Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G VR Mi­cro £390, $530

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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.

Per­for­mance

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.

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