Additional Information on Nikkor 85mm focal length telephoto lenses

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Short 85mm Nikkor telephoto lenses (also please check the autofocus AF Nikkor 85mm telephoto lens group)

The perspective of short telephoto lenses (58-85mm) is closest to that of the human eye. These lenses cause very little distortions when shooting close-ups of people's faces and its optical behavior also provides a comfortable working distance between the camera and the subject that you are shooting For these reasons, they have been dubbed "portrait lenses" and they are very popular among photographers. Short telephoto lenses are also very appealing to photographers because they not only draw subjects near and show them in sharp detail right before your eyes, but give you a refreshing view of the subject's other perspectives. Lenses at 85mm focal length bridges the gap between standard and medium telephoto lenses with longer focal length from 100mm onwards. Its 29° angle of view isn't substantially narrower than the standard lens.

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However, many photographers rely on the 85mm lens for a variety of photographic situations where camera-to-subject distance is relatively too near for other lenses and where they need tightly framed coverage of the image area. In addition, the effect of compressed perspective, typical visual characteristic of a telephoto lenses is at its minimum with the 85mm lens. Distortion of the image isn't a factor even when you use an extreme camera angle with the 85mm lens, making it a good choice for shooting portraits at a reasonably distance where the subject would not feel too nervous.

Many photographers choose it for half length portraiture* because the slight distant provides with its extended focal length lessen the effect of distortion over facial features. For an instance, with a 50mm lens you may have to shoot as close as three feet (or about one meter) to the subject in order to fill the frame, other than the distorting factors, it may also cause your subject to become camera conscious and that could result in less desirable or unnatural expression due to the close working distance between the working photographers and the model.

Credit: Image courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Image magnification and large maximum aperture, two optical factors found in such short 85mm Nikkor lenses also enable focusing action quick and accurate. These lenses can also be of good use to emphasize or isolate the details in action shots or for any given particular scene in scenic or landscape photography. These lenses at the 85mm focal length can also be used in many other scopes of applications. Those who often works in house such as studio, stage, news or even photojournalism will find it extremely handy to handle available light photography with their relatively large aperture of f/1.4 or f/2.0.

* Because of its very slight flattening of perspective, telephoto lenses tends to reproduce facial features in a natural way. In addition, the slightly greater camera-to-subject distance helps the subject to relax. The result is a photographically more pleasing portrait that is more likely to reflect the personality of the subject.

The Nikkor lens family has two Nikkor lenses with varying lens speed and performance. Both of the short 85mm telephoto lenses have a relatively fast lens speed in the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4s. Both of these lenses were the last series of the Manual Focus Nikkor lens group where they have an Ai-S lens coupling system. Other than these two available options, there is actually an equivalent Nikkor lens at similar focal length but serving a different needs, the
AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 lens which was supposedly introduced along with the Nikon F3AF SLR camera in 1981, the lens may still be used with some selective Nikon SLR models but the dedicated F3AF-only lens is NOT compatible with any of the current series of Nikon AF SLRs.

Unlike the MF Nikkor 85mm f/2.0s telephoto lens which was introduced so much earlier back in 1977 in which Nikon updated in an general lens upgrading program for all their lenses to an AI lens specification, this lens went through another round of Ai-S update during August, 1981. On the other hand, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4s lens was actually introduced at a later stage in September, 1981 and probably it was introduced as a native AI-S lens.

Right from the start, this fast speed, high performance Nikkor short telephoto lens has instantly became a favorite among many photojournalists and fashion photographers which permits them to work in constant available light photography.

Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
It was also the first Nikkor telephoto lens that employs with a CRC system to improve its optical performance at its closest focusing distance which can extend down to a close 0.85m. Prior to availability of these two fine optic, Nikon has a marginally faster Non-Ai Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 lens in this lens category. The pre-Ai-S Nikkor 85mm f/2.0 lens that followed after the f/1.8 version has a slightly slower maximum aperture, but it was seen as a replacement lens for the f/1.8 which was soon discontinued after debut of the f/2.0 version. I used to own a Nikkor 85mm f/2.0 lens version for a brief spell but still has been keeping Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens for my personal use. There are some information that I have compiled here in this site relates to older versions which you may also make use of them as a reading reference.

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The original AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 lens was first being introduced back in 1988. It was updated again with a new version, AF-D Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 that has a D-chips set incorporated within when the Nikon F90, appeared in March, 1994. The lens remains in Nikon product list until today as one of the two 85mm AF Nikkor telephoto lens.

Brief summary of lens spec
: The AF 85mm f/1.8 lens has a 6 elements in 6 groups design, takes a 62mm filters, a 77mm Snap-On lens cap, close focus down to 0.85m and weighs 375g.

The AF-D Nikkor 85mm f/1.4s IF uses a 9 elements in 8 groups lens with an ultra fast f/1.4 lens speed, is the fastest AF Nikkor telephoto lens todate. This lens was originally debuted in 1996, incorporating a distance information chipset and it was born as a D-series lens. The lens has a very high built quality, an internal focus (IF) design and provided with a rounded diaphragm blades to yield a more natural out of focus blur. The filter attachment is an unusually large 77mm and it focuses down to 0.85m just like the manual focus version. It also weighs half-a-kilogram at 550g !

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Supplement: * In fact, as early as 1971, Nikon did showcased a prototype AF lense in 80mm focal length with an maximum aperture at f/4.5. Along with the AF-Nikkor lense 80mm f/2.8 designed for the Nikon F3AF camera in 1983, both lenses are probably the only 80mm Nikkor lenses that have ever been produced by Nikon and/or surfaced thus far.

Credit: The one and only picture I can find on this early AF Nikkor lense. Image downloaded from Nikon Japan website. The original can be accessed by clicking here.

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<<<--- Another version is the underwater version with a slightly shorter focal length and slower maximum lens speed at 80mm UW-Nikkor and f/4.0. Credit: Images of UW-Nikkor 80mm appeared in this site courtesy of Mr. Amedeo Muscelli Amedeo, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. | CLICK on thumbnails for a LARGER view |

Manual Focus Nikkor Lenses at 85mm focal length : | Early non-AI versions | pre-AI versions | Late 1970 | Early 1980 - Present: 85mm f/1.4s ; 85mm f/2.0s | AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8s for F3AF; Relative:- AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8s autofocus wideangle lens; AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D autofocus wideangle lens; AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D autofocus wideangle lens

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.