Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nikon 85mm F3.5G ED DX VR Micro: Initial Impressions

Nikon 85mm F3.5G ED DX VR Micro
I've been looking for a decent macro lens for a little while, and decided that I'd give the new Nikon 85mm F3.5 Micro (Nikon Speak for Macro) a try, since it offers a decent focal length, while giving you a reasonable amount of working distance, even at 1:1 (.286m). I'm not loaded, so I've sold a few of my older lenses that have seen little use and used that money to get the new one. I expected the lens to have some heft to it, but it is very light, weighing in at 335g. I like the fact that 85mm Micro is very light, I wont hesitate for a moment to throw it in my bag.
Before I bought the lens I was little worried, but most macro lenses in this range are F2.8 lenses, but after taking a few test shots I realized that it wouldn't matter much, because for any serious macro work you'll be stopping the lens down to at least F8 or more. Some people have argued that it should have been faster, so that it could have been used as a DX portrait lens, but I didn't get the lens for that, I got it for macro shots, and I find the 50mm F1.8D does a good job for portraits on a DX body anyway.
Back to the lens, mostly plastic, which would explain  why the lens it so light. Good news is that it use the same 52mm filter thread of many other prime lenses, like the 50mm F1.8, 24mm F2.8D, 28mm F2.8D, 35mm F2, 50mm F1.4D. Basically if you use filters with any of these primes that good news is that you wont need another filter size to use this lens. The plastic build does leave a little bit to be desired, but it is okay for general use, just don't throw it around too much! The manual focus ring is nice, not as good as the 300mm F4, but better than any other DX lens I've used by far.

As for lens operation, auto focus is fast and quiet, yup it is real AF-S. It tends to hunt when you are at macro distances (under .3m), but otherwise performs very well. The VR works as advertised, it is slightly better than the VR on the 24-120mm VR, based on my use so far. The VR does start to loose effectiveness when you get to macro focusing distances, no different from any other macro lens on the market from what I've read, but is still helpful for times when you might not have a tripod.

Well those are my Initial Impressions, I'll post a full review in three or four weeks.