Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm 1:3.5 G ED VR Lens (f/3.5)

Review of the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm 1:3.5 G ED VR Lens (f/3.5).

Overall Rating:


This lens is 14 years old. It is a DX lens which means it will work on DX and FX cameras. Its debut price was $530 USD.


Even though this lens features ED glass, it is not as sharp as the little 40mm version. The working distance is significantly greater than the 40mm version, though. There is a clear degradation in sharpness for distant subjects.

Color fringing is really very low, impressively so. Vignetting is controlled by stopping down to at least f/5.6. Distortion is well controlled with just a tiny hint of barrel distortion (0.2%). Flaring is very hard to come by.

The VR is nearly useless for handheld macro work because there is too much movement. With VR on, the image just calmly moves around the frame never settling down. With VR off it is violently shaking. Turning VR off and using a tripod is an absolute must. Which begs the question: "Why have VR on a macro lens?" — Perhaps for just 1:3 and less magnified photography.

The minimum close-focusing distance is right around a foot, and this is the only advantage this lens has over its 40mm cousin. At this distance the maximum aperture is f/5.

Diffraction begins around f/8, which is poor for a macro lens.

For portraiture, this lens is not ideal due to its slow maximum aperture unless the background is void of any detail.

The autofocus operation is smooth and silent. This lens is reasonably fast focusing just not as fast as an AF-P lens. Nikon need to introduce a AF-P Micro Nikkor lens!

macro, f/11 (detail)


The bokeh is decent to say the least.



Because this is a "G" lens, it is compatible with all Nikon DSLR's. It is not compatible with older nikon cameras, like film ones; it will mount and take pictures but only at one aperture. As stated above, this will work on FX cameras with a 1.53× crop. Use the megapixel crop calculator.


This is an all plastic lens, however, it is very sturdy feeling. The manual focusing feels good and there is no slop in the focus collar which is comfortably wide. It does focus beyond infinity to accommodate the UV wavelength.

It features an internal focus design which should lessen the amount of dust that collects inside the lens over time.

This lens has a focus scale but no depth of field scale. The focus scale is useful because it shows the reproduction ratios.

The 52mm filter threads do not rotate. The diaphragm is nicely rounded.


Focal length 85 mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5
Lens construction 14 elements in 10 groups (with one ED glass element)
Picture angle 18°50’
Closest focusing distance 0.286 m/0.9ft.
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:1 (1×)
No. of diaphragm blades 9 (rounded)
Filter/attachment size ø52mm
Diameter × length Approximately 73 × 98.5 mm/2.9 × 3.9 in.
Weight Approximately 355 g/12.5 oz.
Price $530 USD (2009)


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