Learn & Explore - Z Series

Medium Telephoto Prime: NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S with Nikon Z 6

Recommended NIKKOR Z Lenses for Broader Expression

A fast 85mm prime lens is a staple in just about any professional portrait photographer’s kit. Such lenses not only offer a medium telephoto focal length that captures subjects accurately, but also emphasise subjects with natural bokeh and high resolution at the focal plane. We find out what else makes the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S special. (Photos and report by Kenneth Li)

Lens body
Mounted onto the Z 6
HB-91 Bayonet Lens Hood
Point #1

Stereoscopic visual effects and excellent performance in backlight

I like to use a telephoto lens like the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S lens for wide photos because it brings the background behind closer to the subject. The unique compressed perspective created by this lens creates a very stereoscopic visual effect. This photo was taken during sunset in the background. The lens handled backlight very well: You can see how it brings true colour to the photo with exceptional sharpness, and the Nano Crystal Coat did a brilliant job reducing ghosting and flaring. Even at f/2.5, the lens achieved beautiful, soft foreground bokeh from the leaves immediately in front of me, creating a frame that gently drew attention to the wedding couple in the middle of the photo. At the same time, the in-focus areas are rendered in sharp and clear detail. It is amazing how the lens delivers both sharpness and natural bokeh in one.

Nikon Z 6/ NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S lens/ FL: 85mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.5, ISO 100, 1/400 sec)

Point #2

Light and easy to manoeuvre

Nikon Z 6/ NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S/ FL: 85mm/ Manual exposure (f/1.8, 1/800 sec)/ ISO 125/ WB: Auto

As a wedding photographer who needs to travel around for work, my gear needs to allow mobility, and weight is a crucial consideration. The NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S offers a very large aperture, yet it weighs only approximately 470g and forms a well-balanced combination when attached to the Nikon Z 6. This makes it easy to manoeuvre—it is now so much easier to take top-down shots from high places like the one you see above. As this lens runs on a multi-focus system with two AF drives, combined with the Eye-detection AF* on the Z series cameras, I can achieve accurate focus on my subject in less time that it takes to blink, allowing me to easily capture the moment.

Depictions so real and true to life, every image brings you back in time to when it was taken

The NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S offers a lot more than its size. The relatively light weight makes long hours of handheld shooting easier, and I love its brilliant image quality and the smooth bokeh effect it creates at its maximum aperture. For someone like me who likes to travel around for portrait photography, there is no reason not use this lens. This lens achieves sharpness, smoothness, brilliant contrasts and detailed depictions all together at once, delivering such amazing depth, dimensionality and realism that whenever we look at the photo, it feels as if we are transported back in time to when that photo was taken.

I would recommend this lens to those who love to shoot portraits. I am sure that the lens will give a great and unforgettable experience, especially when paired with the Nikon Z 6/Z 7.

ED Lens elements

Key specifications

  • Focal length when mounted onto Nikon Z 6: 85mm
  • Lens structure: 8 groups 12 elements
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.8m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.12x
  • Filter diameter: φ67mm
  • Maximum diameter×Length: approx. φ75.0mm×99.0mm
  • Weight: approx. 470g

Kenneth Li

Kenneth first got to know photography as a hobby in his teens. He fell madly in love with photography soon after, as he found photography both fun and challenging. He is particularly amazed by how ever-changing moments can be immortalised, and the countless possibilities of composing a beautiful and stunning picture with lines, shapes, tones, textures and colours. A professional wedding photographer since 2011, he aims to transform the magic moments of any journey into pieces of arts. Currently an instructor of Nikon School Hong Kong.