Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

Finding a good DSLR camera when put in the shoes of an amateur photographer can be a bit tough at first. But when the spotlight shines on Nikon cameras alone, the rest of the process should be easy as the different cameras available are cleverly classified according to level so that it is easier to choose the right camera under any given budget. Good cameras to start off with are the midrange cameras as they provide a balanced list of functions or the entry-level models as they come with kit lends for you to try out.

But these standard lenses have their limitations and may serve as a bottleneck in the future once the photographer wants to start doing other things with the camera that is beyond the scope of the camera or lens. Realizing the limitations can be disappointing at first because a new camera needs to be bought, but instead of doing that, it is better to get a telephoto lens like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF NIKKOR as it is a great choice for a number of occasions.


Design & Construction

Unlike the other Nikon 85mm lens in the same telephoto category, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D is composed of more plastics to reduce the cost of the lens. Despite that, the lens is still a bit heavy weighing around 13 ounces and the metal body mount gives it some additional lasting power even when it is used every single day. It also comes with the HN-23 lens hood to help prevent any ghosting and flare. It cannot be reversed for storage though so the installation process remains unchanged, but overall, the lens is still pretty compact and light for any portrait photographer to be happy with.

Actual user review:
“If you don’t need the speed or can’t afford the expensive 85mm f1.4 Nikkor lens or both, then this lens may be the right one for you. It took Nikon a while to produce a superb compact 85mm lens, but this time they finally got it right. Without a doubt, this is a fine portrait lens for photographing head-and-shoulder portraits (The only lens which is optically better is Nikon’s legendary 105mm f2.5 Nikkor lens, and its close optical twin, the 105mm f2.8 Micro Nikkor.). Since the 105mm f2.5 Nikkor lens doesn’t have an autofocus version, then this might be the perfect moderate telephoto lens for owners of Nikon autofocus SLR cameras. Regardless, this lens has a well-earned reputation for excellent contrast and resolution.” – J.Kwok (NY,USA)


Features & Specifications

The sharpness levels of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D lens only slightly different amongst different models in a good way. The quality isn’t terribly bad with just a slight blur under 3 blur units on the corners and 2.5 blur units on the center when the lens is used wide-open. Once the lens is stopped down to f/2, the blur units are reduced to 2 and ultimately f/2.8 is where the sharpness really shows some optimism. It also performs better on the full-frame digital SLR cameras like the D3, but using it on a midrange like the D200 shouldn’t be much of a major issue. For best results, only use the f/2.8 or greater aperture if the hints of softness on the f/1.8 setting are a serious issue.

While the sharpness isn’t really flawless, the chromatic aberration is excellent for a budget unit even when the f/1.8 setting is used. On the worst-case of chromatic aberration, a 1.5 percent frame height is never exceeded. When used on the flagship D3, results are even better since the extra chromatic aberration is removed thanks to the image processor that it has built in to automatically remove unwanted visuals.

The autofocus operation of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D is relatively fast since it uses rear focusing which kind of makes up for the lack of AF-S technology. Bear in mind that the lens is a screw type, so it the autofocus function will cease to work on models like the D40, D60, and D40x. But this doesn’t mean that portrait photography is out of the equation because the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D has a unique function that slightly blurs the background to create some nice creative shots.

Bottom Line

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8D won’t win any huge awards in terms of features introduced, but with the lens being priced at below $500, this particular lens outshines the other 85mm lens in its price range. It is also one of the most affordable lenses in the telephoto quality thus making this the perfect lens for people that never bought a telephoto lens before. The good handling of chromatic aberration, good sharpness, and decent autofocus clearly outweigh the cheap design no matter what camera the photographer may be using right now.

Average User Rating:

  • “An exceptional portrait lens for both digital and film, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D is usably sharp wide open and tack sharp by the time you stop down even just a bit. Relatively small and very light, it feels just right in my hand. Steve McCurry is one of my favorite photographers and I was happy to discover that many of his great shots were taken with this lens. Also, if you shoot on a manual focus body like the F3, you’ll like the solid but smooth feel of the focus ring. The 85mm comes with a metal, screw-on hood. My preference is the plastic bayonet mounts, but I find that I don’t need the hood that often since this lens doesn’t tend to flare. The bokeh is not exceptional. I wish it were AF-S. But even without AF-S, it focuses faster than you’d expect. Finally, the construction is solid. I’ve used it heavily for two years in deserts, jungles, and glaciers and it still looks brand new. In short, my favorite lens. Absolutely worth every penny.” – M.Garret (DC,USA)
  • “I LOVE this lens!!! When shooting, I ALWAYS go to this lens for that “has to be sharp” photograph. I can’t believe I took so long to purchase this, but am so glad that I did! Focus is fast and accurate, and it does suffer from some CA, but only in extreme cases…but can be corrected easily in photoshop! This lens has a great build, great weight and a great feel to it. 85mm is great for portraits, and the f/1.8 offers a VERY NICE bokeh!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!” – A.Roberson (CA,USA)


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