Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S (FX) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (full format)

Review by Markus Stamm, published February 2022

Introduction

The Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S is another member of the initial collection of fast primes for the new Z system. It features a classic moderate tele focal length that is especially popular for portraits. Combined with its maximum aperture of f/1.8, it offer lots of creative potential for many other uses, too.

It features the "S" designation, which Nikon reserves for the higher grade lenses taking full advantage of the new sensor mount and its large diameter. With 12 elements in 8 groups, the lens has a more complex design than the earlier F-mount AF-S 85mm f/1.8 lens, resulting in a considerably higher street price of around 750 EUR/USD (at the time of this review).

Let's have a look at how the lens performs on the Z7.

The Z 85mm f/1.8 S shares the minimalistic design of all current Z f/1.8 primes, where control elements are reduced to a minimum. There is an AF/M switch and a large focus ring. The latter works by wire, so is not in any way mechanically coupled to the focus motor. This allows to dynamically adjust the manual focus speed to the speed the ring is turned with, giving fast focus changes with quick movements and very precise fine-tuning with slow movements. If preferred, other functions can be assigned to it, like ISO, aperture or exposure compensation control.

The large rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly. Focus throw is quite short, though.

Thanks to an IF (inner focus) design the length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and as you'd expect from any modern lens the front element does not rotate. So, using a polarizer is no problem.

The lens features a stepping motor that allows the lens to adjust focus fast and silently. It's not a completely noiseless drive, though, so if you're into video, you'll likely want to use an external microphone (which you'll probably use anyway if you're seriously into video). The aperture is controlled electronically, too.

The lens is sealed against dust and moisture.

Specifications
Optical construction12 elements in 8 groups including 2 ED elements and Nano Crystal Coat
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.8 m (max. magnification ratio 0.12x)
Dimensions75 x 99 mm
Weight470 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresStepping motor (STM), electronic aperture, customizable control ring, dust and moisture sealings