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35mm f2 AIS vs 35mm f1.4 AIS vs 35mm f2D AF performance & lens flair


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I've been researching which lens to purchase and need opinions. I

prefer prime lenses. I already own a 35-70 f2.8D AF. I wish to

purchase a 35mm prime lens to be used on a Nikon F3HP. Autofocus

capabilities or its newer D technology is NOT of ANY concern so lets

not discuss that. I am interested in its optical

advantage/disadvantage in both daylight situations and night

photography with bright light sources such as street lights.

 

Thanks

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I have only used the 35 mm f/2 AF and the 35 mm f/2D AF, and they're similar. Basically it's a very flare resistant lens, you can have the sun in the image without serious complications. The 35/2 AF displays high contrast & sharpness at all apertures except there is some corner softness from f/2 to f/4.

 

Despite what you may think now, I think it's unwise to buy non-CPUd manual focus lenses for Nikon at this time. They seem to be on the "Canon FD" path with new mid-range bodies not supporting metering with them.

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I have the AF-D version and very very pleased with optical quality. Flare has never been a problem, probably because of the small front element. Can focus very close. Mine is even better than my 24/2.8 AF-D optically, which flares like hell. Buy a new one cause older ones are notorious for leaking oil on diapraghm blades.
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I have both the 35/2 AIS and AF (non-D). Both are as sharp and contrasty as primes can be, but my AF sample suffers from some flare when pointed against the sun, such as a backlit photo with the sun somewhere just outside the frame. I noticed this the first time I used it over 12 years ago. I've never seen my AIS version flare. The f/1.4 is also on my wish list.
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I know you specifically mention 35mm, BUT... you also mentioned night photography, and for that, the lens of choice is the 28mm f1.4 -- I want one, but at $1,700 (US model), it's out of my reach.

Problem is, a big SLR doesn't exactly fit the description of a stealth camera... so for night street photography, I am currently experimenting with a few 70's era RF's -- they're cheap (under $80)small, quiet and inconspicuous, with reasonably sharp sub-f2.0 lenses... And it's kinda fun to open them up and tinker around... Plus a big advantage -- they don't scream "STEAL ME!!!"

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I use a 35-70mm f2.8 AFD lens and I used a 35mm f2.0 AF lens for three years before. The 35mm AF prime was slightly better than the 35-70 AFD in sharpness and resistance to flare. I can't comment about distortion. But since you already have the very nice 35-70 f2.8 lens, you will not get a big improvement with any of the 35mm f2.0 lenses, IMHO.

 

I would advise either going for something spectacular like a 35mm f1.4 or a 28mm f2.0, or even one of the PC lenses. But if you do go for one of the 35mm f2.0 models, the AF(d) model is a lot of fun to use on a small AF body. And I never noticed a bokeh problem with it. One of the manual focus f2.0 lenses may be better in some particular way, but as far as I know, such has not been widely reported.

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35 mm f/1.4 is beautiful to use at f/2.8. Very sharp. I have no complaints at any apertures. Check out the above referenced reviews by Bjorn Rorslett. It's a little soft wide open, but then your options at f/1.4 at that field of view are the 28 f/1.4 or nothing.

 

The manual focus 35 mm f/2 is soft at f/2 and f/2.8; but has the best bokeh of any of the Nikon 35's; and is sharp from f/4 and smaller apertures. The manual focus lens is also the preferred one to use if you plan on reversing it on a bellows or with a BR-2 or BR-2A ring.

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Be careful!

 

When I was shopping for 35mmF1.4 9secondhand), I came across two samples. The older one (cosmetics were slightly different) had significant coma around point light sources, such as bulbs, as well as veiling flare. One could readily see it in the viewfinder. The other one that I pick did not display this. I just bought the second one. Relatively good, but you can differently tell this from the, say, Leica 35 summilux asph. But better at F1.4 than the pre-asph summiluxes.

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If you are into MF and night photography, the 35mm/f1.4 AI-S is the way to go. I still have one and used to shoot with it a lot. I was very happy with it. Mine is an AI-S purchased new back in 1987. I am not sure that the optical formula of the 35mm/f1.4 was ever changed. Mine has minimum aperture at f16. I understand some of the earlier models had f22.

 

Today, I would only buy AF-S lenses, but if all you are going to use will be an F3, there is no point to get an AF-D lens. The manual focus ring still tends to be loose on AF-D lenses, although they have improved from the early AF days. However, if a DSLR may be in your future, I agree with Ilkka that I would get a 35mm with a CPU.

 

Speaking of CPUs, according to Roland Illiott's web site, there is no room on the 35mm/f1.4 AI-S to add a CPU chip, unfortunately. The lens elements in this fast f1.4 are pretty large.

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Sorry that I'm going to be off topic but I think what I'm talking is also quite an issue to think about the AIS35mm f1.4.

Apart from the "white fog" around bright subjects when shooting at f1.4, there's another halo distracting problem at f1.4. The AIS 35mm f1.4 is a over-corrected design so background high-lights forms halos and every background white line splits into TWO, which is very distracting when looking at photos taken at f1.4. I'm not really a bokeh fan but that distracting background really ruins a photo a lot. My experience is that by stopping it down to f2 it largely cures the "halo" problem, by which I mean at f2 or smaller aperture a background high light forms a disk thatz very close to evenly-illuminated disk instead of a halo, and a background bright line just becomes a wider line instead of TWO harsh lines. I bought this lens for indoor life photos so background high lights are something that I cant avoid. After finding that smaller aperture cures the "halo, two lines" problem, I rarely use it at f1.4.

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  • 5 months later...

Ron;

Do the 35MM F2 AIS! It's sharpness is great at anything past F4. It's ok for nightime photos but truly shines with daytime photography.

I've got both the F1.4 and the F2. For some reason I haven't been impressed with F1.4. They say it's great if shot at F2.8 but I'm a landscape man and usually shoot at F8 and above. Anyway, I've found that the 35MM F2 has been better. Wish that jewel had CRC though!! Will probably sell my F1.4 real soon.

 

Larry Miller

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