Nikon AF-S DX-NIKKOR 35mm f/1,8G

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mmene, May 6, 2009.

  1. Any comments on new Nikon AF-S DX-NIKKOR 35mm f/1,8G from users ?
     
  2. Very good lens.
     
  3. I tried it side by side on a D300 to a Sigma 30mm f1.4. (Sigma bought used for $255.) I returned the 35mm f1.8G and kept the 30mm f1.4. It's a better lens in every way.
    Kent in SD
     
  4. I've been very pleased with it.
     
  5. Let's see, the Nikon sells for $199, the Sigma sells for $439, more than twice the price. I doubt the Sigma is twice as good. My verdict, the Nikon wins!
     
  6. Great lens, sharp and very usable wide open. Perfect standard FOV prime for DX digital.
     
  7. I don't know, Dave. That's not how it works. It's not that the Sigma is necessarily twice as good, because they are very different lenses. It's certainly going to give you a much nicer bokeh, less CA and distortion, and feels a lot more solid. But it's not about a linear relationship between the price and a particular specification. The real question is: over the useful lifetime of the lens, minus whatever you can get back from having sold it later, will what the more expensive lens does for you be worth a couple hundred dollars?

    I use the Sigma, as well as various Nikon primes and zooms. I've sold a fair amount of work that I recorded using the Sigma. Leaving aside for a moment that it's a bit faster and a bit wider, it's the look of the output that matters to me - and you don't buy either of those lenses so that you can use it at f/8 all the time. An 18-55 kit lens, at f/8, is going to - in practical terms for most people who would consider an inexpensive prime lens - look just as good at 35mm as the 35/1.8. Truly, it will.

    So, the way to compare those two lenses isn't on price, but on results, as seen over years of use, putting the lens to work at the margins of its abilities. I've used mine for three years now, and will certainly use it for more (it's fantastic on a D300). So, we're talking about - per year - the cost of a bucket of fried chicken, at most, separating those two lenses. And yet, I've sold many hundreds of dollars worth of prints that started their lives in that lens, and I'm comfortable saying that at least some of them simply wouldn't have worked out as well with the new 35/1.8. Many would be indistingsuishable, of course.

    It's apples/oranges, here, to be sure. I would definitely stay away from comparing price directly to performance. With lenses, small improvements come at high prices. Big improvements come at very big prices. The only thing that matters is how your personal needs or ability to notice and care about the subtle differences stack up against your budget. At these lower prices, it's easy for me. At 300mm, for example, the difference between an f/4 and f/2.8 takes on enormously different financial consequences.
     
  8. Matt, please provide photos to back up your claims. I can't imagine paying twice as much for a Sigma, and I don't need f1.4.
     
  9. The only claim I'm making, Dave, is that a lens doesn't have to be "twice as good" to be worth $200 more, for some photographers. The very fact that you don't shoot at f/1.4 is exactly what I'm talking about. You don't, I sometimes do. It's a different lens, and you can't say that one is twice as good as the other, since you can't realistically compare them.

    If you do shoot fairly wide open on a regular basis, and care about the bokeh, then you should take a look at as many of the reviews out there as possible. That will help you to judge whether the harsher artifacts in the 35/1.8's out of focus areas (rings, double lines, etc) matter at all for a given style of shooting or subject matter. If they don't, they simply don't, and that's that. The difference in barrel distortion, likewise, may be completely insignificant for certain kinds of shooting.

    But again: it's not about whether it's "twice" as expensive. It's more about whether it's worth an extra $0.70 per week for the 30/1.4, presuming that at the end of five years of use, you were to throw away whichever of the two you buy (which would be silly - you'd keep it longer, making the price difference even less meaningful - and even less still if you were to sell it down the road). Note that I would be making exactly the same argument in favor of Nikon's 70-200/2.8 over a less expensive one from Sigma, for many users. If you shoot with such a zoom lens every day, is it worth another $0.40 a day to have that Nikon? Yes. And that's assuming that such a serious lens wouldn't make it past 5 years... which, of course, it would.
     
  10. sorry dave, but i'm with Mr. Laur on this one. the sigma has better build, faster AF, a wider max aperture and better bokeh. for its price, the nikon is a good deal, and if you're happier with that, then go for it.
     
  11. Thank for your advises. I have to mention that I already own 50/1.8DX and 17-55/2.8 But i have heard to much complements for this new Nikon, so I try to discover if there is some reason to buy this prime, because it is very light also, for my D300. Do you think so?
     
  12. I'll take a Nikon over a Sigma any day of the week, but that's just me. I didn't know folks here considered the new Nikon 35mm DX lens such a dog.
     
  13. Its not a dog, it is good value for money. Michael I got mine to have something light to put on the cam instead of the usual 17-55/2.8. For street shooting it is perfect at 52mm equiv. FL.
     
  14. Dave--
    I paid $255 for the Sigma 30mm f1.4. There was one for sale recently on e Bay as Buy It Now for $300. It does NOT cost twice as much if you shop. There are no used Nikon 35mm f1.8G lenses out there. If you buy a new one, you will lose some $$ when you go to resell. By buying a used Sigma I will most likely get what I paid for it when I resell. The way I looked at it, holding both lenses in my hands and using them for several days, the Nikon is a consumer grade lens and the Sigma is definitely pro grade. The NIkon has a bit more distortion, and noticeably more CA. The Sigma is a bit wider angle, cleaner, and faster. I'm a night photographer and love to shoot in Dakota blizzards. I need something that can withstand those conditions. The Sigma 30mm was clearly the winner for me, every way I looked at it. It's not that the 35mm f1.8G is a "dog," it's just that it's a consumer grade lens and very clearly outclassed by the pro grade 30mm f1.4. Micheal--I have the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 and shoot a D300. The Sigma 30mm f1.4 balances perfectly on the D300, and it matches the quality feel of the 17-55mm. The 35mm f1.8G clearly does not. I bought the 30mm f1.4 not for something smaller, but because as a low light/night photographer I need the speed! And f1.4 is faster than f1.8, period.
    Kent in SD
     
  15. Dave: who said dog? It's a pretty good lens for $200. AF-S, fast, sharp. It's not trying to be anything other than that. It's sort of like the classic 50/1.8, just aimed at the DX users, and it's got AF-S for the folks who are using D40/D60/D5000 bodies, or who don't want to hear the mechanical focus noise of the older 35/2 on cameras that do have screw drives. That's not a dog, it just is what it is.

    That doesn't make the extra $200 poorly spent, if a more expensive lens happens to have something you need or want. It's not a contest between two lenses! They're different animals, aimed at different users, that's all. Those two lenses are both good for what they each cost.

    I'll take a Nikon over a Sigma any day of the week


    Which 30/1.4 AF-S Nikon did you have in mind, exactly? They weren't making one when I bought the Sigma, and they're still not making one. Nikon has recently released a 50/1.4 AF-S, and it's within a few dollars of the competing Sigma 50/1.4 HSM. The Sigma is the better lens (if you don't mind the extra glass weight/size in exchange for what it delivers - it's a subjective trade off). But as I mentioned, there are Sigma lenses I would not purchase in place of most Nikon products. The difference between us, perhaps, is that I just don't care who makes the lens - I care what it does and what it costs, relative to what it does. That's what drives the decision making.

    I spent two hours shooting a project today. With Nikon's 70-200/2.8, with Nikon's 60mm Micro, and with the Sigma 30/1.4 in question. For what I shot today, Nikon's 35/1.8 would have done just fine in place of the Sigma, no problem. But I shot some stuff last week where there were a lot of bright, reflective objects in the background, and the 35/1.8's crunchy bokeh would have been distracting. $200 more distracting? A matter of taste and priorities.
     
  16. uh oh, dave, now you've done it. you maybe should have researched the sigma's build quality vs. the nikon before you opened up the flamethrower. it's interesting, though, to hear the usual argument against 3rd party lenses flipped in reverse. usually what i hear is the nikon has better build quality, that's why it's more expensive. IQ for many 3rd party lenses these days is comparable and in some cases better--though the optical formula is tweaked a bit differently for each lens--and Sigma does know what they're doing as far as making prime lenses.
    i'd take almost any sigma EX lens over almost any consumer-grade nikon, and as Matt and Kent have pointed out, the 30/1.4 delivers in low-light situations and in bokeh situations. if you're stopping down a fast aperture lens to anything below f/4, you probably dont need a fast aperture lens in the first place.
    not to say the 35/1.8 is a dog, however. for what it is it's a smart addition to a lot of kits. and at that price, no one can complain.
     
  17. Dear friends, as far as I can trust photozone .
    1) “ The lens shows barrel distortions at around 1.7%, certainly more than one would expect from a prime lens in this focal range”, same comment and test for both lenses.
    Vignetting

    2) Dedicated DX lenses usually suffer from higher vignetting (compared to FX glass on the same camera) and one would especially expect this behaviour from a fast lens. However, the AF-S DX 35 wide open only shows moderate vignetting which is reduced to a not field relevant level by f/4 and beyond.
    3) The Sigma shows a fairly unusual vignetting characteristic (which also showed up in the test of the Canon variant of the lens) - normally the vignetting curve is logarithmic (steep drop in the beginning followed by moderate fading) whereas the curve of the Sigma shows a quite linear behavior. This isn't really favorable because it takes a couple of f-stops till the vignetting reaches really low values. At wide-open aperture the issue is quite pronounced (1EV) and even at f/2.8 it is not much better. The vignetting is no longer field-relevant from about f/5.6. Vignetting is not disturbing in all situations but other lenses perform better here.
    MTF (resolution)

    4) Sigma is a little bit better in the centre but worst in the borders.
    Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

    5) Sigma . The degree of lateral chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) is acceptable for a 30mm lens but nothing to rave about either. CAs with an average width around ~1.2px at the image borders can be visible at times.
    6) Nikon. Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are moderate wide open, but rather high for the rest of the aperture range. This is a somewhat disappointing behaviour, however lateral CAs (unlike LoCAs, see below) can easily corrected in post processing and most newer Nikon DSLRs already do this on their own (as well as most of the current RAW converters).
    If you compare the measurements Nikon is better at f1.8 and almost the same at f/2. 8-4. Finally Sigma is a bit better at f/5.6-8.
    So I prefer Nikon by any way.
     
  18. Visit
    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/422-nikkor_35_18g?start=1
    http://www.photozone.de/pentax/145-sigma-af-30mm-f14-ex-dc-pentax-k-review--test-report?start=1
     
  19. Dear friends, as far as I can trust photozone .
    1) “ The lens shows barrel distortions at around 1.7%, certainly more than one would expect from a prime lens in this focal range”, same comment and test for both lenses.
    Vignetting

    2) Dedicated DX lenses usually suffer from higher vignetting (compared to FX glass on the same camera) and one would especially expect this behaviour from a fast lens. However, the AF-S DX 35 wide open only shows moderate vignetting which is reduced to a not field relevant level by f/4 and beyond.
    3) The Sigma shows a fairly unusual vignetting characteristic (which also showed up in the test of the Canon variant of the lens) - normally the vignetting curve is logarithmic (steep drop in the beginning followed by moderate fading) whereas the curve of the Sigma shows a quite linear behavior. This isn't really favorable because it takes a couple of f-stops till the vignetting reaches really low values. At wide-open aperture the issue is quite pronounced (1EV) and even at f/2.8 it is not much better. The vignetting is no longer field-relevant from about f/5.6. Vignetting is not disturbing in all situations but other lenses perform better here.
    MTF (resolution)

    4) Sigma is a little bit better in the centre but worst in the borders.
    Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

    5) Sigma . The degree of lateral chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) is acceptable for a 30mm lens but nothing to rave about either. CAs with an average width around ~1.2px at the image borders can be visible at times.
    6) Nikon. Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are moderate wide open, but rather high for the rest of the aperture range. This is a somewhat disappointing behaviour, however lateral CAs (unlike LoCAs, see below) can easily corrected in post processing and most newer Nikon DSLRs already do this on their own (as well as most of the current RAW converters).
    If you compare the measurements Nikon is better at f1.8 and almost the same at f/2. 8-4. Finally Sigma is a bit better at f/5.6-8.
    So I prefer Nikon by any way.
     
  20. Visit for Sigma
    http://www.photozone.de/pentax/145-sigma-af-30mm-f14-ex-dc-pentax-k-review--test-report?start=1
     
  21. Michael: What you're not mentioning in the comparison you cite is:

    1) Physical build. You really need to handle both lenses to understand why that might be important. The very thing that makes me like the Sigma's physical build may annoy other people: it's stouter and heavier. To me, it feels a lot more pleasant than something smaller and lighter. It lends itself to a steady hold, and it comes across as a lot more rugged (mine has seen a lot of knocking around - doing great). If you handle both lenses, any thougths about CA or distortion or sharpness at f/4 vs f/5.6 may take a back seat to simply liking, or not, one or the other lens as an object in your hands.

    2) Bokeh. This is where the two are very, very subjectively different. Surf around for some examples. If that stuff matters to you (and you know who you are) then that's the end of the discussion, right there. If it simply doesn't matter, then... it doesn't matter, and if #1 doesn't either, then - presto! Save a couple hundred.
     
  22. jbm

    jbm

    I own the Nikon and I have not shot with the Sigma. I bought the Nikon instead as I plan eventually to upgrade to a full frame machine and did not want to spend a fortune on a normal perspective lens that would not translate. The 35 is a great little lens but the OOF areas are a bit harsh. It is optimized to be sharpest between 2.8-5.6...beyond 5.6 it suffers a bit from diffraction. In practical shooting I do not notice a ton of this except for the chromatic aberration present in OOF areas, which is very high and almost beyond the ability of capture NX2 to correct. Here are some sample photos:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8858535
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8853311
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8853219
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8852933
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8752914
    I love shooting it at F2.2 to f4. I think if I were staying with DX long term I would get the Sigma. Good luck!
    Cheers,
    Jay
     
  23. It's funny how some people run around proclaiming how great the bokeh is on some lens.
    You belong in the Leica forum. Their lenses, from what I understand, have the best bokeh of all.
    For me image quality wins. And I place a lot of faith in the name "NIKON" and would buy their lenses before any other brand, period. Nikon wins for me because their lens outperforms the Sigma at half the price (we're not talking an ebay auction price, we're talking retail new with factory warranty). And I still don't need f1.4.
    I know Sigma makes good lenses, but you pay a premium for f1.4, and f1.4 doesn't mean better optics, it means *faster* optics. Faster doesn't equal better in most cases.
    I'll take the Nikon any day of the week.
     
  24. Dear Matt,
    I already mentioned that I own 17-55/2.8 and you must know that I own 70-200/1.8 also. So I know what do you mean saying "If you handle both lenses...". But I want just a light and very good lens.
    You are right about bokeh but with the use of PS that's a minor problem.
     
  25. "I know Sigma makes good lenses, but you pay a premium for f1.4, and f1.4 doesn't mean better optics, it means *faster* optics. Faster doesn't equal better in most cases."
    i can agree with that. but it also doesn't mean worse in most cases. if you don't need 1.4, don't get a 1.4. if bokeh isn't high on your list, don't get the sigma. and if the plastic mount on the nikon breaks, you can always buy another for two bills.
    IMO, the nikon is a very affordable lens which delivers reasonably high performance for the price. the sigma is better optically in some ways, maybe not so much in others. it has more intangibles such as build quality, faster aperture, and better OoF rendering which you won't find on a $200 lens, no matter who makes it.for some people that's worth it. for others, maybe not so much.
    ultimately, though, who cares? they're both good lenses and both worth their price. are there better primes in that focal range? yes. are they more expensive? yes. personally, i'm happy that there is a choice in the normal fast prime field.
     
  26. I have had more than my share of bad luck owning third party lenses. The sample variation is pretty extreme with the Sigma's, Tokina's etc... I tried 2 samples of the 30/1.4 but both had very uneven focus across the frame...both on the left side. I tried the Sigma 10-20 zoom, but the sharpness was mediocre at best. I briefly had a Tokina 17mm to use on my Canon 5D...what a piece of junk.
    I don't see that anything significant is gained by paying double the price of the Nikon. The Nikon is pretty robust...not as solid as the Sigma...but not cheesy by any means. I'm sure there are fantastic copies of the Sigma out there, but I haven't seen one.
     
  27. Dave: Not sure how I can be clearer about this. If you don't care about a particular aspect of a more expensive lens's behavior, then it's great that you don't need to spend the money. If you're not worried about how a lens renders its out of focus areas, then you have the huge advantage of being happier with, say, Nikon's 85/1.8 instead of their much more expensive 85/1.4 (though there's much, much more to the differences between those two lenses than just a bit more speed, right?).

    As for choosing one brand over another (re: the "off brand" 30/1.4)? Again: Nikon doesn't make such a lens. Regardless, choosing a brand over performance, just out of brand loyalty, seems a little silly. Especially when the only thing you can get from a given brand within a certain range is their lower budget model... but because of the logo, you feel obliged. You may indeed prefer a Nikon lens over another brand, but if you don't actually have a similar lens to compare to, how does that work?

    Lastly: it isn't just rangefinder-obsessed primadonnas that care how background details are rendered. If you have two lenses to choose from, and one of them produces harsher artifacts than the other, which would you use when looking to feature a foreground subject via shallow depth of field? Do you really not find one of these two examples different than the other? It's obvious that there's a difference, so it just comes down to whether it makes a difference to the photographer.
    00TIKt-132765584.jpg
     
  28. If bokeh has to be sacrificed for 1) focus accuracy, 2) in-focus area sharpness, 3) edge sharpness, 4) manual focus that doesn't feel like sandpaper had been used inside the lens to create friction - so be it. There is no question in my mind whether bokeh is worth sacrificing all these other aspects.
     
  29. and I am staring with two wide open eyes!
    thanks Matt
     
  30. Nikon certainly won't be winning any awards for build quality on some of their more recent lenses. From what I have heard, the Sigma 1.4/50mm smokes the Nikon. To me, on a fast lens, boke is a HUGE part of the appeal of a particular lens. $200 or $400 for a lens is nothing, so go with what produces the best image for you. some manufacturers charge more than that for a lens hood! nikon no longer holds any cache with me. if it were me, I would go with Dave's suggestion, and put a Leica Summilux 1.4/50mm on the front.
     
  31. I also bought the 35 1.8 DX for my Nikon D80. Firstly, the lens exceeded my expectations in the build quality department. It feels solid, it has A METAL mount with rubber sealed gasket, it is sharp, good even at f/1.8, it comes with a hood, focuses spot-on and the chromatic aberation is very discreet. However, i am quite dissapointed by it's flare resistance. It is the only minus i can thonk of.
    On the other hand, i also considered the sigma since i am a 1.4 fan. To put it simply, that lens is a lottery. In my country, there are reports of soft copies, and numerous lenses that had to be recalibrated on a specific camera in order for the focus to work. Off-course, there re alot of reports praising it. I also own a tamron, so i'm not necessarily a brand freak, but i said no thanks to the sigma. I don't gamble with my money, and the price difference simply made the choise easier.
     
  32. To me the iron isn't really sharp in either photograph and the background is extremely distracting, again, in both photos. I would use a tripod, stop down to f/2.8 or f/4, and then somehow clear the background of the bright highlights either by introducing something between the foreground and background or by changing camera angle to position them outside of the frame. A third possibility would be to use flash to increase the light on the iron and this way reduce the relative brightness of the background in the image.
     
  33. Ilkka: Of course one's first stop should always be to make the most of lighting and composition to get what you need/want out of the shot. I fired those two off quickly to make a point. When you do NOT have the luxury of moving yourself, your subject, or the background, it's nice to have a choice of tools that help to render the background in a constructive way. Of course that's a distracting background! That's the whole point. I was deliberately throwing a busy, reflective background a short distance behind a sample subject.

    Where you really notice this sort of thing is when the harder, ring-like bokeh of the more troubled lens happens to produce those artifacts in sizes that compete with, say, the eyes of your subject. Or the curls in her hair. Or any other thing you don't want diminished by competing background busy-ness. A wiser composition, or the use of polarizers, or as you say - puddling the light just so - may all be far better choices than relying on the lens to help out. But you don't always have those options. Is that likely to matter for most people to whom Nikon is marketing the 35/1.8 DX? Only the buyers know!

    Sorry those quick midnight test shots in a dim workshop aren't works of art, they were just to show the sort of situation in which a fast lens is quite handy. If I'd stopped down, I'd have been at a much slower shutter speed. Yes, a tripod, strobes... etc. But that's not always reality. For what it's worth, here's a tighter crop.
    00TITI-132841684.jpg
     
  34. I love this lens. Pros: inexpensive, light, small (I pair it with a D40 and can take it pretty much everywhere), a very useful focal length, accurate focus, sharp even wide open, close focusing distance. Cons: green and purple fringing in certain lighting, and not the smoothest bokeh. (I also have the Sigma 50mm 1.4, with its buttery bokeh, but its size and weight keep me from carrying it around on a regular basis.)
    I don't profess to be anything other than a passionate amateur, but you can see some of my photos with this lens here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/natalieah23/tags/nikkor35mmf18afs/
     
  35. The manual focus on the Nikon 35 f1.8 sucks.
     
  36. Matt,

    I'm on a break at work, so I'm skimming here.

    I did not see where you mentioned what two lenses you used for your test. The results are interesting, but after combing you post, I just don't see what two lenses were used for the two pictures.

    Can you please re-clarify which lens was used for the top photo and for the bottom? I'm very interested in this as I am looking at picking up a lens in the 30mm range very soon and trying to make a decision.

    Thanks in advance,
    Keith


    P.S., I have the Nikon 50 1.4 AFS and I am very happy with it. That however does not mean I wouldn't look into a Sigma, especially the 30 1.4.
     
  37. I am also looking to purchase the Nikon 35 MM 1.8G and stumbled onto this thread. Let me throw another lens into the picture - Nikon 35 mm 2.0 AFD. Its a lens for FF. Does anyone have any experience of using this on DX? I am just starting out but have heard that a FF lense when used on DX bodies can give much better image quality. Also if one plans to move to FF sometime in the future, you can still use the lens.
     
  38. Sorry, Keith. I was being deliberately coy about that, because the conversation had taken a small left turn into whether or not worrying about a prime lens's bokeh is a bit of vain frippery, or actually might matter sometimes. I was just illustrating that the differences can be very noticeable, and leaving it up to the viewer to project such differences into their own shots and their own lens shopping. I just wanted people to know why so many reviewers mention bokeh when also mentioning corner sharpness wide open, CA, and all the rest.

    In this particular case, the upper shot (of which a 100% crop is shown, farther down) is the Sigma 30/1.4, used at f/1.4. The lower shot is a Nikon 50/1.8, used at f/1.8. To keep perspective and subject-to-background distances the same, both were used from the same position, with the 30mm shot cropped a bit more aggressively to keep the examples consistent.

    The idea, there, is that we're shooting hand-held in a dim room, and opening up all the way to maximize AF peformance and increase shutter speed. At the expense, of course, of depth of field and sharpness. Nikon's less expensive primes haven't substantially changed their optical recipe in quite a while (better coatings and whatnot, of course) which is why it's easy to spot the differences between those simple Nikon lenses, and their counterparts from other makers who use a different recipe, or who are willing to make the lenses larger and heavier (hell, when Nikon's willing to make them larger or heavier, they also get very different results - see their two 85mm lenses as an example).

    In the case of Sigma's 30/1.4, and especially their 50/1.4 (which is full-frame design), you can really spot it, especially on the bokeh side of things. Again: if that matters to you, and it obviously doesn't to many people, for whom the savings are more important. Completely personal issue.

    My main point in all of this was to counter the notion of worrying whether a lens that costs $200 more is twice as good or not. I just think that's the wrong way to look at it. The lens is either worth what it does for you, or it's not. That's all there is to it. For me, the 30/1.4's extra cost continues to be worth it, compared to it's single nearest alternative (the 35/1.8). But honestly? Just the fact that it's 5mm wider may be the most important factor. That part matters to me - 5mm is noticeable on a DX body.

    Oh, and given the number of times it's been mentioned above, I supposed I should say that the two Sigma lenses I happen to use (the 30, and the 10-20 ultrawide) performed perfectly as delivered, and continue to. Never any need for a visit to Sigma. And that statistic isn't any more valuable, I suppose, than anyone else's anecdotes, either! But mine have earned their keep many times over, and I still like the results.
     
  39. Matt, thanks for the samples. I'm sure most people here recognize that you never expect to get something that is twice as good when you spend twice as much, in a lens or anything else. As if you could even measure what "twice as good" is. It's a silly notion.
    The question is how do the lenses differ and to what degree. Your samples do show a dramatic difference in bokeh. The top photo is a textbook "neutral" bokeh sample and the lower is textbook "bad" bokeh. It would be interesting to see a comparison with the 35/1.8 since that's what is being discussed here, but I'm sure there are lots of bokeh samples around for this lens for anybody who wants to look for them.
    The other thing that struck me about your samples though was the difference in color rendition. I'm surprised nobody else has pointed it out. The top lens' colors look washed-out and muted compared to the bottom lens, and I'm curious whether it would be different stopped-down a bit. This would be much more important to me than either bokeh or sharpness in choosing between two lenses of this type. By the way, the 35/1.8 does seem to give very crisp, saturated colors.
    Oh, I had a 50/1.8 for a while, and it was terrible at f/1.8. Far worse than yours for some reason.
     
  40. Glenn: On the color rendition... shame on me. I just set ISO 200, aperture priority, and shot. The two were metered a bit differenly, probably because the 30 had a wider view of the scene, and the camera handled it differently. I did some utterly casual brightness/contrast adjustments and just let it slide, since I was really just pointing out the bokeh behavior in the Nikon prime. Those two shots are NOT to be considered fair comparisons of the color rendition, since they weren't handled the same way. I didn't want to get too picky with that stuff since it wasn't trying to be a direct comparison between two contenders for the same job. But I can sure see wh you'd bring that up. To handle that correctly, I'd have to manually expose, which I did not do, bad me. I can only grind so many axes at a time!
     
  41. I was excited about the 35/1.8 AFS and was planning to buy one.
    Then I read about the C.A. and saw the results from several reviews. The C.A. when the lens is stopped down makes the lens unusable for me.
    Yes, I know my D300 fixes CA in-camera when I shoot jpegs. However I always shoot NEF.
    Yes, I know NX2 fixes CA. But I refuse to pay Nikon even more money for NX2 in order to get a usable image from a lens that should be designed not to have excessive CA. Even if NX2 was free, my work flow would require an additional step (CA removal).
    So, sadly the 35/1.8 AFS is not for me
     
  42. I probably would have bought the Nikon 35mm f1.8 IF it was available the same time as Sigma 30mm 1.4.
    But I needed a fast lens for my D300 and Sigma was my best choice.
     
  43. In this particular case, the upper shot (of which a 100% crop is shown, farther down) is the Sigma 30/1.4,​
    This is really what I wanted to know. I am leaning to the Sigma, especially since I want a lens that will work w/ my F100. My other option was the Nikon 35 f/2D, but I think I'll go w/ the Sigma.

    Also to note, I traded off the Nikon 50 f/1.8 exactly for the reason shown in your example. The little rings on the out of highlight areas are very distracting. My copy also seemed to have issues with flaring. On a happy note, I got the $89 I paid for the 50/1.8 back out of it when I sold it.
    Thanks for the info Matt.
     
  44. Woops, Keith! The Sigma 30/1.4 is for DX-format bodies, not for full-frame 35mm (as in film) bodies. For (even better!) looking results that will go full-frame, it's Sigma's 50/1.4 HSM, or Nikon's 50/1.4 AF-S, with some important if subtle differences between the bokeh on those two. But if you actually want 30mm or so on your F100, the neither the Sigma being discussed here, nor Nikon's 35/1.8 will do the job and cover the whole frame. Alas, a 30/1.4 that WOULD cover an entire FX format sensor or film would be... a lot more expensive. Hundreds more.
     
  45. to william hutton about the CA and it being excessive. I have a book by Tom Ang where he mentions what you have just said but as a plus for new lenses. He points out that since CA is easily fixable in Photoshop, ACR and other rendering programs, lens designers are free to ignore the engineering aspect of removing CA from physical lens design and focus on other areas like sharpness, etc. But he mentions that now that distortion and CA are easily controlled digitally, lens designers can focus on other aspects of lens design that cannot be fixed digitally.
    from matt laur's post:
    "The idea, there, is that we're shooting hand-held in a dim room, and opening up all the way to maximize AF peformance and increase shutter speed."
    as i understand the workings of the camera, the AF only works wide open unless you engage the depth of field preview button. But the lens remains wide open until the moment before the shutter releases, so stopping down has no effect on AF performance whatsoever.
    am i mistaken or did that point slide into your post accidentally. either way, nice review of the two lenses. it's hard to find good comparisons side by side so you can see the little differences between lenses that justify the large price differential; when compared on different scenes, you cannot really isolate and notice the subtle differences that really make pictures pop and justify the love for lenses that people develop.
     
  46. Keith, the Sigma 30mm is also a small-sensor lens, just like the Nikon 35/1.8. So it won't project a full image on the F100.
    The 50mm f/1.8 is so-so wide open but gives excellent images from f/2.5 onwards.
    Yes, I know NX2 fixes CA. But I refuse to pay Nikon even more money for NX2 in order to get a usable image from a lens that should be designed not to have excessive CA.
    You can pretty much expect Nikon to design all their new glass to assume the CA correction of Capture NX2 or the camera is used. You get a smaller, lighter, and cheaper lens. Other software makers also have CA correction algorithms, though I don't really know how well they work in comparison to Nikon's.
    if that matters to you , and it obviously doesn't to many people, for whom the savings are more important.
    People's objections to 3rd party autofocus lenses have nothing at all to do with the price or the importance of bokeh.
     
  47. Sorry my friends, but I cannot understand your comments, when you haven't share not even a photo to our club.
     
  48. Dan: Yes, the lens is wide open when you're composing and focusing. But the wider the widest aperture of the lens, the more light the lens is delivering to the AF system. So, a kit zoom that can't open up past f/3.5 is delivering only a fraction of the room's light (compared to an f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens) to the sensor. That means that the conditions in which you can get the camera's AF to work quickly and reliably are extended greatly by using the faster lens.

    Say you're shooting in a concert venue, and don't want the camera's AF assist light to constantly shining into a performer's face while you compose. You can do that in dimmer light with a fast lens than you can with a slower lens. Even if you intend to have a strobe fire when you DO take the photo - and you might be telling the camera to use f/8 when that happens - the faster lens gives you a brighter viewfinder, and the AF more to chew on. That's an important part of having a faster lens.

    Ilkka: People's objections to 3rd party autofocus lenses have nothing at all to do with the price or the importance of bokeh.

    The main reason I even chimed in on this thread was in response to Dave's assertion that the price is in fact a reason not to get the third party lens in this case (twice the price, but not twice as good, etc).
     
  49. " the chromatic aberation is very discreet. "
    well, actually, nicolae, here's what photozone had to say about CAs on the 35/1.8: "Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are moderate wide open, but rather high for the rest of the aperture range. This is a somewhat disappointing behaviour."
    doesn't sound "discreet" to me, but for $200, i could live with it. also, thanks for correcting me on the metal mount, which is good to know. however, it does have a plastic filter thread, correct?
    thanks, matt, for posting those images, which do effectively illustrate why some people would care about the differences between nikon and sigma primes.it's possible to coax decent OoF shots out of the 50/1.8 but it really requires carefulness, as that bokeh can be pretty harsh.
    nikon is general isn't known for their bokeh and to get top-shelf performance in this area, you have to pay top-shelf prices for the 85/1.4, 70-200/2.8, or 105 DC. sigma has clearly emphasized this characteristic on their 30 and 50 primes and made it available at a price point which, while not entry-level, isnt out of reach either. sure, there are some compromises--the sigma 30 is just not very good in corners even stopped down to 5.6--but while this shows up on test charts, it's often a non-factor in real-world conditions, in my experience.i like the idea that a lens purchased for low-light conditions works well in those conditions. maybe that's just me.
    and i'm not sure why anyone would buy a sub-2.8 prime to shoot landscapes at narrow apertures, but if that's a concern, the nikon is clearly better in that regard.
    and just to reiterate, for $200, the 35/1.8 is definitely worth the money, especially for d40/d60 shooters. one shouldnt have to spend the equivalent of a new camera body just to get an acceptable lens for available-light work. if you're willing to spend time in post- correcting CAs--or have a d90 or d300, which auto-correct--this lens is a no-brainer for many folks. just dont expect non-jittery bokeh.
     
  50. and i'm not sure why anyone would buy a sub-2.8 prime to shoot landscapes at narrow apertures, but if
    Primes often give cleaner images and better detail near the edges than zooms (with the exception of wide angle primes designed for film but used on digital; a recipe for misery). I don't see why one would not use them for this application, perhaps someone can fill me in what I've been missing after 15 years of shooting landscapes with 50mm lenses....
    if you're willing to spend time in post- correcting CAs-
    If you use Capture, this happens automatically. And if you want decent high ISO image quality, you should probably be using it already. At least on D3/D700 files I've found it gives a significant edge over Adobe raw conversion software.
     
  51. "Primes often give cleaner images and better detail near the edges than zooms (with the exception of wide angle primes"
    Ilkka, this is such an obvious point, i didnt think it was necessary to point out.
    "I don't see why one would not use them for this application, perhaps someone can fill me in what I've been missing after 15 years of shooting landscapes with 50mm lenses...."
    um, hello? anybody home?
    i'm not saying you couldn't shoot landscapes with a 50, i'm just saying i dont think that's what most people who are buying 1.4 lenses today are buying them for. 15 years ago, the conventional wisdom around primes was different than it is today. the current trend of optimizing 1.4 primes to shoot wide open reflects this. in the past fifteen years, zoom lenses have come farther than Virginia Slims--i'm not sure i would pick any of nikon's current primes in the same range over the 14-24 and 24-70.
    if you look at nikon's prime range, they have introduced exactly two sub-2.8 primes--the 35/1.8 and the 50/1.4 AF-S--in recent years. similarly, you can shoot landscapes with an 85/1.4 or 135/2 DC if you choose, but is that the primary purpose for which they were designed? don't think so. that's why those are known as portrait lenses.
    if my main interest was landscapes, i would purchase the 16-85 VR over the 85/1.4 or 50/1.4 in a heartbeat (except, perhaps, if i wanted to do panoramas, for which fixed-focal length lenses are better suited than zooms). similarly, if i was looking for a portrait lens with stellar bokeh, the 16-85 VR would be very low on the list.
     
  52. MATT: "The lens is either worth what it does for you, or it's not. That's all there is to it. For me, the 30/1.4's extra cost continues to be worth it, compared to it's single nearest alternative (the 35/1.8). But honestly? Just the fact that it's 5mm wider may be the most important factor. That part matters to me - 5mm is noticeable on a DX body. "

    Why is this so hard to understand? I mean really folks! These two lenses are apples and oranges. Maybe something simple like this will work.
    The Sigma does stuff the Nikon can't possibly do. It shoots at F1.4 (a feature I use frequently BTW). It shoots at 30 mm. Also very usefull particularly, as Matt says, on a DX sensor camera. The difference between 45 mm and 52.5 mm in the 35 mm format. This is a significant difference. Do you not think so?
    The bookah is VERY significant. Thanks for the two pictures Matt. I think you have illustrated your point beautifully. You may have illustrated another point without, perhaps, meaning to. That is, the difference between the work of a maticulous professional who carefully selects his tools to get the best product for ALL his customers rather than trying to get 'good enough' results from what he has.
     
  53. Does Capture NX2 correct for CA from cameras like the D200?
     
  54. who buys a f1.4 lens and places NO importance on boke? C'mon, put your hand up. It is one of the main factors that will make or break a lens.
     
  55. Dave, it has an algorithm you can try. I don't know how the implementation differs when applied to NEF files from different cameras - perhaps not at all. Anyway, even Capture 4.2 has some sort of CA correction but it wasn't active by default - in NX2 it is. Try the demo of NX2 and see if it helps you.
     
  56. Man... I thought the 30 f/1.4 was full frame like its big brother the 50/1.4. Oh well.....
     
  57. Gee wiz,
    This is one of those forum threads that makes you want to put the computer in hibernate and go out and take some pictures, or take a walk, or heck do the laundry -- ANYTHING but read inane comments about a hair's breadth of difference between two lenses that are both good pieces of equipment.
    By the way, does anyone else feel, as I do, that the Sigma lens caps are FAR superior to the Nikon lens caps. :)
     
  58. If only it were, Keith.

    Peter: Sigma's lens caps are some sort of bizarre, self-deprecating joke on themselves. I can't imagine what they're thinking with those. First stop after buying one of their lenses: cheezy generic replacement caps that are... a hundred times better.
     
  59. I find it funny how much one gets attached to a brand, really. If you're buying a feeling, that's ok, but for quality, sometimes a change is really welcome. It happens all the time with lots of stuff! from computers to phones, cars, everything (I might say, even girls from other brands (read: countries) can sometimes be nicer than the local product! :)
    Seriously, thanks Matt for pointing out the out of focus rendering of the Sigma. I learned the hard way that "sharper" doesn't mean always "better", and it can be a bad quality on which to judge a lens. I had a 50-135 tokina 2.8 (slightly front focusing on my d90), and swapped it because I was feeling I needed VR. BIGGEST mistake on my side: the thing rendered wonderful out of focus objects, and its colours where simply breathtaking, nothing I could replicate with my "poor" lenses (50 1.8, 18-105vr, 70-300vr. The last two are incredibly sharp, but colours simply pale in comparison). Following Matt's extremely wise advice, I'd buy whatever is best at the time of purchasal. Thanks again for pointing out Sigma's quality and "rendering" us an interesting perspective under which to value equipment beyond simple numbers of lph.
    Cheers,
    Lory
    P.s. Man, this was a *looooong* thread with much fanboysm, I couldn't resist stepping in! :D
     
  60. I do not know the actual causality of the CA in either of the lenses discussed above. But i have read a number of reviews of each, and full size samples. I am fond of "normal" perspective lenses, and use DX format, so it is of interest to me. If the CA in the new Nikon is not as good as the Sigma, that is pretty bad, given the amount in the Sigma.
    If it is similar to lateral CA, the problem for an image is not only the obvious discoloration on edge areas. It would also mean less resolution where the CA appears (since the error is different wave lengths not focusing at the same point). I do not know myself if in camera or post processing CA correction addresses that, or merely cures the apparent color error.
    I use a couple of the older ones (35mm f/2 AF & AF/D Nikkors), so i do not have the CA problem, relatively speaking.
     
  61. Had the Sigma 30 and kept the Nikon 35mm 1.8. Maybe the sigma is better in almost every way as others are arguing, but in my experience I didn't notice a significant difference other than the fact that the Nikon autofocus was faster and more accurate. The one thing I hated about the sigma was the constant autofocus hunt - not good for a fast lens - missed too many shots. Don't have that problem with the Nikon 35/1.8. So while my shots may not be as good as theoretically possible, at least I can now get the shot with the Nikon.
     
  62. I didn't know there was an active forum on the 35/1.8 I've been eyeing lately; I opened another thread myself.
    http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00TJVh
    Anyway, based on people's comments and my humble opinion, the Sigma delivers a more pleasant bokeh than that particular Nikkor. So if you can afford it, go for the Sigma. If not, you can't go wrong as well with what the Nikkor offers at that price!
     
  63. Eric, when I pack lenses for a shoot or a trip, I don't have the luxury of taking one lens for just one type of shot. Although a part of the motivation for buying a fast lens such as the normal lenses discussed in this thread is to be able to shoot at large apertures, I still want the lens to work for architecture or landscapes at f/8 for the simple reason that I may not have space for another lens at the same focal length. I will be using fast apertures like f/2 potentially at any focal length the situation demands so this is quite a lot of weight already. Packing another set of lenses optimized for f/8 may not be possible or rational. Luckly it turns out that most of the fast lenses are excellent performers at f/5.6 or even f/8 though at f/8 you're already getting reduced quality due to diffraction (not the fault of the lens, of course). You believe that modern fast primes are optimized for wide open shooting - nonetheless e.g. the 50/1.8 mocked in this thread or the 50/1.4 AF-S are both sharp to the corners when used at landscape apertures and distances. While the 24-70 is certainly a great lens (especially for shooting at relatively wide apertures close range i.e. typical lens test chart distances) and it can be used for landscapes, it isn't quite up there with the best lens of each focal length.
     
  64. a fun thread indeed. a learning experience. the more common bottom line is: it's a matter of taste(s) and priorities(s); and sadly, knowledge of photography.
     
  65. Ilkka Nissila wrote:

    'Other software makers also have CA correction algorithms, though I don't really know how well they work in comparison to Nikon's.'


    I sometimes use DxO Optics Pro to convert my D200 NEFs to JPEGs. With the supported camera/lens combinations, it generally does a good job eliminating distortion, vignetting and (mostly) CA. What keeps me from using it more is that it crashes occasionally and its interface, which I don't really like. It won't break any speed records either, especially on the Windows platform, but it'll solve most optical problems in a pinch, provided the lens and camera combination are supported.
    That said, I don't like lenses that suffer obvious optical flaws, and for me, the 35/1.8 doesn't quite cut it because of:
    - Distortion;
    - Prone to ghosting and flaring in strong contralight (the 35/2 was much better in this respect);
    - CA (again, the older 35/2 is the better performer);
    - No focus distance scale;
    - Free play in focus ring and loose feel makes manual focusing more difficult than it should be;
    - Does not focus as close as the 35/2;
    - Rendition of out-of-focus areas (again, I feel the 35/2 does a much better job in this respect though not nearly as good as the manual focus 28mm f/2.8 AI-S which is a great lens on both DX and 35mm)
    - No aperture ring and DX only (I also shoot with a FM2, so I need the aperture ring).
    For people wanting an affordable, sharp, low-light capable DX prime with the FOV that resembles a 50mm on 35mm, the 35/1.8G is great option. Personally I like the 35mm f/2 better, even though it's around $100 more than the 35/1.8.
     
  66. Great comments guys. I place the highest value in Kent's and Brien's comments for each of them had actually owned both lenses at the same time and shot them extensively. For Kent, the Sigma was preferred, for Brien the Nikkor was preferred. These are both good lenses, with very different strengths and weaknesses. For example, I use one 50mm lens for my stitched panos, and another 50mm lens for portraits, and a third one for fast action. I personally don't care for the 30/35mm focal length, but if I did, I might very well purchase each of these lenses. I'd buy the Sigma for night photography and for those instances when I want to shoot wide open and get the best possible bokeh (like for portrature or when you want to isolate an object). I'd buy the Nikkor for fast action, landscapes, panos, and those times when I wanted to shoot at f/8 or f/11. One can argue which lens is best FOR YOUR particular application, but please don't try to sell me on buying something that may be right for you, but not for me.
     
  67. Sigma has lately been producing a lot of top notch lenses for sure. I had the 10-20mm zoom and it was incredible. Great for traveling. I'll be interested to see their newer faster version, whenever it becomes available.
     

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