Data Sheet: Nikkor AF-D 85 mm f/1.8

Pekka Buttler, 12/2022

Pictured: Nikkor AF-D 85 mm f/1.8


The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:

Brand:Nikon Lens nameAF NIKKOR-85mm 1:1,8 D
Focal length(s)185 mmAngle-of-view228°30
Maximum Aperturef/1.8In Production1987–1994 (AF)
1994–2020 (AF-D)
Lens mountNikon FSubfamily (if applicable)AF/AF-D
Length358,5 mmDiameter471,2 mm
Filter ring diameter62 mmWeight365 grams
Lens element count6Lens group count6
Aperture blades (S/R/C)59 SFocus throw95 °
Minimum focusing distance0,85 mMaximum magnification1:9,2
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• The AF-D version is a minor upgrade to the previous AF version. As the AF 85/1.8 was introduced with a rubber focus ring from the start, the only changes that the AF-D version brought were:
• the D-function (that the lens communicated focus distance to the body), and
• the AF-D version was 35 grams lighter
• This lens is rear-focusing, hence the lens’ size stays the same when focusing.
• The AF-D version stayed in production for more than 25 years and during that time more than 250 000 copies were manufactured.
• Between 2010 and 2012 this lens was manufactured at Nikon’s Thailand plant.
• Nikon offered a dedicated lens hood: the HN-23, 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 f/2.5 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. The development of these is summarised below:
• 1964–1971 85mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 1 m MFD, “Nippon Kogaku”) (F-type)
• 1971–1972 85mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 1 m MFD, “Nikon”) (F-type) [data sheet]
• 1972–1975 85 mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 1 m MFD, “Nikon”) (C-type)
• 1975–1977 85 mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (K-type)
• 1977–1981 85 mm f/2 (5 elements in 5 groups, 7 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (Ai-type) [data sheet]
• 1981–1995 85 mm f/2 (5 elements in 5 groups, 7 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (Ais-type) [data sheet]
• 1987–1994 85 mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 6 groups, 9 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (AF-type)
• 1994–2020 85 mm f/1.8 (6 elements in 6 groups, 9 blades, 0,85 m MFD) (AF-D-type) [this lens]
• 2012–today 85 mm f/1.8 (9 elements in 9 groups, 7 rounded blades, 0,8 m MFD (AF-S-type)
• 2019–today 85 mm f/1.8 (12 elements in 8 groups, 9 rounded blades, 0,8 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.