REVIEW: AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by richardsnow, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. This is my first real lens review. It is a non-technical review and is my impressions of this lens.
    AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G

    First Impressions:
    Compared to Nikon's other 35mm offerings, this lens is big and heavy. It's nearly twice as long and three times as heavy as both the AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 and AF 35mm f/2. It is Nikon's new professional build quality, which means that the outer barrel is heavy plastic, but feels like metal.
    It comes with the HB-59 lens hood and standard front and rear lens caps. The only downfall I noticed with my first impressions of the lens was that it isn't the standard 77mm filter size. For some reason Nikon decided to give this lens a 67mm filter, but then again, I couldn't figure out why Nikon decided to give the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G a 58mm filter size rather than the 52mm that was on the "D" version.
    Handling:
    When compared to Nikon's other 35mm offerings, this lens feels like a cannon. That being said, this lens handles very well on the D300s and D700 both with and without battery grips. Personally I think it's a bit heavy for Nikon's smaller bodies, but add a battery grip to the D90 or D7000 and this lens balances very well.
    The focus ring is big and placed near the end of the lens barrel, which makes it easy to focus with just your thumb and forefinger. It offers enough resistance to focus smoothly, but, like all of Nikon's AF lenses, it's not as much resistance as their MF offerings.
    Autofocus Performance:
    It seems that Nikon's goal with all of their new AF-S f/1.4 primes is accurate focus rather than fast focus. This lens is not lightning fast, but is very accurate. On my D700 it had slight back focus, (which was only noticeable when shooting wider than f/2), but dialing the AF Fine tune to -2 fixed this issue very quickly. This lens tracks focus nicely when in AF-C in everything except very poor lighting. AF is nearly silent, with only a minor click when the lens reaches infinity and close focus.
    Real World Shooting:
    I first took this lens out to with my daughter at the local park. I shot most of the afternoon at f/2 due to the bright sun and the lens did not disappoint! Color and contrast are top notch and bokeh is pleasant, although wide open it is not as pleasing if there is any harsh background lighting.
    In real world shooting I did not notice any vignetting at f/2, but I haven't shot wide open during any real world shooting yet. I'll post an update shooting wide open later.
    There is very minor barrel distortion, but it is easily fixable in Lightroom or Capture NX2. (I actually didn't notice it in my real world testing until I turned on distortion correction in NX2, but then again I didn't take any photos of fences or brick walls)
    CONCLUSIONS:
    The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G is a high quality professional level prime lens that deserves consideration by any photographer that needs a fast medium-wide prime lens. It fits perfectly into Nikon's new AF-S prime lens lineup and performs better than any previous 35mm lens offered by Nikon.
    This lens is an improvement over every previous Nikon 35mm prime, but I don't think it's for everyone. This lens seems to be designed for FX shooters that rely on available light and enjoy shooting primes. It's the perfect compliment to an 85mmf/1.4 in a two camera setup, although others prefer the 24mm f/1.4
    If you're a DX shooter and don't need an f/1.4 aperture and/or only rely on primes for low light shooting, the AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 is a much lighter (both physically and on your wallet) solution.
    If you shoot Film or FX, the AF 35mm f/2D is about a quarter of the cost of the AF-S 35mm f/1.4G, so if you prefer zooms and primes are only chosen for low light, it should be considered before the AF-S 35mm f/1.4G.
    SAMPLE SHOT:
    00Ye0r-352995584.jpg
     
  2. thanks for posting richard...let's see some more shots!
     
  3. I got hooked with primes and this lens sounds like candy to me.... As soon as I get the courage I'll get them both, 85 and 35.... I already love the 24 and these 2 others would complement my set up great...
    Thanks for your preview and post more real world shots...
     
  4. Since Rene' asked:
    00YeBM-353133684.jpg
     
  5. When compared to Nikon's other 35mm offerings, this lens feels like a cannon​
    No it doesn't. Canon lenses feel more slippery. Nikon has a better "grippy" surface.
     
  6. I think Richard means that it feels like a cannon, not like a Canon! It's not big and heavy compared to a 200mm f/2, but compared to the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D lens, the extra stop in aperture of this new 35mm f/1.4 AF-S lens adds nearly a pound in weight and almost 2 inches in length --- almost three times the weight and more than double the length of the slower cousin. It's actually longer and heavier than the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AF-D and AF-S lenses!
     
  7. Yes, Samuel is correct...I meant it feels huge in comparison to other 35mm offerings from Nikon. It in no way resembles the 35mm offering from CANON.
    RS
     
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    There is a big difference between Canon and cannon. Richard used only one "n" and did not capitalize the c. :)
     
  9. My humor is too subtle for this crowd. :(
     
  10. compared to the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D lens, the extra stop in aperture of this new 35mm f/1.4 AF-S lens adds nearly a pound in weight and almost 2 inches in length -
    Correcting optical aberrations well requires a complex optical design which is also necessarily heavy. The 35/1.4 AF-S is quite amazing. According to photozone tests with the D3X, the 35/2D has to be stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8 to match the edge/corner MTF of the 35/1.4G at f/1.4. I don't want to get again into the usefulness or importance of edge sharpness at wide apertures but the difference in image quality between these two lenses is very great indeed. I owned three 35/2's at different times and while I kept using it because I needed it, I was never very happy with the results until well stopped down (f/2.8 manageable but something funny about the image, not quite well defined, f/4 good, f/5.6-f/8 excellent). The situation is entirely different with the new lens which I can shoot happily at any aperture. It is better at f/2 than f/1.4 of course and depth of field determines the required aperture but at least now there is a choice between different apertures and using any of them you get a high quality image (provided the shutter speed is high enough and lens is correctly focused).
    I cannot overstate the importance of the 35/1.4 AF-S to me. I've used lots and lots of wide angle lenses and finally landed with this one and it is by far the most useful of them (to me in my people photography). It's currently still very expensive but over time it'll be more affordable. Perhaps 1200€ will be the "real" price five years from now. Hopefully there will be an f/2 AF-S too but I would really, really hope it's not an oversimplified design like the AF D is.
     
  11. "Correcting optical aberrations well requires a complex optical design which is also necessarily heavy". Makes me wonder how Leica does it (better) in a much smaller and lighter package. Different lens design I think and no auto focus of course. But still...
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Leica neither needs to worry about a mirror between the lens and the sensor nor the cost of the lens.
     

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