Can it be effectively used for landscapes as I am not a portrait shooter?

This may be first "prime" lens so I need to understand what it's usable for.

How far of a "range" does it have as far as something being in focus?

In other words: how far away does the subject/object have to be in order for it to be in focus?

Is there a good resource online where I can see shots taken with an 85 lens and see what sort of variety of subject matter is possible?

Please help me get educated as to its potential.

Update: Sorry for the omission. I just bought a FX D-800 about a month ago.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Although this isn't really camera-specific, it's important to clarify whether you mean 85mm on an APS-C camera or on some other format (full-frame, Nikon 1, etc)., because the field of view will be different. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    May 23, 2013 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're not sure if this is a good focal length for you refer to some of what you've already shot, presumably with a zoom lens. Lightroom (and others, I'm sure) will let you filter/sort/view by focal length so you can see what you've shot at what focal lengths. You can use that to see what focal lengths you tend toward and use that to help you choose an appropriate focal length prime lens. \$\endgroup\$ May 23, 2013 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


It is no more and no less versatile than any prime lens. As a single focal-length, it always frames with the exact same perspective. The said perspective is a mid-range which slightly compressed distances which makes for flattering portraits. It does the same for a landscapes and you would use it for subject suitable for such perspective.

All lenses have a minimum focus distance and most can focus all the way to infinity. Check the lens specifications for this information.

If you own a zoom lens or can rent one that goes to 85mm, you will see what 85mm looks like on your camera since it varies based on the crop-factor of your camera.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have to disagree with your premise here. A normal prime lens is significantly more versatile than an ultra-wide or super-telephoto prime, even though all only have one focal length. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    May 24, 2013 at 10:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I rarely shoot with telephoto primes. Actually, I do not own one anymore after realizing how little it got used. I still have an 86mm polarizer which I should probably have sold with the lens! For use, it is a matter of personal taste. I certainly find more use for a 24mm than a 35mm which I use more than a 50mm. But I do not thing that translates into versatility unless you count that you can stitch images together to get a wider angle of view, in which case maybe an 800mm is most versatile :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    May 24, 2013 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 2 FX lens I have are the 70-300 and the 24-120 f4. My question includes if a Nikon 85 mm prime (which is extremely sharp) would be useful when I take day trips to the mountains or at a waterfall/whalewatch. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bruce
    May 24, 2013 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bruce - Since you already have focal-length you can know how useful it is to you. How often do you shoot around 85mm? You would be able to get that same shot with two advantages: it will be sharper and you will have more control over depth-of-field. However, if you rarely use that focal-length, the sharpness of an image you won't shoot matters little. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    May 24, 2013 at 14:11

The closest focus of the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is 2.6 ft (0.8m).

With a depth of field calculator at f/4 and a subject distance of 20 ft, the depth of field would be a bit over 2.5 ft. That will vary depending on if you have a full frame sensor, your subject distance and your aperture.

Yes you can use it for landscapes, but it wouldn't be my first choice. For landscapes I usually want wide shots, or occasionally telephoto to compress the scene or capture details, but 85mm isn't very long for that.

I would say the 85mm is good for portraits and can be useful for certain sports, but it's not an ideal landscape lens as it's neither wide enough for general use, or long enough to get good compression.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does the formula change if I get a 35 instead? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bruce
    May 24, 2013 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ The same calculator tells me 18 ft. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    May 24, 2013 at 3:46

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