Is This the New King of Portrait Lenses?

The 85mm focal length is a staple in photography, with many portrait photographers gravitating toward it. Is this new 85mm f/1.2 version the new king of portrait lenses?

Nikon has recently released their latest 85mm, Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S Lens for the Z-mount and to say it has been well received is an understatement. 85mm is a focal length on full frame cameras that gives a perfect mix of enough frame to get some context, but telephoto enough to provide excellent subject separation from the background. An early Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 was my first experience with this focal length and for headshots and general portraiture, I was quickly besotted.

In this video, Manny Ortiz takes the new NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 for a spin. Now, Ortiz is an expert portraitist, so throw your wallets and purses out of arm's reach, as the results he shows in his test shoot are delicious; the clarity, the depth of field, the bokeh — it's all superb. What's more interesting, however, is Ortiz' comparison with his previous 85mm from Canon, which was also f/1.2, and his favorite lens before this new Nikon option. I must say, I was surprised by the noise difference when focusing, though I doubt I would have noticed or cared if it hadn't been pointed out!

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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Jason Frels's picture

I have become so accustomed to the quiet focusing of Z lenses that when I occasionally do hear it, I sometimes look around trying to figure out what is making that noise. I did used to have some noisy F lenses.

Nick Soul's picture

Lazy fotogs.