A small Nikon 35mm f2.5 E test

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by iansgallery, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. I purchaced the 35mm f2.5 E to try as it was a useful focal length to me, was
    a fairly modern design, usefully fast and also light and compact to use on my
    MF body. I have had my first set of results through, and am rather pleased
    with them. The strong points of this lens optically are: no visible
    vignetting, low distortion, low flare and clean colours. It is sharper closer
    up than at infinity, but even at infinity it is usefully sharp.

    These are full-frame scans done by Snappy Snaps.

    On this photo: http://www.photo.net/photo/6914713 you can see the
    lack of barrel distortion, and if you click on 'larger' you can see the detail
    in the 'Ferguson' badge and weave (this was taken at f5.6).

    On this photo: http://www.photo.net/photo/6914755 the bark of the
    two oaks is cleanly rendered, and only a wiffle of corner softness is visible
    (this was taken at f8).

    On this photo: http://www.photo.net/photo/6914737 I focussed on
    the front flowers and you can still read the small writing on the plant info
    tab (click on 'larger' to see).

    All photos taken on Kodak 400 UC rated at 320.

    They are an absolute give-away at the moment, and if you see one at a good
    price, don't pass it by as it may surprise you with it's qualities.

    Ian, UK
  2. Most of the E series were good, some true sleepers, but all got dissed or suffered rumour damage for their alleged flimsiness or light weight. The 50mm, 100mm, and 75-150 are sweet.Buy 'em, shoot 'em, and enjoy some reverse snobbery--I do!
  3. pge


    When I first purchased a nikon, an fe way back in the film days, it came with a series E 50mm lens. I thought it felt so cheap that I almost immediately sold it and replaced it with a nikkor. Now all but the pro line of lenses are made just as cheaply so we have become used to them. I blame this on the fact that we now use autofocus and set our aperture with the body so we don't have to touch the lens anymore. However, when talking about manual focus lenses, the series E lenses still have to be touched. Regardless of how series E lenses stack up optically to their nikkor counterparts, they still feel like crap. Given how inexpensive mf nikkor lenses are today I don't really get the desire to own the flimsy plastic version. I have a 35mm f2.8 mf nikkor which I bought for $80 at a pawn shop and I probably paid to much.
  4. We're not turd polishing here, Phil. Yes, the optical quality of the E lenses is just fine to sometimes great. Even though my 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 do, unquestionably, contain plastic, their mounts are metal and the focus action is the same as their upmarket cousins.For casual, non-professional use--Nikon's design objectives--they deliver.BTW, manual focus Nikkor prices are not exactly in freefall. The E series lenses are very affordable now--Ian's point--and provide great value. He's having fun with them. That's the point.
  5. pge


    Hey Gary, I do understand your point, even before you made it. But I do get it.

    However, "focus action"? You are kidding right?
  6. Mine are just fine. Probably the result of the profound emabarrassment that kept former owners from using them publicly...Seriously, the cheapo 100/2.8 I snagged for like 70 bucks is sweet: smooth focus, light, pin-sharp.Don't think about 105/2.5s anymore, either.
  7. pge


    I paid $125 for my 105 2.5
    I have heard very good things about the 100. If a series E floats my way some day I will try it again.
  8. the 75-150 is a killer lens...wish I still had one-even though it's MF
  9. "Regardless of how series E lenses stack up optically to their nikkor counterparts, they still feel like crap."

    Really ? That's a rather large blanket statement. I have a 80-200mm f4.5 AI lens that is NOT an E series and a 75-150mm f3.5 E series. The big lens has zoom creap at ANY angle. The E series has none. Hold it pointing straight down and it doesn't move. Because of this, the AI lens feels way too free and the E series feels quite nice.

    Maybe the E series lenses you've had in your hand were a bit beaten to crap, and therefore felt that way.
  10. "I don't really get the desire to own the flimsy plastic version."

    Here's a good reason, at least for the 50mm. It's a tiny lens! Easily half the bulk of my standard non-AI-but-late-version Nikkor 50/1.4, and at least 2/3rds the bulk of my first-generation 50/1.8 AF. Yes, it is flimsy and the focus action is jerky compared to the more expensive lenses. So what?

    For hiking/backpacking on a small body like an FM or an FG, the E is the perfect companion without giving up image quality. And if I damage or lose the lens, I can buy another one in great condition for less than $50.

    I see no difference in images taken with my 50 1.8 E, my 50 1.4, and my 50 1.8 AF, at least at apertures f2.8 and smaller.
  11. pge


    This PN can be a surprising place.

    All too often peoples advice here is to spend more money. I have read tons of posts that suggest taking your sb600 back and buying an sb800 even when there is no advantage to the user. It must be better, it is more powerful and more expensive. I read lots of people advising that d200's should be turned in for d300's. If you can't take a good photo with a d200 then you should trade in your d200, but use the money for another hobby.

    And then there is this post. Probably the first time I have said "spend more money". And the protectors of the plastic come from all sides. Funny.

    My point is simply that the visceral aspect of the craft is important to me, and others obviously. Back in the days when nikkor glass was expensive I understood the compromise, but now when the price of nikkor ai glass has fallen very sharply I don't get the compromise.

    That's all. My apologies to the Series E crowd.
  12. "Spend more get more" isn't axiomatic, Phil. And no, twirling a Nikkor focus ring doesn't top my personal list of viscera-shaking experiences.BTW, MF Nikkors aren't all bargains; indeed, some like the 85/2, 28/2,and 28/2.8 AIS have held or increased in value on the big auction site. Some of us just don't succumb to the "herd of independent minds" thing when it comes to Nikon lenses.
  13. pge


    Way to go Gary, be unique, independent, a free thinker!
  14. There's a big difference in feel between the original all-black Series E lenses and the later ones with the silver/aluminum mounting ring.

    The E lenses filled a niche and are plenty good for most uses if you can find one that hasn't been worn out or beat up. And John Williamson has been lucky to find a 75-150 without zoom creep -- I really like mine but it requires a little extra attention for that reason and 'creepy' ones are pretty common.

    Phil got a nice deal on that 105; the prices are inching upward again.

    'Feel' is an elusive thing, but one of the reasons I gave up on the 3rd-party lenses available in the '70s and '80s was precisely because the focusing ring drag was never as smooth as that of the original Pentaxes and Nikons, and small corrections were more difficult. What they're like now I have no idea -- all my recent buys have been RF or AF lenses.
  15. I got my 35/2.5 for $30...it has some haze in it, but I don't care. I use it for some IR and UV, did some visible light shots too but need to test it later on.

    The 75-150/3.5 I bought just for fun for some 40 euros. Has some small scratches on the front element and the lubrication has practically evaporated, but it's sharp and contrasty. Can't handle backlight or night scenes, but in "easier" light it really delivers.

    The 75-150/3.5 is interesting because there aren't many good options for it; it's small, works superb in daylight, the all-metal construction is sturdy and the 3.5 max aperture is quite reasonable. In contrast, modern lenses happily compromise many or all of these aspects to get longer focal lengths, something which I typically don't need.
  16. I got my 75-150, over 10 years ago, at Del's Camera, in Santa Barbara. I think I paid $150 for it. That, and a 35mm f2 AF , with a clean FG was my first camera kit ever. It seems the lenses have held thier value. The FG... probably not.

    But, the thing is, my Series E never felt plasticy. The 35mm, which IS made of a plastic outer shell, of course does.

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