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Brian Tobey
Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S

NIKON 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S

FAST DX PRIME | LOW LIGHT | NEW $199

SHARPNESS:
 
9.0
BOKEH:
 
7.4
BUILD:
 
8.4
VALUE:
 
9.5
OVERALL:
 
9.0

PROSCONS
LOW LIGHTMEDIOCRE BOKEH
SHARPSOME CA
PORTABLE

Last Updated: February 19, 2012 | By Brian Tobey Email Google+

SUMMARY


INTRODUCTION:

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G DX AF-S

The 35mm f/1.8G is a fixed focal length lens which features a large 1.8 aperture. The lens focal length is considered “normal” on DX cameras (D3100, D5100, D7000, etc), or a similar perspective to what we see with our eyes. It comes at an affordable price and is an excellent companion to any DX system. It clearly separates itself from kit lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm) with its ability to shoot in low light situations and blur out backgrounds with its shallow depth of field. If you have not experienced a prime lens before, you will be taken back at the level of clarity and background separation.

If it was 2008 thru 2011, I would recommend this lens without much question. However, Nikon recently announced a new 50mm f1/.8G, which works well for both full frame and DX formats, and its optical performance is a bit better. I have also written a comparison between the 35mm 1.8G vs 50mm 1.8G. The ultimate decision should be based on the focal lengths and your intended use. If you prefer a longer focal length for portraits, go with the 50mm. However most people who aren’t sure, should probably stick with this 35mm, as its focal length is more forgiving to camera shake and is slightly wider for a broader field of view. Both are excellent lenses at an affordable price.

FX CAMERAS:

Forget using this on FX cameras as vignetting occurs. This is obvious because it was designed for DX uses. Consider the newer Nikon 50mm f/1.8G instead.

PRIMARY ADVANTAGES:

The primary advantage of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G over other popular zoom lenses is its ability to shoot in dim lighting conditions. Shooting at f/1.8 allows you to shoot at a faster shutter speed, so you blur less shots. You can also use lower ISO settings so you end up with less noise. I bring mine everywhere, out to dinner, parties, or to any social gathering. I love its simplicity and portability. Many photographers enjoy its ability to soften or blur out backgrounds with its shallow depth of field when shot at f-stop lower than 2.8.


LIMITATIONS:

This lens does not have many limitations other than it cannot zoom. Zooms are convenient, but consequently are larger with less light acquirement. The lack of VR is not a limitation of this lens, but is simply not required. The purpose of this lens is to freeze the action in dim light, so you need to shoot fast, fast enough that camera shake is not relevant.



PERFORMANCE


- SAMPLES (D90) -

Sample Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR 1
Sample Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR 2
Sample Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR 3

SHARPNESS:

This lens is a bit soft wide open. What does wide open mean? It means at its maximum aperture at f/1.8. Sure f/1.8 allows a lot of light, but when you stop it down to f/2.8, you begin to get incredible sharp results. The lens is optimal at f/5.6 and f/8. I wouldn’t push it beyond f/11 unless you really need the depth of field as diffraction sets in and the lens becomes softer.

This lens is much sharper than the kit lenses supplied with most cameras. Most kit lenses aren’t sharp until f/8, where this lens is sharp by f/2.8. If you are a sucker for ultra sharp images, this lens is for you. However, you should never buy a lens just because of its sharpness.



- NIKON SPECIFICATIONS -
GLASS8 ELEMENTS / 6 GROUPS
DIAPHRAGM7 ROUNDED BLADES
MINIMUM APERTUREf / 22
CLOSE FOCUS0.98 FT (29.9 CM)
DEPTH OF FIELD SCALEYes
WEIGHT200 GRAMS (7.05 OUNCES)
DIMENSIONS83mm Diam x 88.5mm L
FILTERS52MM
MAXIMUM REPRODUCTION RATIO1:6.25


NIKON'S MARKETING:

Nikon's published MTF chart shows how the luminescent contrast and sharpness of the 35mm 1/1.8G at f/1.8. The green line shows the contrast reproducibility and the black shows the detail or sharpness reproducibility. MTF Measurements describe only a sub set of overall lens performance and should be used cautiously. Learn more about MTF.






DISTORTION:

There is not a whole lot to be said about the distortion of this lens other than it exhibits some mild barrel distortion. Its distortion is easily correctable in either Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Lightroom has a lens distortion profile for this lens that automatically corrects for the distortion. Correcting distortion is easy, just enable this feature under under develop. You can read more on distortion in the learning section.


CHROMATIC ABERRATION:

Lateral chromatic aberration can be corrected in post processing. In fact Nikon corrects for this inside most cameras automatically. However, longitudinal chromatic aberration is not easily corrected for. Longitudinal chromatic aberration occurs often with prime lenses when wide open. This lens has a decent amount of longitudinal CA below f/2.8. It is not of concern for most, however, the new 50mm f/1.8G performs better in this area.


VIGNETTE / LIGHT FALL OFF:

Unlike zoom lenses, light falloff is not a concern with this lens. At f/1.8 it has some minimal falloff at the corners (-1EV). But by f/2.8 it is hardly noticeable and f/4 it is completely gone.

Light Fall Off Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S


FLARE:

Flare becomes more evident when you stop down some. Flare is created when the lens is pointed at really bright objects. I used the midday sun as an example, however, it is unlikely you’d get much flare with this lens otherwise. It is not as susceptible to flare as some older lenses are. With this lens, flare is better behaved at f/8 and below.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX Flare

SUNSTARS:

This lens produces half decent sunstars. Its diaphragm is slightly rounded, and makes for weaker sunstar reproduction. This is not a make or break ordeal. Try the old 50mm f/1.8D if you'd like better sunstars. Read more about Sunstars.


COLOR RENDITION:

This lens, like most Nikon lenses, produces vivid and near accurate colors.


BOKEH:

Bokeh is a complex subject for such an introductory lens. Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus blur. The bokeh of this 35m f/1.8G is subpar compared to more professional prime lenses. This should not limit you from purchasing the lens. The 50mm f/1.8G has better bokeh characteristics. Don’t buy this for its bokeh!

MECHANICS:

The mechanics are simple for this lens. It has no zoom. Its focus ring turns nicely. Grab the focus ring to override the autofocus at anytime while in M/A mode. I never leave mine on manual focus because of the nice M/A feature!

FOCUS:

When focusing, the glass elements that move are all internal. No external elements move as they do on the kit lenses (18-55mm, etc). This lens features rear focusing (RF) which means that the rear glass group moves when focusing. This is good for not sucking dust in while focusing, as most lenses do.

The autofocus is always dead on accurate. However, it is a bit slower due to the accuracy required to nail focus at f/1.8. For professionals this may be of concern, but to most it is not.

The depth of field scale is not the most useful because it is so tightly spaced between distances.


BUILD QUALITY:

The lens is made of mostly plastic externals, with some metal internals. It features a metal mount with a weather gasket. The focus ring has a plastic rubber feel. The identity plate is mostly plastic with painted markings. The lens is made in China. So what!


COMPATIBILITY:

All modern Nikon cameras work great with this lens. However, older film cameras which require an aperture ring will lose some functionality.


SIZE COMPARISON:

The 35mm is one of the smallest lenses that feature AF-S. It fits comfortably on most DX bodies with a good weight balance. When comparing it to the 50mm f/1.8 (right), it is roughly the same size but with a slightly smaller diameter. It is also smaller than the 18-55mm kit lens.

Nikon 35mm 1.8 Size Comparison

FILTERS:

It takes 52mm screw on filters. Vignetting should not be an issue if you stack two filters on top of each other.

HOOD:

The HB-47 bayonet plastic hood is not 100% optically necessary. However, I use it mostly to protect the lens. It comes packaged with the lens. I also recommend using a 52mm clear filter for additional protection.

SERIAL NUMBERS:

The serial numbers are located on the back side of the lens, opposite side of the gold label marking. US versions are prefixed with the letters US. US serial numbers start at 6000000 and go to 6173XXX. International serial numbers begin at 2100001 and go to 240XXXX.




PRICING - PURCHASE SUGGESTIONS


PRICING HISTORY:


Current eBay Auctions
Nikon NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8 DX AF-S G Lens (MINT CONDITION)

CURRENT PRICE: $83
BID COUNT: 28
END DATE: Friday the 27th
END TIME: 20:16 ZULU

Nikon NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8 DX AF-S G Lens

CURRENT PRICE: $145
BID COUNT: 26
END DATE: Sunday the 22nd
END TIME: 22:09 ZULU

Nikon NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8 G DX AF-S Lens

CURRENT PRICE: $46
BID COUNT: 16
END DATE: Wednesday the 25th
END TIME: 21:59 ZULU

PURCHASING SUGGESTIONS:

I would just buy this lens brand new. When you buy it used, you do not get much of a discount, $20 or so. I would buy it from Amazon or Adorama, as they typically provide free shipping.

If you are considering purchasing this lens used, take a look at the plot above first. I have collected some pricing history. I wouldn’t worry about serial numbers because the quality control has been good for this lens. Although, I would look for someone who is the original owner.

You can find the most current eBay auctions for this lens just to the right. Only the used lenses up for auction are listed.



CONCLUSION


RECOMMENDATIONS:

Those who are looking for a low-light companion to go along with their current kit lens should consider this lens. I would highly recommend it to even the most amateur photographers. The 35mm f/1.8G provides greater depth of field control with its large aperture, which makes it easy to blur backgrounds.

However, for those interested in getting closer to the subject, you should consider the 50mm f/1.8G as it offers a more pleasing angle of view for photographing people. The 50mm costs nearly the same and works on both DX and full frame FX cameras.

For those who only have one lens, the one that came with their DSLR kit, I would buy this first before considering the 55-200mm or 55-300mm. Unless you have a specific need for a telephoto lens, this lens offers so much more versatility and is great for photographing people, events, or for travel. I bought mine from Amazon.




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