Eighty Five Test Drive

This is the lens we are test driving today: our new AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.
This is the lens we are test driving today: our new AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.
This is classic spherochromatism, as you can see in this image of my old 85mm: the close numbers on the aperture ring have a red cast, and the far letters on the lens barrel are green. This aberration is common to large-aperture lenses.
This is classic spherochromatism, as you can see in this image of my old 85mm: the close numbers on the aperture ring have a red cast, and the far letters on the lens barrel are green. This aberration is common to large-aperture lenses.

Readers know that earlier this week my wife Abby and I took delivery of a new AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G, a lens that replaced my dead 1994-era 85mm. I’ve only had a short time to play with it, but I managed to take it outside this afternoon to make a few frames, both because I wanted to get a feel for what to expect from the lens, and because it was a beautiful day.

  • The selective focus capabilities of the large maximum aperture are everything I’ve come to expect from a lens in this class.
  • Even at f/1.8 (“wide open” in industry parlance), it is very sharp.
  • Bokeh, the character of the out-of-focus areas in the image, seems to be even better with this new lens that with its predecessor. I was, however, able to coax it into a giving me a few ratty bokeh spots.
  • Spherochromatism, an aberration that produces red color fringes on out-of-focus areas in front of the focal point and green color fringes on out-of-focus areas behind the focal point, is quite noticeable wide open and near the closest focus distance. This aberration is well-controlled by stopping down to about f/2.5.
  • Focus was quick and quiet, and the lens felt very at-home on my Nikon D7100.
This is a piece of rope I use to tie tomato plants in the summer, dangling from our fence. You can see that the selective focus potential of this lens is quite impressive.
This is a piece of rope I use to tie tomato plants in the summer, dangling from our fence. You can see that the selective focus potential of this lens is quite impressive.
I made this image last night of a metal lizard I brought home to my wife from a hiking trip to Utah. As you can see, the out-of-focus areas of the image melt away gracefully.
I made this image last night of a metal lizard I brought home to my wife from a hiking trip to Utah. As you can see, the out-of-focus areas of the image melt away gracefully.
On the other hand, if you challenge this lens with enough clutter, its bokeh can get pretty ratty, seen here on the left side of the image in particular.
On the other hand, if you challenge this lens with enough clutter, its bokeh can get pretty ratty, seen here on the left side of the image in particular.
In many circumstances, though, this lens delivers gorgeous results. This image of rusted chicken wire on our back fence is an example of exactly how I wanted this lens to perform.
In many circumstances, though, this lens delivers gorgeous results. This image of rusted chicken wire on our back fence is an example of exactly how I wanted this lens to perform.

 

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3 Comments

  1. My 85mm f/1.8 has been invaluable over the years, and I’m coming up on its 10th anniversary (I bought it at B&H in Manhattan in March 2006). It did not turn out to be my *favorite* lens — because by nature it has a specific job and specific limitations, but it’s currently my oldest and most dependable lens. 🙂

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