Intro

The AF 85mm f1.Eight II from the Chinese language producer Viltrox is a brief telephoto lens designed for mirrorless cameras and corrected for full-frame sensors. It’s accessible in Sony E-mount, Nikon Z-mount, and Fujifilm’s X-mount. When fitted to our bodies with APSC sensors, like Fujifilm’s X-series, the Viltrox 85mm f1.Eight turns into equal in angle-of-view and depth-of-field to a 128mm f2.5 lens. The primary model of the Viltrox lens got here out in 2019 and the Mark II turned accessible from the start of 2021. To my information that is the primary – and presently solely – third-party lens for Nikon Z-mount with autofocus – most likely based mostly on Viltrox’s expertise with their Z-mount adapters. The Viltrox AF 85mm f1.Eight II prices round 350-400 EUR / 400 USD / 340 GBP and presents a direct various to Sony’s FE 85mm f1.8, Nikon’s Z 85mm f1.Eight S, and Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 90mm 2.Zero R LM WR.

For this assessment I examined the Viltrox AF 85mm f1.Eight II on the 45MP Nikon Z7 digital camera to guage optical efficiency and high quality of autofocus towards the Nikon Z 85mm f1.Eight S. I additionally included comparisons with the Sony FE 85mm f1.Eight shot on a 42MP Sony A7R II. So if you happen to’re all in favour of how Viltrox’s second model of their 85mm f1.Eight prime lens for mirrorless cameras performs, you’ve come to the suitable place!

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Info from the catalog

As standard I’ll take a look on the technical information of the brand new Viltrox AF 85mm f1.Eight II first. I’ve rated the options with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s higher than common and even cutting-edge, a [0] if it’s commonplace or simply common, and [-] if there’s an obstacle. For this comparability I exploit the Nikon Z 85mm f1.Eight S (“Z Nikkor” for brief) and Sony FE 85mm f1.8 (“Sony FE”).

Measurement (diameter x size): 80 x 95mm (3.1 x 3.7in.). The lens hood provides 48mm and is 94mm in diameter. The Z Nikkor is 75 x 99mm + 50mm lens hood, the Sony FE is 78 x 82mm + 36mm lens hood. [0]

Weight: At 548g (19.Three oz.) plus 37g for the lens hood the lens places extra weight on the scales than the technical information from Viltrox say (484g) and greater than the opposite two lenses on this comparability: The Z Nikkor is 467g (16.6 oz.) + 35g lens hood, the Sony FE is 374g (13.2 oz.) + 28g lens hood. [-]

Optics: 10 components (together with 5 particular dispersion) in 7 teams. The absence of aspherical components bodes nicely for the Bokeh: it shouldn’t be tormented by onion rings. The Z Nikkor is a 12/Eight design, the Sony FE is 9/8. Viltrox’s advertising and marketing materials mentions “Nano Multilayer Coating” on their AF 85mm f1.Eight II to cut back flare, glare and ghosting and supply antifouling and water repellent qualities. [+]

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Closest focus distance in guide focus is 0.76m (2.5ft.) with a magnification of 1:7.1. The magnification of the Viltrox is a bit disappointing however corresponding to different 85mm lenses. A magnification of 1:10 is achieved at 1.00m. [0]

Use with teleconverters: Not one of the three lenses on this comparability can be utilized with teleconverters. [0]

Filter-thread: 72mm on the Viltrox, the Z Nikkor and Sony FE use 67mm filters. [+]

Picture stabilization: The lens affords no optical stabilization. However the Nikon Z full-frame, Sony A7 / A9 / A1, and Fujifilm X-S10 / X-T4 digital camera our bodies present built-in sensor-shift stabilization. [0]

Auto focus: Sure with built-in AF drive. Handbook-focus override is by merely turning the main target ring. The main focus ring has a gentle variable gearing with a really lengthy throw of 270-450 levels. Give attention to the Z Nikkor and Sony FE each have a extra variable gearing. And the Sony additionally sports activities a customizable focus-lock button on the barrel. [+]

There’s an “USB improve port” on the lens mount to replace the firmware, see beneath. The lens got here with firmware v1.1.1, the most recent model is v1.1.four which I had no issues putting in. [0]

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Covers full body/FX or smaller. Similar with the options. [+]

Value: The lens is priced at round 350-400 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 400 USD / 340 GBP relying on the provision of particular affords. The Z Nikkor goes for about 750 EUR / 800 USD / 710 GBP, the Sony is at 500 EUR / 550 USD / 500 GBP. [+]

Comes with a delicate pouch and the lens hood is included, reversible for transport. That’s much like the Z Nikkor. The Sony FE comes with no pouch. Mounting the lens hood on the Viltrox is a fairly fiddly affair. [0]

Aperture ring: Not one of the three lenses on this comparability has a devoted aperture ring. However the multi-function management ring of the Z Nikkor will be assigned to function the aperture, publicity compensation or focus. [0]

Sealing: No, not even a rubber grommet on the lens-mount. The Z Nikkor and Sony FE have a rubber grommet on the lens-mount plus additional particular weather-sealing all through the development. [-]

At a rating of two[-]/7[0]/5[+] the lens has no excellent options. Its essential promoting level definitely is the low value however it doesn’t even supply primary climate safety on the lens mount and it’s a bit on the heavy facet for an f1.Eight lens.

Two 85mm lenses for Nikon

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Above: Nikon Z 85mm f1.Eight S (left), Viltrox AF 85mm f1.Eight II (proper)

Alternate options

Giant aperture 85mm lenses are type of all people’s darling: they permit for good background isolation on APS-C/DX and FF/FX cameras alike and produce good Bokeh. They’re good for portraiture however will also be used for different varieties of pictures as nicely. So it’s no surprise that many lens producers supply a minimum of one lens on this class.

However if you happen to’re on the lookout for 85mm autofocus lenses with f1.Eight aperture which as a normal rule needs to be smaller, lighter, and cheaper than their f1.four brethren the alternatives slim down significantly:

  • For Nikon Z-mount there’s the Z 85mm f1.Eight S which is a bit lighter than the Viltrox. It affords a nifty multi-function management ring plus full climate sealing and prices 750 EUR / 800 USD / 710 GBP. See my Nikon Z 85mm f1.Eight S assessment.
  • Sony’s FE 85mm f1.Eight is a fairly small and lightweight lens. It has full climate sealing and a customizable focus-lock button. At 500 EUR / 550 USD / 500 GBP it’s additionally fairly inexpensive. See my Sony FE 85mm f1.Eight assessment.
  • Zeiss has the Batis 85mm f1.Eight which affords optical picture stabilization, a show for focus distance and depth of area, plus full climate sealing. It’s solely accessible for Sony E-mount and sells for 970 EUR / 1200 USD / 1030 GBP. See my Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.Eight assessment.
  • For Fujifilm’s X-mount there’s the Fujinon XF 90mm f2.Zero R LM WR. It has an aperture ring, full climate sealing, and prices 850 EUR / 950 USD / 730 GBP. It’s 1/Three of a cease slower than the Viltrox and has a barely longer attain at 90mm focal size. And it could solely cowl APS-C cropped sensors however that’s what all cameras with X-mount have. See Gordon’s Fujifilm XF 90mm f2 assessment.

Focus

Focus accuracy and repeatability is crucial to constantly produce sharp photographs particularly with massive aperture lenses. Repeatability (the accuracy of concentrate on the identical topic after repeated focus-acquisition) of this lens is without doubt one of the poorest I’ve seen to date since testing lenses for mirrorless cameras. There have been no actual outliers over a collection of 40 photographs however AF consistency nonetheless measured solely 93.6% in Reikan FoCal. The Z-Nikkor achieves a consistency of 98,5%. So there may be fairly some focus variation as you’ll be able to see within the (close to 100%) crops beneath.

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Above: Viltrox AF 85mm f1.Eight II AF consistency

That may not appear like a lot and also you most likely is not going to discover it when viewing a picture within the viewfinder. However at a guess I believe that’s a couple of 15% distinction in decision that you simply’re in danger shedding because of the variance in AF efficiency. This may be an issue of my particular person copy however I slightly suspect that Viltrox didn’t implement the communication between its lens and a Nikon Z digital camera correctly. Nikon has patents on the interface which could prohibit a full implementation. Please be aware that I solely examined the Viltrox on a Nikon Z digital camera – so the lens may autofocus completely nicely on a Sony or Fuji digital camera.

One other indication of Viltrox’s wrestle with the lens-camera communication may be that turning the main target ring on the lens at first alone Z7 physique didn’t solely change focus but in addition modified publicity compensation on the identical time. I often set the customized management task of my Nikon Z7 to manage publicity compensation from the lens management ring that each Z-Nikkor to date is provided with. It turned out that the main target ring of the Viltrox represented itself as a spotlight ring and a customized management ring to the digital camera. Switching the task for the customized management ring to OFF remedied the undesirable penalties, thankfully.

Relating to focus velocity: The Viltrox focuses in round 0.Eight sec from infinity to 1m (1:10 magnification), which is a tad slower than the Z Nikkor or Sony FE. I encountered the occasional looking even underneath well-lit take a look at situations and I had circumstances the place the lens refused to search out focus in any respect. The main focus ring is 39mm large. Its floor will not be rubberized and feels a bit too easy for good grip particularly because it doesn’t transfer as simply as on the Z Nikkor of Sony FE.

AF-operation of the Viltrox is barely audible from the surface. In case you report video with the built-in microphone the AF-drive produces solely a low whir. In case you pull-focus, you’ll discover very seen focus respiration: after I adjusted the main target from infinity to 1m on the Viltrox, I measured an 18% enhance in magnification. That is fairly disappointing for videographers.

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