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Thursday, 19 August 2010


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Not sure the glued on beads are doing anything for this otherwise attractive model but damn that lens is sharp. However I'm still impressed enough with my 85 1.8 to not spend the extra $1300 more the new lens would cost me. Sorry Nikon. A one day workshop with Kirk Tuck taught me that I don't need no stinkin' autofocus for portrait work anywho.

I like my Zeiss ZM 85/2. It's somewhat under appreciated just because it doesn't have the Leica badge. Sharp at F2 and great bokeh too.

I've had the 85mm f1.8 AF-Nikkor for 13 years. It was cheap, $300 new back then and isn't much more now, is extremely sharp and has good bokeh. Is a half a stop speed worth $1300+ ? Plus, the thing probably makes lenses for medium format cameras look tiny. What appened to the days when 35mm cameras and lenses were SMALL? I know, this will get used mostly on digital, but these are 35mm based digital SLRs. If I wanted to carry something as big and heavy as a Nikon D3 and one of these new 85mm lenses, I'd carry my Hasselblad.

Yeah, so that's cool...

The older design was 9/8. I guess they updated it to 10/9 in order to reduce vignetting when used wide open and to produce more even resolution across the frame when used on 35mm full frame digital cameras. Although wide open softness should not be an issue, since this is a portrait lens? The old Rolleiflex Tessars also had this behaviour (softer w/o, tack sharp at f8), a reason some photographers prefer the Tessar over the Planar version.

Good to see new primes.
I wonder what is the state of the art 85 now, Canon 1.2L, this or Zeiss?

I must say that I am not impressed by the Bokeh. It is the ordinary over-sharpened colored circle of confusion we know well enough.
Innovative would have been something like Nikon DC control or Minolta STF.
Look at this: A 100% crop from sample 1. Just ugly. Standard, normal ...
For this premium price?


Sweet, I suppose.

But now that it's 2010 and APS has long established itself as a viable, high-quality format for serious photogs, when are the camera-makers going to finally make a serious array of top-drawer primes to go with it?

Any reason Nikon can't make premium 23, 34 and 57mm lenses?

I'm not so sure 10 elements is a good thing, is it?

Ouch. Fake eye lashes are really difficult to shoot properly. That make up artist and that photographer is going to have long long conversation about this! Still, I have seen worse.

And the big question is ... is that it?

Four new lenses and one entry-level body. That's nice, but something isn't right. lessee ... when was the last time Nikon released a semi-pro/pro body?

Photokina is a month away. Is there something they're not telling us yet?

(I sure hope so).

Surely anything about which anyone's ever said something more or less positive, and is more than a fortnight old, is legendary?

I am curious as to why Nikon didn't include Vibration Reduction (VR) in this update, but included VR for an Ultra-wide zoom (the 16-35mm f/4 lens) instead.

I guess we're all wondering how it compares with the, um, 'legendary' Canon 85 f1.2...

I dropped my expensive new lens and now it is bokeh? :-)

Boy, this looks nice, but is it $600.00 better than my 105mm F/2 DC?

[mantra] shoot well with what I have . . . shoot well with what I have . . . shoot well with what I have [/mantra]

This is another example of how 'bokeh quality' is a wholly subjective matter. I was excited about this lens. Until i saw the sample images from two sources. I don't know what the Nikon engineers are looking at, actually. They've done the same thing with this lens as they've done with the two 50mm AF Nikkors. I used to like the old 85/1.4's bokeh. This new iteration, though? Ick. B'fugly b'bokeh. It may indeed be sharper. But, i don't need a lens sharper than the previous 85.

I am befuddled as to why they didn't include VR; does no one take handheld portraits? Or, for that matter, are portraits the only thing for which an 85 mm can be used?

Just tried out my new iPad app, PhotoInfo Lite (not yet in App Store), which shows the EXIF data inside photos, and it tells me that the first image was shot at f/6.3, so it's not an example of the lens wide open, and it doesn't say anything about how sharp this lens is. Any halfway decent 85mm is great at f/6.3. (There's no EXIF data on the hair-detail image.)

Good, it's a "G" lens so I have no use for it. Strike it from the shopping list, boys! But I sure am going to add something to the list: the old version 85 1.4!

So, the 16-35 got VR but this one didn't?



The "old" AF-D Nikkor wasn't as good as the AiS manual focus version - the internal focus design and in particular the element that Nikon chose to move to accomplish focus introduced some odd aberrations into its imaging characteristics. Hopefully the new one will be up to the same performance as the AiS, which was every bit as good as the "truly" legendary Zeiss design for the Contax SLRs.


Read Thom Hogan's commentary.

Call me old-fashioned, but it's hard to pull the trigger on a purchase of any G lens costing more than a few hundred bucks. I've got all those wonderful old film-based nikons and a desire to still shoot film from time to time (just ran another roll of Kodachrome... less than a dozen left in my freezer now). F-mount lens compatibility helps to reinforce my buying decisions on Nikon Glass, but heck, where'd the darn aperture ring go? Looks like I better grab one of the current 85/1.4 lenses that still have an aperture ring before the stock runs out!

"The old version was plenty good optically".

Really? I have an old version, try shooting at f1.4 and let me know how that looks. Not so hot.

How many people will be able to discern a $700 difference between the old version and this new one? Where's the VR? Boo-Hiss!

A more cynical view: Nikon ran out of the supply of the old ones, and they were selling a lot of them to D700 owners, and it's a high-profit lens (not especially so, just because it's premium-price and premium-price lenses tend to be high profit). So they made more. The decision is not "what new lens should we introduce?", the decision is, "we're running out of 85/1.4 AF's. Are we going to keep making that?" If the answer is yes, obviously they're not just going to make another run of the old AF lens--they're going to update it to current style in accordance with the expectations of the target market and to match other new lenses.

A more exciting and sensible lens to introduce might have been a 57mm f/1.4 with VR, for DX cameras. But that's not an answer to the question.


I'm using the CV 58mm f1.4 SLII for my D90 and am very happy with it. There's something about the colour rendition which I'm just unable to describe. Its just so pleasing.

Sorry Mike, I wouldn't need a Nikkor 57mm f1.7G DX.

I love my 105 mm f/2.5 AI and when the new 85 mm comes to the market I`d really like to test it together with Micro-Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G.

Remember, VR units can be somewhat fragile. This is a workhorse lens. A beauty, too.

I like the cynical view :) With regard to VR, Nikon probably sees this as a portrait / studio lens, where subject motion is more likely to be the issue than photographer motion (I hasten to add, I do not agree necessarily!). I also imagine after what Thom Hogan said that it may be a design compromise too far to try to squeeze VR into the optics - after all I imagine this will be tricky for an f/1.4 design (yes I did read the part that says the design exists, but it may be uneconomical to manufacture or may not perform as well).

It's interesting to watch how the manufacturers introduce new glass in this FX/DX era. It seems to me that Nikon aims DX at the zoom- (or 50mm f/1.8 equiv) using amateur sector of the market and puts out the "pro" gear for the FX, viz. the bodies, new primes, and the 12-24mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom, which I imagine would have been a lot easier to make as an FX-only lens.

"Nikon probably sees this as a portrait / studio lens, where subject motion is more likely to be the issue than photographer motion"

Well, neither are much of a problem in the studio, where short-duration strobes will effectively eliminate most any source of motion or shake.


All the sample images are at the first link, in the caption. In case you want to get the EXIF info on the other image too.


Four G lenses? Thanks but no thanks.

Re Anselm Adams and this nugget of wisdom:
'...Practically all lenses made within the last decade or two are excellent—often more precise than even the most exacting practical photographer requires.'

True, if you shoot what he shot - things that don't move, with lenses stopped down far enough to be called pinholes. If, however, you shoot things that move in low light....

"Remember, VR units can be somewhat fragile."
From my previous experience with earlier versions of Nikon AF lenses I'd say they are ALL fragile. Had a 180 AF ED that got bumped walking thru a doorway. $200 later it had new focusing rails. Not a pleasant experience and I wasn't the only one that this problem. That and the fact that Nikon body lens mounts are just as suspect. I'm not trying to rail on Nikon but these types of "field failures" don't seem to be discussed these days, are they no longer an issue?

For everybody who's saying "Why didn't they just stick with the old one?", remember that the old one didn't provide AF on bodies without focus couplers. Yeah, mostly those are low-end bodies, and few users of those will buy a $1700 lens... but "few sales" is still better than "zero sales."

And for everybody who's saying "Why no VR?", well, barrel diameter might be one reason. I'm still not convinced that VR is essential for every lens, as some people seem to think -- for a non-tele lens such as this one, VR isn't going to provide much benefit until you get down to such slow shutter speeds that subject motion, not camera shake, is likely to be the limiting factor.

"VR isn't going to provide much benefit until you get down to such slow shutter speeds that subject motion, not camera shake, is likely to be the limiting factor."

I assume you don't own a tripod?

A little late on this thread, but Nikon lists the lens as weighing 660g, not 595g. 23+ ounces.

I've been wondering when nikon will start putting in VR in primes. I find VR makes a great difference, so I'm disappointed.

"I find VR makes a great difference"

Me too. But I talked about it so much people made me stop....


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