Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G VR Micro £390, $530
The bigger of Nikon’s two DX Micro lenses
The focal length of this DXformat lens is more than double that of the Nikon 40mm on test, with a closest focus distance of 29cm instead of 16cm. Despite being physically longer, it has an internal focusing mechanism and, crucially, the distance between the front of the lens and the subject at full 1.0x magnification works out to a much more manageable 14.5cm instead of just 3.5cm.
This lens includes an Extralow Dispersion element to enhance sharpness and contrast while reducing fringing. It also has VR II optical stabilisation, which gives a three-stop effectiveness in general shooting, though its benefit is reduced at close range, and can be counterproductive in full 1.0x macro mode. A maximum aperture of f/3.5 means it’s two-thirds of an f-stop slower than any of the other lenses on test.
Sharpness is underwhelming at f/3.5 but the lens gets into its stride at apertures of f/8 and narrower. The manual focus ring operates more smoothly than that of the 40mm lens.