Z mount and F mount go head-to-head in this Nikon 85mm f/1.8G vs 85mm f/1.8S comparison

Dec 30, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Z mount and F mount go head-to-head in this Nikon 85mm f/1.8G vs 85mm f/1.8S comparison

Dec 30, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One of the biggest issues any time a new camera system is released, is the lack of lenses. It’s what held back Sony’s first couple of generations, and it’s one of the hesitations amongst buyers towards Canon and Nikon’s mirrorless offerings – especially when the native RF and Z mount lenses are so expensive.

Fortunately, both Nikon and Canon have a long history and have released their own lens adapters for the new systems. But how does a Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens compare to the Nikon 85mm f/1.8S? That’s what Dariusz Breś wanted to find out, so he compared the $427 F mount lens to the $797 Z mount lens on the Nikon Z7.

Many Nikon Z6 and Z7 packages come with the FTZ adapter which allows you to stick your F mount lenses onto your Z mount Nikon mirrorless camera. Optically, the almost-twice-the-price Z mount 85mm f/1.8 wins out. Frp, looking at the sample images posted to Flickr, though, only just.

Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 G vs. Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 S (on the Nikon Z7)

The 85mm f/1.8S seems to show a little more contrast than the 85mm f/1.8G, but I don’t always think that’s a good thing. It’s very easy to add contrast back on the computer, but it’s much more difficult to take it away if there’s too much.

Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 G vs. Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 S (on the Nikon Z7)

Overall, though, Dariusz wasn’t impressed with the build quality of the lens, favouring the older F mount version. He mentioned squeaking and bending of the more expensive lens and included a video to illustrate.

YouTube video

His (Google-translated) summary pretty much says it all, although he believes the 85mm f/1.2S will be worth the price of entry if they can beef up the build quality.

It may surprise some, but I give preference to version G. It is lighter, has better structure, looks better and above all very cheap and can be used for F and Z mount.

Great for a transitional period of up to 85 1.2 S per year (if it doesn’t creak). The difference in image quality (sharpness, no aberrations) is not worth the extra payment for the Z design in my opinion.

You can read Dariusz’s complete comparison here (or here, Google-translated). I think the real takeaway here is to not be afraid of adopting the Z mount cameras just because you don’t want to spend a fortune on Z mount lenses. You can keep using many of your F mount lenses just fine – although they’ll be only manual focus if they don’t contain AF-S or AF-P motors (most of Nikon’s current F mount lenses are AF-S or AF-P, though).

Looking at the samples at the bottom of the comparison where the lens used is not identified, I think you’d be hard pushed to determine which one was used for which photo without looking up the EXIF data.

Do you use F mount lenses with your Z cameras? How do they perform for you?

[via Nikon Rumors]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “Z mount and F mount go head-to-head in this Nikon 85mm f/1.8G vs 85mm f/1.8S comparison”

  1. Juan Camargo Avatar
    Juan Camargo

    Maybe it is naivete, but can’t the F mount lenses be reformulated into a Z mount lens? I mean, most of the R&D is already spent on the already well-performing F mount lens–>why not alter its register distance and put the new physical Z mount on it? Seems like it would be cheaper than completely designing a new lens for the new mount.

    The video of the squeaking lens is a little weird. I understand that they do try to save a little weight on the new mirrorless cameras, as they tend to be lighter than an SLR, but that lens almost shows a bit too much flex.

  2. Mark B Avatar
    Mark B

    For best optical quality, it makes more sense to redesign the optical system for the short register distance. That’s one reason why Canon’s RF 50mm f/1.2L wipes the floor with their EF 50mm f/1.2L at f/1.2. There are far more correction options available when you don’t have to design with a dSLR mirror box in the way. Look at Leica M-lenses for example. They’ve always been some of the best in the world, and contributing factors were (and still are) the lack of a mirror box with relatively short register distance in their rangefinder cameras.

  3. TheMeckMan Avatar
    TheMeckMan

    I don’t take a lens review seriously that puts the look of the lens as a factor. Vanity is for the vane…