Yesterday I went to the Nikon showroom and tested both the lenses with 5500 and 5300 bodies. Not sure which lens was mounted on which one though.

There were florescent yellow bulbs in the shop, no/minimum daylight, and the result was visibly different at f/1.8 of both lenses.

With 50mm the girl's fair face was shown as brown. She seemed to have brown patches on the face whereas with 85mm girl's face looked as fair as she was in reality.

I want to know whether this was just my misconception or is there a noticeable low light picture quality difference between 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 Nikon?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that it likely matters in this regard, but exactly which Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and which Nikon 85mm f/1.8? There have been several versions of each. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 18, 2017 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, both are G. @MichaelClark \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 8:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really an answer, so not posting it as such - but in this type of situation testing both lenses on the same camera would have eliminated any other factors. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 18, 2017 at 8:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ maybe you just got different exposure metering/WB swapping lenses/cameras. only very bad defects can produce such difference. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ okay, this time, I will take my own camera and then test the lenses. Thanks. @aaaaaa \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 8:38

2 Answers 2


Hard to tell, but most likely it's nothing to do with the lenses and everything with the camera settings. DSLRs, especially when on automatic modes, tend to try to do a lot of colour compensation for you. And when shooting in incandescent light, there's a distinct yellow tint to the light that the camera, when not set at the proper metering for incandescent light (which is not the default setting) will try to compensate for by introducing a filter. Depending on the composition of the shots, what's there in the background, resulting exposure, etc. etc. this can lead to different colour casts in different shots.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark Sorry, I just know that there was yellow light in room, don't know the type of bulb. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AquariusTheGirl Without knowing what light you are shooting under it is very difficult to evaluate a lens, especially for color characteristics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 18, 2017 at 8:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark how do i identify the light type? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 9:12

If you are shooting under fluorescent lighting, you can use the same camera, the same lens, the same exact settings, etc. and still get varying results. That is because fluorescent lighting flickers.

As the alternating current powering the lights reverses polarity the intensity, color temperature, and spectrum of the light will change. In most countries the alternating current is running at either 50Hz or 60Hz which means the lights are flickering 50 or 60 times per second.

If you use a high enough shutter time you can even see the effect from one side of the frame to the other in the same shot. The shorter the shutter time the more noticeable the effect can be. It will still vary from one shot to the next depending on where the current supplying the light(s) is in its sine wave when the exposure is started. Shutter times more than about 1/2X the frequency of the electrical current powering the light will show this effect (i.e. 1/100 second for 50Hz, 1/125 second for 60Hz).

This is due to the way focal plane shutters expose the frame by moving a narrow slit across the sensor or film and the entire frame is not exposed at the same exact time. As you make the shutter time longer this reduces the effect. But frame to frame difference can be seen even at shutter times only a little shorter than the entire cycle of the lights' flicker (i.e. 1/60 second for 50Hz, 1/80 sec for 60Hz).

  • \$\begingroup\$ i would add, it has some effect only if you are shooting at high shutter speeds, 1/500-1/1000 or higher. at 1/60? for example, flicker should average out over cycle \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aaaaaa I get it very often in sports stadiums with shutter times as low as 1/200 second. It is true that the effect from one side of the same frame to the other is made worse by shorter shutter times. But the effect on color and intensity is still there from one frame to the next frame at slower shutter speeds. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 18, 2017 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't know, thanks for the info. i found this example, when exposure is constant the-digital-picture.com/Photography-Tips/flickering-lights.aspx \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, and all eight of those examples were taken with the exact same settings. I've covered the concept in greater detail in this answer: photo.stackexchange.com/a/71226/15871 \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 18, 2017 at 23:55

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