At CES 2022, Nikon announced that the new Nikon 85mm f1.2 was being developed. This will be part of their S lens lineup, which means it’s going to be one of their highest-end offerings. I have to admit, I’m nervous about this one. Ultimately, I think Nikonians who think that their company can do no wrong will buy it no matter what. But Nikon is losing ground to other brands, and they need something truly special.
What am I talking about? Well, Canon’s 85mm f1.2 is something special because of the way it renders scenes. Sony doesn’t have an 85mm yet, but they’re bound to. And so I’m hoping the Nikon 85mm f1.2 doesn’t do what Sony does (make super clinical glass). I think Nikon should embrace the idea of adding character to this lens.
Let’s start with what I’m sure it will be. This is bound to be a lens that is fully weather-resistant to the best of Nikon’s abilities. They make some of the most durable gear we’ve tested. It’s also probably going to have focusing issues that will improve with firmware updates to cameras and the lens.
Compared to most of the competition, Nikon has often come in at lighter weights from what I remember. So the Nikon 85mm f1.2 will likely be lighter than Canon’s 85mm.
However, I think what might truly sell the Nikon 85mm f1.2 is the image quality. I believe it will render much nicer if it has something like the swirly bokeh of a Petzval lens. Even if that render is slight, it’s going to add the character that Nikon desperately needs to differentiate itself. Photographers these days are tired of having the same optics over and over again. And if every camera company is looking for sterile cleanliness and perfection, then all lenses will look the same after a while, right?
I mean, if that’s the case, what’s the point of sticking with Nikon? Why not go with Sony and get better autofocus and more support universally?
For the first time in years, I’m considering buying into Nikon. The Nikon ZFc was a disappointment, but if they can nail the Nikon ZF, I’ll buy in. Just think about what it would be like to have the ergonomics of something like a full-frame Fujifilm XT5 with better autofocus and full-frame image quality. This would be the dream for so many photographers. And if the Nikon 85mm f1.2 adds character, then I’ll truly consider it. More importantly, Nikon needs to find more ways to differentiate itself from other camera brands, especially because they’re using Sony’s sensors.
The last thing we need is another generation of cameras using the same sensors with little variation. The same goes for lenses like the Nikon 85mm f1.2. Considering that it was a development announcement, I’m sure we can expect this lens to arrive soon. That’s an awesome thing. Nikon has more or less been releasing what amounts to the equivalent of a new lens every month. Some of them we’ve absolutely loved, others we’ve wanted to roll our eyes at. But universally, the Nikon S lenses are all very good. Since the 85mm f1.2 will be one of those lenses, I’m hoping it doesn’t let us down.