Steve - Although I have no personal experience with either here is "the Man's" viewpoint. He has a great & informative site.
Good Luck Jim Momary
Here is Ken Rocwell's comparison from
the - Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D Test Review Â© 2004 KenRockwell.com Introduction This is a popular AF lens and rightfully so. It's inexpensive and very good.
It has six elements in six groups.
It focusses as close as 0.85m or three feet.
It is 2.8" (71mm) around by 3.1" (78mm) long. It weighs 13 oz. or 415g.
It takes 62mm filters and comes with a nice metal HN-23 hood.
It has a lovely 9 bladed diaphragm stopping down to f/16
It has no distortion.
The s&les I've seen have nice metal filter threads.
A screw-in metal hood is included with the lens.
Its sharp at every aperture, and especially at f/1.8.
AF speed is super fast on the F100 and F5.
It tends to autofocus a tad closer than it should on my F100. This shouldn't be much of an issue in practical photography.
From the little I've used this lens, the Bokeh is fairly poor.
This is a lens to get if you don't have an 80-200/2.8 zoom. The zoom tends to be as sharp and almost as fast, so they tend to overlap in capability.
At only $320 US brand new this is a magnificent lens on all fronts.
the - Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF Test Review Â© 2003 KenRockwell.com
This is a very, very good lens. It is made with the same sturdy mechanics as the 28mm f/1.4D AF and 20-35mm f/2.8D AF.
It has nine elements in eight groups.
Close focus is three feet or 0.85m.
It has a 77mm filter thread, is 3.1" (79mm) diameter by 2.9" (74mm) long and weighs 20 oz. (560 g).
It has a nice, curved nine-bladed diaphragm that gives a circular, not polygonal, opening from f/1.4 through about f/5.6. It stops down to f/16.
A nice metal screw-in metal HN-31 hood is included.
There is an AF/MF selection ring on the lens barrel, just like the other AF Nikkor lenses of similar vintage and quality. This lens was introduced in the mid 1990s.
It has no distortion.
AF speed is very fast on my F100. It's about the same or a hair slower than the extremely fast 85mm f/1.8D AF.
Autofocus accuracy seemed pretty good, making use at f/1.4 reasonable for sharp results.
Bokeh seems good, too, for backgrounds.
This is a tough call because the 85mm f/1.8D AF is also so good, so why spend three times as much for 2/3 stop?
It has better bokeh than the f/1.8 version, is built much more like a tank, takes today's standard 77mm filters and seems to have better AF accuracy than the f/1.8 model allowing you to make good use of the maximum aperture.
On the other hand, I don't have an 85mm f/1.8D AF because it's not much faster than my 80-200 f/2.8 and I'm out of room in my bag. In this case, f/1.4 certainly is a lot faster than f/2.8, so that makes it more of a temptation.
Personally, I don't do much available light hand held shooting with an 85mm. Remember that you loose a stop or two of low-light ability compared to a 50mm or 28mm f/1.4 because of the longer focal length. You can shoot successful at slower speeds with a wide angle lens.
So, if you want a fast 85mm it's a winner. It's on my list of lenses that I want, but since I personally have no legitimate need for it it's unlikely I'll get one.