The Diva Lens – The Best Portrait Lens Ever Made for Nikon

Posted on Jul 15, 2013 in photography

Do you love taking portraits?  If you do, then I have a lens that you have to consider to take your portrait photography to the next level.  The Nikon 85mm f/1.4D IF AF Telephoto Nikkor gets my vote for the best portrait lens that money can buy.  For years, this lens has been one of the most popular lenses for photojournalism and wedding photography.  I find the lens to give me the best artistic portraits.  I use this lens when I want to do close-ups but I also use it quite a bit in photographing kids as they move around quite a bit and I need an extra-fast lens.  I call this lens the Diva lens because it will make anyone look great and like a model.

This lens is not for the weak of heart.  It’s expensive and typically only works with your higher end Full Frame cameras like the D3S and D4.  And in addition to that the price tag of $1,200 makes it one of the most expensive 85MM lenses on the market.  The bottom line however is that this lens will probably take the most amazing pictures that you will take in your lifetime.  You will find that you always take this lens to your most important events that require great pictures.  This lens is destined to become your favorite.


Image courtesy of

5 Reasons I absolutely love this lens

1. Bokeh is incredible –  There is simply no better lens out there for depth of field.  I can always count on incredible Bokeh in just about every setting and every picture.  If the lighting is right, I can get the most incredible smooth and creamy backgrounds that make the subjects pop.  The bokeh on this lens is so powerful and beautiful and that is probably the primary reason that most people buy this lens.  If you ever gotten choppy or distorted bokeh with other lenses, that will not happen with this lens.

2.  The AutoFocus is deadly accurate – I am using a D4 and the way that this lens snaps to focus instantly and accurately is beyond compare.  I normally choose to use a single point focus rather than letting the camera choose the focus points based on facial recognition.  I like to laser in on exactly what I want and this camera almost never disappoints. I can get a super sharp face and eyes while the rest of the picture is blurred beautifully.  The Autofocus is just amazing on this camera.

3. The Aperture f/1.F lets in so much light for dark situations – This camera can be dialed up to an aperture setting of 1.4 which means that I can use this lens in very dark settings and still capture amazing shots.  I have taken some shots on this lens in near dark conditions with incredible results. I believe if you are a wedding photographer that this will be one of the primary reasons for getting this lens.  You can take shots in low-lit restaurants and events and pretty much capture the exact color and lighting that you see with your own eyes.  The other benefit to the incredible low light performance is that I can always count on this lens for awesome videography.  This lens helps me capture video that looks very cinematic.   I recommend operating in manual mode however because this lens at f/1.4 will be continually try to update the focus and it will not look right in your videos.

4. Sharpness is awesome.-  I love the sharpness of this lens.  If I dial the aperture down to anything above F/4, I can get great end to end sharpness in the photos.  This is a great balance to the photos that I take where I am looking for a lot of bokeh.  I can choose to get shots where everything is sharp or only the subject is in focus.  This lens is incredibly versatile.

5.  Built like a tank.   I love the rugged construction of this lens.  It’s an older lens from Nikon.  I broke my lens a year ago because I dropped it on concrete and wrecked the focus motor.  I could have bought the newer 85MM lens from Nikon but I went back to this one because I wanted the best.  I think this lens will always be my favorite portrait lens.

Some Reviews from the Experts

Ken Rockwell notes that this lens “works great with almost every film and digital camera Nikon made since 1977.” He says that while the 85mm f/1.4G is sharper and has better bokeh, it also costs twice as much. Tom Hagen says the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D’s build is “rock solid” and that it autofocuses “with certaintly” and concludes with “I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve picked up the 85mm f/1.4D and shot with it…this lens will stay in my lens collection pretty much forever.”

 Some Shots I have Taken with this Lens.

These are a sample of the images that I have taken with the 85MM lens.  There is something very magical about this lens that makes it well worth the expense that you will pay.  Best of all, this lens makes people look great and they will love you for it.



LILJOHN (27 of 48)