Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens Review

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I preface every review with the same disclosure. I am not a professional. I do not shoot test charts. I do not try every lens with every camera. All opinions are my own, and are only based upon my own experiences with the gear. I haven’t had a ton of gear, or all of the expensive gear. I won’t list every specification or test for every specification. My review is not meant for professionals – if you are a professional, you shouldn’t need a review from an amateur. The information below is simply my own observations while doing normal photography, and is for other car enthusiasts and amateurs like myself.

Image Quality

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

Close to perfect. It’s that simple.

It has much better contrast  and sharpness than the 85mm f/1.8 AF-D did, and color rendition seems to be accurate (and improved).

All of my f/1.8G lenses (28/50/85) have around the same contrast and color rendition, and all of them are pretty sharp.

I’ve shot this lens a lot at f/2-2.8, in the hundreds of images. A lot of my car show shots are done with this lens, when I have room to use it. The DOF and bokeh are not as good as the 85mm f/1.4, but it is still quite good.

Autofocus is quick and precise. In hundreds of shots, it has always been accurate. It does not hunt for focus – it gets it quick.

Lens flare is well controlled by the coating on the glass, keeping flare to a minimum, and I’ve shot into the sun without issue with it.

Build Quality

The lens is made of plastic, and does not have the solid metal build quality that the old 85mm f/1.8 AF-D had. That said, it does seem to be made of a fairly strong plastic, and not likely to break.

The glass seems to be of excellent quality, and the mount is metal. The lens comes with a bayonet style hood, which reverses when you want to store the lens. The manual focus ring is huge and very easy to grip and turn. Since it is AF-S, you can just grab the focus ring at any time and override the focus manually.

Filter ring is 67mm, and the lens works well with CPLs and NDs. I double stack a ND and CPL all the time with no problems.

Alternatives to the 85mm

Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AF-S

What can I say – if you need f/1.4 and have the cash, then it is a possibility, but if you don’t have to have it, save the money and get the f/1.8. For me, it wasn’t even close to a choice. I get the same shots, and spent a quarter of the amount that the f/1.4 costs.

Older Versions

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 AF-D

I had this lens before, and while it was good, it was no match for the newer one. The new model is worth the extra cash, as it give me better photo results. The AF-D does not have a focus motor, so it only works on cameras with the motor built in.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AF-D

Twice as expensive as the f/1.8G, and results are similar, unless you need creamy bokeh for portraits. It is a good option, if you need a wide aperture.


What can I say – this is easily one of my favorite lenses, and one of the best values that you can get. It’s one of the best lenses that I have ever shot. Everything is close to perfect on it. It blows my 85MM AF out of the water with quality. Yes, it’s that good. If you don’t have it, you probably want to get it.

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