Last update (Apr 28, 2009): A brief comment on the lens by Thom Hogan.
This post is a compilation of Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Nikkor professional and user reviews, owner opinions, reports and experiences, tests, conclusions, ratings and feedback.
Full attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.
Thom Hogan had the following to say about the 35/1.8G:
35mm f/1.8G DX: a good “normal” lens on the DX bodies, it’s small, sharp, and can be used on an FX body in a pinch. Inexpensive.
He recommends the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens (Nikon mount) as another option that works well on all Nikon Digital SLR cameras.
Test report / review by Photozone.de
Visit Photozone.de for a 3-page test report / review on the Nikon 35 1.8 DX, written by Markus Stamm.
A summary of the report follows.
Build quality: Very decent.
Focusing: In magnified Live View mode, one can see the whole image shifting slightly when you change the rotation direction of the focus ring.
Barrel distortion: Measured at 1.7%. This is more than expected from a prime lens at this focal length.
Vignetting: Only moderate amounts of vignetting is observed when the aperture is wide open.
Vignetting disappears when the lens is stopped down to f/4 and smaller.
MTF / resolution: Excellent in the center throught the whole tested aperture range.
Border resolution is good at wide open, very good at f/2.8 and f/8, and excellent at f/4 and f/5.6.
Resolution in extreme borders is visibly soft at wide open, peaks at f/2.8, and maintain very good values from f/4 to f/8.
Chromatic aberration (CA): Moderate at wide open, but quite high for the rest of the aperture range.
Bokeh: Not overly impressive at wide open due to harsh outlining.
Bokeh becomes smooth and outlines disappear from f/2.8 onwards.
Background highlights start to lose their circular shape from f/5.6 onwards.
LoCAs (bokeh fringing / longitudinal chromatic aberrations) are prominent at wider apertures but are reduced significantly when the lens is stopped down.
The Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 G ist able to deliver very sharp pictures wide open already. The bokeh, one of the primary aspects for a fast prime, is well developed and generally pleasing (at least slightly stopped down). There are some drawbacks, though, especially rather high distortions and CAs, both lateral and longitudinal. And although it’s sonic wave driven, the AF is not really a speed demon. Nonetheless, given its affordable price, the lens performs on a very high level and is a welcome addition the limited range of lenses that can be used as normal primes on DX cameras.
Photozone.de gave the following ratings for the 35mm f/1.8 AF-S:
- Optical quality: 4 stars
- Mechanical quality: 3.5 stars
- Price / performance: 5 stars
Review by Optyczne.pl
Optyczne’s review of the 35/1.8 is written in Polish, but Google’s translation of the Conclusions / Summary page does a good job of helping us understand the gist of the review in English.
NikonRumors has a good take on the translated conclusion, and posted an email from that site with further details on the review, which made the following comment on comparing the 35mm f/1.8 G vs the Zeiss Ikon Wide Angle 35mm f/2.0 Distagon T* ZF Series Manual Focus Lens for the Nikon F (AI-S) Bayonet SLR System:
The behavior at the center is really good and comparable to much more expensive Zeiss Distagon 2/35 …
Impressions by Dennis Hissink
Dennis of LetsGoDigital has posted some 35mm 1.8 samples, and shares his impressions of the lens:
The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G has a nice finishing, and thanks to a rubber seal it is even water resistant up to a certain extent. The risk of moisture (not running water) entering is kept to a minimum. The shortest focus range is 30 cm. All in all, it is a most interesting additional lens, and the focal length for both types of DSLR cameras, DX and FX, and in combination with the bright f1.8, offers the user all-round possibilities.
Nikon 35mm review by NikonClub
The article points out the CA (Chromatic Aberration) characteristics of the lens, so you might want to pay attention to that section.
Also interesting is that the lens could be used on the full-frame, Nikon D700 camera. Vignetting is more or less non-existent once you’ve stopped the 35/1.8 down to about f/8.
Cone of Cold’s feedback on the lens
You’ll find the following comments by Cone of Cold at his Flickr gallery of Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G test shots:
My first feedback… The lens is sharp, fast to focus, decent even at f/1.8, excellent at f/4.0 with good contrast but I also see a lot of lens flare in places I shouldn’t…
The test shots were done with a Nikon D40.
Bjorn Rorslett’s review
Not long after the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens was announced, Bjørn Rørslett reported his findings based off a test sample in a NikonGear forum post (requires a free registration). A summary of his remarks follow:
- It is a small lens, and quite similar in shape to the new Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AF-S lens, but a little tinier.
- The focusing ring is placed near the front section of the lens, making it easier to reach with the fingers when mounted on the smaller DSLR cameras from Nikon such as the Nikon D40, D60, D80 and D90.
- There is an A/M (Auto / Manual) focus switch, but manual override of the focusing is always possible even in Manual mode (this is great news!)
- The projected image in the viewfinder is clear and bright, so it makes manual focusing is easy even on the Nikon D60 and D40.
- The small image circle is designed to fit DX / 1.5x crop cameras from Nikon, and as expected, produces heavy vignetting when focused on normal to distant subjects. The image circle only fills an FX (full frame) format frame when focused at subjects on the close focus limit, which is about 0.3m. This is a hint that the Nikon 35mm DX is not of a telecentric optical design.
At the time of writing, Nikon has three FX digital SLR cameras, the Nikon D3X, D3 and D700. Nikon’s top DX camera is the D300, which is the successor to the D200.
- When shooting into the sun, there is a tendency for ghosting (a few rainbow-colored spots can be observed in the images), but the propensity to flare is kept well under control.
- You’ll get a considerable vignetting when shooting with this lens on a D3 in 5:4 format and aperture stopped down to f/3.5, but the sharpness is fairly acceptable over the entire frame.
- Bjorn demonstrated the bokeh quality of the 35mm DX by shooting a holly up close, against a busy background. Aperture values of f/1.8, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and f/11 were tested. I agree with his conclusion that the lens does a good job of rendering a smooth background, especially considering its short focal length.
- Bjorn then compared the 35mm DX lens with the older Nikon 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S lens. What the newer 35mm lens has over the older is superior sharpness at f/1.8 and up to f/2.8. Contrast is also very high starting from f/1.8, and the even at f/22, acceptable sharpness is demonstrated by the 35/1.8. From f/4 onwards, the older 35/1.4 lens gets the upper hand in sharpness.
- The 35 DX lens is based on a double Gauss optical design, so will exhibit a tendency for mild barrel distortion (the same applies to the 35/1.4).
- Bjorn shared many test photos, so be sure to log in to the forum to view them.
Bjorn is a veteran when it comes to Nikon lenses, so the fact that he was impressed with Nikon’s latest “budget” prime lens speaks volumes of the quality one can expect to get from this optic. In fact, he concludes:
Do not let its low price fool you into thinking the 35/1.8 G is just a toy for low-end cameras, though. This lens shows what Nikon can deliver at an unbeatable price point.