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Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G lens hands-on review

I finally got the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G lens few weeks ago from B&H and here is my quick hands-on review:

General

The 35mm is probably one of the most widely used focal lengths for photojournalism. In addition to the f/1.4G version that was introduced in September 2010, Nikon also has the AF 35mm f/2D and the AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX lenses in their current catalog.

The size of the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G lens is almost identical to the 24mm f/1.4G:

The lens has the regular M/A and M focus selector. The lens hood HB-59 is included, it locks tightly and it's not easy to accidentally unlock it. The 35mm f/1.4 lens is one of Nikon's "gold ring" products. The built quality is excellent (similar to the 24mm and 85mm f/1.4G lenses). The focus ring is smooth. Some 35mm f/1.4G users have complained that the auto focus is slow, but I could not find a reasonable way to test and prove this statement. Similar to the 85mm f/1.4G, the 35mm Nikkor does not have an ED glass (the 24mm f/1.4 lens has two ED glass elements).

I am not sure why Nikon is still including a DOF scale on their lenses. Only one aperture (f/16) is listed, which is not very helpful:

Close ups

The minimum focus distance of 0.3 m | 0.98 ft and the fast f/1.4 aperture can create some interesting close-up images with isolated background:

All sample images were taken with a Nikon D700 at f/1.4. The photos were not post-processed in any way. I wanted to show the images the way they came out of the camera. I used Lightroom 3 to convert and resize the original NEF to JPG files. Full size samples are available on flickr.

Bokeh

Few more samples taken with the 35mm wide open at f/1.4:

Low light

Low light photos taken with the D700 at ISO 1600 and f/1.4:

Extreme lighting conditions

Lens flare and ghosting is present in some cases when pointing the lens directly at an intense light source (you can see a nice star effect in the third image, all taken at f/16):

In normal use, I did not see any flare or ghosting.

100% crop

Two 100% crops samples (click on image for the actual 100% crop):

Barrel Distortion

Barrel distortion is hardly visible on the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G lens:

Light falloff (vignetting)

The light falloff is noticeable at f/1.4, hardly visible at f/2.8 and completely gone at f/4:

Sharpness

The test chart images at different apertures shows that the lens sharpness improves at around f/4 and stays consistent till around f/11:

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/1.4

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/1.4

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/2.8

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/2.8

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/4

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/4

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/5.6

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/5.6

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/8

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/8

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/11

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/11

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/16

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G @ f/16

Please note that there could be a margin of error in those test chart comparisons.

Specifications

  • Nano coating (see this video on Nano coating)
  • Manual/Autofocus mode switch (M/A)
  • Integrated Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • No ED glass elements
  • Rear Focusing (RF)
  • One aspherical lens element (AS)
  • Lens construction: 10 elements in 7 groups
  • Distance window
  • Angle of view: 63° (on DX body: 44°)
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.3 m | 0.98 ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.2x
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • 9 diaphragm blades
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Dimensions: 83 x 89.5 mm | 3.3 x 3.5 in
  • Weight: 600 g | 21.2 oz
  • Box includes: front lens cap (LC-67), rear lens cap (LF-4), lens hood (HB-59) and lens pouch (CL-1118)
  • Price: $1,799.95 (April, 2011)
  • Lens construction:

Conclusion

In 2010 Nikon finally refreshed its fast primes lineup. The new f/1.4G Nikkor lenses are all good performers. I believe your selection should be based on your shooting preferences (some may argue that the 50mm f/1.4G is not on the same level as the 24, 25 and 85 versions). My personal prime lenses choice is a combination of the 24mm f/1.4G + 50mm f/1.4G + tele. Another option will be: 35mm f/1.4G + 85mm f/1.4G + tele. Having all four f/1.4G lenses (24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm) is an overkill in my opinion because of the involved cost, extra weight and the fact that the focal lengths are too close to each other. If I have to get only one prime Nikkor lens, my choice would be the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G.

Disclosure: I got this lens from B&H who is an affiliate sponsor of NikonRumors.com.
This entry was posted in Nikon Lenses, [NR] Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • http://photoartbymark.zenfolio.com photoartbymark

    love the bokeh

  • http://photoartbymark.zenfolio.com photoartbymark

    Key West shots?

  • cirtap

    photojournalism. In addition to the f/1.4G version that was introduced in September 2011,

    Read more on NikonRumors.com: http://nikonrumors.com/2011/05/01/nikon-af-s-35mm-f1-4g-lens-hands-on-review.aspx#ixzz1L7tMq23d

    Since September 2011 HAS NOT happened yet..THAT must be a typo.

  • Clintastico

    Dude,
    You should proof you stuff before posting. Lots of typos.

    • choiMatthew

      do you mean proofreading the stuff?

    • Travis Bower

      “You should proof you stuff before posting. Lots of typos.”

      You have a typo in your comment, should of proofed that before you posted it.

      • Larry M

        “You have a typo in your comment, should of proofed that before you posted it.”

        You also have a typo in YOUR comment. “should of” ought to be “should have”. Jeez :)

  • cirtap

    I rented the 35mm 1.4G for 7 days. IT Was a dream..and I truly was impressed with it’s crystal clear shooting ability. I was amazed by how quite it was…and low lighting ability. I shot in Las Vegas..from a parking deck over looking City Center…amazing color and balance. IT is a lens I am truly thinking of buying along with the 85mm 1.4G I wish Nikon would take the 50 line more serious.

  • http://www.nynjphoto.com Positivepoint

    Note to admin; You wrote 1.5 instead of 1.4 in your conclusion. By the way great post.

  • Phil

    Your link to a “Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G” is actually a 24mm.

    Surprisingly this lens has better bokeh than the rather botched 85mm f1.4. There’s a trace of that same banded-ness, but nowhere near as bad. I dunno, maybe it’s the nano coating, or something else in how they formulate this batch of optics, that’s doing that effect.

    • KnightPhoto

      I thought the 85G bokeh is a lot better than the Sigma 85 “bandedness”? At least from samples I have seen (I have not shot either myself). So I was planning to get the 85G instead of the Sigma.

      You are saying the 85G bokeh has this property also?

      • Phil

        Oh yeah. There’s a review right here @ NR where you can see some samples of it, such as this one:
        http://nikonrumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/DSC_1393.jpg

        If you want a high speed 85mm Nikkor, and/or desire autofocus, get the previous gen model. There may still be new models available for purchase, dunno.

        If you don’t mind manually focusing, then either an older gen Nikkor or the Samyang 85mm is the way to go (for peanuts no less). There’s a Samyang model with a Nikon-programmed chip in it, so you may be able to use the electronic rangefinder focus with it.

        Otherwise if you want a Nikkor, stick with the previous gen model(s).

  • broxibear

    I don’t own these 24mm or the 35mm G lenses but I’ve just noticed something… the lens cap on the 35mm is made in Japan while the 24mm one is made in China.
    I was under the impression everything on the high end primes were made in Japan but obviously not ?
    Seems a bit odd to me.

    • nir.ex

      lens cap?
      I got a made in Japan one and it is defiantly sharper
      then the other one I have, that’s made in Thailand,
      I think I’ve read somewhere that the Zeiss caps gives superb results,
      the down side is that you need a converter (247.5$ on BNH)
      in order to use them on Nikon gear.
      but you know how it is, you get what you pay for..

  • eman

    hello, admin, the lens construction graph is wrong, it’s 85mm f/1.4G, not 35mm.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      just when I though it cannot get any worse with the number of mistakes in this post, it did :(

      • Global

        Just declare, “Maypril Fool’s Day!” and pretend you were kidding. ;-)

        • Global

          P.S. Keep up the reviews, we like seeing samples and stuff! *thumbs up*

  • Joshua Fuler

    Admin, fear not. I didn’t notice any of the mistakes and loved the article. The point was the lens review and it was a great review.

    I too want this lens. Already have the 35mm F1.8 so not in a giant hurry to upgrade.

  • B.O.

    does the hood from the 35/1.4 (HB-59) fit the 24/1.4?
    that would be interesting if you happen to shoot the 24mm on a DX camera…

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      no, the hoods are not compatible

  • http://ueberlicht.de Ueberlicht

    The 35/1.4 is truely a fanatstic lens – but it’s not cheap, either. I love it anyway, as you can read in my review (it’s written in German). http://ueberlicht.de/2011/nikon-af-s-nikkor-35-1-4-g-test/

  • http://www.paulvincentphoto.com paul vincent

    i have tried using this and it is slow in focus, i have the 24mm 1.4 and it is also slow in focusing also. Having fast lenses is very very useful in my line of work as a wedding photographer but the focus performance is way to slow for my line of work. Also 24mm 1.4 tends to back focus when capturing subjects with 80% of the background is included. Dont know bout the 35mm 1.4 if it also have similar back focus problem.

  • http://www.whoisweston.com Weston Neuschafer

    Good read, I couldn’t be anymore happier with my 35mm 1.4/G!!!

  • http://www.amgraphics.info Anatoly Manzhola

    I have the 35mm 1.4G and I love it. I wanted to ask anyone who owns both. Is it much better then a 50mm 1.4G? I look at the prices of those two lenses and wonder if it makes sense to have the 35 if the 50 is comparable? Looking at the charts they are very close. Any thoughts ? Thank you, Anatoly

    • http://eugenemichel.com eugenemichel.com

      It’s all about the focal lenght. Performance wise I would say same, but 35mm is a more practical focal lenght for me.

  • http://eugenemichel.com eugenemichel.com

    Ah! I couldn’t resist buying it! So now I own the 24 1.4, 35 1.4, 50 1.4, and the older 85 1.4! Am I crazy?

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