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Nikon 85 1.8g review

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85 mm lenses are often used for “classic portraits”, but I don’t want to limit their applicability only by portraiture. For a long time I had a set of 35 mm and 85 mm lenses in my bag – it was enough for the majority of tasks of the amateur photographer.  I shot portraits rare and successfully used 85 mm as a moderate telephoto lens.

nikon 85 1.8g image 1

The hero of this review – Nikon 85mm 1.8g is a relatively new model: the lens was announced in January and went on sale in March 2012.  Today the range of full-frame Nikon 85 mm lenses consists of 5 models:

– Nikon Nikkor AF 85/1.8 D – 450 dollars;

– Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85/1.8 G – 500 dollars;

Nikon Nikkor AF 85/1.4 D IF – 960 dollars;

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85/1.4 G – 1650 dollars;

Nikon PC-E micro Nikkor 85/2.8 D – 1830 dollars.

There are manual Zeiss Planar T 85/1.4 ZF.2 (1285 dollars), Samyang/Rokinon/Bower 85/1.4 (300/285/255 dollars) and a good autofocus Sigma AF 85/1.4 EX DG HSM (970 dollars) for owners of full-frame Nikon cameras.

nikon 85 1.8g f1.8

 Nikon 85 1.8g F/1.8

Main characteristics of Nikon 85mm 1.8g:

-FX – the lens was designed for full-frame Nikon FX cameras

-AF-S – the lens has an internal auto focusing motor (auto focus works with all Nikon DSLR cameras)

-Focal length: 85 mm (for Nikon DX is 127.5 mm)

-Angle of view (diagonal): 28.5 degrees

-Optical scheme: 9 elements in 9 groups

-Aperture range: from F/1.8 to F/16, the lens doesn’t have an aperture ring

-Minimum focusing distance: 0.8 m

-Maximum magnification: 0,12 x

-Number of diaphragm blades: 7, rounded

-Filter size: 67 mm

-Dimensions: 80 x 73 mm

-Weight: 350 g.


Complete set of delivery:

  1. Lens
  2. Front cover Nikon LC-6
  3. Back cover Nikon LF-4
  4. Hood Nikon HB-62
  5. Case for storage Nikon CL-1015
  6. Manual
  7. Warranty card

 nikon 85 1.8g f2.2

Nikon 85 1.8g F/2.2

Design, ergonomics.

The lens body is made primarily from plastic, but manufacturing and materials of Nikkor 85mm 1.8g doesn’t cause any complaints.  Nikon 85mm 1.8g does not cause a sense of “budgetary” lens.

Nikkor 85 1.8g has features inherent to “prime” lens: metal bayonet mount, the window of distances, focus ring covered with grooved rubber, auto focus mode switch.  Moreover, the bayonet mount is equipped with a rubber gasket, which adds dust and moisture protection for a lens/camera connection.

Nikon 85mm 1.8g has an impressive front element, which does not rotate during focusing. I would advise you to use protective filters to prevent cracks on it.

Manual focus ring is located at the front of the lens cut; it rotates smoothly with uniform effort.  The ring rotation is about 120 degrees.

Nikkor 85mm 1.8g does not change its size during focusing.  Auto focus mode switch is located conveniently.

Nikon 85mm 1.8g doesn’t have distortion – this means that it is an ideal lens for a portrait photography, it doesn’t distort people’s faces.

Vignetting is present, which is typical for high-aperture lenses. But Nikkor 85mm 1.8g copes well with it.  Vignetting at F/1.8 is about 1.5 stops, at F/2.8 – 0.4 stops. At F/4 – F/16 vignetting not exceed 0.3 stops.

Nikon 85mm 1.8g has excellent sharpness characteristics. The center of the frame is good even wide opened, and excellent from f/2.8 to f/11.

The resolution at the edges and the corners of the frame in the range of f/1.8 – f/11 is “very good”, and in the range of f/4 – f/8 is “excellent”. The lens is sharp “edge to edge” on all working apertures.

nikon 85 1.8g f2.0

Nikon 85 1.8g F/2


The AF drive of Nikkor 85mm 1.8g uses an ultrasonic motor. The focusing process is almost silent, but not very fast – run from the minimum focusing distance to infinity and back takes about a second.

As for accuracy – the lens focuses on an object even in difficult lighting conditions. The percentage of AF misses is small, and most errors are caused by “camera operator”, especially at wide opened apertures.

Chromatic aberrations.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85/1.8 G copes well with chromatic aberrations even at f/1.8.

Picture, bokeh, backlight.

Nikon 85/1.8g forms images with high contrast and rich colors even from f/1.8. Bokeh is pleasant and attractive.

The lens does not tolerate to the location of the light source at the edges of the frame. The hood doesn’t always help.

nikon 85 1.8g f3.2

Nikon 85 1.8g F/3.2


I am very happy that I tested Nikkor AF-S 85/1.8 G and even made photos using it. I liked it very much. It is a really good lens with relatively low price. Nikon 85/1.8g completely justifies all money spent on it: the lens has excellent optical properties; it is able to generate an attractive image and lets you to shoot without thinking about the aperture value.

Nikkor 85mm 1.8g has disadvantages, they are: poor backlight resistance and not ultra fast autofocus speed.

I recommend Nikon Nikkor 85mm 1.8g for all portrait photographers; it has an excellent price/performance ratio.

Here are Nikon 85mm 1.8 g sample images.

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