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Nikon's long awaited 85/1.8 prime for the Z-series is finally shipping and I'm happy to report it's been worth the wait. Design and build are as expected based on the existing f/1.8 series primes, which is to say relatively light and compact in a decent, if unremarkable, composite casing. AF is fast and accurate and the lens balances very nicely on my Z7. Image quality, as hoped, excels. The lens is tack sharp wide open right across frame. On testing, I can detect a very slight bump in sharpness at f/2.8 in the extreme corners on a planar subject (brick wall). But this is only detectable by making painstaking comparisons at the pixel level. You would never notice it in real world shooting. Simply choose your aperture, focus on any part of the frame at any distance and prepare to be amazed. It's all here. Biting (but not clinical) sharpness from wide open. Exquisite detail at the plane of focus. Beautiful creamy background blur. Smooth transitions. And exceptional colour purity, which is probably down to the remarkable lack of colour fringing, even on out-of-focus highlights. It all adds up to 'that look' which only the best short telephoto lenses have: that beguiling combination of sharp details and glowing highlights against a soft wash of colour, all balanced in perfect harmony. The lens is just as well behaved on stopping down. Depth of field simply increases, untroubled as far as I can tell by any significant focus shift or field curvature, just as you expect and just as you want. No unpleasant surprises. Complaints? If pushed, I would say it doesn't focus quite as close I would like but, in fairness, that's true of every 85mm prime I've ever used. It's just how it is. Some will say it should have been f/1.4. Not me. Not when it's half the size and weight of those 'hero' lenses. Not when the rendering is this good. I pair mine with the equally exceptional 14-30/4 zoom, which on my Z7 makes for a fantastic two lens kit for travel and backpacking. Highly recommended.
This lens is bitingly sharp. Colour and contrast are excellent, chromatic aberration is negligible. It is excellent for portraits and as a mid range lens for general photography. I was not disappointed with it.