review: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens
At the same time that I photographed Anelisa for the review of the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 AF-S lens, I had the brand-new Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens (B&H / Amazon) on my other camera body. For every place that I photographed Anelisa with the 28mm f/1.8 lens, I also shot similar images with the 85mm f/1.8 lens. In a way, these two lenses complement each other, if you like working with a dual prime lens setup. A nice wide-angle view with the one lens, while the 85mm is a sweet portrait lens.
Wanting to show off the shallow depth-of-field, I shot at f/1.8 or f/2.0 throughout this photo session.
I have to remark that in terms of the bokeh alone, this new f/1.8G lens is a superb upgrade to the previous f/1.8D version. The D series lens had harsh bokeh. The G series lens has smoother bokeh. In fact, doing various test shots in my garden the next day, I couldn’t distinguish between the bokeh of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (affiliate) and the new f/1.8G lens. Couple that with the quiet autofocus and that this new lens is very sharp wide open, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G (affiliate) is an excellent choice for the more budget-minded photographer.
This fast prime lens from Nikon delivers superb image quality. Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating (SIC) is a multi-layer lens coating that improves light transmission, provides better color consistency, and minimizes ghost and flare to a negligible level. From the various images I shot, the lens is sharp, and it wasn’t easy to get flare. So that is well controlled. As can be expected from any optic, used wide-open, the contrast is reduced, and you will have to adjust for that in post-processing.
Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) delivers fast and quiet autofocus. Even better, the length of the lens isn’t altered as with focusing. The lens responded fast in auto-focusing on my Nikon D4 camera.
This lens has 7 rounded blades of the lens diaphragm which is intended to smoothly render the out-of-focus areas. In other words, the bokeh is smooth and pleasant. (As an aside, shallow depth-of-field is not the same thing as bokeh.)
All the images shown here were shot using just the available light.
The one benefit of using fast primes wide open, is that you get fast shutter speeds without pushing the ISO too high … and then you get that distinctive shallow depth-of-field look to your images.
Shooting through flowers, I was able to frame Anelisa with these random splashes of orange. Again, the shallow depth-of-field makes this image.
Here is a pull-back shot, photographed with the Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G (affiliate), to show how I placed myself to get that photograph.
In another location, the pull-back shot to show where we started:
I thought the way this tunnel under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, would make a terrific natural frame with shallow depth-of-field and the short telephoto.
This is the beauty of working wide open with a telephoto lens, even a short one like the 85mm f/1.8 … the background just melts away. Here, Anelisa and I stood in the middle of a road in Brooklyn. The way the background recedes helps accentuate her face.
I would highly recommend this lens for any photographer who wants a portrait lens that can be used wide open with confidence. It is small and light-weight and would barely take up space in your camera bag.