Flawless? Well pretty close, yes...

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Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey Senior Member • Posts: 2,900
Flawless? Well pretty close, yes...

The previous Nikon F1.8 AFS "G" primes I've used, the 50/1.8, 35/1.8 and 28/1.8, have all been significant upgrades to their older AF-D counterparts, and the Nikon AF-S 85/1.8 G very much continues this trend.

As with the others, this is a fairly large, light lens, well-built and nicely balanced.

Immediately standing out is the feel of the manual focus ring, which unlike the 35mm and 28mm has no lag/wiggle whatsoever and is a joy to use despite the relatively short throw.

Optically, well let me put it this way: I spent today taking test photos, trying very hard to find something, anything to put in the "against" column, and came back with nothing.

Really, nothing. Flare, ghosting, lateral and axial CA, barrel distortion, sharpness, contrast, rendering, bokeh... all excellent.

This represents major improvement on the AF-D 85/1.8, which had nasty bokeh and lacked contrast.

Perhaps most impressive is the near total absence of CA. With the software corrections off there is a tiny bit of lateral CA, but for all practical intents there is nothing. And then there's the rendering, which I fallen for deeply: clean but at the same time slightly gritty or smokey. The other G lenses tend to be clean but a little bland, this is the first one I've really enjoyed for not just being a good lens, but for it's own distinct identity too.

CA torture test

Bokeh test, which to be fair most lenses pass without difficulty - but in my view the rendering here is outstanding.

Kyoto sunset, taken through glass. Flare/ghosting - none.

Vignetting correction turned off here. The darkened corners would normally be removed automatically.

The tones from this lens are so great! (and no linear distortions to worry about)

Contrast is really solid.

Playing around with manual focus. I messed up.

To keep the shutter speed up here, something had to give. Generally though this lens can be used comfortably between f/2.4 - f/4 even in low light - on full frame at least ISO can mop up the difference.

When it first came out the cost of this lens was much higher than the AF-D, but as of this writing the price has come down to the $450 mark new, $350-ish used.

Look, this is the most fun lens I've bought for quite some time. If you have any interest in owning a 85-105mm prime lens, and don't already have an 85/1.4, this should be on your buy list.

 Richard Murdey's gear list:Richard Murdey's gear list
Nikon D750 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/21 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/25 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 +8 more
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm F1.8G
Telephoto prime lens • Nikon F (FX) • 2201
Announced: Jan 6, 2012
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