Shakekilling Closeup Glass

THIS IS Nikon's first 1:1 Micro-Nikkor in the DX (APS-C) format. With a street price of $500, it offers D3000, D500, D300, and D90 shooters true close-ups—with Vibration Reduction II—at a much lower cost than Nikon's other VR macro, the $890, full-frame, 105mm f/2.8G.

This 85mm, an unusual 127.5mm full-frame equivalent, is well suited both to close-ups and to portraits. Internal-focusing, its stippled barrel looks, but doesn't feel, similar to Nikon's pro-grade lenses.

In the field, its light weight, swift and silent autofocus, and stationary barrel were all major boons. And it's compact: The lens cast no shadow when used with the built-in flash on our our Nikon D300s—even at the 1:1 close-focusing distance of about 11 inches. We also appreciated the large distance and macro scales, the latter rare on non-pro glass.

Even more—and especially in the macro range—we liked the VR. We often hear that stabilization is irrelevant in macro, because the small apertures you use to maximize depth of field require shutter speeds too slow to forgo a tripod. This may be true for product shooters

85MM F/3.5G ED DX AF-S VR NIKKOR

WHAT'S HOT

High magnification, light weight. WHAT'S NOT

No focus-range limiting switch. WHO IT'S FOR

DX shooters who want VR for close-ups.

and other pros, but more casual photographers who don't mind a little defocus in close-up backgrounds will like the VR on grab shots.

Negatives? Focusing would have been much easier if there were a focus-range limiting switch. And we didn't love the plasticky feel of the barrel and the less-than-well-damped action of its MF ring.

In our Test Lab, the lens turned in Excellent-range scores in SQF tests of sharpness and contrast. Our DxO Analyzer Version 3.2 tests found Imperceptible barrel distortion (0.08%), a superior performance, and light falloff leaving the corners by f/5, just an average showing.

In macro it did noticeably better, with barrel distortion a mere 0.03% and vignetting disappearing entirely. Maximum subject magnification was

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