Lences reviews

AF-S Nikon 85mm f/1.8G review

85mm f/1.8G suits perfectly for those who are not afraid of moving fast in pursuit of a good photo and who does not have a fat purse. In fact, the same can be said about any other prime lens (except specific macro and DC lenses). Buying a prime lens you buy optics that are better and, certainly, not worse in any way, in quality than expensive professional lenses, as for its price, it is low-cost or below the medium price bracket.

85mm f/1.8G is just the case in point. It is a simple lens without expensive ED and aspherical elements that increase the price of lenses production considerably, and, nevertheless, it is one of the sharpest lens and maybe it is the sharpest lens among all 85 mm prime lens that I have ever held in my hands. The sharpness is remarkably high on the cameras without an anti-aliasing filter like D810.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is fully compatible with all digital cameras of Nikon. In spite of the fact that the lens is created for FX-cameras, it is possible to use it on crop cameras, for example, D7100/D7200. Besides, there is an AF-S focus on the lens and that means that even the owners of the most low-cost cameras such as D3300/D5500 and others can take photos with this lens without any problem.

For portraiture

85mm f/1.8G suits ideally for an open-air portrait photography. That is why if you belong to those who adore making open-air portraits (like me) you will fall in love with this prime lens and here is why.

There is no distortion as such. That is why if you do not like distortion at 50mm f/1.8G, you should draw your attention to this prime lens. As for me, I am absolutely in comfort with distortion at 50mm f/1.8G as not every photographer can notice it by eye in the photo, let alone those who are far from the photography and design.

85mm f/1.8G is sharp all along the whole photo. The sharpness is practically the same from the center of the photo to its edge which is very important for the portrait and studio photography. Together with this, if the aperture is wide open you should make sure that the focus is in the place where it should be. Do it not only with this lens but with any high-aperture lens (at D750/D810 it is possible to fix the central joystick button for 100% zoom effect, which is very convenient). If your photo taken with 85mm f/1.8G is not sharp for any reason, most likely you have done something wrong or you should adjust your lens or camera (we will write about that soon).

Bokeh is not bad but not ideal. That is why if you want the background to be even fuzzier you’d better buy 85mm f/1.4G. And the fans of hardcore need a special portrait lens of a DC-series such as 105mm f/2D.

For everyday photography

If the focal distance is not important for open-air photography, I mean it is not crucial if you make two or five steps back, such a focus is not very convenient indoors especially on a DX-camera. That is why if the majority of your children’s photos or concerts is taken in a small dark room you’d better think about buying 50mm f/1.8G or 35mm f/1.8G. The same concerns a studio photography, not every studio can give you enough space for action.

Well, if you know that 85 mm is what is really missing in this life then no small room would stop you.

What to buy else

Filters with the diameter of 67 mm are suitable for the lens. That is why if you are afraid to make the lens dirty you’d better buy a security filter.

We recommend you to buy also a neutral filter to decrease a time exposure to 1/200 or even lower in order to make open-air portraits with a source of light, for example, with a flash.

It is not necessary to buy a lens shade, you do not need it. The lens does not catch the plashes of sunlight.


85mm f/1.8G suits ideally for portraiture, that is why if you feel that something is missing in relation to portraits, draw your attention to this lens. It has everything to make a portrait of high quality starting from the high sharpness to the absence of distortion and bokeh.

Probably in relation to DX-cameras 85mm f/1.8G will not be an ideal variant due to the angle of view but if you take the majority of photos in the open air, not indoors, it would not be an obstacle for you. As an alternative you can consider 50mm f/1.8G (for FX) or 35mm f/1.8G (for DX).

If you are not comfortable with a bokeh on 85mm f/1.8G, then you will certainly like 85mm f/1.4G or 105mm f/2D, but they are much more expensive.

24-70mm f/2.8G or new 24-70mm f/2.8E will suit more to those who need not only quality but versatility, for example, they will suit to wedding photographers.

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