Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F/3.5G VR measurements & review

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lens Review
Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F/3.5G VR measurements & review

Nikon has proven its expertise in medium telephoto prime lenses with the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G and the Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF which are among the best lenses ever tested on DxOMark.
We just tested the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F/3.5G VR which comes at the lower end of the Nikkor prime lenses range, with  price tag under $1000. So let's see how it compares to its predecessors.

Thanks to its compact DX format, the Nikkor 85mm F/3.5G VR is a lens to be carried around for candid photos and portraits, but it won’t fit on full frame cameras like the D700, D3, D3S and D3x.

If the relatively poor image quality of the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F/3.5G VR wouldn’t make it a good choice for demanding photographers, its Vibration Reduction system and 1 :1 reproduction ratio are nice features for the ones willing to start experimenting with macro photography.

What we like:

  • A low level of distortion and chromatic aberration: these optical problems should not bother you on the final picture

What could be better:

  • The resolution: only 40 lp/mm where the Nikon 85mm 1.4D is capable of 55 lp/mm in its center with the same camera
  • The vignetting: surprisingly visible at f/3.5

These interesting comparisons should help you make your opinion:

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR vs its predecessors:

 Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR vs Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED vs Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF
These 2 lenses are twice as expensive and logically the DxOMark Score is twice as good as the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR.

Let’s now see how Nikon performs compared to its competitors with this lens:

Nikon vs Sigma

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR vs Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon
As it could be expected, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon which is twice as expensive is also twice as good.

Nikon vs Samyang

Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR vs Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Nikon
But the good surprise comes from the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF lense which despite its affordable price, thanks to its manual focus, offers very good optical performance, much better than the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F/3.5G VR.

Here are a few more comparisons:

Feel free to read the complete review of the Sony 85mm f2.8 SAM to get a full understanding of this last comparison.