Nikon has released a new 85mm f/1.8, replacing the old version originally introduced in the late 80's. As expected it has a SWM a new optical construction and lacks an aperture ring, being a G-series lens but it also lacks the Nano crystal coat, which while not unexpected is a pity - it's likely to flare without a hood. All the same, the optical quality looks good at f/1.8, if the MTF chart below is to be believed.
AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G — Master of Character
RRP: £469.99 / Eur 554.00
Sales start date: 22nd March 12 (tbc)
London, UK, 6th January 12: Nikon today announces a new fast aperture medium-telephoto lens – the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G.
The combination of the classic focal length, large (f/1.8) aperture and re-designed optical system that meets the requirements of today’s D-SLRs, delivers superb image quality whilst offering photographers an affordable way to take advantage of Nikon’s rich legacy of renowned 85mm NIKKOR optics.
Kentaro Kusakari, Product Planning Manager, Nikon UK says: “This new lens is ideal for photographers looking to experience the benefits of a fast medium-telephoto lens, whether they are shooting portraits in a studio or on location making the most of natural light.”
The classic 85 mm focal length allows for tight head and shoulder shots with extreme detail. The fast f/1.8 aperture perfectly balances sharpness and bokeh, so you can single out subjects beautifully, and it provides a bright viewfinder image that makes it easier to compose your shots. An excellent choice when shooting in low light, the fast aperture also helps you shoot with available light and still capture striking, sharp images.
New optical design
The new 85mm f1.8 lens is an ideal portrait lens that features an all-new optical design that has been optimised to meet the requirements of today’s D-SLRs. Compromising 9 elements in 9 groups, it offers superb image quality and makes an attractive choice for videographers. The dedicated Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures discreet but accurate autofocus.
Weighing in at only 350 grams, this weather-sealed compact new 85mm lens is lighter than its predecessors. Compatible with Nikon FX-format D-SLRs, it offers a 127.5mm (equivalent) focal length when used with Nikon DX-format D-SLRs, and is fully compatible with entry level D-SLRs that do not have a built in autofocus motor.
The lens is supplied with a lens hood HB-62, and a soft pouch CL-1015.
Interesting MTF chart, shows maximum aperture only, but in terms of resolution the edges are are almost as sharply defined as the centre, though that drops right in the corners as you might expect. What's interesting is the drop between the edges and centre, showing some curvature of field (though it's unlikely to have any real world effect). The top (red) lines closely correlate to visible lens contrast, and are technically the more important for most photographers (resolution isn't everything). This chart shows the lens should possess excellent contrast across the frame and, perhaps, even outstanding bokeh (remember though we're talking about max aperture only, a second MTF chart stopped down would give us more information). Comparing the MTF chart with that of the AF-S 85mm f/1.4G (see link here), it appears the new lens has slightly better resolution, contrast and bokeh, at least at their respective maximum apertures (though, it should be noted, we're not comparing the same aperture).
AF-S 85mm f/1.8G at f/2.2. Image courtesy of Nikon.
100-percent crop at f1.8, using a D700. Image copyright of this site.