The new Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S could probably have a few advantages over Sony’s 85mm f1.8 FE.
A Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S could be music to the ears of any portrait photographer who has adored their lenses and, with today’s announcement of the lens, other photographers could indeed be humming along to the tune. At the cost of $799.95, the new Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S is giving photographers what could possibly be more than what Sony is offering in its most comparable offering. The Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S weighs over a pound due to the extra elements. While the Sony 85mm f1.8 FE has nine elements in eight groups, the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S has 12 elements in eight groups. Like Sony, Nikon is also making their portrait lens weather sealed. In fact, Steve Heiner over at Nikon tells us, “The entire lens, including moving parts on the barrel, has been effectively sealed.” The Nikon lens will be noticeably larger than the Sony offering if the specs we’re reading are correct.
The biggest problem that we see with the new Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S is the eye-detection and autofocus performance. Even with the latest firmware updates, we’re having issues with the Nikon Z6 and the Nikon Z7. Eye detection, which will be instrumental with the use of this lens, will need to be perfect. Nikon’s press release touts that it offers edge to edge sharpness–but that will mean nothing if the autofocus isn’t up to par. For portrait photographers, it could mean that you’ll need to use the smallest focusing point, place the pointer over an eye, focus and shoot. Honestly, that’s not the end of the world–that’s how many photographers shot for years and it’s probably still the case for DSLR shooters. But it makes the shooting process slow down a lot; let alone make it not feel very modern.
Personally speaking, I’m not sure that this is the lens that Nikon needed. Will it be a good lens? There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be. But I feel like sometimes what manufacturers do is release a product just to catch up and say that they have something too. In a world where camera sales are dropping, we shouldn’t be doing that anymore. I should have a legitimately great reason to want to go over to the Nikon Z series system that makes it unique besides for the solid ergonomics. But what every manufacturer needs to do right now is put out a SPECTACULAR LENS! Sony’s G Master 85mm has 11 aperture blades. Canon has an 85mm f1.2 lens. Leica has a 75mm f2 and a 90mm f2 for the L mount system that are both at very high prices. They don’t have an 85mm. And while this 85mm f1.8 lens is designed to compete with other lower price point offerings, a lens is only as good as the system it’s on.
Below are more tech specs.
|Launch Time and Date||Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at 12:01 A.M. EDT|
|Product Name||NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S|
|Mount Type||Nikon Z mount|
|Focal Length Range||85mm|
|Format||Nikon FX format|
|Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)||18°50′ (Nikon DX format)|
|Maximum Angle of View (FX-format)||28°30’ (Nikon FX format)|
|Maximum Reproduction Ratio||0.12X|
|Lens Elements||12 elements|
|Lens Groups||8 groups|
|Compatible Format(s)||FX, DX|
|VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization||in-camera 5 axis VR is applied|
|Diaphragm Blades||9 (rounded diaphragm opening)|
|Nano Crystal Coat||Yes|
|ED Glass Elements||Yes, 2|
|Super Integrated Coating||Yes|
|Autofocus||Multi-focusing system, Internal Focusing (IF) system, manual focus|
|AF Actuator||STM (stepping motor)|
|Minimum Focus Distance||0.8 m/2.6 ft from focal plane|
|Accepts Filter Type||Screw-in|
|Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length)||Approx. 3.0 in. (75.0mm) maximum diameter × 3.9 in (99.0mm) (distance from camera lens mount flange)|
|Approx. Weight||Approx. 470 g/1 lb. 0.6 oz.|