Nikon 85mm f1.8G review
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The following images were taken with the Nikon AF-S 85/1.8G on a D800. Each image was recorded in RAW and converted with Lightroom 4 at camera standard settings. Noise-reduction is set to 0, sharpening to 70/0.5/36/10, no extra tone, color, or saturation adjustment was used. Some images have White Balance set to a standard daylight value to make them comparable. You can click on each image to access the large original. Please respect our copyright and only use those images for personal use.

The first image shows what you can achieve in a typical landscape situation. Not that many people think of a 85mm large aperture prime as a landscape lens. But I urge you to have a look at these results: The 85/1.8G is fully capable of producing images at infinity that are full of fine details and sharp right into the corners of a very high resolution FX-sensor. Very impressive!

Unremarkables: Infinity shot with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.8G on a D800
f5.6, 100 ISO; Below: 100% crops from main image at different apertures
f1.8, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
f4.0, 100 ISO

The next row shows 100% crops from the lower right corner. Apart from the vignetting it’s pretty astonishing how this lens performs even wide open!.

Unremarkables: corner performance with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.8G on a D800, 100% crops
f1.8, 100 ISO
f2.8, 100 ISO
f4.0, 100 ISO

My second shot, below, should give you an impression of the bokeh that this lens can produce wide open. Very important for applications like portraiture. The 50% crops are from the background, the sharpest point, and the foreground in the overall image and should demonstrate the very smooth rendering of out-of-focus elements. This is clearly better than the bokeh of the Nikon AF 85/1.8D. How the 85/1.8G performs against the mighty (and expensive) AF-S 85/1.4G will be shown in my upcoming 85mm primes shootout.

Tulips: bokeh shot with Nikon Nikkor 85/1.8G on a D800
Main image and all crops: f1.8, 100 ISO

Other images shot with this lens will be added to my flickr set here in full resolution. Have a look if you like.

Focus and build quality

Focus accuracy and repeatability is especially critical for large aperture prime lenses with their shallow depth of field. Repeatability (=accuracy of focus on the same subject after repeated focus-acquisition) is excellent with no outliers over a series of shots. The lens focuses reasonably fast: around 0.6 sec from infinity to 0.85m.

The focus ring of the 1.8G turns about 100 degrees from infinity to MFD. This throw is good enough for manual focusing (in live-view or movies), and there is no slack/play between the focus-ring and the focus-action. The movement of the focus-ring is smooth and AF-operation is quiet. This is supporting the general impression of good build quality that this lens conveys: High quality plastic combined with a metal lens-mount, weather sealing, and seven rounded aperture blades. But in comparison to the smaller and heavier 1.8D it feels a little like a bloated plastic construction.

Overall the latest Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8G delivers excellent value for money, which only leaves me to wrap things up in my Nikon Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8G verdict.


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