While it’s no secret I love prime lenses and favor them over zooms I wanted to write a mini review of one of the Nikon prime lenses that Nicole and I use a ton…

It’s the Nikon 85 1.8G lens.  If you’ve done any research at all on this lens you’ll notice right away it has a pretty attractive price point of less than $500, but you might not know how it performs in the field and despite the relatively low price point, does it deliver the goods.

Spoiler alert… YES it delivers!  Read on…

There honestly isn’t much to not love about this lens, unless of course you “need” a wider aperture than 1.8.  In which your options would be…

So now that we’ve gotten the “what’s not to love” category out of the way let me tell you what we love about the Nikon 85 1.8G…

  • Bokeh – this lens produces very nice creamy bokeh which will help take your portraits to a whole other level and will have your subjects popping right off the photo!
  • Color & contrast – as with all of the Nikon “G” lenses I’ve used the coloring and contrast is great.  Your photos, straight out of camera, will have plenty of “punch” leaving little to add with respect to color and contrast during editing.
  • Sharp – we ALL want sharp photos and the pixel peeper in all of us will check our photos for extreme sharpness…I am no exception and this lens has always performed amazingly for us on a variety of cameras and given us tack sharp eyes and focus – even when shooting wide open at 1.8!
  • Auto-Focus speed – While I can’t say our 50mm prime is a winner in this category, I can say that the 85 1.8G kicks butt with fast auto-focusing which is a must have for any sort of wedding or portrait portraiture when you must always be ready to capture a fleeting moment.
  • Weight – It’s easy to shoot with this lens all day at a wedding because it’s so lightweight.  While some would prefer an allow metal casing to the hard industrial grade plastic, I can say that the lens feels sturdy and well put together.  I prefer the comfort of having a lighter weight lens lineup.
  • Price – At only $497 or so, this is an extreme value for any photographer looking to add a great portrait lens to your kit.
Nikon 85mm 1.8G lens reviews_0000


All image samples taken with the 85 1.8G lens at f/1.8 and copyright Cole Joseph Photography.

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Who is this lens for?

This lens is perfect for portraits – whether you are taking photos of your own children, other families, weddings or even corporate head-shots, this lens will deliver the goods and make your photos pop like you never knew was possible.

Who is this lens NOT for?

This lens is not for someone looking for a jack-of-all-trades type versatile lens.  It also isn’t the best choice if you need a fast lens to use indoors, because odds are you’d need something wider like a 35mm or even a 50mm.

Crop vs Full Frame & Field of View

Your results (and happiness) with this lens may be partially dependent upon if you are using it on a crop sensor camera or a full frame camera body.  The reason why is if you are using it on a crop sensor (like the D3200, D5200, D7100 etc…) the 85mm lens will have a equivalent “field of view” of 127.5mm – 1.5x the focal length.

All that means to you is simply, the lens will “feel” like a 127.5mm lens on your camera rather than if you had it on a full frame camera.

However that extra “reach” can come in handy and help enhance the bokeh and out of focus areas of your portraits so don’t let that scare you off 🙂

Looking for more info about my favorite lenses? Check out these great articles.

The Ultimate Wedding Photography Gear Guide
Prime vs Zoom Lenses – 7 Top Reasons to Use Prime Lenses
5 Top Reasons You Need a 50mm Lens
Nikon Wedding Lenses Without Going into Debt!

Now it’s your turn, are you already using the Nikon 85 1.8G lens?  If so, what do you think of it?
Cole

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