Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S review

The Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S is a practically perfect portrait lens in every way. Sometimes bigger really is better

5 Star Rating
Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

There’s nothing wrong with the budget-friendly Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S but it lacks an ultra-bright aperture favored by portrait, wedding and fashion photographers for getting a really tight depth of field. Nikon has now launched this 85mm f/1.2 Z system prime for its mirrorless cameras, its superior speed overtaking the longstanding F-mount AF-S 85mm f/1.4G lens. It’s actually the first 85mm f/1.2 lens that Nikon has ever made and, although it’s quite chunky, it handles beautifully and delivers simply spectacular image quality, combining scintillating sharpness with sumptuously smooth bokeh. For Nikon-toting portrait perfectionists, the wait is finally over. This lens is destined to become a modern-day classic.


  • +

    Super-fast aperture

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    Gorgeous image quality

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    Fast, consistently accurate autofocus


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    Necessarily quite hefty

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    Pricey to buy

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    No OLED info display

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The Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S has been a long time coming. So much so that it’s more of a ‘me too’ lens than a real revelation. For DSLRs, Canon has been making 85mm f/1.2 lenses for around 35 years, and its latest RF 85mm f/1.2L USM for mirrorless cameras is available in two versions, the pricier ‘DS’ edition adding an apodization filter to take the hard edge off bokeh discs.

By contrast, Nikon’s F-mount prime lenses with autofocus generally topped out at f/1.4. That’s surprising, since Nikon launched a manual-focus 50mm f/1.2 AI lens all the way back in 1978, upgrading it to the AI-s version in 1981. And there’s never been a Nikon 85mm f/1.2 lens until now. It comes nearly three years down the line from the similarly speedy Z 50mm f/1.2 S, and nearly four years after the rather bonkers behemoth that is the Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct manual-focus lens.

(Image credit: Chris George/Digital Camera World)

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.