Fast 35mm lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chris_klug|3, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Greetings all
    I've in process of shifting my SLR shooting to Nikon. I have an F100 (which started the whole shift, what a lovely camera), and recently I bought an FM3a (again, lovely tool). My lens collection at this point consists of a 28mm f/2.8 Ais (love that) and the default 50mm f/1.8. I'm thinking of getting my hands on the 35mm f/1.4 AIS.
    Other than the speed, I don't know anything about the lens (qualities, bokeh, etc.) Can anyone tell me whether, if I was going for a fast 35mm in Nikon mount this is the lens I should be looking at?
    I'm sure some of you kind people will have an opinion on this issue.
  2. Bjorn Rorslett calls it great when used properly.
    see ...
    1. Click "lenses" on the left side, then ...
    2. Click "wide-angles (14-35)" near the bottom of the page for his review and analysis.
    On the strength of that report and other online info, I bought one and am rather pleased with it. It has veiling flare wide open, but stopped down two or three stops it's among my most sharp lenses. It's an oldie but a goodie in my humble opinion. (amateur here, not a pro)
    It's lately gotten a bit pricey.
  3. I have one and I used to like using it. Then I got my hands on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon just sits on the shelf.
    It is well built but not all that sharp wide open, at about 5.6 it is doing alright sharpness wise. The OOF rendering is a little nervous and not particularly smooth. If soft focus and "dreamy" looking is what I want for a shot and I needed that focal length it would probably be the one I would use.
  4. Michael, the lens I desire needs to match well with my FM3a. I have rented the Sigma for use on the F100, and (while I van't be sure) I think the Sigma lens might be bigger than the FM3a!
  5. if centre sharpness is what you're after, go for it, it's good enough there... after a while you may find yourself avoiding straight lines and light sources though... or you may switch to shooting dreamy, hazy barrels altogether ;)
  6. If AF isn't a priority, then look at Samyang's 35mm f/1.4 offering. Best value for money on the block IMHO, and a modern aspheric design with low flare characteristics as well. Its great IQ is probably wasted on film though.
  7. If I'd guess there is one lens that is going to divide opinions, it would be the AiS 35 f/1.4. I can understand the opinions written so far, as this lens isn't exactly maybe what most people are looking for in a fast prime.
    At the same time, I can honestly say: if there is one lens I will not part of, it is the the AiS 35mm f/1.4. I love it. My findings are much as what is on Bjorn Rorslett's site that Jim pointed at. I use it on a D700 and F3 and have used it on a D300 as well; in my opinion sharp from f/2.8 on, and excellently sharp at f/4 and f/5.6. At f/2, it's somewhat veiled, contrast takes a hit, but it's actually still very sharp. And at f/1.4, the magic happens. OoF rendering is only so-so (slightly nervous and sometimes distracting, but nice whirls), but there is veiling flare, coma, huge aberattions and very noticeable vignetting - and it all ends up giving some "glow in the dark" cinematic look that's just different from the clinical, optically excellent and correct look that modern day lenses give. And, to me, this f/1.4 performance (or show) is the main reason to get the AiS 35mm f/1.4 (though the f/4 performance is impressive on any scale, in my view). It has a rendering that I don't get with other lenses (the AiS 50 f/1.2 comes close, but isn't as pronounced).
    But it is a love-it or hate-it affair, and a matter of taste most of all.
    Second hand, the 35 f/1.4 still isn't cheap, so it really depends what you want. It is a lens I've grown to adore, but it takes time to know its tricks and jokes, and to make those work for you. If you want consistent, dependable optical performance: that's not the AiS 35mm f/1.4.
  8. Rodeo Joe said:
    "If AF isn't a priority, then look at Samyang's 35mm f/1.4 offering. Best value for money on the block IMHO, and a modern aspheric design with low flare characteristics as well. Its great IQ is probably wasted on film though."
    I will look, thanks. I didn't know they made one. However, I'll respectfully disagree about lens IQ being wasted on film. My Zeiss ZM 35's qualities are clearly visible on my film rangefinder.
  9. Wouter,
    From your description, that sounds like my kind of lens. Thank you for your time taken to answer.
  10. Chris, your question made me look in my closet for my father's old manual focus 35mm Nikkor. I wanted to see if it was the 35mm f 1.4. (No such luck.) But it was the Nikon Nikkor-O 35 mm F/2.0 Ai wide-angle Lens, f 16 being its smallest opening. I have used it on my D 300s and D 700 with good results. I am going to take it to Bosque del Apache in a few weeks and give it a workout on my D 610. A more modern version is the Nikkor 35mm f2 AI-S Lens, f 22 being the smallest opening. I will have to check Bjorn's site to see if the optics are the same as the O version. I checked ebay and all of these lenses are available right now, even the f1.4, but the f 1.4 costs a lot more than the f 2.0. For landscape work I prefer manual focus lenses over AF so I would not hesitate at all about buying used Nikon mf AI or AIS glass. Joe Smith
  11. Another vote for the Samyang (Rokinon, Bauer, et al).
  12. Joe

    My debate is exactly that... Do I spring for the f/1.4 or settle for the f/2.0? The Samyang seems BIG (77mm filter size).
    That makes it unattractive to me, and favors the Nikkors.
  13. Chris, based on my former pics with the 35mm O f 2.0 version, I would save my money and get the latest f 2.0 mf version. But this is me. I would be using it outdoors most of the time, and my f stops would probably be f 5.6-f11 and maybe f 16 sometimes, to stay within the sweet spot. After reading Bjorn's site, It looks like the mf f 2.0 version has better overall image quality than the newer designed AF-D f 2.0 version. Nikon still sells the mf 35mm f 1.4 new for over $1000. With digital sensors I try to avoid using f 16-f 22 to avoid image softness caused by diffraction. Joe Smith
  14. I had thought of the Nikkor 35mm 1.4, legendary for all the right reasons, but ran across this, the Voigtlander 40mm F2 Ultron. The pancake design, image quality, portability, cost, impeccable construction, and the 40mm focal length is perfect for general shooting.
  15. You might also consider the Zeiss 35/2 (zf or zf.2).
    I know it's a stop slower than you want, but it is
    really sharp and fully useable wide open, on film
    and even on the d800e which is pretty demanding.

    It is not soft and dreamy wide open like the Nikkor,
    but personally I love the color and contrast. It is
    a well-behaved lens but I still think it has

    It is relatively compact and built like a tank. The
    samyang 35/1.4 and its clones are huge, and the
    sigma is pretty large as well.

    I considered the Nikkor 35/2D but it is very soft in
    the corners and the corners really only sharpen up
    at f/8.
  16. Don, your suggestions has the big advantage of size! I love the 40mm focal length (my old Canonet died a while back and, while indeed f/2 isn't f/1.8, I am attracted to the idea of making an already small kit smaller. Thanks! I had forgotten about the Voightlander!
  17. Noah, I love Zeiss glass, and I own the ZF.2 50 Planar, and the 35mm f/2 on my rangefinder, so I had thought about that option. Thanks!
  18. Chris,
    The Voigtlander is so sharp, and now that I have found a diopter for the FM3a, I have not encountered any real issues with focusing this F2 lens. It's decisive .
  19. Probably the lens I would not recommend is the 35/f2 AFD. Although small and light, I just don't think it is very good at the more open settings. The OP probably was not considering this lens, anyway.
    I have a couple of the 35/f2 "O" lenses, and just got the Sigma 35/1.4. Have not thought of comparing, but that would be an interesting project for the upcoming break. The 35/2 AIS should be optically a little better and probably a little lighter than the original 35/2 MF.
  20. The 35/1.4 Ai-s is a legendary film lens, and highly respect in digital as well. It won't disappoint you at all.

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