Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 ~ My Favorite Portrait Lens

[NIKON D4, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/60, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 85)]

When shooting headshots/portraits I have found that when I am using a zoom lens I tend to move back and forth too much, which can distort the person’s face.

A few years ago I ran a test with my lenses to see which lens I preferred and here is that test.

Grant Newsom [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/200, ƒ/9, (35mm = 85)]

Now I don’t always shoot it wide open at ƒ/1.8. Often when I get close enough to fill the frame this is too shallow.

Rodney Bullard [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/60, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

If I back up and get a 3/4 photo of a person, then the ƒ/1.8 can work really well. You see the closer you get the shallower the depth-of-field. So, if you back up you increase that depth-of-field.

Kimberly Gleason & Will Thompson Wedding Wedding and Reception [NIKON D4, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2800, 1/100, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

It really does well to help isolate your subject, like this couple at their wedding, but I still get a sense of mood with the background out of focus.

Julia Oliveira [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

Now I can tell you the best thing to come along for Nikon was when they started making full-framed mirrorless cameras. I love the combination of the Nikon ƒ/1.8 and the Nikon Z6.

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/160, ƒ/5, (35mm = 85)]

The Nikon Z6 has eye tracking and that really helps with getting your subjects eyes into focus.

Christi Lamb [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]
Jasmine Campbell [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

Hopefully you will run your own test. Shoot a portrait of a person like I did with my daughter and keep the head size the same throughout in the frame, then pick your favorite lens.