Seven reasons to buy an 85mm lens

e recently told you about fifty dollars. Today we will talk about an equally popular class of fixes – fast aperture lenses with a focal length of 85 mm, which are often called portrait lenses. This is a moderate television range optics : it has a rather narrow field of view, significantly brings the picture closer (a key difference from the “fifty dollars”, which provides a normal angle). What other features do 85mm lenses have? Let’s figure it out!

Nikon Df and Nikon AF-S 85mm f / 1.8G Nikkor

1. Excellent sharpness and high aperture

Lenses with a focal length of 85 mm can provide both high aperture and excellent image sharpness. That is, with them you can shoot in low light and still get high-quality, sharp pictures. In addition, a high aperture allows you to blur the background, while the main subject remains sharp (of course, if you are precisely focused).

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 90, F1.6, 1/200 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

2. Ideal for portraiture

85-mm optics help to observe exactly the shooting distance at which the coarseness of the plan and perspective distortions are optimal for the portrait.

Traditionally, “portraiture” on open apertures give a picture with soft contrast, which is well suited for portraits, eliminates flaws in the skin of the model.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 1250, F1.4, 1/200 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

All of the features of such optics are shown at work with full frame cameras: the Nikon the D610 , D750 , D810 , and so forth .

With APS-C cameras (for example, Nikon D3400, D5600, D7200), due to the crop factor, the lens begins to greatly approximate the picture. On the “crop” he will already be a full-fledged telephoto, and in order to shoot with him, he will have to move far from the subject. The lens is suitable for close-ups and shooting in open areas. If you need a more versatile portrait lens on the “crop”, better look at the “fifty dollars” – there they give a viewing angle that is comparable to 85 mm in full frame.

3. Versatility

85 mm lenses are not only suitable for portraits. Due to sharpness, high aperture, lack of distortion and a popular viewing angle, they can be used in many directions of photography. For example, in the landscape, subject photography.

A sharp high-aperture lens will help to make gentle shots with a shallow depth of field and a beautifully blurred background. The only limitation when shooting objects with a fast 85 mm lens is the large minimum focusing distance, about 90 cm. This is not a macro lens, and you won’t be able to take close-ups without additional devices (macro rings, for example).

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 64, F1.4, 1/400 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

The curvature of objects in the photo due to imperfections in optics is called distortion. It is noticeable if there are straight lines in the frame. This problem is relevant for short-focus optics, but it also occurs when working with long-focus lenses (especially with universal zooms). Lenses with a focal length of 85 mm are devoid of distortion. This is very important in subject, architectural photography.

Thanks to the high detail and laconic transfer of perspective, the 85-mm fix is ​​perfect for shooting still lifes.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 100, F14, 60 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

4. Beautifully blurred background, bokeh

High aperture and long focal length make these lenses real bokeh monsters. 50mm lenses give a tighter bokeh with sharply defined single highlights, and the bokeh of 85mm lenses is softer. Perhaps any fast 85mm lens gives a nice background blur. Everyone can choose the model that, in his opinion, creates the most impressive drawing.

Blurring the background allows you to select the main object or mask unwanted details. Fifty dollars usually maintain the readability of blurry objects. Of course, it is not necessary to always blur the background, but this feature is very important for creativity.

Night illumination is a great occasion to play with bokeh!

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 640, F1.4, 1/160 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 50, F1.8, 1/4000 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

5. Concise perspective

A characteristic feature of any telephoto lens is the compression of perspective: objects that are far from us are approaching in the frame and look larger.

Shooting with a wide-angle lens: the objects in the photo rapidly decrease as they move away from us.

Telephoto: when moving away from the camera, objects are not reduced so much.

Photographers take advantage of this when working with the background or background. So, when shooting in the mountains, you can visually enlarge the mountains against the background so that they look large and majestic.

When shooting with a telephoto lens, due to strong perspective distortion, even the highest mountains may seem small.

When shooting on a telephoto lens (for example, 85 mm), you can emphasize the scale of the landscape.

With a 85 mm lens, you can discover scenes that were not so interesting when shooting at other focal lengths.

6. Compactness

Fast telephoto lenses (especially zooms) are almost always large and heavy. Just look at the optics class 70-200mm F2.8. For example, the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f / 2.8 FL ED VR. This sharp, fast and very high-quality lens weighs almost one and a half kilograms, its length is more than 20 cm! Against the backdrop of such televisions, 85-mm lenses look like kids: they weigh about 500 grams, their length rarely exceeds 10 cm (a great option for traveling!).

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f / 2.8 FL ED VR is an excellent portrait painter. The only caveat is the large dimensions and weight, as with all lenses of the 70-200mm F2.8 class. By the way, Nikon AF-S 85mm f / 1.8G Nikkor is almost four times lighter and as many times more compact!

7. The necessary addition to the “fifty dollars”

Classic fifty dollars not always enough. Often you need to take a larger plan or shoot a distant plot, work differently with the perspective. The best complement to a 50mm lens would be a 85mm focal length lens. This minimal set of fixes is often used by wedding and family photographers on stage shootings: 50 mm for general plans, and 85 mm for large ones.

This kit will help you out while traveling. The 85-mm lens will cope with all the tasks of a moderate telephoto and will allow you to shoot with it even at dusk due to its high aperture.

Features of working with 85 mm lenses

Like any advanced creative tool, the 85mm lens requires certain skills and skill from the photographer.

Focus attention

Shooting with a fast aperture is not as easy as shooting with a zoom, including in terms of focus. The depth of field when shooting with a telephoto on open apertures will be extremely small, so it’s easy to miss the focus with focus. It is important to learn how to accurately focus and master all the settings and tricks of the autofocus system of your camera. Our articles will help you with this. To get started, make it a rule to view after shooting each frame with an increase.

Covered up to F2.5, the aperture made it possible to take the whole face of the model into sharpness, while the background remained blurry.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 100, F2.5, 1/320 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

Cover aperture

If you shoot at the most open aperture at close range, the depth of field will be very small, it can practically get into nothing. As a result, the frame will look blurry. A small aperture cover will provide better image quality and eliminate strong chromatic aberration, and most importantly, it will slightly increase the depth of field and even compensate for small focusing errors. Over time, you will learn to control the depth of field and will know which scenes on which apertures are better to shoot.


Have you noticed that the larger the focal length of the lens, the more the picture in the viewfinder trembles? Risk of blurry shots due to camera shake in the hands rises, so you should monitor the shutter speed. When working with an 85 mm lens, I try not to extend the shutter speed for more than 1/160–1/200 s.

The difficulty of shooting indoors

When shooting with a 85 mm lens, you need to observe a fair distance to the subject. It is more convenient for beginners to use such optics in the open air.

85mm lenses in the Nikon system. Which to choose?

There are many lenses with a focal length of 85 mm for Nikon SLR cameras. Which to choose? Before we look at specific models, pay attention to the fact that the lens must have autofocus .

There are many 85mm non-autofocus lenses from third-party manufacturers on the market today. They can give an arbitrarily high-quality picture or bribe with a low price, but these lenses are impractical in real shooting. Manual focus very difficult, it takes a lot of time. Reporting and dynamic stories can be forgotten altogether.

It is better to choose a “native” Nikon lenses . Now the system has four popular models of 85 mm lenses.

Let’s start with a little outdated models. Nikon 85mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor and Nikon 85mm f / 1.4D AF Nikkor are still used by many photographers. They have a design without a built-in focus motor , so automatic focusing is possible only on cameras that have their own focus drive (“screwdriver”). These include all modern DSLRs, except for entry-level cameras of the 3xxx and 5xxx series (Nikon D3300, D3400, D5300, D5600, etc.).

The Nikon 85mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor is the most affordable 85mm lens for Nikon today. It has been produced since 1994. Its advantages include excellent sharpness with an open aperture, fast focusing, and compactness unique to this class of optics. The weight of the lens is only 380 grams. Of the minuses: the appearance of chromatic aberrations on open apertures, loud buzzing while focusing.

Nikon 85mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor

Nikon 85mm f / 1.4D AF Nikkor

Nikon 85mm f / 1.4D AF Nikkor is famous for its unique noble pattern, interesting bokeh and excellent sharpness. He has a high aperture. Like the Nikon 85mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor, it does not have a built-in focusing drive, so autofocus will only work on older Nikon cameras equipped with a mechanical focusing drive. The lens weighs only 550 grams. Among the disadvantages, it is worth noting minor chromatic aberrations on open apertures (disappear already to F2), relatively noisy focusing. Since the Nikon 85mm f / 1.4D AF Nikkor is happy to catch glare, it is best to use it with a hood. Focusing speed is not lightning fast, but against the background of even modern competitors, it is quite acceptable.

These models are difficult to buy new, more often they are bought in the secondary market. Lenses can be recommended primarily for experienced photographers, connoisseurs of classical optics and artistic, a bit vintage picture.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 220, F1.4, 1/100 s, 85.0 mm equiv.

The two lenses described above were replaced by new models with an integrated ultrasonic focusing drive. Focusing works quietly and quickly on all modern Nikon DSLRs .

Nikon AF-S 85mm f / 1.8G Nikkor has a relatively affordable price, a fast ultrasonic motor, boasts excellent image quality starting with an open aperture, well assembled. It is not as compact as the Nikon 85mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor, but it is quite light: the lens weighs only 350 grams.

Nikon AF-S 85mm f / 1.4G Nikkor is Nikon’s top-end 85mm lens, ideal for professional use. It provides a sharp and beautiful picture, catches less glare, has a fairly fast autofocus. It perfectly adjusted chromatic aberration. Nikon AF-S 85mm f / 1.4G Nikkor is relatively light and compact, weighing only 595 grams. If you are assembling a photo kit for professional portrait and wedding photography, then this option is right for you.

NIKON D810 / 85.0 mm f / 1.4 Installations: ISO 360, F1.8, 1/320 s, 85.0 mm equiv.


Often a photographer, having tried lenses with different focal lengths, finds the most comfortable for himself. Perhaps it is 85 mm that will become the focal point for you.

Great shots! Stay tuned to!

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