Nikon Z85mmf/1.8 S PRICE: £799
SPECS › Price £799 › In the box Lens, front and back caps,
Perfect for portrait photography with its creamy bokeh and attention to detail, Nikon’s fast aperture lens joins the Z system’s S line, and it doesn’t disappoint one bit
HB-91 bayonet hood, CL-C1 case › Format 35mm full-frame, APS-C › Compatibility Nikon Z › Filter size 67mm › Construction › Aperture range F/1.8-16 › Diaphragm Nine blades › Autofocus Yes, internal focusing › Manual focusing ring Yes › Coating Nano crystal coat › Minimum focus 80cm › Weather-sealed Yes › Dimensions (dxl) 75x99mm › Weight 470g › Contact nikon.co.uk 12 elements in 8 groups › Special lens elements Two ED elements BELOW Get in close or shoot with the lens wide open, and this lens delivers minimal depth-of-field with a nicely diffused background
SHORT TELEPHOTO LENSES are usually ideal choices for photographing people. First, they enable a comfortable working distance between you and your subject. On top of that, they offer a pleasing perspective for headshots as well as full length pictures. If the lens has a fast maximum aperture, that’s even better – lovely background blur provides portraits with a 3D look. For these reasons, it’s important that any camera or lens range contains such an offering. Now, Nikon’s Z system boasts its own: the 85mm f/1.8 S. I tested the lens on Z 7 and Z 6 II bodies – the latter boasting the latest v1.10 firmware update with improved face detection AF. In addition, the handling on both cameras is excellent, equating to a well-balanced package.
As lenses go, this is a model without frills, at least externally. Full-frame Z bodies are equipped with IBIS, making the lack of vibration reduction less significant. But there’s also no focusing range limiter, no distance scale and no OLED display, unlike some top- end Nikon Z lenses. A sliding control switches between auto and manual focus, and there’s a nicely finished broad focusing barrel – but that’s about it. With internal focusing, the lens doesn’t even change size as you approach the subject. It all seems rather plain. Nonetheless, digging just a little deeper, plenty of positives spring up. First, the focus ring proves capable of more than simply adjusting sharpness. The knurled focus barrel can be set via the camera body to adjust aperture,
ABOVE With a reassuringly solid build quality, the Z 85mm f/1.8 S works smoothly. Its focus barrel doubles up as a control ring
Our test chart shots were taken with the 85mm f/1.8 S on a Nikon Z 7 lit by two LED lights. The camera was mounted on a Leofoto LS-324C tripod with a LH-40 ball head. Raws were processed in Lightroom applying default sharpening only. The test shots reveal this telephoto prime as a leading optical performer, able to produce impressive results at every aperture. Distortion is also very well controlled, while flare shouldn’t be an issue in most situations.
modify ISO or engage exposure compensation. Effective sealing protects lens internals from dust and water droplets. Its minimum focus of 80cm also enables decent, frame-filling face shots. The lens’s autofocus is fast and responsive – even on the older Z 7 – plus, it’s silent. Typically, accuracy is not an issue. However, where any hesitancy arises with the focus barrel set to focus, manual override is instantly on hand. On test, this is a very high-performing lens. That begins with the maximum aperture, producing high-contrast and finely detailed images. Mild vignetting appears at f/1.8, but this disappears to a large extent by just stopping down to f/2. And the tiny bit of fringing also vanishes by f/2.8. Overall, there are no performance concerns. In terms of detail and resolution, this lens is impressive. It achieves a fine performance throughout the aperture range, including at both ends. Basically, you have the freedom to use any aperture, making decisions based on howmuch depth-of-field you want in your shots, or how you want the background to appear. WC
PROS Handling, useful minimum focus, deep hood supplied CONS None with such a performance at this price While stock in shops might prove a short-term issue, the wait for such a lens is always worth it. If you enjoy people and everyday photography, Nikon’s Z 85mm f/1.8 S is just the ticket. It’s a high-performing optic that handles impressively. It’s also fairly priced for a big-brand prime lens, with a guide price of £799 – street prices can be as low as £709, though. Verdict
Issue 87 | Photography News 37
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