Price of 85mm primes?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Can anyone illuminate me as to why the lenses of 85mm focal length reach such extravagant prices nowadays? I was checking prices around, and for the Takumars in M42 mounts, the 85 reach at least twice the price of 105 ones. Is it just a question of rarity or were they already expensive to produce?
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I've noticed the same thing. It's why I don't have one.:mad:

    And, I don't know why, either.:confused: Possibly it's the same reason a 50mm f/1.4 costs more than a 50mm f/1.8. The 85s generally are faster than the longer lenses.

    I do, however, own the 105 Takumar. :smile:
     
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I found some old Pentax ads and the spotties with 50mm f1.8 (55mm?) was the mid-range model, while the ones with f1.4 were more expensive (same body). I have quite a problem figuring out why Pentax would make two nearly-identical products with comparable prices. I suspect the lens designs were different, but it smells like booby-trap.

    I was looking at the 85mm because I was wondering if it was worthy to shop for a shorter telephoto than 135mm for portraits. I have a f2.8 Asanuma 135mm, so that gives me quite a useful narrow DOF, but I wonder if it's worth the slightly shorter focal length. Perhaps weight would be a good reason to get another Tak...
     
  4. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I would guess a 105/1.8 or 1.4 would be very expensive. so it's not only the length but the speed that you need to consider as well. It gets very costly to produce fast telephotos.
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I have 85 and 105's and I do use both. The biggest difference I notice is the working distance (rather than the perspective noticed in the pictures taken with either). A 135 would require that extra bit of working distance again. Ok if you've got the space, a problem if you don't!
     
  6. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    For what it is worth, I use the 105 as my normal lense. What it delivers to my negative is almost exactly as I see my subject with my naked eyes.
    Don't know if this works for others. The 105 mm has been my choice for many years on several brands of 35mm cameras. I have never found a use for a 135mm as it is either too long or too short, and I hate the DOF.

    Charlie..........................
     
  7. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    The absolute best deal in 85 is with the zeiss lenses, you can get a good 85 1.4 for about 400$ or a 2.8 for $200. Many people say it (1.4) is the finest lens in their lineup.
     
  8. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I am keeping my eye out for 85 primes after getting a Jupiter 9 for my Kiev. I would love to get a non AI 85/2 Nikkor but they are thin on the ground and not cheap, same goes for an OM 85.

    Bill
     
  9. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I know that in the Canon line ups, some lenses are more fashionable than others - and quite often that has a great effect on going prices. Sometimes this "fashion" is justified, some times it seems to be but a whim. Although in the FD line up, the 85mm is quite inexpensive - while the EOS moun lenses are comparatively pricey. Perhaps the adaptability to digital uses plays a role here as well - it is a huge market.
    I assume that in other manufacturers line ups, there is a lot of that going on as well. That and generally the 85's are the last tele you can get in near standard lens speeds without having to harvest one's body organs... After that, the price of admission sky-rockets or the lenses are much slower.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I'm mainly interested in portraits, and I have both 85 and 100mm prime lenses Michel , I bought the 100mm first because I thought at the time that as well as a portrait lens it would also be a useful medium telephoto, which proved to be true except in my very small studio, as Nige says, I had problems with the working distance to get far enough back to get a head to waist shot for example.
    Once I tried the 85mm f1.8 I found the way that it rendered perspective to be perfect for portraits, this type of optic is usually designed to give it's best performance at the wider apertures which lets you throw the background out of focus and still have sharpness in your sitter. The price of 85s I think is partly rarity, but also because of economy of scale, in that they probably sell a hell of a lot more100mm lenses and even more 135mm which makes them cheaper.
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The 85 has usually been a few dollars more than the 100 / 105, and not as common.

    Even the 105 has had a general rise in popularity: for most shooters the 135 was more common 30 years ago.

    The classic 'blueprint' for an 85 was the Sonnar made for the Contax rfdr in the '30s. The uncoated lens, almost 70 years old, is still formidable. It's spiritual descendants grew in two directions: f/2 lenses, and FASTER !

    My favorites in the f/2 class ( for SLRs ) are the Nikkor MF 85/1.8s in all their variety, the current Canon EF 85/1.8, and the Jupiter 8. Any one of which is a bargain, and a wonderful performer. The Jupiter comes as a pre-set M42 mt., and is as close to being free as is possible. And any generation 90 Summicron is a lovely lens.

    In the fast f/1.5 - f/1.4 class, it's pretty safe to say any early 1950's f/1.5 ( like Leica's Summarex or the Nikon f/1.5 ) are pretty inferior by objective and strict lab standards. In other words, they have immense potential if you shoot faces. At f/1.5 the Summarex is soft, but not grotesque; by f/4 they are show detail at a good contrast. The Nikon is a bit better, being a postwar design. They are both rfdr lenses, both highly collectable, and a little extreme for normal taste. Love 'em.... or hate 'em !

    For SLR 85 f/1.4, it seems every one ever made is superb. EVERYBODY made one ( OK, Canon is f1.2 ) and they are all ... great. But they are all relatively new lenses.

    As a tool, all 85s have a special look, neither normal nor long. Get one and see, and live in a much better world than some interrmediate setting between 80 and 200 on a zoom.

    .
     
  12. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I love my 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor (the last version before autofocus). I bought it and the 105mm f/2.5, but the 85 seems to spend a lot more time mounted and in use...
     
  13. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

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    The Nikon 105mm/f1.8 AIS goes for approximately the same money as 105mm f/2 DC or 135mm f/2 DC ... and about three times as much as a 85mm f/1.8. 85mm 1.4 and 105mm f/2 cost the same and are ridiculously good pieces of glass.

    Manual focus Nikon 85mm-s (at least the f/1.8 and f/2 ones) are not actually expensive.
     
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  15. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have the Takumar 85 1.8 42mm and in the past had the AIS Nikon 85 1.4. I have not checked out the current price of a Nikon 85, but in terms of Pentex my best guess is that the Takumar 85 was not made in great numbers and was for most part used for available light work by photo journalists hence the current price. In the 60s and 70s it was not unusual for camera stores to sell kits, body, 50mm, 35mm, and 135mm, lots of 35 and 135 on the market. The 135mm is the next to the lest useful lens that I own, too long for portrature and too short as a telephoto. Pentex also made a 150mm Takumar which I find to be even less useful that the 135. My workhorse Takumar is the 105 2.8.
     
  16. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    It's pretty interesting to see that the 85mm length is never seen in slower speeds. While I can find a 135mm f3.5 for peanuts, there isn't such a thing as an 85mm f3.5.

    Bentley, you make an interesting observation by pointing out that this focal works best at large aperture. That explains the price question nicely: the only reason to manufacture this focal would be to use it with a large aperture, which in turn commands a premium because of the technical effort needed to make a large aperture telephoto.

    I've looked at the Jupiter-9 and they seem very tempting (I can only use M42 in 35mm). They're still in production but the company that manufactures them accepts only Western Union or similar payments over the Internet, and it feels a bit unsafe. Most *bay sellers I've seen are from the FSU as well, so postage is a premium. Does anybody recommend anyone for the J9 ?
     
  17. Shawn Mielke

    Shawn Mielke Member

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    Yes, the 85mm f1.4 is to be the next lens on my F6. It is to become my "normal" lens!
     
  18. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    From what I understand the Jupiter 9 does not have rear pin for autostop down and must be used as a preset. If you are unable to locate a Jupiter 85mm you may want to consider a 105.

    Paul
     
  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Check a seller's feedback. If they have sold a hundred lenses with no problem,
    they are safer than your corner camera shop.
     
  20. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    85s and 90s in slow speeds were common in the rangefinder world. I had both a 85 2.8 Monolta and a 90 3.5 Litz in Leica SM.

    Paul
     
  21. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

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    Rollei introduced a 80mm f/2.8 for their RF35 a couple of years ago and it also comes with a special adapter (expensive) for Nikon F. Its not precicely cheaper than Nikon 85mm f/1.4, even without the adapter.

    [it is also the first zeiss lens for nikon f in a way ;-)]
     
  22. polaski

    polaski Member

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    85mm primes and why they might be expensive

    1. They are relatively rare.
    2. With 35mm film, they offer a near ideal perspective for portrait work. Just the right reduction of foreshortening without flattening aspect.
    3. With digital SLRs that have a 1.5 magnification factor, they are the equivilent of the 135mm prime, which is great for street and landscape work.
    4. They are relatively fast lenses.
    5. They are compact in size.
    6. Think about points 2, 3, 4 and 5 above, and then reread point 1.

    I put my money where my mouth is: I'm going to a lot of trouble and expense to have a Pentax-M 85mm f/2.0 overhauled so that it will work properly with my new *ist DS.
     
  23. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Nikon also made an 80mm f2.8 for a couple years in the early 1980's. It was one of the two AF lenses for the F3AF (also works on the N2020 and F4).
     
  24. mawz

    mawz Member

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    You can't turn a Pentax-M into a KA lens (for full function on a DS), unless you plan to replace the entire aperture mechanism. K and M lenses are prograssive aperture while KA lenses are linear aperture, in addition to the other differences in the mount and aperture ring.

    Frankly, M42 screw mount lenses work better on the Pentax DSLR's, as you get full aperture priority in Av as well as the stop-down/hypermanual in M.
     
  25. 127

    127 Member

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    I've been looking at fast Canon EF primes recently, and the 85mm f/1.8 is about £200 - one of the cheaper ones (I got the 100mm f/2 for £250). On the other hand it is horrendously more expensive than the 55 f/1.8. Going the other way, the 35mm F/2 and 28mm f/1.8 even more expensive at over £300 - particulary painfull for the digital crowd, as they need a 28 or 35mm to match the standard 55mm fov.

    The only other cheap(ish) prime is the 28mm f/2.8, but I don't see much point in spending cash on a prime that's no faster than the zoom - I figure if I can only afford a f/2.8 I should put the cash away and wait, rather than jump for a prime that's only one stop better than a crappy kit zoom.

    Looking at the Canon range, if you want a prime other than 55mm then it gets expensive fast.

    Ian
     
  26. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    What I would like explained is why the Canon EF 85mm f1.8 is generally regarded as an excellent lens (and I have seen first hand evidence to that end), while the FD version is by all accounts a complete dog...