Nikon 85

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Light, sharp, excellent for portraits

Another great, fast, light prime lens. This time, the focal length limits your use slightly. The field of view is not that much, but it is ideal for portraits, and details in landscape.

Unless you are looking to make pictures of people all day, this is not a lens for walking around, you will probably need something wider with you. This is exactly the reason why zoom lenses are so popular. 85mm is not always going to work, so you either carry another lens to help you out, or use a zoom that covers a more practical range. Still instead of a Nikon 24-70, carrying a Nikon 24 and this one is cheaper, lighter and even faster. I still take this lens sometime with me as my only lens, and enjoy it a lot. Maybe because you have to put a bit of extra effort in the results are always great, and at 350grams, this is really one of the lighter lenses making it less taxing to carry around.


There are numerous versions of this lens.

  • Manual focus 85mm AI-S both f/1.8 and f/1.4
  • Auto focus older 85mm D both f/1.8 and f/1.4
  • This version is the G, there is also the f/1.4 version.
  • Then there is a macro lens only for APS-C called AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED VR. This is quite a different lens actually. Since it is a APS-C only lens, it is technically a 130mm lens, more expensive, slower, but you get to focus much closer.

The f/1.4 are quite expensive lenses. I have not tried them (yet), but I think the speed of the lens is overrated (see ISO).

My Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Price Moderate, cheap
Weight Quite light, 350g
Good for Portraits, details
New or used 450 new, is quite expensive used around 350

This is an excellent portrait lens, and with a bit of effort you can even use it as part of a city walk around.

It is a bit challenging as the entire range 85-180 works quite well for portraits, landscapes and details. Getting stuck with one focal length requires a bit of discipline, and a zoom would be much more attractive for many people. So if you use have this lens, will you need a longer lens as well? If you say yes, then Nikon 70-210 or Nikon 70-300 are probably better options.

This is one of the lenses that act quite a bit different between APS-C and full frame. I like longer lenses a lot, and on the APS-C this is essentially a 130mm fast and light lens. The only reason why you would not be happy is that its minimum focus distance is almost a meter, well it is not a macro lens. But to have such a light and fast lens is great. Just make sure you have something else with you to shoot a bit wider as well.


These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.