The 85mm ƒ/1.8G uses an AF-S designation and is relatively fast to autofocus, racking through its close-focus to infinity distance and back, in just over one second. However, it's worth noting that the implementation of the AF-S standard is not similar to that of Nikon's higher-end lenses. Where lenses such as the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 AF-S will snap to focus with blisteringly fast speed, the 85mm ƒ/1.8G AF-S is comparatively sluggish. The filter ring of the lens does not rotate while focusing, and the lens is also very quiet during focus operations; as well, full-time manual focusing is available, by just turning the focus ring at any time.
The 85mm ƒ/1.8G AF-S is not rated as a macro lens, and with a magnification ratio of just 0.12x we can see why. The lens has a minimum close-focusing distance of 80 cm (about two and a half feet).
The lens is well-built, with durable plastic components and a metal lens mount. A rubber gasket shrouds the lens mount, protecting the lens from dust and moisture. The lens barrel is composed of a black semi-roughed finish, and the rubber focus ring shows a ridged pattern that is easy to grip. The lens features seven rounded diaphragm blades to make up the aperture, said to produce pleasing out-of-focus results.
The lens bears a distance scale that is recessed and windowed, its markings set in feet and meters. A depth-of-field scale is also present with an indicator for ƒ/16, as well as an infrared index. A switch on the side of the lens allows the user to disable autofocus operations on the lens (marked as "M/A | M").
The focus ring is 1/2'' wide. The ring turns nicely; it is well-dampened, if just slightly stiffer than necessary. There are no hard stops at either close-focus or infinity, though there is a slight increase in resistance to let you know you've reached a limit. The lens will focus slightly past infinity.
The lens ships with the HB-62 lens hood, a circular-style bayonet-mounted hood that adds 1 1/2 inches to the lens' overall length when mounted. The lens reverses for storage on the lens.