In Praise of my 85mm f1.8

One charm of the 85 f1.8 is its bokeh, or rendering of out-of-focus areas. It's not as creamy as the f1.4 version, but it's pretty darn good and much more affordable. Especially if you buy it twenty years ago, like I did.

About 20 years ago, when my first child was a toddler and I was making good money as a marketing executive, I decided to supplement my Nikon FM and manual focus lenses with a couple of N8008s and some autofocus lenses. In 2004, when I went digital, I burned my ships at the shore and sold all of my film bodies and manual focus lenses. Of the autofocus lenses, the only one I still have is my 85mm f1.8.

I chose to carry only the 85 on the first day of the Ojai Storytelling Festival, and I don't regret that choice at all. I had to move a little closer, but otherwise I felt there was no disadvantage in leaving my heavy 70-200 zoom lens at home.

Every few weeks, I decide that I’m going to sell the lens because I don’t use it enough, but then I put it on the camera, point it at something, take a picture, and change my mind. I’m sure that Internet-based anal-izers can find fault with the lens’s color or contrast or distortion, but it really suits the way I like to shoot.

My old 85 f1.8 is sharp, and is easier to hold steady than the 70-200 zoom.

I’m really impressed with modern zoom lenses, but there’s a lot to be said for a prime lens that is easy to carry and delivers consistently pleasant results. I can’t say it’s my favorite lens, because I use the 70-200 f2.8 for most of what I do, but it’s certainly my favorite prime lens right now. I’m glad that older nikon lenses work on newer bodies, but there are some drawbacks. This particular lens is not a “D” type, so it does not send distance information to the camera. This can make matrix metering and flash metering a little inconsistent – I typically use spot or center-weighted metering with this lens.

Good bokeh is essential to portrait and boudoir photography. And yes, ladies, he is unattached.


Filed under Camera Gear, Motivation, Professional vs. Amateur

3 responses to “In Praise of my 85mm f1.8

  1. myrna

    thanks dean … i have the same lens … yep, small and compact … i actually forgot about it … have put it back in my camera case!!

  2. myrna

    p.s. … now i have to find a cat!

  3. Tina Horton

    I like his look, but I fear he may cat around too much! šŸ™‚

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