Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Prime Lens Review Roundup2013-03-13 02:53
3/12/2013: Add review by PhotoZone [CX].
11/1/2012: Add review by PhotographyLife, SLRgear, LensTip, photo.net.
5/23/2012: Add review by CameraLabs.
4/26/2012: Add review by pdn.
3/26/2012: Add review by ePhotoZine.
3/7/2012: Add review by PhotoZone [DX].
2/26/2012: Add review by PhotoZone [FX].
On January 5 2012, Nikon announced the addition of the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G FX-format lens to its line of NIKKOR lenses. The new 85mm is a fast, fixed focal-length lens with medium telephoto capabilities and a large maximum aperture of f/1.8.
The construction of the 85mm f/1.8 consists of nine optical elements, with a seven-blade diaphragm which contributes to a substantially more circular bokeh for a natural appearance to out-of-focus background elements. Additionally, instances of lens flare and chromatic aberration are suppressed using Nikon's exclusive Super Integrated Coatings, which also help ensure vividly accurate color balance. The integration of an ultra-compact Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures fast, whisper-quiet AF operation, which is essential when recording movies. The 85mm also features two focus modes, M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual). Additionally, Internal Focus (IF) design prevents the front element from rotating, allowing for the use of filters and attachments. Here's the lens technical specifications:
- Focal length 85 mm
- Maximum aperture f/1.8
- Minimum aperture f/16
- Lens construction 9 elements in 9 groups
- Angle of view 28°30' (18°50' with Nikon DX format)
- Minimum focus distance 0.8 m/2.62 ft (from focal plane)
- Maximum reproduction ratio 0.124x
- No. of diaphragm blades 7 (rounded)
- Filter-attachment size 67 mm
- Diameter x length (extension from lens mount) Approximately 80 x 73 mm/3.1 x 2.9 in.
- Weight Approximately 350 g/12.4 oz
- Supplied accessories 67 mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-67, Rear Lens Cap LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-62, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1015
The AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G lens is listed for a retail price of $499.95. It's currently selling at around $499, via Amazon.com. Here's the review roundup:
PhotoZone [CX], gave an image quality rating of 3.5/5: "The Nikon AF-S 85/1.8 struggles a bit at its largest aperture on the tiny CX sensor, but stopped down the results are very good to excellent. As can be expected from a lens designed for a much larger sensor, distortion and vignetting are no issues at all. CAs are very low, too. The build quality is on a high level and in line with other Nikon consumer prime offerings. Thanks to an AF-S drive the lens focuses virtually silent and is fully compatible with the FT1-adapter (within the limits of the adapter itself, that is). AF speed is quite fast for a portrait lens. The blur potential of the lens is of course somewhat reduced compared to cameras with larger sensors. Still, the bokeh quality is on a high level, the only real issue is the quite high amount of bokeh fringing. For anyone who already owns the lens (and also a F-mount camera with larger sensor) it's certainly worth to explore the capabilities of the AF-S 85/1.8 on a CX camera.
For those who only own a CX camera, the lens may be a candidate to deliver images with narrow depth of field (narrower than with native lenses at least). Combined with the necessary FT-1 adapter, the setup becomes rather bulky and also somewhat expensive, though. In addition, the lens does not really perform too well at the largest aperture when mounted on a Nikon 1 camera. On the other hand: if narrow DOF is what you're after, choosing a Nikon 1 camera was not the best idea to start with anyway..."... [Source]
PhotographyLife, gave a rating of 4.5/5: "Similar to the excellent Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G seems to be an excellent performer that competes with its much more expensive, bulkier and heavier brother, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G. While it does not have the same complex optical design of the 85mm f/1.4G, it very closely rivals it in terms of colors and bokeh. It shows exceptional resolution and contrast performance at all apertures, especially wide open. This can be clearly seen in sharpness comparisons to the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR macro lens, which cannot match the performance of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens at all apertures, from center of the frame to the extreme corners even when stopped down to f/5.6 and smaller. It has a couple of weaknesses such as distortion, ghosting and flare and some heavy LoCA, but those issues are present in pretty much all fast prime lenses and most of them can be fixed during post-processing. Adobe has already built a lens profile for the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, so if you are using the latest version of Lightroom, you should be able to correct most optical issues by clicking "Enable Profile Corrections" and "Remove Chromatic Aberration" within the "Lens Corrections" module.
I have been shooting with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens for over a month and I have been enjoying it a lot. It is a light and compact portrait lens that balances really well on any modern Nikon DSLR. It produces beautiful images with plenty of sharpness, contrast and colors - exactly what portrait photographers look for in portrait lenses. Its AF performance is impressive and the lens delivers accurate results when mounted on both top of the line DLSRs like Nikon D800 and on entry-level DSLRs like Nikon D5100. And best of all - with its low price of $499, this lens is a steal, especially when compared to the not-much-better Nikon 85mm f/1.4G! Clearly it is the better choice price/performance wise for many photographers, except those who really need f/1.4 aperture and know how to use it to the fullest."... [Source]
SLRgear, gave a rating of 9.33/10: "The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S provides excellently sharp images, though to achieve maximal sharpness you must stop down to at least f/5.6. Wide-open performance is good, perhaps showing a little de-centering in the sample copy we reviewed, as the bottom of the frame was marginally sharper than the top. Images are very sharp even when used wide open, though as you might expect central performance is slightly better than the corners, so overall image sharpness appears better in the sub-frame D7000 than in the full-frame D3x, at least in apertures wider than f/5.6. There are marginal improvements all the way to f/5.6, where the lens is pretty much as sharp as sharp gets. Diffraction limiting begins at f/8, but you won't practically notice it until at least f/11, if then. There is some loss of sharpness at f/16, the lens' smallest aperture, but it's not hugely significant. The test results for the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S with regard to chromatic aberration were very impressive - the lens is highly resistant, on both of our Nikon D7000 and D3x test bodies, across all apertures.
Nikon has produced an excellent update to the long-lived 85mm f/1.8D: while autofocus performance isn't quite as fast in the 85mm f/1.8G, the majority of photographers using this lens probably won't be using it in applications that demand superfast focusing, anyway. That said, unless you need the AF-S focusing or enhanced weather sealing, don't rule out the older AF-D version of the lens, as it provides slightly better results for sharpness and chromatic aberration, at a slightly lower price, too."... [Source]
LensTip: "You can sum up the review of this lens in two ways, according to that old adage: some people see the glass is half empty, others see it half full. The first group will notice that a 1.8/85 lens should differ from a 1.4/85 lens not only in aperture and price. You would wish the cheaper sibling was manufactured equally well, in the same plants and using the same good components. In the case of the Nikkors it is not the case. The slower model is produced in China, not in Japan, using worse parts and less efficient antireflective coatings. On the other hand a cheaper 1.8/85 model, when compared to its faster brother, many times surprises us very positively. Firstly it provides a great image quality. Secondly, it corrects the chromatic aberration and the coma better, faring equally well in the category of astigmatism and distortion. The only category in which the cheaper model loses to its more expensive sibling is the work against bright light. Worse quality of coatings made themselves felt here and we definitely didn't like the outcome.
Finally the matter of the price. Currently for the Nikkor AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G you must pay almost 2,000 PLN. It is much more than the cost of other amateur models like the 1.8/35 and the 1.8/50. The rival Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM is also cheaper. You must keep in mind, though, that the Canon is already an elderly construction (although still produced in Japan) and the Nikkor is a novelty so you can predict its price will get down to a level by several hundred PLN lower. When it happens we will recommend this lens for sure."... [Source]
photo.net: "It is well known that AF speed on Nikon's AF-S 50mm f1.4 and f1.8 is not particularly fast. Apparently Nikon's design goal is optimized for auto focus accuracy rather than speed, as depth of field can be razor thin at those wide apertures. The new 85mm/f1.8 AF-S falls into this same category. Its AF speed is fine and AF is very accurate. For capturing portraits, I see no problems. If you capture indoor sports such as basketball from court side, perhaps you could benefit from faster AF speed. The manual focus ring on this lens is on the loose side. While a lot of AF lenses, including AF-S ones, do not have a manual focus ring that is ideal for manual focus, the ones on the 50mm/f1.4 AF-S and 1.8 AF-S provide a little more resistance. The one on the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S seems to be a little too loose for a good manual focus feel.
For a number of years, I had been considering a Nikon 85mm portrait lens. Earlier when the top-of-the-line Nikon 85mm lens was the f1.4 AF-D, I decided to wait until an AF-S version was available. In August 2010, Nikon finally introduced the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S at $1700. Unfortunately, a few months after its introduction, in March 2011, Japan was hit by a major earthquake and then its subsequent tsunami, and the supply of the 85mm/f1.4 AF-S has been tight to this day. To me, the addition of this f1.8 "economy" version is very welcome news. For portrait work, at least my preference is to stop down a bit to f2.8 or even f4 to gain some depth of field. If you capture portraits at f1.4 to f2, you can easily end up with one eye in focus and the other not. At least to me, that is a very annoying effect. Therefore, I don't really need a maximum aperture of f1.4. From my point of view, the optical quality of this new lens is excellent and the construction is fine. In fact, compared to the f1.4 version, the lighter weight and smaller size is a plus, not to mention that the cost is less than a third of the f1.4 lens. The Nikon 85mm/f1.8 AF-S is a lens I would highly recommend. The fact that I quickly bought one myself says it all. I have not used the f1.4 version much. For those who are willing to pay for extremely shallow depth of field and the very best quality, that should be the obvious choice."... [Source]
CameraLabs: "These 100% crops directly from a 36MP D800 sensor are proof of the incredible sharpness of this lens. Even wide open center resolution is very high and astigmatism is not really an issue. Deterioration of image-quality in the FX-corner is astonishingly small with the coloration of the small Siemens-star indicative of some astigmatism, but the concentric circles still showing very good definition. The astigmatism in the DX-corner is more pronounced with the circles now clearly loosing definition on the 11-to-5 diagonal. Interestingly the Siemens-stars in the DX-corner vs FX-corner show that the orientation of the magenta/green colorations has turned 90°: that is in line with the MTF chart showing that the sagittal and meridional performance (S30, M30) have switched position between 13mm and 20mm. Does this lab-performance regarding the DX-corner show in real-life images? You bet! I have one shot where you can clearly see the sharpness take a dip somewhere at 50-70% from the center of an FX-frame and sharpen up again when going further in the direction of the FX-corner. Stopping down to f2.0 does almost nothing for the performance of this lens. But at f2.8 we get a marked improvement in the center-performance albeit with some sign of focus shift (thus the magenta coloring). The corners profit only a little at f2.8 but become visibly better at f4.0. At f5.6 the effects of focus-shift and astigmatism are almost gone and at f8 we get a perfect, almost apochromatic performance all over the image circle with just a hint of diffraction setting in. But have a look again at the FX-corner at f8 and scroll back to f1.8 and you see how little performance degradation you get when using this lens wide open. This is what I'd call an excellent performance.
The Nikon 85/1.8G is a very good lens and represents excellent value for money. It's the cheapest 85mm large aperture lens with AF across all Nikon bodies that you can buy and it delivers an image quality that is actually better in some respects than its larger (and 3-4 times pricier) sibling - the Nikon AF-S 85/1.4G. My upcoming Nikkor 85mm shootout will give you the low-down on that. Contrast and sharpness is very good even wide open over the FX image-circle and resistance to color aberrations is also better than with the other 85mm lenses from Nikon. So overall it is a worthy successor to the AF 85/1.8D (which I really wouldn't recommend buying any more). So it'll come as no surprise to learn the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G easily earns our Highly Recommended award."... [Source]
pdn: "We tested the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G with an early sample unit of the full-frame Nikon D4 (look for a review of the D4 next month in PDN) and found the combination to be stellar. Jordan Matter, a photographer I frequently test Nikon products with, is a diehard 85mm shooter and he loved this lens. Matter used it to shoot headshots, portraits and for his ongoing series "Dancers Among Us," and was struck by how much he didn't miss having f/1.4 as an option. When mounted on a Nikon DX-format (aka APS-C size sensor) DSLR camera body, the 85mm magnifies to a 127mm equivalent lens, meaning you'll have to stand further back from your subject and you'll get additional compression. Some might not like having the longer range for portraits but for me, anything up to 135mm is perfectly fine. Put this lens on a Nikon D7000 and you've got a relatively low-price headshot machine. Though this prime lens has a slightly narrower build than the f/1.4 version, it's got solid optics inside including nine optical elements and a seven-blade diaphragm, which helped us create pleasing bokeh that really made our subject pop in the foreground. The Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G doesn't have the Nano Crystal Coating that the pricier f/1.4 version has, so it's not as resistant to ghosting and flare. This wasn't a huge issue when shooting portraits, as long as we stayed away from extreme backlit situations. The lens does utilize Nikon's Super Integrated Coatings and without getting into the confusing technical details about how these differ from Nano Coatings, let's just say, the results were vivid with accurate color and very little distortion in our portraits.
As all good stealthy lenses should be, the 85mm f/1.8 was extremely quiet because of Nikon's Silent Wave Motor, which muzzles the autofocus sound in the lens, letting you shoot portraits or movies undetected. The lens has two focus modes: M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual), giving you options to experiment and test your creativity. Nikon portrait shooters who want to save themselves a few bucks would be wise to resist the urge to shoot at f/1.4 and go with the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G. Along with the slightly slower maximum aperture, a few of the luxe details have been trimmed on this 85mm Nikkor lens but it's less than a third of the price of the f/1.4G model. And that's what we call a bargain. Pros: Great image quality with consistent sharpness; produces pleasing background blur; quiet and accurate; more affordable price point. Cons: Won't cure you of your f/1.4 jones; no Nano Crystal Coating so avoid extreme backlit conditions."... [Source]
ePhotoZine, gave a rating of 4.5/5: "Sharpness in the centre of the image is already very good at f/1.8, and although the clarity drops off quite significantly towards the edges, this shouldn't be to much of an issue for portraits and similar photography at wide apertures. As is the case with many lenses, stopping down improves clarity across the frame. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 where sharpness in the centre is outstanding and excellent towards thee edges of the frame. Even though this lens contains no exotic low-dispersion glass in its design, chromatic aberration levels are very low, peaking at 0.35 pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at f/1.8, which should barely be noticeable. Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite pronounced at maximum aperture with the corners being over two stops darker than the image centre. Stopping down improves this and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/4. Only 0.577% pincushion distortion could be detected by Imatest, which is a very mild level of distortion. This low level shouldn't affect day to day images, but if absolutely straight lines are required, the distortion is relatively easy to correct, as it is uniform across the frame. Even though this lens lacks the exotic nano-crystal coating applied to Nikon's top-end lenses, it is highly resistant to flare and contrast levels remain high, even when shooting into the light. A deep circular hood is provided with the lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light.
As an update to a lens design that has stood the test of time through at least a couple of decades, this new 85mm f/1.8 represents a good job on Nikon's part. Image sharpness is excellent where it is needed - in the centre at wide apertures and across the frame when stopped down - the build quality is good and the lightweight design not too much of a burden to be carried around all day. The price may seem a little high compared to the older lens, although that has been heavily discounted to clear the remaining stocks. Overall this lens represents a high quality and good value alternative to Nikon's top of the line 85mm lens, without sacrificing too much in the way of quality, build, or sharpness."... [Source]
PhotoZone [DX], gave a rating of 4.5/5: "The lens delivers excellent resolution in the image center straight from the maximum aperture and stays on this high level down to f/8. From f/11 onwards, diffraction significantly reduces the resolution figures. Borders and corners follow a bit behind with very good resolution wide open. Stopped down to medium aperture settings both borders and corners manage to reach excellent sharpness, too. The lens showed a small amount focus shift when stopping down (residual spherical aberration). One of the primary usage scenarios for a large aperture lens is to seperate the main subject from the background. In such an image the quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is of major significance. The lens produces quite smooth background blur wide open, even in the sometimes critical transition zone. Thanks to 7 rounded aperture blades, background highlights retain their circular shape at least for larger aperture setting. From f/4 onwards however the highlights start to show traces of a more polygonal shape, which becomes even more obvious at f/5.6 (and smaller apertures). Due to mechanical vignetting the highlights are slightly cut off towards the image corners wide open, but of course the cut-off is less pronounced than on FX cameras. Typical for this lens class, there is also some bokeh fringing around background highlights (see also next section). The predecessor of this lens, the AF-D 85/1.8, is well known for a tendency to emphasize purple fringing at large apertures. While we haven't had a chance to test the new AF-S 85/1.8 regarding this issue in the field (due to lack of strong sunshine), the lab tests did not indicate such a behaviour. As can be seen in the shots below, reflecting surfaces show bokeh fringing when not exactly in focus, but there's a neutral zone with no fringing in the focus plane. As mentioned above, stopping down reduces the amount of fringing considerably.
The Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G is an excellent lens. It performs on a very high level in almost any regard, even on the high resolution DX sensor of the Nikon D7000. Sharpness is excellent in the image center straight from the largest aperture, the borders and corners deliver very good resolution wide open and excellent sharpness stopped down. Typical for a fast prime there is some vignetting wide open, which can easily be cured by stopping down. The same applies to Bokeh fringing. CAs are on a moderate level, while distorion is no issue at all. The biggest surprise is probably the bokeh quality, which is not right up there on the benchmark level set by 85mm f/1.4 lenses, but quite close. The build quality is on a high level and in line with other Nikon consumer prime offerings. Thanks to an AF-S drive autofocus action is virtually silent and quite fast for a portrait lens. So, in summary, the verdict remains the same as in our earlier FX review: for most subjects the lens gives around 95% of the performance of an AF-S 85/1.4 but at just one third of the price. Certainly highly recommended!"... [Source]
PhotoZone [FX], gave a rating of 4.5/5: "The lens delivers excellent resolution in the image center straight from the maximum aperture and stays on this high level down to f/8. From f/11 onwards, diffraction significantly reduces the resolution figures. Borders and corners follow a bit behind with very good resolution wide open. Stopped down to medium aperture settings both borders and corners manage to reach excellent sharpness, too. The lens showed a small amount focus shift when stopping down (residual spherical aberration). One of the primary usage scenarios for a large aperture lens is to seperate the main subject from the background. In such an image the quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is of major significance. The lens produces quite smooth background blur wide open, even in the sometimes critical transition zone. Thanks to 7 rounded aperture blades, background highlights retain their circular shape at least for larger aperture setting. From f/4 onwards however the highlights start to show traces of a more polygonal shape, which becomes even more obvious at f/5.6 (and smaller apertures). Due to mechanical vignetting the highlights are slightly cut off towards the image corners wide open. Typical for this lens class, there is also some bokeh fringing around background highlights.
The Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G is an excellent lens that performs on a very high level in almost any regard. Sharpness is excellent in the image center straight from the largest aperture, the borders and corners deliver very good resolution wide open and excellent sharpness stopped down. Typical for a fast prime there is pronounced vignetting wide open, which can easily be cured by stopping down. The same applies to Bokeh fringing. CAs and distortion are very well controlled though. The biggest surprise is probably the bokeh quality, which is not right up there on the benchmark level set by 85mm f/1.4 lenses, but quite close. The build quality is on a high level and in line with other Nikon consumer prime offerings. Thanks to an AF-S drive autofocus action is virtually silent and quite fast for a portrait lens. So, in summary, for most subjects the lens gives around 95% of the performance of an AF-S 85/1.4 but at just one third of the price. Certainly highly recommended!"... [Source]
PhotographyBLOG, gave a rating of 4.5/5: "Build quality is pretty decent for what is a consumer lens. Most of the outer parts are plastic - contributing to the light weight of the lens - but the optical elements are made of high-grade glass. The focus ring is quite wide and ridged. In terms of features, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G offers almost all that you need from a prime lens. The one exception is the lack of built-in Vibration Reduction, although the fast maximum aperture of f1/8 makes up for this to some extent (even the premium 85mm f/1.4 lens doesn't offer this feature). The lens has a built-in auto-focus motor that allows AF operation on every Nikon DX camera body, including entry-level offerings like the D3100 or D5100. Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when the focus mode selector is set to the 'MA' position, meaning that you can over-ride the auto-focus system and micro-adjust it if required at any time. The lens also has a handy distance scale. The AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens may have a lot of plastic parts, but the lens mount is, thankfully, made of metal. For this [sharpness] test, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens was attached to a Nikon D700 body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. Exposure delay mode was activated. Tonal and colour variances across the crops are due to changes in natural light during the session. Centre sharpness remains high through from f2.8 to f/11, with the minimum aperture of f/16 being slightly affected by diffraction. The edges aren't nearly as sharp as the centre, with f5.6-f/11 producing the sharpest results.
Optically, the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is excellent, which given its reasonable price tag is a very nice surprise. Sharpness is excellent in the centre from f2.8 to f/11, with f5.6-f/11 producing the sharpest results at the edges of the frame. Bokeh is very good, vignetting is essentially a non-issue, and chromatic aberrations aren't too bad, either. With the exception of the lack of built-in vibration reduction, the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G also offers a decent feature set. Full-time manual focus override in the M/A mode allows you to easily micro-adjust the auto-focusing if required, the Silent Wave Motor makes the focusing mechanism very quiet, perfect for shooting video, and the distance scale is useful when manual focusing. The actual focusing happens internally, which means that the length of the lens never changes and the filter thread doesn't rotate, which is good news for filter users. Mostly made of plastic, the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is quite a compact, lightweight lens with some degree of weatherproofing thanks to the rubber lens mount. The AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens is a great choice if you are looking for a relatively affordable telephoto prime lens with excellent optical performance. Slightly sluggish auto-focusing means that it isn't best suited to shooting fast-moving subjects on a regular basis, but that won't be the main aim of most users, so we can highly recommend the new AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens."... [Source]
User review by LGO, gave a rating of 5/5: "This lens is light, compact affordable, but produces very impressive results. I highly recommend the use of this lens for portrait, events and for landscape. Despite it being a fixed focal length and not being able to zoom, I highly recommend this lens for beginner Nikon dSLR users who own only the kit zoom lens that came with the camera. This lens allows you to shoot at low light and/or to blur the background of the subject of the photo. This prime lens is a safe, affordable and way to see for yourself how good a prime lens can be as against the kit zoom lens. It also shows what the other Nikon professional prime and professional lenses are capable of should you get serious in this hobby.
AGAINST THE NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8D
The Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is bigger than the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D but is a bit lighter. Unlike the 85mm f/1.8D, this lens comes with a reversible hood which does a good job in protecting and shading the lens. With the hood reversed, the 85mm f/1.8G becomes much more compact than the 85mm f/1.8D with the hood installed. But with the hood installed, the wider lens barrel and the wider and longer hood makes the 85mm f/1.8G significantly bulkier than the 85mm f/1.8D. Reflecting the bigger-sized lens, the 85mm f/1.8G uses a 67mm filter while the 85mm f/1.8D uses a 62mm filter. As the "G" suffix indicates, the 85mm f/1.8G does not have an aperture ring while the 85mm f/1.8D has an aperture ring (see notes below in the 85mm f/1.4D for the significance of this). The older Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D have always been very sharp at the center and at the corners even when used wide-open but the new Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is stll a bit sharper still. Despite being bigger and wider, the 1.8G has slightly more vignetting wide open than the 1.8D but this quickly reverses in favour of the 1.8G from about f/2.5 onwards. The two areas where the 1.8G has improved significantly over the 1.8D is in having better bokeh and also having less purple fringing when shooting wide-open. The 1.8G focus speed is a bit faster on a D7000 than the 1.8D on the same body. In addition, the 1.8G autofocus is now consistently more precise and significantly quieter. Priced reasonably, this 85mm f/1.8G lens can auto focus on Nikon bodies that do not have a built-in focusing motors (such as the Nikon D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D40, and D60). For those who use this focal length regularly, upgrading from the 1,8D to the 1.8G is easy to justify. For 1st time buyers of the 85mm lens, I highly recommend choosing the 1.8G over the 1.8D given the minimum price difference between these 2 lenses.
AGAINST THE NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
In terms of size, the 85mm f/1.4G is significantly bigger and heavier than the 85mm f/1.8G. Both lenses comes with reversible hood. The 85mm f/1.4G uses a 77mm filter while the 85mm f/1.8G uses a 67mm filter. In terms of performance, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is better than the 85mm f/1.8G in all respects. The 1.4G is a bit sharper, has better bokeh, less vignetting at the same aperture setting, even less purple fringing, better flare resistance, better micro-contrast and richer color. It's very tough to compete against the 85mm f/1.4G when it comes to performance. Yet while the 85mm f/1.8G comes up a bit short, it comes in at a close second. At almost 3x the cost, it is not surprising that the 1.4G is better than the 1.8G. Whether one should get 1.4G or the 1.8G will depend on how much one is willing to pay more for the small performance difference. Consideration should also be given to the bigger size and weight of the 1.4G vs the 1.8G. For someone who already has a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G, would it still make sense to get a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G? The answer is yes if one needs a smaller, lighter and more compact 85mm. I use this lens with my smaller Nikon DX bodies as well as with my Sony NEX and Panasonic GH2. The 1.8G smaller size and lighter weight would also be a very good match for the rumored upcoming Nikon full frame in a small body, the D600."... [Source]
Video Review by JaredPolin:
Sample Photos from Flickr
THE NEW NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G PRIME LENS COMBINES PRACTICALITY WITH PORTABILITY RESULTING IN A VERSATILE PORTRAIT LENS
New NIKKOR Lens is Ideal for Low-Light, Portraiture and Adding Dramatic Background Blur to Both Photo and Video
MELVILLE, N.Y. (January 5, 2012) - Today, Nikon Inc. announced the addition of the new AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G FX-format lens to its legendary line of NIKKOR lenses. The new 85mm is a fast, fixed focal-length lens with medium telephoto capabilities and a large maximum aperture of f/1.8 that is capable of performing a wide variety of imaging tasks with amazing sharpness and clarity.
"Whether a professional photographer who needs extreme sharpness or a photo enthusiast looking for an affordable, lightweight lens with amazing clarity, Nikon photographers appreciate and rely on the vast selection and dependability of NIKKOR lenses for their imaging needs," said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc. "The new 85mm f/1.8 is fully optimized for capturing amazing photos and videos, while providing the ability to utilize background blur to compliment the subject of their photo."
A welcome addition to Nikon's growing line of versatile prime lenses, the new AF- NIKKOR 85mm is ideal for travel, general photography, low-light, landscape, portraiture and capturing movies with extreme depth of field. The 85mm is designed to capture photos utilizing beautiful image blur achieved due to its large maximum aperture. Furthermore, the lens is lightweight, easy to carry, and provides an equivalent focal length of 127mm when attached to a Nikon DX-format D-SLR camera body.
The construction of the 85mm f/1.8 consists of nine optical elements, with a seven-blade diaphragm which contributes to a substantially more circular bokeh for a natural appearance to out-of-focus background elements. Additionally, instances of lens flare and chromatic aberration are suppressed using Nikon's exclusive Super Integrated Coatings, which also help ensure vividly accurate color balance.
The new lens also comes equipped with a carefully engineered optical system optimized to deliver superior image quality. The integration of an ultra-compact Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures fast, whisper-quiet AF operation, which is essential when recording movies. The 85mm also features two focus modes, M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual) to further enhance versatility and adapt to a shooters needs. Additionally, Internal Focus (IF) design prevents the front element from rotating, allowing for the use of filters and attachments.
Price and Availability
The lightweight AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G will be available in March 2012 for a SRP* of $499.95.