Pekka Buttler, 09/2023
The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:
|Brand:||Nikon||Lens name||AF NIKKOR 85mm 1:1,4 D|
|Focal length(s)1||85 mm||Angle-of-view2||28°30|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.4||In Production||1995–2010|
|Lens mount||Nikon F||Subfamily (if applicable)||AF/AF-D|
|Length3||72,1 mm||Diameter4||80,1 mm|
|Filter ring diameter||77 mm||Weight||524 grams|
|Lens element count||9||Lens group count||8|
|Aperture blades (S/R/C)5||9 R||Focus throw||125 °|
|Minimum focusing distance||0,85 m||Maximum magnification||1:8,8|
|Has manual aperture ring||YES||Has Manual focus ring||YES|
• Nikon has – throughout its entire history – only offered three 85 mm f/1.4 lenses:
• The Ai-s 85 mm f/1.4 (in production 1981–2005)
• The AF-D 85 mm f/1.4 (in production 1995–2010) [this lens]
• The AF-S 85 mm f/1.4 G (in production since 2010)
• Each new version has aimed for even better correction of optical flaws and aberrations through the introduction of more elaborate optical designs.
• This lens is internal-focusing, hence the lens’ size stays the same when focusing.
• The AF-D 85/1.4 stayed in production for roughly 15 years and during that time approximately 100 000 copies were manufactured.
• Nikon offered a dedicated lens hood: the HN-31, a filter thread mounted steel hood.
A brief genealogy of Nikon SLR lens types
Nikon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. The Nikon F mount has been in continuous production since 1959. During that time, the mount has developed/changed in some detail, however without ever fully sacrificing compatibility.
In short (a longer version is here), the development of Nikon’s SLR lenses can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1977: Pre-Ai. Manual focus lenses that use ‘rabbit ears’ to communicate selected aperture with the camera body. Pre-Ai lenses can further be subdivided into
• F-type (1959–early 1970s: metal focus ring and single-coated),
• C-type (early 1970s–mid 1970s: metal focus ring and multicoated), and
• K-type (mid 1970s to 1977: rubber focus ring and multicoated).
A significant share of remaining Pre-Ai lenses have since been converted to Ai-spec (Ai’d)
• 1977–1986: Ai and Ai-s. Manual focus lenses that may have ‘rabbit ears’ for backward compatibility, but are designed to communicate selected aperture with the camera body through indentations in base of aperture control ring.
• 1986–today: AF and AF-D. Autofocus lenses that do not have a focusing motor within the lens, but rely on the focus motor within the camera. All AF and AF-D lenses are simultaneously Ai-s lenses (they are Ai-s lenses extended with AF) 6
• 1996–today AF-S and AF-P. Autofocus lenses that have an internal focusing motor and do not rely on the body having a focusing motor.
Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s Nikon’s main emphasis in short tele lenses was on the various designs of 105 mm lenses. Even so, Nikon has also since 1964 continuously offered a 85 mm lens with a max aperture of either f/1.8 or f/2. However, Nikon’s 1981 introduction of their first 85 mm f/1.4 lens can be seen as an inflection point – the point at which Nikon bowed to the mainstream industry’s pressure to prefer the shorter tele lens. The development Nikon’s fast 85 mm lenses is summarised below:
• 1981–2005 85 mm f/1,4 (7 elements in 5 groups, 9 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (Ais-type)
• 1995–2010 85 mm f/1.4 (9 elements in 8 groups, 9 rounded blades, 0,85 m MFD) (AF-D-type) [this lens]
• 2010–today 85 mm f/1.4 (10 elements in 9 groups, 9 rounded blades, 0,85 m MFD (AF-S-type)
• 2023–today 85 mm f/1.2 (15 elements in 10 groups, 11 rounded blades, 0,85 m MFD (Z-mount)
Besides adapting, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs. Moreover, if the camera body contains a slot-drive focusing motor, this lens will even auto-focus7. Likewise, if the lens has been retrofitted with ‘rabbit ears’, it can be natively used on all Nikon F-mount film cameras ever produced (without the rabbit ears, it is limited to post-1977 bodies).
Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable dumb adapter (and such adapters are easy to find). Moreover, a large range of special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters, speed boosters) for using Nikon F lenses on most mirrorless systems are available.
Using Nikon F lenses on non-Nikon SLRs and dSLRs is likewise a distinct possibility. Thanks to the relatively generous flange focal distance of the Nikon F mount (46,5 mm), adapter rings for all dSLR mounts are available as well as for a goodly portion of film-era SLR mounts. Such rings may not allow for auto aperture, but even then the lenses can be used in stop-down metering mode.
1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.
2 Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens
3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.
4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.
5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.
6 There is a further sub-class of AF-D lenses called AF-I lenses that are otherwise AF-D lenses (meaning, fully Ai-s compatible), but have an internal focus motor. Only long tele lenses were made in AF-I variants.
7 As of this writing, the following Nikon dSLRs fully support autofocus, aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor AF/AF-D lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200