Nikon f2 35mm D

Discussion in 'Macro' started by royall_berndt, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Nikon doesn't promote this lens as a macro, but it will get you in amazingly close. And it has a beautiful look on a D camera.
  2. The 35/2 AF (D) is one of Nikon's most polarizing lenses: some really like it and feel it gets undeservedly slammed, others feel its such a dog that they can hear it barking. A lot depends on film choice/digital sensor, and what you're looking for in wide open rendering. Used astutely, it can indeed be an interesting option for closeup work.

    It probably gets judged more harshly in the hi res sensor era than it did back in the film days, where some of its tradeoffs were more appreciated (and there weren't nearly as many competing F-mount options, from Nikon or third parties). It replaced the venerable but problematic manual focus 35/2, with its truly atrocious internal ghosting problem (that made it infuriatingly difficult to handle with much of the night work photographers wanted it for). Other than offering autofocus, the key advantage of the new AF lens was it nearly eliminated this ghosting issue: for that alone, many were grateful.

    But losing the ghosts did come at the cost of a noticeably different performance curve. The manual focus 35/2 is no Summicron, but it did have a certain predictable look at various apertures that photographers were familiar with for two decades. The 35/2 AF upended that, being better in some respects, worse in others, and having more sample variation at f/2 (some are OK, some are really poor: the poor ones garnered a LOT of press over the years). Then of course you had the unfortunate sticky aperture blades issue in many examples, which damaged the rep of the 35/2 AFD even further.

    Nikon does have a peculiar tendency to never put all its eggs in one basket at some prime focal lengths, 35mm chief among them. Each 35mm Nikkor has its unique strengths and faults. Since its my favorite, I alternate between three generations: the old 35/2 OC, the slightly newer 35/1.4 AIS and the 35/2 AFD (which I borrow occasionally but should really just buy for myself). I like the DX-specific 35/1.8 AFS very much, but the latest FX 35/1.8 AFS leaves me cold.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  3. My first Nikon lens, and for some years the only one, is the AI 35/2.0.

    And yes it focuses down to 1 ft (0.3m), as measured from the film plane.
    I do remember using it for some macro work.

    I don't remember a ghosting problem, but I might not have used it in situations
    where ghosting is a big problem, or just didn't notice.
  4. For a lot of subjects, the heavy ghosting of the old 35/2 manual focus Nikkor either doesn't manifest or can be made to work with the image. But for many night time compositions, particularly city street scenes with multiple street lights and/or buildings with lighted windows: it can be impossible to manage, because you can't see the ghosting in the viewfinder (only the film, after its too late). High contrast point lights on dark backgrounds result in very clear, very bright, very distinct ghost copies rendered faithfully elsewhere in the image.

    Shooting holiday shop windows on Fifth Avenue at night often gives you a fake reflection of the windows and lights on the street/sidewalk surface, akin to what you'd get shooting a skyline over a lake/river (where reflections in the water are natural and expected). My worst experience of this was a twilight shot of the NYC skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge approach ramp: I ended up with more duplicate copies of the Empire State Building in the Tri-X frame than the deliberate special effects scene in 1978's "The Wiz" movie. Mind you, I had three revisions of manual 35/2 with me, because I was testing if newer was better: 35/2 single coated pre-AI, multicoated AI, and the final slightly optically revised AIS. Zero difference with any of the three: it isn't the coatings but the fundamental optics.

    The AF and AFD autofocus update of the 35/2 has a much smaller, tidier front element, with the rest of the internal optical block simplified and very resistant to ghosting (nearly as resistant as the 28/2 and 20/3.5 Nikkor AIS, which are ghost-free under any circumstance). Pictorially I prefer the older 35/2, but for night shooting the newer AFD version is the practical way to go (unless of course you've got a recent Nikkor 35mm AFS or zoom).
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  5. FWIW, I've been know to walk around with one stuck on the front of my Df as a "do everything" lens.
  6. I've never really noticed before, but my 35mm f2 AF (non-D) really does focus close. 35.jpg
    davidspahr likes this.
  7. Mostly because the longer lens barrel allows for longer lens to film distance.

    The 55/2.8 (and I presume 3.5) are interesting in that the front element
    is very deep looking in from the front. It is nowhere near the front of
    the lens barrel, but needed for the close focusing.

    But for the AI 35/2.0 the whole lens needs to be that long.

    I also remember that it would fit in the case only with no
    lens cap and focused to infinity.

    I didn't do so much close focus with it, but also never had any
    interest in putting close-up lenses on it.

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