85mm f/1.8 for the Z - Native or Adapted?

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Jan 22, 2019
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Andy
The 85mm focal length has been my go-to lens for portraiture. My 85mm f/1.8G has been a workhorse on the D750 and for the last year, it has also been an excellent performer mounted via FTZ to a Z body. This week, with no particular reason to upgrade, I decided to spring for a Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S and experience it firsthand.

The two most tangible comparisons:
  1. Cost New: $427; $797 (S costs about double)
  2. Size: 485g (with FTZ); 470g (S is just slightly lighter)
My first two test shots, using a key light in a soft box camera left and a round head light splashing some light on the gray background, shot wide open with both lenses:

1. G
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2. S
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Needless to say, this is not much to go on, but I can immediately see that the S is better in a couple subtle ways:
  1. Less vignetting
  2. Slightly sharper
  3. Slightly more contrasty
 
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Ian
Andy,

I would suggest doing a similar type of shoot, but outdoors. One of the biggest things I notice with both F-mount 85's (I had the 1.8, and sold it for the 1.4) is the amount of CA, particularly green fringing. It would be great to see how much of an improvement Nikon has made on that front with the new S lens.
 
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Bill Mellen
Andy,

The S is better but sometimes the flaws of earlier versions are desirable :)

I admit to being addicted to 85mm f/1.8 (2) lenses and have owned pre-AI, AI, AIS, AF-D, AF-G and S versions of them. The new S is the best of them all. I still have the G version and plan on keeping it.
 
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Today, outdoors with a human subject.

1. G - full body
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2. S - full body
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3. G - headshot
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4. S - headshot
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There is a subtle difference in the way colors are rendered, especially the mid- and dark tones. And the S might offer a little better detail in the shadows.

One operational difference was that the Eye-AF seemed to be much faster to acquire a target with the S. I'll have to do a lot more shooting to be certain, but the difference was quite noticeable between the two lenses when capturing the headshots.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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Now I am not so sure that the eye-AF is faster with the native 85. Smoother, perhaps, but not necessarily faster. Also, for portraiture, the improvement in corner sharpness and elimination of fringing is not apparent.

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Joined
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Andy,

Wide open, the f/1.8S is sharper and more contrasty across the entire frame to my eye. Stopping down, they even out with the edge still going to the newer f/1.8S.

The difference is subtle and the f/1.8G is a very good lens indeed.
 
Joined
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Andy
I have no doubt that is true. However, in my images I will seldom see it. The most recent image I posted is a particularly obtuse example, but you get the idea...

I guess I was really hoping for better AF performance, which I thought I was getting at first, and now I’m less certain. What are your thoughts in that regard?
 
Joined
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Bill Mellen
I have not used the G on my Z6 since getting the S. The G does AF ok on the Z6, but not as well as the S.

Now if someone asks whether it is worth buying the S when you already have the G.... The G is a very good lens and the S is only slightly better wide open. There are a lot of better ways to spend your money :)
 
Joined
May 4, 2008
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Stafford, UK
When was this renamed from Lens Lust to Buyers Remorse?

As sensible reviewers have stated, if you already have G or E version it is difficult to justify buying Z as pre-Z lenses are already good (understated praise).

If you are going to run F and Z mount systems in parallel you need F mount lens but if only running Z it is time to move to native lenses only.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
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St. Charles, IL
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Andy
When was this renamed from Lens Lust to Buyers Remorse?
I suppose I do have some remorse for treating myself to this lens with full knowledge that my G was and is still excellent. Nevertheless I bought the S. If that’s not an example of lens lust, I don’t know what is. I thought posting my findings would be of interest to others.
 
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