The Nikon 85mm AF-D is one of those lenses that has been around for what seems like forever, and despite being replaced in recent years by Nikon with the F/1.4 AF-G. I still believe there’s very much a place for this short telephoto in today’s world, Especially for the bargain price you can now find them for.
On the used market the 85mm F/1.8 can be found from anywhere between 2-300£, depending on the condition. For a fast, prime 85mm full frame lens, that is incredible value.
With 9 Straight aperture blades & a maximum aperture of F/1.8, this lens is a perfect portrait shooter, blowing out background in a really pleasing way. It will also stop all the down to f/16 and being far from a one trick pony, it will work on Nikon’s cropped APSC cameras, giving you a 129mm equivalence.
Nikon 95mm AF-D For Video, The good Bits
Bang-For-Buck – I know I say it a lot, but I do love finding filmmaking gear that represents great value, and this lens definitely sits within that camp.
A Fast, Prime 85mm lens is a beautiful option to have in your kit bag, and usually they would set you back 3-4x what this does. So in many ways, it represents a no brainer for Nikon Shooters.
The Build Quality is excellent, sure aesthetically it now looks like more of a vintage lens, but it’s construction is solid & reassuringly weighty in hand. The focus and aperture rings all feel great to use and even after all this time, it still somehow feels like new.
IMAGE QUALITY, in truth, it’s beautiful. I’ve genuinely fallen in love with how this lens works, particularly when we film interview or talking head pieces.
The separation you get from the background and the focus fall off is just really pleasing to look at. It’s one of the lenses that makes filmmaking enjoyable, and really you can never over look that.
Nikon 85mm F/1.8 AF-D in 2019, The Bad Bits
It’s not the sharpest lens for sure, especially when wide open. But that’s a harsh criticism, as most fast lens suffer with this when wide open, especially in the corners of the frame. However it does have to be noted, that it does under perform slightly, when compared to it’s replacement the F/1.4 AF-G.
Beyond that bigger problem, there’s just a host of niggles that filmmakers will find. There’s No I.S., Auto Focus will be loud and slow and the minimum focus distance is a whopping 3 Feet. But in my mind, these are more quirks that you choose to live with in order to get that impressive image for a bargain price.
So for sure, the Nikon 85mm F/1.8 AF-D is an elder statesman of the prime lens world and with this age comes with some quirks & shortcomings. But for the sub £300 price point you’re getting a truly great piece of filmmaking gear, that truly delivers and doesn’t break the bank.
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