Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G review: An awesome prime that doesn’t cost the earth

By Paul Carroll - Monday, January 21, 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens performance | Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G versus competition | Conclusion

Launched in January 2012 the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G prime lens offers a great focal length for portraiture and a wide maximum aperture for low-light photography. Compatible with both Nikon FX and DX lens mounts this latest version of Nikon’s popular short telephoto prime also features a built in autofocus motor making it full functionality on all Nikon DSLR cameras. At $500 it boasts a great price too, so if you’re after a 85mm portrait lens this could be the one for you.

The Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is the third and latest incarnation of Nikon’s popular short telephoto prime lens. Originally launched in 1987 as the 85mm f/1.8 Nikon released an updated D version in 1994, which you can read a full review of here.

Designed primarily for the Nikon FX lens mount and full frame cameras like the Nikon D800 the 85mm focal length slightly compresses perspective, which is great for portraiture. Redesigned with a new optical arrangement and built-in SWM Autofocus Motor the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is compatible with all Nikon D-SLRs, including entry-level options, like the Nikon D5100, which don’t have a built-in autofocus motor. Bear in mind however when mounted on a Nikon DSLR with an APS-C sensor the 1.5x ‘crop factor’ increases the focal length to 127.5mm, which is still okay for portraiture but means you’re going to have to stand a bit further back. The maximum aperture of f/1.8 also makes the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G ideal for low-light photography and will produce creative depth-of-field and attractive bokeh effects, too.

At just $500 it’s set at a good price point but with a plethora of options from third party manufacturers like Sigma, Carl Zeiss and Samyang available there’s plenty of choice for 85mm primes. Let’s take a closer look at the DxOMark Scores for the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G and see what you get for your money.

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens performance

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G versus competition

Conclusion