Nikon 35mm 1.4 AIs v 28mm 2.8 AIs

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jon_kobeck|1, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. I have both lenses. The 28 seems much sharper, more contrasty and just produces better images. I'm surprised. The 35 costs much
    more. Is the 28 just a better lens, or perhaps my 35 is a bad copy?
  2. It's a matter of lens design. You can't have everything in the same lens and to be able to make a f1.4 lens many compromises have to be made.
    Today you can make an f1.4 with less compromises since we have access to special glass that wasn't available or too expensive 30 years ago.
  3. I don't have any 28mm lens, but my 35 f/1.4 is very sharp from about f/4 on, though from f/8 it already start declining again. The wider apertures have a quite particular rendering, which is far from clinically sharp, and veiled, lower contrast. It's in this sense not a regular lens with "reliable" results, but use the 35mm f/1.4's optical oddities in scenes that can benefit from it, and there is no lens like it. In comparison, I never saw images from the 28 f/2.8 that gave me the impression of looking at something different. It's a competent, good but unsurprising lens (if I'd get myself a 28, it would be the f/2, for what it's worth).
    So in my view, which lens produces "better images" is very much in the eye of the beholder, and in the (creative) intent of the photographer who uses it. Some of the images most dear to me I made with my 35 f/1.4, mostly at f/1.4 and f/2. Not because it's an impeccable performer at those apertures, but exactly because it isn't.
  4. I have the AIS 28 f2.8 and the 50 f1.2 but not the f1.4. As Wouter notes, you play to the lenses strong points: The 28 was designed to differentiate for close focus (see Nikon1001 nights, No. 57) while the f1.2 is fast but best between f2 and f5.6 with my copy.
  5. 35/1.4 was a bad lense with low contrast and bleach color rendition
  6. If you want an excellent
    manual focus 35mm f/1.4 lens,
    then you probably won't do
    better than the Samyang.
    Quite big and heavy, but at a
    bargain price.
  7. Yes , prices differ from time to time but the 28mm 2.8 has a solid reputation for Nikon ,unfortunately the 35mm does not ,if you have then time google 35mm lens comparisons and notice how the 35mm Zeiss lens compares to the Nikon ,it is one of the only lens made by NIKON other manufacturers out preform Nikon , the 28mm on the other hand may outperform even the Zeiss .
  8. best of all the moderate WA Nikkors was the 28/2^^
  9. I've always been very pleased with my 35mm 1.4 Ais. It's not great wide open but at 2.8 and beyond it's pretty good.
  10. I tend to think the 35/1.4 is a cult lens. Or you love it or hate it. If it were a Leica, it`d be regarded as a "spirit of Leica", "glowing" type lens. Funny, it looks like most Nikon users don`t believe in "magic" properties, or lens`"personality", as some Leica ones. They seem to prefer the "sharpest" despite of everything.
    The 35 is a super fast lens, and it implies some compromises. The 28, being moderately fast, doesn`t show the same issues. Personally, it doesn`t mean one lens is better or worst; BTW, I`m not specially surprised with one or another. I think both are good lenses, but I specially like the 35.
    Comparing them is like saying a roadster is better than a van. If it`s about top speed, obviously a Boxster will be better, but if it is about convenience, maybe the van is a better choice.
  11. Here you go wide open. It's funky or has character depending how you look at it.
  12. One at f2 if I recall correctly.
  13. ..the 28mm 2.8 has a solid reputation for Nikon ,unfortunately the 35mm does not , ...​
    That depends a lot on what reviews you look at. The latest AiS versions (and the AF-D) of the 28mm f/2.8 certainly has no reputation of excellence. Solid, but not great - I wouldn't see that as praise for the lens really. The 35mm, compared to modern optics, shows its age and as I said before, it has its quirk. But José states it correctly: it's a cult lens, and a marmite lens - love it, or hate it.
    But stating simply it has no solid reputation, or that it is a bad lens(e), as a matter of fact, that is terribly simplistic. There is more to lens performance than only things as resolution, contrast and corner sharpness. If the 35mm f/1.4 is your kind of lens, there is little that compares to it. If it isn't, you'll probably find it a waste of money.
    It's all just a matter of opinion - It's not a fact it is a bad lens, however for most people it is the wrong choice.
  14. Jon, can you share any images to show your observations with the 28 and 35? The general take on the 35 says it has lots of spherical aberration wide open but very sharp with lots of contrast as it gets stopped down. It should be really sharp at 5.6 unless there is some problem with your copy.
  15. Over the years I tried more than a few versions of this optic and found performance to be very consistent with little sample variation unlike a few Nikkors that had a reputation for sample variation. Unless the lens has evidence of tampering or physical abuse, it is what it is. The lens has some shortcomings wide open, but stopping down a little clears most of them up very nicely. My preference for a 35 prime is the 35/2 AFD because performance can be tweaked with the camera's AF fine tuning, something impossible to do with MF gear.
  16. Alan, I don`t get it... if a lens is MF, isn`t it more *interesting* because it doesn`t need to be "tweaked"? or, why someone would want to fine tune an AF lens? For sure I`m missing something...
  17. (Oops, I wanted to mean; why someone would want to fine tune an MF lens?)
  18. It depends on your camera. If shooting film with F3 bodies and earlier, choose the focusing aid that gives best focus critical focus, i.e. split image, microprism or ground glass. Typically, there was usually a slight focus offset (about 0.05 mm) to the film plane between the split image/microprism compared to the surrounding ground glass. I only shoot digital and these bodies let you fine tune focus for optimal focus of any given AF lens with the camera's AF system.
  19. The question posed here involves a bit of an apple vs. orange comparison. These lenses were designed with different goals in mind, so it is not surprising that they differ somewhat in use. Note that the following discussion deals with the manual-focus, manual-exposure 35mm f/1.4 and 28mm f/2.8 lenses produced during the 1970s and 1980s, and not to current-production autofocus lenses.
    When the 35mm f/1.4 AiS was built, Nikon offered at least four different 35mm lenses: a 35mm f/2.8, a 35mm f/2, the 35mm f/1.4, and a 35mm f/2.8 TS. The f/2.8 was designed to be small, light and affordable; the f/2 was an all-around lens; and the f/2.8 TS was a tilt and shift model designed primarily for architectural photography. The f/1.4 was designed for maximum possible lens speed, to be used by photojournalists for available light photography in difficult conditions. Designing a fast lens poses major challenges for an optical designer, as the difficulty of producing high image quality increases substantially as the maximum aperture of the lens increases. An ultra-fast lens, like a high performance sports car, sacrifices other characteristics in the interest of achieving maximum possible speed.
    Back then, the faster the lens one used, the more image quality one could retain. Standard film such as Tri-X was rated at ISO 400. One could push process it to ISO 800 or even ISO 1600, but that usually involved significant loss of image quality, with blocked highlights and little shadow detail. Kodak 2475 surveillance film was a bit faster, and Kodak and Ilford eventually marketed ultra-speed ISO 3200 films, but even at rated speed those were very grainy films, they worked beteer at 1600 than at 3200, and when push-processed to speeds above 3200 they lost image quality rapidly.
    As Bjorn Rorslett has pointed out, the 35mm f/1.4 AiS has a distinct personality. At its maximum aperture of f/1.4, it delivers high speed in the center of the image but has a lot of light falloff in the corners due to vignetting, is not very sharp, delivers low contrast due to spherical aberration, and suffers from optical coma in the corners. The effect has sometimes been described as "dreamy" (something which can be used for deliberate effect in some types of photography). Due to relatively shallow depth of field, it helps to have a Nikon F, F2 or FM with a split-image screen to focus this lens accurately at maximum aperture; at this setting, it's not as easy to use with a modern DSLR designed for autofocus lenses which lacks a split-screen viewfinder. Its performance improves somewhat at f/2. When shot at f/2.8, f/4 or f/5.6, however, it delivers excellent sharpness, contrast, great resistance to flare and ghosting, and little or no coma. For its time, it was one of the very best available, and it is still impressively good at those apertures. At f/8 and above, the image quality falls off due to diffraction, and one would do just as well using a smaller, lighter, more affordable 35mm lens.
    Nikon first offered a 35mm f/1.4 lens in 1970, which was 46 years ago now. (The AiS version came out in 1981, which was 35 years ago.) When comparing a lens initially designed almost half a century ago, or a version produced more than a third of a century ago, with lenses designed and marketed within the past few years, one must realize that there have been considerable advances in optical science during the past 46 years. Keep in mind that when Nikon first designed the 35mm f/1.4, there were no autofocus lenses, digital cameras, personal computers, image-editing software, Internet, cellphones, CDs, DVDs, microwave ovens, or flat-screen TVs in existence.
    What is impressive about the 35mm f/1.4 AiS is not its absolute performance in current terms, but rather just how well it continues to stand up against comparison with much more modern lenses. If used with skill, it can still deliver very high quality images today -- just recognize that if you absolutely have to use it at f/1.4 to grab a shot in dim light there will be some optical tradeoffs involved, and that if you do most of your shooting at f/8 or above, you might be happier with a smaller, lighter, cheaper lens.
    The 28nn f/2.8 was designed with rather different goals in mind. Nikon had offered a 28mm f/3.5 lens for the Nikon F as far back as 1960. That lens was small, light, tough, and delivered good results even with light sources in the image frame. It became one of the standard tools of photojournalists during the Vietnam War. It was a bit slow, though, so Nikon came out with a faster 28mm f/2 lens in 1970 (the same years as the 35mm f/1.4). That was an excellent lens by all accounts, but larger, heavier and significantly more expensive, of greater interest to professional photographers than to amateurs. Nikon needed to come up with a more up to date, but affordable, 28mm lens. Nikon first put the 28mm f/2.8 on the market in 1974, and the AiS version went on the market in 1981 (although the 28mm f/3.5 was so trusted by photojournalists that Nikon left it on the market until 1983).
    The 28mm f/2.8 lens was not designed with maximum speed as the primary goal. It was, instead, designed as a moderately fast, reasonably affordable, general-purpose lens at that focal length -- an economical family car, if you will. It was and is a perfectly good lens, and delivers good results, even today.
    Comparing the moderate, family car 28mm f/2.8 with a big, heavy, expensive, no holds barred high speed hot rod, as the 35mm f/1.4 was when it first came out, doesn't really do justice to either lens. They were designed for different purposes, they achieved their rather different design goals, and they occupied very different market niches. Their continued usefulness today, decades after they were first designed, stands as testimony to just how good Nikon's optical engineers were back then.
  20. Great summary Peter, it covers all key points.
  21. "Great summary Peter, it covers all key points."
    Do note that all versions of the Nikon 35mm sift lens(PC Nikkor) were shift only, and without tilt.
  22. Speaking of the 35/2.8 PC Nikkor, I use to own one and found of all their MF 35's, it was their sharpest optic edge to edge. Most likely, I think it was due to the inherently large image circle. Conversely, the 28/3.5 PC's IQ was terrible, the edge quality only became decent when stopped down several stops.
  23. I also have the 28mm f/2.8 Nikon AIS and the 35mm f/1.4 Nikon AIS. Both are very good lenses.
    When I bought my first Nikon 35mm SLR, I bought a 35mm f/2 Nikon that I used for years until I replaced it with the faster 35mm f/1.4 Nikon. I used the 35mm lens as my "normal" lens on my 35mm camera. When I carried the 35mm, I routinely also carried an 85mm f/1.8. The 35 & 85 allowed me to capture about 80% of the general images I needed.
    The 28mm lens was the wide-angle I preferred when I shot landscapes and theatre with a 35mm camera. Rarely did I carry the 35mm and the 28mm at the same time because their angle-of-view is too close for my taste. When I carried the 28mm, I routinely also carried a 50mm f/1.4.
    I never really compared the image quality of the 28 Nikon to the 35 Nikon. I have, however, compared the image quality of my two old Nikon lenses to more modern lenses. I compared the 28mm f/2.8 Nikon to a 28mm f/2 Zeiss and was surprised that at the same apertures, the performance of the Nikon was very close to the Zeiss. I compared the 35mm Nikon to its APS equivalent (a 23mm f/1.4 Fujinon) and the image quality of the Fujinon was superior.
  24. First, there are several different Nikkor 28s. The AIS version is remarkable at close distances. I think the others are only OK at any distance (e.g. the 28 f/2.8 AF).
    Second, the 35 f/1.4 has a following, but I've never gone there. The 35 f/2 is OK, nice at the center wide open, and fine if stopped down.
    I just don't know what to use for a landscape 28mm on Nikon DSLRs. After Ming Thien's review, I adopted the Coolpix A for my 28mm FOV landscape camera.
  25. Stuart, thanks for the two comparative photos. Your daughter, I'll guess, looks like a wonderful young person.
    And, for the lens, what a difference a stop makes!
  26. I compared the 35mm Nikon to its APS equivalent (a 23mm f/1.4 Fujinon) and the image quality of the Fujinon was superior.​
    FWIW, the image quality of the Sony/Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 on APS is very good as well. For 35mm equiv, I'm using the Sony.

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