Best lenses for the Nikon D5300: Part 2 - portrait and landscapeBy Kevin Carter - Thursday January 23 2014 Lens Recommendations
Although in real terms it’s a small increase. Peak performance is achieved at f4 on the 85mm f1.4 and f5.6 on the f1.8 model but even then it can’t quite match the faster model’s sharpness.
Best performing model:
The best performing moderate telephoto on the D5300 is also the highest performing lens in the database, regardless of focal length. And at nearly $4,000, so it should be. As the equivalent of a 85mm lens on the D5300, the Otus 1,4/55 may seem well suited but keep in mind the lens is very large, about the same size as 135mm f2 or 24-70mm f2.8.
It’s also incredibly sharp at the initial aperture, and it may even be just too sharp for portraits, unless your model has flawless skin. In fact, wide-open it’s just slightly sharper in the center than either the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4 or the 85mm f1.8 at their optimum apertures. Maximal sharpness is achieved at f2.8-4, but even stopped down below that it has exceptional sharpness and uniformity. Lateral chromatic aberration is a little higher than we’ve seen previously on full-frame models although it is consistent with other APS-C camera models.
More in keeping with the modest price of the camera body itself, the manual focus only Samyang 85mm f1.4 Aspherical IF is a very good performer and is available for around $330. Wide-open at f1.4 it has similar sharpness and uniformity to the far pricier Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4 and with the exception of some soft corners at f2 it has good sharpness across the frame throughout the aperture range. Transmission is a little lower than expected but chromatic aberration is very low indeed.
Another good performer is the now discontinued Nikkor AF 85mm f1.8D – it lacks a built-in AF motor and useful real time manual override but once stopped down to f2.8 it has similar sharpness to the newer AF-S version. It can even boast lower CA and vignetting. If those models are a bit ‘long’, the old AF Nikkor 50mm f1.4D could be useful. Although officially replaced by the AF-S model it can still be found on dealer’s shelves for around $330. As an AF-D model it lacks the built-in AF actuator of the newer version but it’s good performer optically, particularly from f4 onwards.