Nikon Z 70-200mm F/2.8 S Review

By | 08/09/2022

nikon z 85mm f1 8 s review f18 lens product 2

Nikon Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S lens


“Is f/one.8 practiced plenty for a premium portrait lens? In this example, absolutely.”


  • Meaty blueprint
  • Very sharp
  • Not bad bokeh
  • Weather sealed
  • Fair price


  • Autofocus suffers when underexposing with exposure preview on

With the exception of the upcoming 58mm f/0.95 Noct, Nikon has taken a conservative approach with its Z-series lenses, as the new Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S demonstrates. While this isn’t as exciting every bit rival Canon’s approach of churning out brilliant f/1.2 primes that cost thousands of dollars, it might exist a smarter motion. An 85mm f/1.8 doesn’t audio impressive on paper, but this is exactly the type of lens that makes sense for the smaller profile of a mirrorless camera. It is meaty, lightweight, and economic. Information technology also happens to be really sharp.

So while the Z 85mm won’t wow you with its spec sheet every bit much as Catechism’southward $2,700 RF 85mm f/1.2, it is arguably a more useful portrait lens. And at $800, normal people can actually afford it.

Design and specifications

The Z 85mm f/1.viii Due south takes design cues from Nikon’south other South lenses, with a lightly textured exterior surface and large focus ring that can be reprogrammed to command other settings. It is very minimalist in advent, with no focus altitude scale and only a single switch that sets the focus mode. Mounted to a Z six, it is comfortable to hold and perfectly balanced.

Yes, it’s “just” f/one.8, but I’m not sure why there is and so much fuss over ultrafast lenses these days. An f/1.8 discontinuity is good enough to accomplish a very shallow depth of field on a full-frame camera, and given the impressive loftier-ISO performance of modern sensors, you don’t really
more light-gathering ability.

By opting for f/1.8 over f/i.4 — allow alone f/1.2 — Nikon was able to keep the 85mm S lens considerably more compact. It’s simply under iv inches long, 3 inches in diameter, and weighs a hair over a pound. A fleck surprisingly, this is really larger than the F-mount AF-S 85mm f/1.8, a lens designed for DSLRs. At that place are proficient reasons for this, however.

Where the F-mount 85mm f/one.viii was always meant as a budget alternative to the professional person-level f/1.4 version, that’s not the case with the Z-mount 85mm. Information technology uses a more complex optical design with 12 elements in nine groups, a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm, and two stepper motors powering the focus organisation. As with the Z camera bodies, it is also dust- and moisture-resistant for use in all weather conditions.

Brand no fault, this is meant to be a premium lens, and for the most part, it definitely performs like one.

Epitome quality, autofocus, and bokeh

I have to admit, I am a lilliputian shocked past how good the 85mm f/1.8 S is. Usually, you tin can tell a portrait lens is going to be proficient simply by looking at information technology — the Sigma 105mm f/1.four Art, for example, has a huge front element that practically screams how crawly it is — but the Z 85mm is far more than small-scale. It doesn’t actually
that impressive, but the results are stunning. Even wide open, I noticed no chromatic aberration in existent-world testing, even in details just across the depth of field, where it is ordinarily most noticeable. Eyelashes and individual strands of hair are tack sharp, or fade naturally into oblivion as the focus falls off, without any distracting colored fringing.

The lens does sharpen up a bit more past f/iv, just the difference isn’t huge, and I only noticed this in objective test shots, not real-globe use. In short, you should have free rein to choose any aperture y’all demand for the desired depth of field without having to worry about softness.

That’south non to say you lot’ll ever get perfect focus at f/i.viii, however. I noticed that Nikon’southward Eye AF in the Z 6 often focused on my subject’s eyelid rather than the eye itself. This wasn’t always the case, only it did pose an occasional problem for shut-up portraits, where the depth of field was shallow enough that eyelashes could exist in focus, but the iris would be a scrap soft.

In general, autofocus speed was usually very skilful. However, if y’all’ve enabled “Apply settings to live view,” which reflects your exposure settings in the brightness of the preview image, and you purposefully underexpose a scene either by stopping down the aperture or increasing the shutter speed, the lens will start hunting for focus much more. Past turning “Apply settings to live view” off, I noticed AF performance was far more than consistent and the lens rarely hunted, even with the discontinuity stopped downwardly.

To be sure, this is more likely a problem with the camera arrangement as a whole, not just the lens, but it’southward an upshot to be enlightened of even so.

But what everybody undoubtedly wants to know about is the bokeh. Showtime of all, yeah, f/i.8 is plenty wide enough to get ample amounts of blur in your photos, and the Z 85mm’s bokeh is really beautiful. Blur circles grade solid disks that combine and overlap in a pleasing mode, without any distracting “onion rings.” Upwards to f/2.8, the mistiness circles are virtually perfectly circular, but y’all can commencement to run across an angular aperture shape at smaller f-stops. This is non necessarily bad — it’s a thing of opinion, you either like the await or you don’t — but is perhaps a bit surprising given the nine rounded aperture blades

At any rate, a lens similar this is designed to be shot at or nearly wide-open, and the Z 85mm really shines here. In add-on to the shallow depth of field, it has a very soft vignette that evenly fades in, gently cartoon your attention toward the eye of the frame without causing the corners to be distractingly dark. It may not quite match the expect of something similar the Sigma 105mm f/1.iv on a DSLR, but it is so much easier to use (not to mention, cheaper) that you may actually get better results and more keepers.

Our Have

Equally the showtime true portrait lens for Nikon’s year-old Z series, the Z 85mm f/1.8 Due south is a winner. The combination of a bright discontinuity, abrupt optics, and meaty design make information technology a perfect match for the Z vi or Z seven photographic camera bodies. It delivers a shallow depth of field without breaking the bank — or your back. There are very few situations where I feel like I’d demand or even want a faster lens on a full-frame camera.

That’s not to say Nikon won’t make wider-aperture portrait lenses in the time to come. Indeed, the company has continually touted the Z mount’south larger diameter for enabling wider apertures than what’south possible on the F mountain. Despite the promise of f/0.95 glass, however, I am very pleased that Nikon has taken a more conservative arroyo to this showtime round of Z lenses. An 85mm f/1.8 only makes sense, and at that place is very little not to like here.

Information technology may accept taken Nikon a long time to get its mirrorless efforts dialed in, but information technology’south finally doing it right with an affordable, user-friendly approach to lens design that doesn’t sacrifice optical performance. Other manufacturers should have note.

Is there a better alternative?

Non currently. If you lot’re a Nikon Z-serial photographer and you lot desire a skilful portrait lens, this is but about the only option short of adapting an F-mountain lens.

How long will it terminal?

This lens feels very well made and looks like it will hold up to professional wearable and tear for many years. Lenses tend to have long product life cycles, so don’t expect a replacement anytime before long.

Should you buy information technology?

Yes. While $800 isn’t exactly cheap for an f/one.eight discontinuity, it is a skillful price for a premium portrait lens — and that’s what the Z 85mm f/1.eight Due south is.

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