Lens review

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S

13 March 2020
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality

The following chart presents a comparison between basic parameters of the Nikkor Z 85 MM F/1.8 S and other full frame 1.8/85 lenses that have been launched recently. It is clear that the Nikkor is among the heaviest and most optically complex devices in this group; only the stabilized Tamron is more optically complex and also physically heavier than the Nikkor. The tested lens sticks out with its superior length for a change.

In the following photo the Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S is positioned between its 1.8/50 system brother and its reflex camera predecessor, so the Nikkor AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G.

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding contacts and a rear element 36 mm in diameter so pretty big. The element is just slightly hidden inside the barrel and the area, close to it, is well blackened and matted. We also didn't notice any electronic parts peeping out from the interior so it would be difficult to have any reservations here.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality

A black, metal ring which doesn't move is the first part of the tested Nikkor's proper barrel. On its surface you can find a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, an inscription with parameters of the lens, the logo of the producer, an AF/MF switch, allowing you to control the focusing mechanism mode, a „Nikkor S” plate, its serial number, the focusing mechanism working range (∞-0.8m/2.62ft), and finally information that the lens was made in China.

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality

Further on you find another immobile ring, this time made of plastics and devoid of any inscriptions. Then there's a manual focus ring, made of metal, as wide as 39 mm, without any distance or DOF scale. It is a 'focus-by-wire' stepping construction and its whole surface is covered by fine ribbing. Its focus throw depends strongly on the speed of your turning – if you move the ring fast it amounts to less than 90 degrees, when you turn it slower you are able to reach even over 180 degrees. Still the amount of rotation is sometimes rather tricky to measure because a really slow movement doesn't produce any results on the electronic distance scale.

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality

It's worth mentioning the fact that fine, metal ribs on the manual focusing ring are very scratch-prone. It's enough to put two such system lenses close together and they can scratch each other's paint with ease.

Next, you see a plastic ring which near one of its ends gets a bit narrower and finishes with a bayonet mount for a hood which you can find in the box with the lens.

The front element doesn't move, is slightly convex and 53 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a casing collar with the name and parameters of the lens and a non-rotating filter thread, 67 mm in diameter.

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with 12 elements positioned in 8 groups. Two of them are made of low dispersion ED glass. Inside there is also a round aperture with nine blades which can be closed down to a value of f/16 at the maximum. Every movable part of the lens's tube is sealed in order to protect the instrument against dust and moisture.

Buyers get in the box with the lens: two caps, a soft pouch and a petal-type hood.

Nikon Nikkor Z 85 mm f/1.8 S - Build quality