The AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR was Nikon’s first macro-lens designed specifically for DX-bodies. And it’s only the second macro lens that offers image-stabilization following its larger cousin, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. As an AF-S model, it’ll autofocus on any Nikon body, but again it’s only optically-corrected for DX-format DSLRs.
Announced in 2009, the AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED VR is one of the six macro-lenses that Nikon currently offers. It’s the second cheapest of the bunch and one of only two macro lenses from Nikon which are specifically designed for DX format bodies, the other being the AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G.
Mounted on a DX-body, the 85mm becomes equivalent to 128mm, so in addition to offering 1:1 macro close-ups it doubles up as a mild telephoto. It can certainly be useful for portraiture, although the effective focal length means you may be a little further from your subject than you’d prefer; but conversely the longer focal length means you don’t need to get as close to subjects for decent macro reproductions. In this review I’ll take a look at Nikon’s only stabilized macro-lens specifically designed for DX bodies, and find out whether it delivers good performance.