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

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G: Maybe the best 85mm for Nikon and great value for money

With an Overall DxOMark Lens Metric Score of 35 the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is the best 85mm lens in the DxOMark database and well exceeds the average DxOMark Overall Score of 28 for this type of lens. 

Costing $500, a whooping $1149 cheaper than the Nikon f/1.4 version at $1649, it also represents excellent value for money if you can live without the f/1.4 maximum aperture. In terms of sharpness the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G finishes 3rd on the podium out of all 14 85mm primes lenses we’ve tested and again surpasses the average score for this category of 15 P-Mpix. Its best characteristic is homogenous sharpness with no edge softness even with the aperture wide open at f/1.8. It holds its own in our other Lens Metric Scores too with the notable exception of vignetting, which is where the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G falls down. Heavy corner shading that requires correction in post-production is evident at f/1.8 and the problem isn’t totally eradicated until the aperture is stopped down to f/4.

If you can live with this one downside however the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is a cracking piece of glass for portraits and low-light photography. Nikon shooters into portraiture get the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G towards the top of your camera gear ‘wish-list’.

The table for DxOMark Overall Lens Metric Scores for 85mm prime lenses on a Nikon DSLR shows the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G to be the best performer.
Finishing 3rd for sharpness the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is only a whisker behind the more expensive f/1.4 versions from both Nikon and Sigma.
Plotting the DxOMark Overall Score for 85mm prime lenses against price it’s clear to see the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens offers the best value for money compared to the competition.