OLD NIKKOR 85MM F 1.8 PRIME LENSES

D-series lens

MORE COMPACT

Despite being smaller than the latest G-series version, Nikon s older D-series 85mm prime lens is actually slightly heavier and feels more robust It also has a larger focused-distance window that has depth-of-field markings for f/16 (as on the G-series lens) and also f/11, as well as an infrared focusing index.

Visually, the biggest difference after size is the adjustable aperture that is provided on the D-series lens. Not only does this make the lens compatible with older (Al-coupled) film cameras but also it makes possible the use of extension tubes and bellows that lack electronic contacts.

D-series lens

The biggest disadvantage of the older D-series lens is the tact that its focusing ring rotates in AF mode. Given that the lens is slightly smaller than its stablemate, taking a firm grip without obstructing the focusing ring can be a bit tricky. Fortunately a solution is provided by the lens hood, which flares out to give the user are area to grip that keeps fingers clear of the focusing ring. The hood is screw-fit and metal-constructed, making it suitable for permanent attachment on the lens.

The only thing to be kept in mind is that although the bare lens has a 62mm accessory thread, the lens hood has its own internal accessory thread with a 67mm diameter. This difference could be inconvenient-or it might mean there is twice the probability of filters from another lens fitting on this one!

D-series lens

During technical testing it was noticed that switching between the two lenses on a stand-mounted camera caused the image to become displaced slightly to one side. This suggests that the elements in at least one of the lenses might have become dislodged. It would be natural to suspect the older D-series lens but MTF testing showed the secondhand lens to be at least equal, and in part slightly better, than the new G-series version.

The difference was fairly marginal but where it existed it favoured the more senior optic. Both lenses resolved at least 0.25 cycles-per-pixel right across the aperture range, from f/1.8 to f/16, on both full-frame and DX-format bodies (although full-frame performance was marginally, but consistently, better).

D-series lens

Similarly, there was nothing more than the slightest trace of chromatic aberration visible on high-contrast test targets photographed using the G-series lens-and even less on targets captured with the D-series lens.

Real-world testing confirmed the newer prime s slightly doser minimum object distance and its quicker, quieter AF operation. In addition, the G-series lens offers manual intervention in AF mode, which can be a real boon in tricky situations. The D-series lens does not even have a focusing-mode switch on its barrel: this setting can only be changed using the fiddly switch on the camera body.

Overall, these are two significantly different lenses that possess their own strengths and weaknesses.

Both are available new but any buyer on a tight budget can safely choose a good-condition secondhand D-series lens knowing that, provided the particular lens chosen has not been abused, its optical performance will match that of the latest model. On the other hand, buyers who need the quickest and quietest AF operation, or who want to be able to intervene manually in AF mode, should opt for the new G-series incarnation.

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