on July 4, 2012
I was looking at the 85mm lens. I was torn between the 85mm f/1.8G lens and the 85mm f/3.5G Micro lens. While I enjoy taking macro/micro shots, I wanted a lens that was sharp and had good bokeh. I also wanted to use the lens for general photography. I was spoiled using my 40mm f/2.8G micro lens as it does a great job with both micro and general photography. I decided on the 85mm f/1.8G lens. I haven't looked back.
This 85mm f/1.8 is a sharp lens with beautiful bokeh. I use this lens with my Nikon D7000 which equates to a focal length of 127.5mm. It took awhile to get used to the distance or focal length. I usually have to take a step or two back to get the object/subject to focus.
I currently use the lens for florals and garden pictures. The pictures are sharp from f/1.8 through f/16. The bokeh is beautiful at f/1.8 through f/2.8. Creamy is the word that comes to mind. I've been really happy with the results from this lens.
I've posted some pictures in the gallery. There's a few florals (e.g. daylilies) and I also took some pictures of the packaging for this lens.
I'll be back to post any updates and additional pictures.
** Update 07/12/12 **
I've had the chance to use this lens over several days taking pictures for a VBS event at my church. This lens does an amazing job with portraits. I set my D7k to Aperture and f/4. The bokeh is beautiful. I like how my focused subject appears to pop out of my pictures. Love this prime lens even at 128mm (DX). I've figured out how far (distance) I need to stand away from my subjects. My pictures are very sharp! Great lens!
** Update 08/09/12 **
This has been my "go to" lens for the last several weeks. I'm using this lens for taking candid shots and portraits of people. I mentioned before that I have to take a step or two back when I compose my pictures. I love doing this as I don't appear to be intrusive with my camera. Sometimes folks don't even notice I'm taking their pictures.
I've been using this lens in low light and haven't been disappointed. I love the results I'm getting.
** Update 09/02/12 **
This lens is now on my camera full time. It has become my favorite fixed prime lens (over my 50mm, 40mm, and my 35mm). I'm still getting great results whether photographing inside or outside. My images are always coming out sharp with lovely bokeh.
** Update 09/23/12 **
I used this lens for a class photo shoot using my D7000. Set my aperture around f/4 and f/5.6. I was extremely pleased with the end results. Pictures were sharp. I'm having a blast with this lens!
** Update 11/10/12 **
I'm now a proud owner of the Nikon D600 full frame DSLR camera. I mounted this 85mm lens and what a beautiful combination. Now I know what other reviewers mean when they say it's a fantastic portrait lens. It truly is! I'm getting beautiful results and it's great to be able to use this lens as a true 85mm.
** Update 10/02/13 **
I had another opportunity to use this lens for another class photo shoot, but this time with my D600 camera. The portraits came out beautifully. Sharp pictures with lovely bokeh at f/4. No surprise that this lens and my D600...a great combination. One of the students peered at the back of my camera to see what the pictures looked like. Her comment: "Wow...the pictures are clear!"
on May 10, 2012
DESCRIPTION OF THE LENS FOR THE NOVICE OR BEGINNER
This lens is light, compact affordable, but produces very impressive results. I highly recommend the use of this lens for portrait, events and for landscape. Despite it being a fixed focal length and not being able to zoom, I highly recommend this lens for beginner Nikon dSLR users who own only the kit zoom lens that came with the camera. This lens allows you to shoot at low light and/or to blur the background of the subject of the photo. This prime lens is a safe, affordable and way to see for yourself how good a prime lens can be as against the kit zoom lens. It also shows what the other Nikon professional prime and professional lenses are capable of should you get serious in this hobby.
REVIEW OF THE LENS FOR EXPERIENCED USERS
What follows is a quick review is based on my use of this lens for around 2-weeks. It is intended for those already familiar with Nikkor's line of 85mm prime lenses but are wondering how this lens compare with the other Nikkor 85mm autofocusing lenses that Nikon makes. This review is based on my own copy of the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D, 1.8D, 1.4G and 1.8G.
AGAINST THE NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8D
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is bigger than the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D but is a bit lighter. Unlike the 85mm f/1.8D, this lens comes with a reversible hood which does a good job in protecting and shading the lens. With the hood reversed, the 85mm f/1.8G becomes much more compact than the 85mm f/1.8D with the hood installed. But with the hood installed, the wider lens barrel and the wider and longer hood makes the 85mm f/1.8G significantly bulkier than the 85mm f/1.8D.
Reflecting the bigger-sized lens, the 85mm f/1.8G uses a 67mm filter while the 85mm f/1.8D uses a 62mm filter. As the "G" suffix indicates, the 85mm f/1.8G does not have an aperture ring while the 85mm f/1.8D has an aperture ring (see notes below in the 85mm f/1.4D for the significance of this).
The older Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D have always been very sharp at the center and at the corners even when used wide-open but the new Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is stll a bit sharper still. Despite being bigger and wider, the 1.8G has slightly more vignetting wide open than the 1.8D but this quickly reverses in favour of the 1.8G from about f/2.5 onwards. The two areas where the 1.8G has improved significantly over the 1.8D is in having better bokeh and also having less purple fringing when shooting wide-open. The 1.8G focus speed is a bit faster on a D7000 than the 1.8D on the same body. In addition, the 1.8G autofocus is now consistently more precise and significantly quieter.
Priced reasonably, this 85mm f/1.8G lens can auto focus on Nikon bodies that do not have a built-in focusing motors (such as the Nikon D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D40, and D60). For those who use this focal length regularly, upgrading from the 1,8D to the 1.8G is easy to justify. For 1st time buyers of the 85mm lens, I highly recommend choosing the 1.8G over the 1.8D given the minimum price difference between these 2 lenses.
AGAINST THE NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is of the same width as the than the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D but is shorter and also significantly lighter by 200 grams. Unlike the 85mm f/1.4D, the 85mm 1.8G comes with a reversible hood which does a good job in protecting and shading the lens. Unlike the 85mm f/1.4D which uses a 77mm filter, the 85mm f/1.8G uses a 67mm filter.
Wide-open at f/1.8 to f/2.5, the new Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is sharper at the center, borders and at the corners than the 85mm f/1.4D. At f/2.8 and above, the 85mm f/1.4D improves considerably. The bokeh of the 85mm f/1.4D is still better and creamier but the 85mm f/1.8G is no slouch in this regard. There is also less purple fringing on the 1.8G than on the 1.4D used wide-open. Focus on the 85mm f/1.8G is a bit faster than the 85mm f/1.4D on a Nikon DX D7000 but the difference is small and insignificant. Focus precision between these two lenses are about the same but the 85mm f/1.8G focuses much quieter than the 85mm f/1.4D.
The primary advantage of the 85mm f/1.4D over the 85mm f/1.8G is primarily in it being 2/3 of a stop faster and it having an aperture ring. The 2/3 stop advantage is significant for still and video while the aperture ring is very helpful for use in video. The aperture ring is also particularly helpful in still photography when using this lens with an adapter on m4/3 and NEX bodies as it allows the use of precise, easily set and repeatable aperture settings. This is the reason why I still have the Nikkor 85mm 1.4D and 1.8D lenses even after getting the 2 new Nikkor 85mm 1.4G and 1.8G lenses.
For portrait photography where the subject is framed at or near the center, I would likely still opt for the 85mm f/1.4D but for anything else where the 2/3 stop advantage is not used, I would likely choose the 85mm 1.8G.
AGAINST THE NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
In terms of size, the 85mm f/1.4G is significantly bigger and heavier than the 85mm f/1.8G. Both lenses comes with reversible hood. The 85mm f/1.4G uses a 77mm filter while the 85mm f/1.8G uses a 67mm filter.
In terms of performance, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is better than the 85mm f/1.8G in all respects. The 1.4G is a bit sharper, has better bokeh, less vignetting at the same aperture setting, even less purple fringing, better flare resistance, better micro-contrast and richer color. It's very tough to compete against the 85mm f/1.4G when it comes to performance. Yet while the 85mm f/1.8G comes up a bit short, it comes in at a close second. At almost 3x the cost, it is not surprising that the 1.4G is better than the 1.8G. Whether one should get 1.4G or the 1.8G will depend on how much one is willing to pay more for the small performance difference. Consideration should also be given to the bigger size and weight of the 1.4G vs the 1.8G.
For someone who already has a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G, would it still make sense to get a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G? The answer is yes if one needs a smaller, lighter and more compact 85mm. I use this lens with my smaller Nikon DX bodies as well as with my Sony NEX and Panasonic GH2. The 1.8G smaller size and lighter weight would also be a very good match for the rumored upcoming Nikon full frame in a small body, the D600.
This lens took a 4 foot drop from the back of my SUV and bounced hard on concrete three times. I picked it up, horrified by what I might find. Not only did the lens still work perfectly but there wasn't a scratch on it. The lens hood has a single small scuff mark but that was all. A lens that can take this type of a beating without so much as a scratch deserves a review.
- This lens and the 50mm 1.8g are arguably the best value lenses that Nikon makes. The $100 instant rebates Nikon has been having on this lens recently make it a steal!
- Super, ridiculously sharp from 1.8
- Focus is silent, fast, and spot on with my D7000
- Beautiful bokeh
- 99% of the $1500 85mm 1.4G for 1/3 of the price.
- Override manual focus with a touch.
- Includes lens hood
- Perfect portrait lens for DX or FX.
- Made from durable, bounce off the concrete proof plastic instead of metal. Not sure if this is really a con.
I sold my $1000+ Nikon 85mm 1.4D and have never looked back. That lens focused slower, less accurate, and wasn't quite as sharp at 1.8. The only thing better about the 85 1.4D was that it was a hunk of solid metal and this lens is durable plastic. My pictures with the 1.8G are just as beautiful as the 1.4D. I don't regret selling the more expensive lens for one second after my experience with amazing lens.
on January 4, 2016
I love this lens. It doesn't leave my camera. Period. The only time it does is when I need to shoot a group of people and I'm in a cramped setting. But when I'm shooting a wedding, an engagement session, an athlete, a family or a child this lens absolutely cannot be beat. (Especially for the price). At the moment I'm trying to decide if I want to "upgrade" to the sigma 85mm 1.4 or the Nikon 85mm 1.4 but for the time being I absolute could not be happier. Get this lens!!!
(I shoot with a Nikon D610)
on October 15, 2012
lots of technical articles here so i'll keep mine short and sweet. if you're looking for a bokeh machine this is the lens for you. it's the perfect portrait lens for those who cant afford the more expensive 1.4 models. this lens is sharp at 1.8, but the bokeh is still smooth and creamy. it's got just the right amount of compression at 85mm, creating stunning portraits. when i'm doing head shots this is now my go to lens (used to be my nikon 50mm 1.8g). it's also perfect for baby/infant shots! i've loaded a few i've done in the images section if you'd care to look. it's not a good lens for full body or group shots, unless you've got a ton of room to work in, you'll have to move far back. but for one/two people headshots its just damn tough to beat. i find the autofocus to be very accurate, and acceptable in it's focus speed. love the color/contrast it produces, i'm always impressed with image quality. any negatives? well if you know what you're doing, then no. but for a novice shooter this can be a challenging lens to use. at f1.8 the depth of field is insanely shallow, you can have one eye in focus and one eye out of focus, especially if you get up close to your subject. if you're not careful where you focus you'll get alot of fuzzy out of focus shots. also, at 85mm it can be a tad tough to keep steady, so keep your shutter speeds up to avoid motion blur. but that's not the fault of the lens, and i did not factor it into my score. just noting some things to watch for if you're a novice shooter. i have no regrets with this lens, it's hands down my favorite lens. so if you're a portrait/baby shooter, get this lens, you wont regret it.
on January 11, 2013
Pictures are impressively sharp. Although on cropped sensor body the working distance required is a little bit more for indoors but that is fine with me as I bought this targeting to upgrade to full frame this year.
For people targeting to use it on cropped sensor bodies, its pretty good for outdoor but indoor will be a challenge. In case you want to use this indoor, consider 50mm 1.4 which comes around the same price and gives you better working distance indoors.
Have not compared with other prime lenses as this is my first one but quite satisfied with the focus speed. Bokeh is very soft and pleasing. Build quality is good plastic.
Overall a wonderful lens for a good gear.
Update (15th April 2015; after almost 2.5 Years now):
Pretty late, but believe better late than never. Had upgraded to D800E and trinity of 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 including 105... But in all of my collection, this little monster is the one which I love most. For indoors, I generally shoot with 24-70 as it gives me a good indoor range but as soon as I get a chance I mount this lens to get awesome portraits and mug shots. The amount of light that this little daemon can capture is amazing. Beautiful bokeh and awesome clarity. Though would love to upgrade to 1.4 but almost thrice the cost would better invest in a battery grip, extra flash and light meter first.
Recommendation: Awesome lens for indoors; be prepared to get a few steps back; amazing low light performance...
In reviewing the Nikon 85mm 1.8 I was torn between a technical review versus a practical review. I will go out on a limb and provide a practical review for this lens since every technical aspect of this lens has been covered by specialty sites, other photographers, and technicians, far more advanced than me.
As a part-time freelance professional, my lens selections are both critical and constantly shifting depending on my projects. I simply do not earn enough money part-time to justify spending thousands of dollars on a single prime lens or maintaining an inventory of lenses worth tens of thousands of dollars. Often, I will sell lenses I am not using so I can realign to my shifting needs. However, after using the Nikon 85mm 1.8g, this is one of two lenses (the other being the Nikkor 50mm 1.4g) I doubt will ever leave my bag.
The Nikon 85mm 1.8g is one of the best bargains and best performing lenses for beginners, hobbyists, advanced hobbyists, and real part-time pros (those that earn some money from their work). It is a very significant upgrade from any kit lens, which I always recommend you stay away from anyway if you intend on going advanced (mom and dad sideline shooters are fine with nearly any of the kit lenses though). My two main prime lenses I will never get rid of are the Nikkor 50mm 1.4g and the 85mm 1.8g. They effectively serve as my main portrait lenses (on a DX) due to their tack sharpness, low light capability, and bokeh (ability to blur background).
The Nikkor 85mm 1.8g lens is a quality build and provides 127 mm focal length on a DX sensor such as the D300s or D7100. Beginners should not get lost on the focal length "differences" between DX and FX sensors though. It is not as heavy as the Nikkor 85mm 1.4g (of course- the 1.4g is metal) but maintains a quality build by any measurement and many will appreciate the lighter weight and smaller size, especially on the smaller D600 body (compared to D800 or D4). Both come with a reversible lens hood whereas the 1.4d does not. The 1.4g does provide better low light performance, sharpness, flare resistance and richer color, but at 3x the cost. Regardless, the 1.8g comes in close second. Compared to the 85mm 1.4d, the 1.8g is both shorter and lighter while about as wide. The 1.8g also uses 67mm filters which are less expensive than the 77mm filter size of the 1.4d. Based on the small price difference between the 1.4d and g, I would definitely recommend the 1.8g. Compared to the 1.4g, I would still recommend the 1.8g due to cost savings. If money was not a factor, I would go with the 1.4g but to be honest, I am not at that level of shooting where I can leverage the performance differences consistently. However, it is these little performance differences between gear that add up and allow full time pro shooters to stand out from an every crowded field of aspiring professionals. If I was a full-time photographer, the 1.4g would definitely be in my kit. But, for far less, I believe the 1.8g provides about 95% of the performance that the 1.4g provides.
The primary use of my 85mm 1.8g is traditional and environmental or lifestyle portrait work. The sharpness is clearly noticeable as is the low light performance. The lens is very sharp even at f1.8 and only gets sharper from there (check f2.2!). Colors are rich and vibrant and focused subjects almost pop out of the picture. I found myself relying on this lens even more than my 50mm 1.4. The auto focus speed of the 1.8g on both a D300s and a D800 is incredibly fast and the manual focusing ring is smooth as butter with manual over ride in auto. Little to no distortion visible. I did notice some CA at f4 but Lightroom easily fixed this. Note, the CA was not constant and was limited to situations involving direct sunlight.
In short, unless you are Jeremy Cowart or someone similar making tens of thousands a shoot, the Nikkor 85mm 1.8g will serve you exceptionally well and most likely take your photography to a new level if you have the skills. Providing about 95% of the same performance (some say 99%) as the 1.4g, hands down, this is a winner of a lens and a new permanent fixture on my cameras.
on May 3, 2012
I have only had this lens for a little over 2 weeks but I want to say that so far, this lens has performed well above my expectation.
Sharpness - The lens is sharp even at f/1.8 but close it down to f/2.2 - f/4 and you'll have super sharp images.
Focusing - This lens focuses "perfectly". I used a few different test chart the very day I got the lens. I put the camera on a tripod and shot at different angles. I was expecting to have some shots that may be off of focus at least a bit but no, all my focus targets were hit right on. One thing that could be a deal breaker to some people is that it is not an ideal lens for sports or shooting fast moving objects. It focuses pretty fast except for when I tried shooting kids chasing each other around. But for people like me who shoot a lot of portraits, its focus is not a problem at all.
Lens construction - It is so light that it felt like I didnt have a lens on. This is very helpful when shooting for hours at a time. The lens body is made out of plastic but "I" personnaly dont think it is the cheapo type of plastic because I've hit my lens against a wall wall while shooting and didnt see any effect to it.
Bokeh - Just go to flickr and look for a group called "85mm 1.8g" and look at the images that they've uploaded.
Price - I think that this lens is the best bang for your buck. The overall quality of the lens is comparable to its f1.4 cousins but priced way less.
I give this lens a 5 star rating based on my personal experience with it even for a short period of time. I will come back and update this review if later on I find something that needs to be put up here.
on March 13, 2014
I extensively reviewed all four Nikon 85mm lenses (1.4g, 1.4D, 1.8g and 1.8D). Eventually, I settled on this 400$ piece of glass and here are the reasons why;
1. I was unable to tell the difference between the 1.4g and 1.8g. I tried very very hard to tell the difference and was unable to do so. I also find 1.4 f stop not a very useful f stop, unless I am shooting low light or/and at infinity. I also have a 50mm 1.4D, an older lens that I use for getting to f 1.4, when I need it. I personally doubt very much whether the 1200 $ difference between the 85mm 1.4 G and 1.8G is worth it.
2. The older 85mm 1.4d and 1.8d are reputedly more sturdy in construction than the new 85mm 1.8g. The focusing however on the 1.8g is more reliable and faster as per many reviewers I checked. I have not done these comparisons, but, I found the new 1.8g to be very fast and ultra-reliable in focusing which is why I bought it. I would rather buy an ultra reliable lens that is accurate and very fast to focus, than something that is slow, less reliable in focusing but built like a tank.
3. Many reviewers of this lens have commented on the superb optics of this lens. My experience confirms this. This lens has simply phenomenal optics. It just works. After struggling for many days/weeks, this is what made the decision for me, is its superb optics. That is what photography is all about, isn't it?
4. There are many criticisms of this lens that I read on line before I bought it: It is made in China (so what? China also makes good quality products). The internal motor may give out (well many pro grade lenses by Nikon have internal motors too). Furthermore, this lens is just too new for one to figure out how the internal motor may or may not work. The lens has a cheap plastic feel to it. Well, personally, the outside plastic seemed fine to me. I did not find any rattles or otherwise with the lens. Mind you, I almost always buy my lenses new, and treat my gear very very carefully. The lens, in my opinion is too new to comment on its durability. I do not believe that even so called experts have a way to figure out whether this lens is durable or not or whether its internal motor is reliable or not after two years of its release. Yes, if you trash your gear, buy a tank!
5. Another criticism of this lens: It is a G type (does not have an aperture ring). Well, get over it, use the aperture settings on the camera, that is what they are made for.
The 85mm focal length is a magical focal length. Use it and see for yourself, why. It is wonderful for portraits and street photography itself. It does limit the field of view a little by comparison to the 50mm, but you will find ways around it, as I did. I found the best f stop to be around 1.8 to about 2.2 for bokeh and sharpness both. In my personal experience, the DOF is too shallow at f 1.4, and for that I use the older 50mm f 1.4D which is a phenomenal older lens in its own right. For the money and 100$ Nikon discount, this in my opinion is a phenomenal deal for a piece of glass with other wordly optics that work! Buy it. I did, and am very happy. See the two pictures I uploaded with detailed metadata, shot with Nikon D90.
on April 8, 2013
I bought this for quick portraits and great blur and man it's fantastic. The f/1.8 is tact sharp and at great alternative to the much pricier f/1.4 option ($1500). The performance between the 2 lens is marginal. If you're getting paid as a pro photographer then you may get the f/1.4 but for the rest of us (I gather 95% of us), this f/1.8 is a great alternative. If you google around the web for the reviews, you will find this f/1.8 AF-S be a close second to the f/1.4 with what I would summarize as F/1.4 lens having 2-5% improvement in the picture quality when it comes to better light and better blur. I'll save the $1000 and still produce great quality pictures with this F/1.8.
1. Super light weight
2. Fast focus
3. Tact sharp
4. Awesome low light performance
5. Great bokeh
Below is a summary of how I use all of my lens today and I hope it will help you find what you are looking for if you have similar needs as mine:
* AF-S 50mm f/1.4: Great for infants and walk-around lens on the street. I use this lens most of the time for infant pictures because 1) I don't want to use flash when infants have their eyes open even if I have a softbox/umbrella. 2) lightweight 3) low light performance at f/1.4. I also uses this when I'm out of the house because it's not in-you-face when you pull it out of you bag so people won't notice you. This lens also makes me move around a bit to be more creative vs. just zoom in and out. 50mm lens makes me think more about the shots.
* AF-S 60mm f/2.8 micro: Great macro lens: I use this for very close up shots. I can get as close to less than an inch away even though the minimum focal length isn't listed as being 1 inch away. You will want good lighting since flash will be useless when you are this close to the subject. I take photos of baby lips, eyes, face, hands and feet, & other objects such as jewelry * watches. Basically any fairly stationary subjects that I want to highlight the details and intentional imperfections/wrinkles, etc. I sometimes wonder if I should use this all the time instead of my 50mm but I find the 50mm better at non-macro shots because it focus faster and lets in 4 times more light.
* AF-S 85mm f/1.8 : I use this most of the time for adult portraits and it has very good low light performance as well. I choose this over the f/1.4 version because the other reviews I've read on the web did not justify the extra $1000 spend for marginal performance improvement and unless I am getting paid to take pictures all the time, I don't see the need to pay the extra cost for the f/1.4. This lens also makes me move around a bit to be more creative vs. just zoom in and out.
* AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8: I use this when I just don't know what kind of pictures I could be taking and need to have zoom & I don't have to move around as much. While I don't take landscape pictures (24mm) often, I will use this for a large group outing, birthday parties when I may need to get a wide shot of a lot of people in a room and be able to have a little bit of zoom capability and not have to walk up so close to the people's face. This allows me to get some candid shots when needed. It's fairly heavy at 2 lbs and huge when you put on the hood so I almost never use this lens when I'm on the street because it attracts a lot of unwanted attention. I wouldn't want this hanging on my neck or shoulders for a long period of time.
* AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 vr2 : This is one of my favorite lens only because I can use it for portraits as well (with some lighting support) and I can get really good candid shots since I can be much farther away 10-20ft from my subjects and able to get a nice picture. I do have to crop at times to get rid of the cluttered background but with the D600 camera, I have enough megapixel details to crop my pictures when needed. This is obviously a monster lens so I avoid taking it for street photos even though I've had some nice pictures and experiences on the street but it's so big... I've had people stopping me asking me if I'm a paparazzi and which celebrity I am stalking..... haha. It's almost over 3 lbs so I definitely wouldn't want this hanging on my neck or shoulders for a long period of time.
* AF-S 70-200mm f/4: this is also a great lens and a fantastic alternative to the 2.8 version. At over $1000 less, this is a bargin and great lens if you're taking photos at good lighting conditions (outdoor, have flash or good indoor lighting). Otherwise it may be problematic for you at F/4.