Nikon 35mm lens review – Nikon 35mm/F 1,8 G DX
If you want a lens that is as versatile as a prime lens can be, then the Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G will be perfect for you. It is a 52.5mm-equivalent lens with a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture and is ideal for cameras with DX-format.
This lens is gaining immense popularity due to its sleek form factor, the normal field of view, and its improved control over depth of field. The fast optical design of the lens also enables isolating subjects and enable users to work with selective focus techniques. It also incorporates 1 aspherical element that helps to minimize distortion and spherical aberrations. This leads to the creation of sharper and clearer images.
Then this lens also has Super Integrated Coating applied to its elements which helps in reducing lens flare and ghosting so that greater contrast and color accuracy can be reached when shooting in backlit and bright conditions.
Moreover, this lens also employs a Silent Wave Motor to complements its optical performance. This motor enhances its performance by leading to a much quicker and quiet autofocus performance which is also very precise. It also allows user full-time manual focus override for both stills and videos so that you can experiment with settings to get the best results. This lens also features a rear focusing design that leads to only the rear lens group moving during focusing.
This results in the overall length of the lens to be maintained while shooting and allows faster-focusing speeds to be reached. It also sports a rounded seven-blade diaphragm which results in a pleasing out of focus quality allowing the photographer to benefit from both selective focus techniques and shallow depth of field.
Now let us look at the above-mentioned features of this Nikon 35 mm/F 1, 8 G DX-35 mm Lens in detail to understand what makes it so special?
The 35mm F1.8G DX by Nikon came as a surprise for many observers because of its many additional features including an updated 35mm lens sporting an in-built autofocus motor and also due to the ‘DX’ designation which makes it specifically designed for DX-format bodies.
Even though it is a bit of an inconvenience that isn’t fully compatible with the growing FX range but on the other hand, this is what has made it cheaper, smaller, and lighter. So in effect, this lens primarily targets users of the entry-level D40 / D40X /D60, etc. in an inexpensive manner.
Coming onto its 35mm focal length which is equivalent to 50mm on an FX camera, making it fall into the ‘standard’ category, which offers an angle of view without any ‘perspective distortion’ which are commonly associated with wide-angle lenses. It features a fast F1.8 maximum aperture which allows four times more light than the AF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR DX kit lens. This makes this lens very useful for shooting in low light.
Then it also sports a ‘Silent Wave Motor’ which allows autofocus on every Nikon’s DSLR bodies, having an added bonus of allowing the user to tweak focus manually when the lens is set to the M/A position. For this, there is a conventionally placed switch on the side of the lens barrel which lets users change between auto and manual focusing modes. The motor works extremely well and is fast and completely silent. The focus accuracy is very impressive too, although there is a slight tendency of rear-focusing at intermediate distances.
Moreover, this 35mm F1.8G features 8 elements in 6 groups. This includes one aspherical element which is used to reduce spherical aberrations and distortion usually associated with large-aperture prime lenses. This leads to sharp imagery with accurate rendering. Then it also has Super Integrated Coating applied to its individual elements which suppress flare, ghosting, and internal reflections. All in all, it provides improved color accuracy and contrast when working in strong lighting conditions.
However, the range of this lens is not like other typical 50mm standard prime as the focal length is rather shorter than the flange distance. That is why the use of the so-called ‘retro focal’ design is necessitated which often results in increased aberrations.
Coming onto the design, this 35mm F1.8 features the Nikon’s new design idiom for AF-S primes. This design also bears a small resemblance to the AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G). From the build to finish everything is top-notch and belies the relatively lowly price. Nikon has not compromised on its standard to lower the price, rather this lens is sturdier than ever. It is not only well put together but is also designed smartly.
The barrel is constructed from plastic and has a metal mount. There is also an additional nice touch of an ‘O’ rubber gasket ring around the circumference of the mount. This is for the prevention of dust and water from ingressing into the camera. Then its size is also very ideal as it is relatively small and compact than other lenses. This is a real advantage for those who wish for confinement carrying.
Even though it has an addition of the SWM autofocus motor which makes it large but it is still much smaller than the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR kit lens. That is why it can be handled well on the majority of the Nikon’s DSLR bodies, be it the largest such as the D300 or the smallest like D40 / D60 series.
Then it also sports a slim focusing ring which has a 8mm wide ribbed-rubber grip and is accessible easily at the front of the barrel. It rotates about 120 degrees anti-clockwise from infinity to the closest focus. Even the focus mode switch is placed perfectly for operation by the left thumb. This lens communicates with the camera body electronically through an array of contact pins having a mechanical control of the aperture using a metal lever.
Its filter thread is 52mm, and it does not rotate on focus which is a bonus for users of filter like neutral density gradients and polarizers. The manufacturers have given a lot of thought while designing it to make every aspect perfect. Not only all elements perfectly positioned but they are also desirable and reliable!
Coming on to the lens’s performance it is also very impressive. The results are finely detailed at all apertures and the focus is also quick and accurate except for low contrast wide open. It is a lot sharper than other DX standard zooms. It also deals with resistance to flare, and the rendition of out-of-focus regions of the frame very nicely. The distortion is also reasonably well-controlled at a 1.1% barrel.
The lens has one major flaw, it is a certain propensity to show chromatic aberration, of both lateral and longitudinal kind which can be corrected with in-camera processing. Though it is not something big as everyone knows these are pretty well unavoidable with a fast prime. So at large apertures, one needs to be careful of Bokeh chromatic aberration and purple fringing as they become highly visible.
Thus, the AF-S Nikkor 35mm F1.8G DX is a lens that will not dismay. With all the features at such a reasonable price – see more details on eBay – will make you forget smaller lacking it has. So this time Nikon really has managed to surprise us by producing the first genuinely inexpensive fast standard prime which performs beautifully without emptying your pockets!
What’s in the Box?
• 1 x Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
• 1 x Nikon 52mm Snap-On Lens Cap
• 1 x LF-1 Rear Lens Cap
• 1 x Nikon HB-46 Bayonet Lens Hood for AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
• 1 x Nikon CL-0913 Soft Lens Case
• 1 x Limited 1-Year Warranty
Focal Length: 35mm
Max Aperture: f/1.8
Min Aperture: f/22
Lens Mount: Nikon F
Format Compatibility: APS-C
The angle of View: 44°
Max Magnification: 0.16x
Min Focus Distance: 11.81″ – 30 cm
Optical Design: 8 Elements in 6 Groups
Diaphragm Blades: 7, Rounded
Focus Type: Autofocus
Image Stabilization: None
Filter Size: 52 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L): 2.76 x 2.1″ – 70 x 52.5 mm
Weight: 7 oz – 200 g
- Excellent image quality
- Quick and precise autofocus with full-time manual override
- Attractive rendition of bokeh
- Minimized flare
- Reasonable price
- A bit soft and low in contrast wide open
- Bokeh chromatic aberration and purple fringing are highly visible at large apertures
- Lateral chromatic aberration is higher than compared to standard 50mm primes
- Only compatible with DX-format
Summing it up, there might be some lacking in this lens but it seems churlish to complain about them because of all the other quality feature it provides. We are very thrilled to see Nikon finally introducing a lens that is both inexpensive, purpose-designed, and employs a winning combination of high image quality and large maximum aperture.
Thus, in our opinion, this 35mm F1.8G DX truly deserves a spot on every shooter’s shopping list.