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Why DOF difference?

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited December 2013 in home
Thanks for this great tutorial Neil.


In the top photo with the streetlights (that so perfectly add abstract accent colors) Elle's eyes are both sharp. In the lower photo with orange safety netting, the slightly farther eye is soft.

The aperture was the same. I thought at first her face was more square to camera in first photo but I do not think so. Why the difference? Was focal length the reason? Focus point?

Thank you.


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Her face was turned slightly.
  • Thanks Neil. Big difference for such a slight change in her position.
  • This questions was asked on Tangents:

    "Neil, I use a Nikon 70-200, 2.8 lens for portrait work. I can set the focal length to 85 mm and assume get the same effect as a 85 mm lens. So, do I need to purchase a 85 mm lens?"

    I was wondering something similar. If you take a 70-200 and shoot at 85mm at, say, f2.8, is that exactly the same as using this lens here (the Nikon 85mm f1.4G) at f2.8?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited January 2014
    70-200 @ 200mm @ f/2.8
    from: http://neilvn.com/tangents/camera-review-nikon-df/

    85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4
    from: http://neilvn.com/tangents/85mm-best-lens-change-portrait-photography/

    Without a direct comparison, the effect appears quite similar.
    But we have a different background at a different distance.

    With the 85mm, you have less control over compressing the perspective, and being selective about exactly what is your background.

    But as you can see with those two images, you do get a similar feel (if there is no direct comparison for a scenario.)
  • Thanks Neil. I love the 'streetlight' photo. What a great example of making a beautiful portrait in the middle of a non-descript street corner. While the rest of us are traipsing around looking for magical scenic backgrounds you adjust a few settings and make any location magical.
  • AngelaKayAngelaKay Member
    edited January 2014
    One of my new years resolutions is to STOP BUYING STUFF unless I sell stuff first. ie, don't use client revenue to feed my lens addition. I have such a hard time selling my lenses, but definitely tempted by the 85mm....
  • gpcgpc Member
    that top photo is superb.

    Skppierlange, you hit the nail on the head...Its amazing how you can make any background work provided you have the knowledge on how to turn it into something interesting.

    Im beginning to look atthings in a different light now....no pun intended!
  • edited January 2014
    I have never loved a lens as much as I do my 85mm f/1.4G Nikkor. It's bordering on the unhealthy!

    It has totally replaced the 70-200 f/2.8 for weddings and I don't miss that intrusive, subject-intimidating great heavy monster one single bit, good as it may be.

    Highly recommended.
  • I hope that lens is my next purchase. Love the 70-200 but it is heavy and I don't often shoot at 200.
  • With the Nikon 70-200 VR2 I found that it's much shorter than you'd expect of a 200mm lens unless used at or near infinity. At nearer distances (as most wedding shots) it's surprisingly short, so the loss of focal length is not as great as some might fear.
  • edited January 2014
    gpc said: that top photo is superb.
    I like the facial expression of the 1st shot, but for me, it's the great Bokeh of the background in the 2nd shot.
  • Johnmotter,
    I too love the 85mm 1.4
    It's the newest addition to my wedding bag. But I'm not sure how it can replace the 70-200 for a wedding day.
    Personally I'm finding the extremely slow focus of the 85mm (in dim lighting) to be a real hindrance.....and shooting wide open is only an option when the subject is near motionless (for sharp images)
    Other than the bride getting ready and some romantic portraits of the couple....where do you find this lens "replacing"
    your 70-200.
    Maybe I'm not using this beautiful lens to it's greatest abilities,
    - Will
  • edited January 2014
    Hi Will

    I've sold my 70-200 and literally the 85 has replaced it 100%. Occasionally I find it's not long enough, but you can always crop. Obviously everyone shoots differently, so the loss of focal length will not be ideal for everyone.

    I don't honestly find the focussing particularly slow and it's deadly accurate (the 70-200 is faster than almost anything). It's the G version - the D that I used to have often struggled to lock focus in low light.

    To shoot wide open, the trick is to use AF-C.

  • In using a 85mm f1.4, will a FF camera vs a crop frame camera give noticeable differences? So much so that it warrants getting the FF? I have done some research online of course...Opinions vary greatly as to whether the benefits of a FF are significant enough to warrant it.
  • edited January 2014
    The depth of field with an 85mm f/1.4 is the same on full frame as it is on APS.

    The difference is that you only get the middle part of the image on an APS relative to FF.

    The depth of field difference between the two formats is as a result of the fact that you would normally use a longer focal length lens on FF for any given set of circumstances. Either that or a longer distance from subject to camera when using the same lens to achieve the same composition.
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