Every photographer has a tool in their gear bag that they feel most confident with. This tool is something you can pull out of your bag and a matter the situation I know you can handle it. For photographer like David hobby, sure that tool would be some type of light source, for someone like Zack Arias, i'm sure that would be a Fuji Range finder camera. For me that tool is the 85 mm 1.8. The glass inside this lens is what taught me how sharp and image really can be. For the price point you really can't beat this lens in the portrait realm of thinking. With the huge front element and hefty barrel size, you feel more confident holding it. I remember the first couple times I tried it, The photos were terrible but only because I didn't know how to use it yet. Like every single accessory in your gear bag, you will have to find out what this lens is best used for. Now that I know its strengths and weaknesses, it's always in my bag no matter what. If I have enough space, like on the beach for example, I prefer to use this even over my 50 mm when it comes to doing wider full body shots. I should families with this lens that way I know I have great compression from the 85 mm, in confidence in the sharpness.
If there really was a negative to this lens, and I feel I need to mention it just because this is a review, it's The filter size. 67 mm I don't have a single thing in my bag that will fit it's me that I need to buy A dedicated neutral density filter I couldn't be used with anything else. Though this really isn't a problem, I still would rather carry one filter for three lenses then two filters in-depth shifting and getting clogged up in my bag somewhere. If there's anything I hate on a job, it's when I have to spend 10 seconds fishing around in a very small bag looking for a filter case only to grab the wrong one.
The body itself is plastic feeling but it has a good wait to it The point where it feels off-balance on a smaller body like a d3200. But 85 mm 1.4 has a plastic body and that cost three times as much. I have faith in the body itself is once you feeling your hands you know that is not something fragile (take that with a grain of salt, it is still made of glass). The focus ring is very smooth and allows for easy transaction from minimum focus to infinity With a very short throw, autofocus works great but if you want to manually focus It doesn't feel like an afterthought, which is a common problem with modern DSLR lenses.
One common misconception about this lens is that it can't handle the same shallow depth of field but it's 1.4 brother can. The only thing I can really say to that, is no it does not have the same quality of depth of field that the 85 mm 1.4 does, but it is very solid and easily workable. I have never had to add extra blur which is something I've heard plenty of photographers doing and when your focus is right, this lens is deadly sharp. Wide open can be tricky to nail down in certain situations, but when stopped down to 2.8 - 4, this lens has pinpoint accuracy with great background separation and enough compression.
At only 499, I think this is a real steal, and the best part about it is that Nikon usually includes it with most of their rebate offers you can get it even cheaper a few times out of the year. If you're interested in picking one up you can check it out here on this link.
I really can’t recommend this lens any more than I do. I think this is one of those lenses that I just couldn’t leave at home. The 85mm 1.8g is one of the best sleeper lenses of current value. It doesn’t have a red ring, nor does it have a spine tinglingly low aperture value, but what it does have are solid optics at a smoking price.