast on the D7000. I generally find that I need to be shooting at least 1\125 of a second hand held to avoid any form of motion blur. Also, shooting from 1.4 to 2.8 seems to be the worst performing areas in terms of contrast and lateral colour fringing. This is pretty common with lens when shooting wide open. I have not pixel-peeped to see how sharp it is around the corners or any of that lark, but the colour fringing is the only noticeable thing in the highlights. But after you close down past 2.8, they are gone. Other than that, and the fact that I need to stand a lot further back, are the main points to note now. I am sure over the next few weeks I will notice more things about it as I use it more.

The shot above is of Juliet and was taken in Dublin along the quays near the big wheel. Single light, high camera left. Nikon Sb600 in the 24″ EZ Fold Softbox. Nothing fancy, as the main was to try out the lens. The background lights are from an office building that is across the river, so roughly 150-200 yards or so. This extra distance also helps to ‘blur’ the background even more. The background is made up on the lights form the building both directly behind Juliet and their reflection in the water. It is a kind of surreal looking background, I like it 🙂

Plenty more shots of the lens in action to come soon.

4 comments on “Nikon Cream Machine – 85mm 1.4D

  1. The Cream Machine is an excellent piece of Glass and you will adore the way it renders the out of focus backgrounds in your portraits. Health to enjoy it!

  2. Thanks Derek, I am very happy with it do far. Like all gear, it will take a little getting used to, especially the extra reach over the 35mm.

  3. Your absolutely right and I have no idea why I wrote that…. I must have been half asleep at the time. Thanks for pointing it out.

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