Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX Micro 85 mm f/3.5G ED VR

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX Micro 85 mm f/3.5G ED VR
9 February 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

1. Introduction

Originally posted 2010-11-26 on Optyczne.pl

When we the first heard news about the launch of the Nikkor AF-S DX Micro 85 mm f/3.5G ED VR, a lens designed by Nikon to work on smaller sensors, reached us we were wondering what the point of launching such a lens was. With the benefit of hindsight we must admit it did have a point because the lens fits a certain market gap quite well.

Nikon has had already a similar model in its line-up - the Nikkor 105 mm f/2.8 G AF-S VR IF-ED Micro, assessed by us very well - but it costs about 890 $ so it is often simply too expensive for amateurs, often on a tight budget. The Nikkor 60 mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Micro is distinctly cheaper but its focal length is too short for some macro applications, it doesn’t have any stabilization and it is still more pricey than the new 3.5/85 VR. Looking at the offer of the Nikon the new lens really fits perfectly the whole range of this company’s products.

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What is offered by independent producers, though? Sigma has two lenses with similar parameters: the 70 mm f/2.8 EX DG MACRO and the 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG MACRO. Both are a bit faster than the Nikkor but also more expensive; as both don’t feature either stabilization or an HSM motor; apart from that they change their dimensions significantly when you go to minimum focus distance.

The situation of Tamron is a bit better. You can find a relatively new model, the Tamron 60 mm f/2.0 SP AF Di II MACRO, in its line-up. The fastness is its main advantage – the device on a small sensor will perform well as a shorter portrait lens. On the other hand, though, when it comes to typical macro usages, the Nikkor’s stabilization, even more useful than f/2.0 aperture, and bigger distance in which you can get 1:1 scale will be its chief assets. The Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 SP Di Macro seems to be the most serious rival of the Nikkor 3.5/85 as it has a similar focal length, an ultrasonic autofocus motor and it doesn’t change its dimensions during work. These are important assets too.

There is also the Tokina 100 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO D FC Macro on the horizon, with roughly the same pros/cons ratio as the Tamron. The Tokina is a bit cheaper than the Nikkor, faster, excellent optically and mechanically; its longer focal length works better when it comes to typical macro shots. However, the Nikkor has stabilization, ultrasonics and fixed dimensions – several things the Tokina can’t boast of.

To sum up the new Nikon’s launch made this company the only one on the market which can boast in its line-up a stabilized macro lens with a price acceptable for amateur photographers, additionally with an autofocus based on an ultrasonic SWM motor.

We would like to thank the Nikon Poland company for lending us the lens.

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Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX Micro 85 mm f/3.5G ED VR - Introduction

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