The Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S becomes the second prime lens for Nikon’s full-frame Z-series mirrorless cameras with a bright focal ratio of f1.2 which allows for good background isolation and blur – hopefully with a smooth Bokeh. A popular focal length for wedding and portrait photography it gathers a bit over two times the light of its smaller sibling the Z 85mm f1.8 S.
Physically, the Z 85mm f1.2 S is much larger and heavier than the Z 85mm f1.8 S or the AF-S 85mm f1.4G (even after adding the FTZ adapter). Compared to Nikon’s other f1.2 Z-Nikkor, the Z 50mm f1.2 S, it’s about 1cm shorter but also 1cm wider – while the weight of both lenses is comparable: Mount it on a Z 9 and you’ll be lugging 2.5kg (5.5lb.) around. What both f1.2 Z-Nikkors also have in common is an additional function button, but the new Z 85mm f1.2 S misses the OLED display and the “ARNEO” anti-reflective coating. Btw: Nikon will probably let the next 35mm Z-Nikkor (which is already on the roadmap) complete their trinity of f1.2 lenses.
The Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S is made in China and listed at 3349 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 2797 USD / 2999 GBP. PS – if you’re interested in the other Z-Nikkors in Nikon’s line-up with the same bright focal ratio of f1.2 or focal length of 85mm check out my in-depth Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S review and Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S review.
Facts and features
Let’s compare the Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S to the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S, Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.4G (“F-Nikkor” for short) which can still be used via FTZ adapter, and the Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm f1.2 (“Mitakon”) which is available in Z-mount but is manual focus only. Regarding size and weight I’ve also included some other lenses. As usual I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a  if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage.
Size (diameter x length): 103 x 142mm (4.1 x 5.6in.). Adding 65mm for the lens hood gives a total length of 207mm which is comparable to Nikon’s Z 50mm f1.2 S but much longer than Canon’s RF 85mm f1.2 L USM. The Z 85mm f1.8 S is only 75 x 99mm + 50mm lens hood, the F Nikkor is 87 x 84mm w/o lens hood + 31mm for the FTZ adapter, the Mitakon is 83 x 117mm + 51mm lens hood. So the Z 85mm f1.2 S is indeed a large lens: Especially its girth at the focus ring is quite daunting. [-]
Weight: 1160g (40.9 oz.) plus 95g for the lens hood. The Z 85mm f1.8 S is 467g + 35g lens hood, the F Nikkor is 595g w/o lens hood + 133g for the FTZ adapter, the Mitakon is 955g + 45g lens hood. The weight of the Z 85mm f1.2 S seems on the pretty heavy side but is in fact comparable to Canon’s RF 85mm f1.2 L USM, the Z 50mm f1.2 S, or the Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 and Sigma Art 85mm f1.4 DG HSM. 
Optics: The Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S has 15 elements in 10 groups including 1 special dispersion element and 2 aspherical elements. The Z 85mm f1.8 S has 12 elements in 8 groups, the F-Nikkor is a 10/9 design, the Mitakon is 9/6. Unlike the Z 50mm f1.2 S the Z 85mm f1.2 S does not employ Nikon’s “ARNEO” anti-reflective coating but relies on Nano-coating alone to reduce flare, glare and ghosting. [+]
Minimum object distance / maximum magnification: 0.82m (2.5ft.) in manual focusing with a magnification of 1:7.8 which is not much but similar to the other Nikkors in this comparison. The lens achieves a magnification of 1:10 at a distance of 0.99m. The Mitakon cannot achieve a higher magnification than 1:10 (at 1.05m). 
Filter-thread: 82mm. The Z 85mm f1.8 S needs 67mm filters, the F-Nikkor and the Mitakon take 77mm filters. 
Image stabilization: None of the lenses in this comparison offers optical stabilization. But Nikon’s Z full-frame bodies provide built-in sensor-shift stabilization for Z-Nikkors over 5 axis (plus an optional electronic stabilization in video mode) which has proven to be quite effective. The F-Nikkor and the Mitakon also profit from sensor based image stabilization but only over 3 axis: roll, pitch, and yaw. 
Auto focus: Yes with built-in AF drive, just like the Z 85mm f1.8 S. Manual-focus override is by simply turning the dedicated focus ring. The focus ring has a mildly variable gearing covering the focus range in 40 degrees when turned quickly and about 180 degrees when turned slowly. This – together with the limited AF-speed in Movie Mode – makes smooth focus pulling easier than with the Z 85mm f1.8 S wich has a much more variable gearing. The Mitakon is manual focus only. [+]
Display: No, the Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S does not features the OLED display of the Z 50mm f1.2 S or some other S-class lenses. 
Aperture ring and other control elements: Like many Z-Nikkors the Z 85mm f1.2 S has a slim multi-function control ring at the back of the lens in addition to the dedicated focus ring. The control ring can be assigned to operate the aperture (which is the default), exposure compensation, or ISO sensitivity – or simply switched off. The Z 85mm f1.8 S has no dedicated focus ring but its broad function ring automatically falls back to focusing when the lens is switched to MF. The Z 85mm f1.2 S also has an AF/MF switch and an extra L-Fn button on the lens which can be assigned many different functions e.g. AF-lock. [+]
Lens profile: The new Z-Nikkor comes with a lens profile which can be controlled from the camera. Vignette control offers the usual options of High, Normal, Low and Off. Diffraction compensation and Auto distortion control can be activated or deactivated. That’s the same as with the Z 85mm f1.8 S. [+]
Covers full frame/FX or smaller. Same with the Z 85mm f1.8 S. [+]
Price: 3349 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 2797 USD / 2999 GBP which is about 500 EUR higher than Canon’s RF 85mm f1.2 L USM. The Z 85mm f1.8 S currently goes for 830 EUR / 800 USD / 770 GBP. The F-Nikkor is 1600 EUR/USD / 1700 GBP (and needs an FTZ adapter) and the Mitakon sells for about 500 EUR/USD/GBP. 
The lens comes with a flimsy pouch which has no strings to pull it close. So if you put the lens in your bag it might easily slip out of its pouch and bang around unprotected. This is simply unacceptable for a lens costing north of 2500 EUR/USD. The lens hood is included and locks in place to avoid accidentally falling off plus it is reversible for transport. 
Sealing: yes, a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction, just like the Z 85mm f1.8 S. But no fluorine-coating on the front element to repel water, dust, and dirt and make cleaning easier. [+]
The score in the “features-department” is 1[-]/7/6[+]. The new Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S is very big and quite heavy and comes with a not insubstantial asking price. The feature set is OK with full weather sealing and an L-Fn button. But the most important property of this lens certainly is the very bright focal ratio of f1.2 which gathers a bit over one stop more light than the Z 85mm f1.8 S which lets you shoot at shorter shutter speeds and/or lower ISO and also gives better subject isolation and – hopefully – a better Bokeh too.
Focus accuracy and repeatability is critical to consistently produce sharp shots. Repeatability (the accuracy of focus on the same subject after repeated focus-acquisition) of this lens is very good (measured 99.2% in Reikan FoCal) with no outliers over a series of 40 shots. There is no focus variation whether the lens focuses from a closer distance or from infinity but there’s the occasional hunting when AF starts with the focus being far off target. But this is to be expected. The lens focuses in around 0.7 sec from infinity to 0.99m (1:10 magnification), only a tad slower than the Z 85mm f1.8 S.
The focus ring is 28mm wide. Its surface is rubberized, rotation is a bit stiff. AF-operation of the lens is audible from the outside but not enough to disturb your seatmate in a theater. If you record video with the built-in microphone the AF-drive produces a whirring noise when you force the lens to focus fast e. g. by using the AF-ON button or manual focusing. If you use Full-time AF the camera reduces focus speed to a level where it emits no sound. This is similar to the Z 50m f1.2 S. If you use the control ring on the lens to change the aperture this works smoothly and without noise in video mode.
As you pull focus, you’ll notice some focus breathing: When I adjusted the focus from infinity to 0.99m on the Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S I measured a 9% increase in magnification. This can be distracting when shooting videos but is still better than the 13% of the Z 85mm f1.8 S. The Z 50mm f1.2 S shows much less breathing at 1.5%.
Next check out my quality results!Check prices on the Nikon Z 85mm f1.2 S at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!