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Viltrox 85mm for Nikon Z -- initial mini review with some pics.

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
So I pulled the trigger on a Viltrox 85 in Z mount based on the mostly positive initial reviews. Note that historically I've not spent a lot of time with the 85 focal. I don't know exactly why, I do like the way they render, but always seemed to grab my 105 instead. That's the main reason I chose this cheaper option over the native Z lens, but am quickly finding this lens is so enjoyable to use it may change that history. If you want to save some reading time and skip down to the images, the simple bottom line is I like this lens A LOT! If you want a few more details, I've included another paragraph with some initial observations.

First, this lens is sharp and surprisingly so. While I do not have the 85/1.8S to compare it with directly, it seems to render virtually identically to my 50/1.8S, but perhaps with even a bit nicer bokeh -- though I suspect that's probably due mostly to the added focal length. I also really like the bokeh. Surprising to me as well is the fact that color seems virtually identical to Nikon's basic --which I find gorgeous out of the gate-- and which is frankly a bit unusual with 3rd party glass. Balance is virtually identical to the 50/1.8S even though it weighs a bit more, so it's quite comfortable in the hand for extended shooting stints. AF is fast and accurate, at least as fast and accurate as the native 50 and possibly even a touch faster -- except in one area: and that's when something of detail is in the background and the subject is small relative to the background. I've heard other complaints about this and experienced it as well -- with detailed background and thinner main subject, the lens tends to bias toward the larger detail area and resists coming back to the closer or simpler subject. On the upside, a quick re-point AF or manual ring twist takes care of it. I suspect it occurs because the closer subject is often blurred to nothingness. Speaking of the focus ring, it's the only manual control on this lens. I've read other reviews that complained about it being stiff, but I do not experience this. In fact I think it's very nicely dampened, turns easily and smoothly and frankly is about as good as it gets with focus by wire. Build quality is quite good and the lens has a great feel in the hand. One point worth mentioning is this lens is apparently not weather proof like Z S lenses, only wet resistant, so take that for whatever it's worth for your imaging requirements. Comes with a nice petal hood that bayonet mounts like most newer Nikon hoods.

Now to some images. Keep in mind this lens arrived only about 30 minutes ago, and these were all quick grabs from a short stroll around my office, so are shared basically as they came SOOC except for web sizing and crops.

Flower at f1.8, first FF then a 2048 px crop:






Bokeh at f4 -- note I am sharing a few at f3.5 and 4 because historically that's where I've spent a lot of time when I use an 85 or 105:




Even the corners do extremely well, and I did not find any notable CA anywhere. F3.5 full frame and crop:






Finally, eye AF can even find an eyeball with other stuff in the path ;) (100% disclosure is seen in the crop -- I backed focused the eyeball ever so slightly -- likely I bobbed a bit after AF as I shot this pretty quickly) This one is at f4:



 
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Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
FWIW in case it's critical for you, this lens exhibits a teeny bit of pincusion distortion. I find adding 1% of generic barrel correction in C1 pretty much eliminates it.
 

Jan Brittenson

Senior Subscriber Member
Looks like a sweet optic. Very "classic" rendering, but to a modern standard. There is some slight CA in the first crop, but as you suggest probably not rising to "notable". It might clean up reasonably well with the right tool as well. Looks like a winner, and at the price a no-brainer! I'd probably get one if I didn't have the 85/1.8S already.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
@Photon42 0.8m, so not particularly close. I am planning on trying it out today with the Meike extension tubes -- I will post a result here if worthy.

I will add that if Viltrox decided to make a 24mm version similarly, I would be all over it ;)
 
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Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Minor point and somewhat weird find worth sharing: It seems the lens is actually an f1.6 capable lens, which makes some sense given its wider size relative to the Nikon version. I do note the aperture does not "open all the way" at its f1.8 setting, and assume that's due to a severe aberration, or perhaps flare or perhaps extreme focus shift, IDK for sure. But the Sony version of this lens, which came out about 6 months before this one, has a very recent FW update --they're calling it a hack-- that alters it to an f1.6 lens. The lens has a mini USB port interface in the mount, so is user updatable without a dock. Will be interesting to see what happens there. Not so much is the added ⅓ stop, but rather what it will do to the look. I of course will try it out if time shows it advisable for the Sony users.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Per above, here are some Viltrox 85 with both Meike tubes. closest distance with both tubes is about 9 inches. All of these at f5.6, Z7 and processed for look with vignette etc. The first two are crab apple blossoms, about an inch or so across. The little flower is something pretty tiny, around ¼" across. I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of DoF at f5.6 -- it worked well for this type of close-up I think:





 

Photon42

Well-known member
@Photon42 0.8m, so not particularly close. I am planning on trying it out today with the Meike extension tubes -- I will post a result here if worthy.

I will add that if Viltrox decided to make a 24mm version similarly, I would be all over it ;)
I will buy any 24 or 28mm for the Z mount which has AF, is sizewise less than the 50 1.8 and has a proper minimal focussing distance. So - probably never ... 😂
 

Darin Marcus

Well-known member
@Jack - not sure if you've seen this, but there is a new firmware update for the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 Z to v1.1.4 on their website, as well as some new lens profiles (Photoshop?).

Stumbled upon this info while reading about today's firmware update for the Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S...
 
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