Nikon 85mm 1.8 G Review – Taken with a D800 and F100 film camera

The Nikon 85mm 1.8 G is the lens I’ve owned for the longest and is part of my 35 / 85 lens combo I use for weddings. Its light, fairly quick to focus and is sharp wide open. It’s the lens I’ve owned the longest as it’s one of the most useful. Is it my favourite? Well no, thats the sigma 35 1.4, reviewed here before, but I honestly don’t see myself ditching this lens as it ticks so many boxes.


This isn’t so much a in depth charts and numbers review so don’t expect that here, all I tend to provide is a brief overview of the specs:

  • 85mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8 Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Lens Elements: 9 Lens Groups: 9
  • Diaphragm Blades: 7 (rounded)
  • Filter Size: 67mm   Filter Type: Screw-on
  • Weight (Approx.): 350g

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In the field: Using the Nikon 85mm 1.8 Lens for wedding photography and portraits

When it comes to using this for weddings, I have no problems using at 1.8 at all. At certain distances, say around 8-10 feet away you can take a photo of couple and they will be both tack sharp whilst the background melts away. This is so useful when it comes to couple shots. When using it a little more candidly and at closer distances I prefer to stop it down to around f5.6. I do this at least because if your taking a photo of a group of people and they are only around 30cm away from each other, it can easily cause one of them to be out of focus if taken at larger apertures. This is more down to the focal length and how depth of field is handled at 85mm, obvious to some but worth noting especially when shooting weddings.

Focusing at weddings is handled quite quickly and quietly by this lens as its an AF-S lens and because of its plastic construction it is a nice light weight lens to carry around. You might hear people complain about its construction and it how it feels cheap but I have to disagree. I love a metal lens, but I know when something is well made and despite the Nikon 85mm 1.8 being plastic, this lens is still a winner for me. It’s taken a few knocks here and there and it is still working just fine.

Nikon 85mm 1.8 sample image

Nikon 85mm review85mm 1.8 G sharp wide open

Colour rendition is pretty good and definitely retains those great Nikon colours that everyone is used to which I personally think have a nice warm feel to them. I have experienced a little purple fringing using this lens but this always tends to be shooting wide open with some overblown highlights involved. Supposedly the Nikon 85 1.4 is meant to deal with this kind of thing much better and overall has a much nicer look but from reviews I’ve always found mixed findings. Some people say the Nikon 85mm 1.4G against the Nikon 85mm 1.8 G is slower to focus and isn’t as sharp at its widest aperture. Could it be there is more sample variation in the 1.4G series? Either way I wasn’t prepared to find out and opted for the 1.8 G model for the price and the glowing reviews. I can only realistically see myself replacing it if Sigma bring out a new Sigma 85mm 1.4 ART and it stuns everyone as much as the 35mm did.

Nikon 85mm review

family beach holiday

high iso image on nikon d800

Just for good measure I threw in an ISO 12800 image. The 85 did quite well focusing in low light. Shot at f 1.8, image quality helped along here by the Nikon D800


Using the 85mm 1.8G for Landscapes


As always I make use of all my lenses for landscapes too as it is my other photography love. The 85mm isn’t often used for landscape but can be used for good effect for compressing the scene. Longer focal lengths are perfect for doing this and help emphasise certain elements in a scene where you can see distant mountains increase in size and misty landscapes squash together for better effect. I’d love to take a 70-200 lens along for a landscape photo trip one day but for now the 85mm is making do and for its weight and size it sits quite nicely in my bag.


sunset at rhossili bayWorm's head

Using the Nikon 85mm 1.8G with the Nikon F100 film camera

What I like about using this lens on my film camera is that it seems to focus quite accurately and even though it was designed for use on a digital body it seem to work quite well. This was all taken on Kodak Portra 400 but there will be more images to come soon using other film stocks.

hereford film photoFilm photography herefordshire


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