Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Announcement

NOTE: A full review of this lens can be found in my Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Review article.

Along with the Nikon D3100 DSLR camera, Nikon also released the long-expected and overdue Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S – an update to the legendary Nikon 85mm f/1.4D that has been our top choice for portraiture and wedding photography. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4D has always been the “king” of bokeh and because of this, has been considered to be one of the best lenses for portraiture and low-light photography.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G

NIKON D3X @ 150mm, ISO 100, 10/800, f/22.0

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G Lens Specifications

The new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G replaces the AF-D version and comes with completely redesigned optics. Check out these lens specifications:

  1. Focal length: 85mm
  2. Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  3. Minimum aperture: f/16
  4. Lens construction: 10 elements in 9 groups (with Nano Crystal Coat)
  5. Angle of view: 28°30’ (18°50’ with Nikon DX format)
  6. Minimum focus distance: 0.85 m/2.79 ft.
  7. Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.12x
  8. No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
  9. Filter-attachment size: 77mm
  10. Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): Approximately 86.5 x 84 mm/3.4 x 3.3 in.
  11. Weight: Approximately 595 g/21.0 oz.
  12. Supplied accessories: 7mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-55, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1118
    1. From the Nikon Press Release:

      A highly anticipated lens for professional photographers with no room for compromise, the new AF-S 85mm f/1.4G ED is an ultra-fast classic portrait lens boasting amazing picture quality, high performance and the ability to create dramatic background effects (bokeh). This lens is engineered for professional portrait, studio and wedding photographers wanting to shoot at fast maximum apertures while retaining the highest performance. The 85mm lens is also well suited for portraits and low-light shooting situations because of its ability to create a shallow depth of field with exacting sharpness and detail. The AF-S 85mm f/1.4 is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both FX and DX-format D-SLR cameras, and features two focus modes, M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual) to further enhance versatility and adapt to a shooters needs. Additional features include Internal Focus (IF) that allows the lens to focus without changing the barrel length, Nano Crystal Coat to reduce instances of ghosting and flare, and a rugged construction build to endure aggressive field use.

      Nikon 85mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 85mm f/1.4D

      So, what is the difference between the new 85mm f/1.4G and the older 85mm f/1.4D? While basic specifications like maximum/minimum aperture and focus distance stay the same, the biggest changes are lens construction and addition of the Silent Wave Motor (SWM). The new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G sports 10 elements in 9 groups with Nano Crystal Coat, while the older AF-D version had 9 elements in 8 groups and no Nano Crystal Coat. The addition of 1 element adds to the overall weight of the lens, making it 45 grams heavier. The Silent Wave Motor brings quiet AF operation, in addition to AF-S, which means that the lens will work perfectly fine on all current Nikon lenses, including Nikon D3000/3100, D5000 and older Nikon DSLR cameras with no AF motor. Other minor updates include a new M/A switch, which lets you override autofocus by moving the focus ring and a bayonet hood. If you want to switch the lens from autofocus to manual focus on the AF-D version, you have to move the ring to “M” position before touching the focus ring. Now you do not have to do that, which makes it much easier to focus manually. The hood on the 85mm f/1.4DD is also a nuisance – it attaches to the lens filter thread and putting the lens cap is too painful.

      What about sharpness? Let’s take a look at the MTF charts of both, side by side (Left: 85mm f/1.4G, Right: 85mm f/1.4D):

      Nikon 85mm f/1.4G MTF Chart Nikon 85mm f/1.4D MTF Chart

      The MTF chart on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G indicates that sharpness-wise, both lenses perform very similarly in the center, with a slightly better performance in the center. The situation is a little bit different towards the corners – the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G gradually lowers in sharpness, while we can see a sharp drop on the 85mm f/1.4D. So the corner performance on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is clearly better. The MTF line is more straight instead of curved, which means that the image should look sharp in the center and off the center, getting a little softer towards the corners. This is great news, because it means that the new 85mm delivers sharper images both in the center and towards the edges! What about bokeh? See how close the dotted and dashed lines are on the new 85mm – this indicates a little better bokeh!

      The MTF charts do not always portray the full picture, obviously, but we will see how this puppy performs in a real environment – I will be receiving it very soon…

      The Nikon 85 f/1.4G will retail for $1,699.95 and you can already pre-order it from B&H.


  1. August 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    This really caught my attention this morning! Not as useful to me for real estate, but I immediately thought of you guys! :-)

    • September 2, 2010 at 12:16 am

      Aaron, yes, I’m anxiously waiting for it and I’m holding off on selling the older 85mm so that I could do some comparisons!

  2. 2) Leon13th
    August 20, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Can’t wait to see some portraits on f/1,4

    • September 2, 2010 at 12:16 am

      Leon13th, we already have some portrait sessions scheduled…just need the new 85mm :)

  3. 3) pasquier
    August 23, 2010 at 1:42 am

    I’m not going to buy one, I’m not going to buy one, I’m not going to buy one……. well maybe not this year – but it is very nice!

    • September 2, 2010 at 12:17 am

      Pasquier, LOOL! :) NAS is killing us all. I hate Nikon!

  4. 4) Pasquier
    August 25, 2010 at 2:07 am
    • August 25, 2010 at 3:24 am

      Nice link Pasquier, amazing images on that page!

    • September 2, 2010 at 12:17 am

      Yeah, I saw it. Now I need to talk to Nikon and convince them to send me lenses earlier :)

  5. 5) Tim Layton
    August 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I placed mine on pre-order today… can’t wait to see what it can do on my D3s and D3x. And, I FINALLY got my 24mm f/1.4 today… the inventory must be opening up in anticipation of the upcoming holidays. If I could only get the TC 2.0 III then it would be a nearly perfect world! Thanks for the info and great job as always.


    • September 2, 2010 at 12:20 am

      Tim, let me know what you think of the 24mm! I love mine and I keep taking it with me everywhere I go :)

      I received the TC-20E III from B&H, but sent it back before you wrote that you wanted one (I did not even open the package, since I already rented one). I should have kept it for you…

  6. 6) St River
    September 2, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Waiting for your review and sample pictures on this and 24-120 f4 :D

  7. September 3, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I did a shoot yesterday with ONLY the 85mm f/1.4 AF-S:

    I have a portrait shoot I did tonight that I’ll be posting shortly. :-)

    • September 17, 2010 at 12:30 am

      Nice images Sean! I also have some images from the 85mm, but I will be taking it for a good ride this weekend!

  8. 8) amateur
    October 24, 2010 at 6:57 am

    A technical observation on the MTF charts:
    I believe Nikon actually does not provide f/8 data – just 10 / 30 lp/mm curves at max apertures.
    Thus red curves show that AF-D has more or less the same level of contrast, except for the corners (i.e., what you wrote about sharpness @ f/8) and somewhat less resolution (blue curves).
    As for me, I will stick with the old one, it is more than sufficient for my needs.

    • November 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Amateur, thank you for pointing out my mistake – I don’t know what I was smoking when I wrote about f/8.0 MTF performance :) I think I was looking too much at Canon or Sony MTF charts, where they have f/8.0 performance as well.

      I fixed the article.

      And by the way, I posted the review of the new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G earlier.

  9. 9) dan
    December 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Check out some more pics with the 85mm f/1.4G on This thing is absolutely fantastic!

    • December 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      Wow, those are stunning images, thanks for sharing Dan!

  10. 10) Ravil Shinikulov
    July 18, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Приветстde.! Хочу такой себе приобрести! Не поможете его найти?

Comment Policy: Although our team at Photography Life encourages all readers to actively participate in discussions, we reserve the right to delete / modify any content that does not comply with our Code of Conduct, or do not meet the high editorial standards of the published material.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *