Yeah its kinda hard to get some sort of accurate comparison when you just shoot a few frames at the camera store. Much different than owning multiple samples (and having access to a few more) and doing a few rounds of controlled testing to really show what the lenses are all about. FWIW, from 5.6 on you could have any Nikkor 85 and they'll look nice and sharp, its what happens near wide open (and what you need the lens to do) that shows the difference. Compared the ends of the extremes, the 1.4 at F2 is already a sharper and 'cleaner' look than the F2 at F2, and even both at 2.8 the 1.4 still really shines in direct comparison, but both shot on different days and conditions the difference would be challenging to pinpoint. Its truly a testament to the F2 actually, once you get into the middle stops you'd certainly think that it was pretty darn good (and it is). Just on build quality alone I'd choose a 1.8 over the F2, some of the F2's Ai series have the potential to fall out of adjustment and the excessively fiddly internal construction means it can take a bit to repair it right. Also, the really long focus throw of the Ai 85 f2 makes it slower to focus, the Ais has a much shorter throw which I like.