Nikkor 35/1.4 AI(S) - worth the money?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kivis, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. I hear this is a great lens. I am looking for a fast medium wide angle. Is this lens worth the $600 or so I see listed?
  2. Not for me. I am perfectly satisfied with my near mint Nikon 35mm f2 AI lens that I paid $150 for.
  3. The 35/2 AF is pretty darn good at a fraction of the cost.
  4. It all depends on what you want. I like mine and a lot of other people like it too. But it is not AF lens and for some that is a big drawback.
    But if you are shooting low light and need the speed it works very well
  5. "Is this lens worth the $600 or so I see listed?"
    Apparently a lot of people must think so, otherwise it would not command the price that it does. ;)
    Whether or not it is worth $600 to you is another matter altogether. I suppose compared to the $1800 price tag for the new AF-S 35/1.4G it's a real bargain, even at $600.
    In a follow-up to Dave's and Dan's posts, I have owned both the AiS 35/1.4 and AiS 35/2. I still have a like-new 35/1.4 (paid far less than $600 for it) but if I did not, I don't think I would feel that I was missing very much or was in any way limited with only the 35/2 in my bag. Both are excellent 35mm lenses, particularly stopped down a little bit. No personal experience with the AF(D) 35/2, but Bjorn Rorslett notes here that it is not quite the equal of the earlier manual 35/2 design.
  6. Even when the 35mm f1.4 AIS lenses were $350 on ebay I wasn't buying one. I don't need f1.4. For those who really do, go for it. f2 is very fast for my style of photography. Plus shooting wide open at f1.4 usually looks terrible unless you are shooting for "bokeh" competitions...
    I had the AF-D 35mm f2 lens and it suffered from the oil on the aperture blades problem and I had to pay to get it repaired before I could use was used bought on ebay.
  7. I would really like it because the 1.4 makes it easy to focus (manually of course). But I don't have $600 for it. If I'm rich, I'd buy it right away
  8. I also see them all over the place for much, much less than $600. I happen to really like mine, but I have one of just about every 35mm Nikkor aperture. The f/2 is one of my favorite lenses, and probably all you need. It is the best bang for the buck.
  9. Well, I have the 35/1.4 AIS, then bought both the 35/f2 AIS and the 35/2 AF-D,and after extensive use, came to the conclusion that the 35/1.4 blew the other two away...sold those and kept the 1.4.
    The 35/2 AIS just didn't have the same pow factor, and the 35/2 AF-D just seemed soft all over to me ...this was after using the 35/1.4 AIS for a couple of years, so I knew its "look" pretty well.
  10. It is the fastest manual focus wide angle F Nikkor. It involves a high price, whatever it is.
    It`s not an "ordinary" lens, wide open has its own character; you should check if it works for you. It is worth it to me, some say it`s unusable, it takes all sorts...
    Another option (specially if you like to avoid that flare issues), could be the Zeiss ZF 35/2. Looks to be an outstanding performer.
  11. I didnt like mine, resolution is ok but colors are bleach and contrasts are harsh
  12. To me, it was worth it, I love mine (AiS version *). I also have the 35 f/2D, and to me, this lens is not close really (both on a D300).
    But, big but, it is a lens that you need to spend some time with to know how it reacts and works. Wide open, it's got a lot of flaws (CA, glare). To me, those flaws can add charm to a photo - this lens can add something of a signature. But not every situation is right for it. At f/2 it cleans up the worst CA and such, but contrast is not stellar, but it's still a lot sharper than the AF-D 35 f/2 at f/2. At f/2.8 to f/5.6, it's incredibly sharp. To me, it renders complex textures for example better than any other lens I have. It renders a lot of detail.
    Colour response is indeed different than from current lenses, it's less vibrant, punchy and vivid. It's a personal taste thing, I like it more and I have the feel the resulting images give me more leeway in editing. With digital, it's not too difficult to change anyway (for film, yes, it could be an issue).
    I doubted a long time between the Zeiss 35 f/2 and the 35 f/1.4; the Zeiss is, I think, optically superior and more consistent. Then the prices of the f/1.4 AiS were coming down from ~$900 to $600, and I gave it a try. Glad I did. But, I'm sure this lens is not everybody's taste.
    (*) As far as I know, the Ai and AiS are not identical. The Ai has 7 aperture blades, the AiS 9. This should result in smoother out of focus rendering on the AiS. Since I only have that one, I can say it's quite smooth.
  13. Although the image quality of the 35/1.4 AI/AIS has been further improved by the new AFS 35G, this by no means indicate the older lens is a poor performer. It can still challenge even a D3X in terms of resolution.
    I always consider the MF 35 to be "temperamental" and one should learn the ways in which its drawing changes with aperture settings. Some find it lacking in quality at the widest settings, others enjoy its special rendition there. It all boils down to learning your tool to exploit it to the fullest extent.
    Since I have a CPU-modified 35/1.4 AIS, I decided to keep it when I got the new lens. They complement each other nicely for different shooting purposes.
  14. You can certainly buy this lens for around the $400 USD mark. Alternatively there is the earlier non-AI for much less. I am surprised that Bjorn Rorslett has not tested one of these. Perhaps he can give as an idea of the possible differences. The non-Ai does not likely have CRC and therefore may not be as good up close. The bokeh wide open may be just as nice though.
  15. According to the mir site the pre-ai lens design is identical including CRC and coatings. The earlier lens goes to f22 and includes thorium glass.
  16. All the 35/1.4 have CRC and even the earliest ones had multicoating. Some tweaking evidently took place when they replaced the thorium glass for less problematic types. Not sure whether this coincided with the reduction from f/22 to f/16, though.
    Personally I'm not at all surprised that there are Nikkors not tested or used by me - life has other qualities to offer :). The pre-AI I didn't try in earlier days normally are out of bonds anyway now since they don't fit my workhorse D3S/D3X DSLRs. So the only candidates from ancient times are lenses I consider for UV.
  17. Just to follow up Bjorn's comments, early versions with the metal focus ring have the radioactive Thorium glass, which turns yellow over time. Changes were made to the optical system at the time when the lens barrel design was changed to the NEW-Nikkor (K type). Though the basic lens construction remained unchanged, the glass material and the lens curvature were changed by Teruyoshi TSUNASHIMA, to improve the performance at open aperture (see
    The min aperture of the pre-AI versions is f/22. The AI and AI-S versions only stop down to f16. AI converted lenses also lost a stop on the conversion, possibly because early AI meters could not cope with such a large aperture scale (f/1.4 - 22 is the largest aperture range of any Nikkor lens)
  18. For years, the 35mm f/2 was my favorite prime lens. When I bought the 35mm f/1.4, I was not expecting it to perform as well as my f/2 but was pleasantly surprised that the image quality of the f/1.4 was better than the f/2. I still own and use both lenses but the 1.4 is now my favorite prime lens.
  19. Totally worth it
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