Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II review
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Verdict

Viltrox’s AF 85mm f1.8 II is an affordable short-telephoto lens for modern mirrorless cameras from Sony, Nikon and Fujifilm with the distinct feature of being the only third party lens to date which can autofocus on a Nikon Z camera body. It has good Bokeh and is pretty sharp – if you discount the field curvature which makes it not the ideal lens for distant or flat subjects. And there are other weaknesses too: there is no weather sealing, it has longitudinal CAs, focus breathing is pretty strong, autofocus is not very consistent, and it has low resistance against flare and glare in strong contra light.

Let’s put this into perspective and have a closer look at how the Viltrox compares to the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S and the Sony FE 85mm f1.8.

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Above: Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S (left), Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II (right)


Compared to Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S

Nikon’s Z 85mm f1.8 S is a very good performer in almost every aspect except for the far FX-corners at infinity. Its lack of color aberrations and purple fringing plus good resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting is clearly superior to the Viltrox. The Z Nikkor is also hardened well against the elements plus offers the nifty multi-function focus ring which can be assigned different tasks. And while the Bokeh of the Nikon lens is only slightly better than from the Viltrox and focus speed is not much different too, autofocus consistency of the Z Nikkor is much better: in my test it came within 5% of optimal focus each time while every 2nd or 3rd shot of the Viltrox was 10-15% off. All-in-all the better overall performance of the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S justifies the higher price over the Viltrox AF 85mm f1,8 II.

For more details see my Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S review where it earned a Highly Recommended.


Compared to Sony FE 85mm f1.8

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 has the advantage of being the smallest and lightest large aperture 85mm prime lens that autofocuses on Sony mirrorless cameras. It also has full weather sealing and a customizable focus-lock button. Performance-wise the Sony FE 85mm f1.8 does quite well but is behind the Viltrox in sharpness and it also has stronger colour aberrations.

For more details see my Sony FE 85mm f1.8 review where it earned a recommendation.

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Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II final verdict

The Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II is the cheapest large aperture 85mm lens with autofocus for Sony E-mount, Nikon Z-mount and Fujifilm X-mount. It has a good Bokeh and can render very sharp details – when focused optimally. But field curvature makes it more adept for portraiture than for shooting flat or distant subjects. And there are other weaknesses too: longitudinal CAs, strong focus breathing, missing weather sealing, and low resistance against flare and glare in strong contra light. But if you’re into portraiture and people photography those flaws might well be acceptable. With this caveat in mind I can still recommend the Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II.

Good points:

  • Very good resolution – if focused optimally.
  • Good Bokeh.
  • Low vignetting (through lens profile).
  • Low price.

Bad points:

  • Focus consistency is mediocre.
  • Strong focus breathing.
  • Field curvature mars performance on flat or distant subjects.
  • Longitudinal colour aberrations.
  • Low resistance against flare and glare.
  • No weather sealing.
  • Distortions are not completely corrected by built-in lens profile.
Check prices on the Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II at Amazon, B&H or Adorama. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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Viltrox AF 85mm f1.8 II

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