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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Lens Review

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G
Price : £1,295
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

This wide angle lens from Nikon costs around £1300 and sports a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, silent internal focusing and nano-crystal coatings to help control ghosting and flare.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Handling and features

Having a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, this lens contains a lot of glass. Even so, this lens is relatively lightweight and compact, considering the bright f/1.4 maximum aperture. The lens barrel is weather sealed and constructed from magnesium. Even the lens mount is metal, with a rubber gasket to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera. The lens balances well on the Nikon D600 used for testing although combining it with Nikon's most compact SLRs may result in a slightly lens-heavy combination.

Auto focus is powered by a silent wave motor, and auto focus speeds are relatively fast. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the focusing ring, which is smooth and well damped. This makes applying fine focus adjustments a pleasure.

Closest focus distance is 30cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 67mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Performance

At maximum aperture, sharpness approaches excellent levels in the centre of the frame, but is only fairly good towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down improves sharpness across the frame. Although the clarity in the centre reaches outstanding levels from f/2 onwards, the sharpness towards the edges of the frame falls behind somewhat, reaching good levels with the aperture stopped down to f/2 and excellent levels by f/11.

Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are low at every aperture. Fringing is at it's strongest at f/1.4, but the level is low enough that you would be hard pressed to notice, covering 0.4 pixel widths.

Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

As you may expect from a wide aperture wide angle lens, falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite severe. At maximum aperture the corners are 2.79 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until stopped down to f/4 or beyond.

Imatest only managed to detect 0.623% barrel distortion, which is a very mild amount of distortion and should not cause any issues day-to-day. If perfectly straight lines are paramount, you'll be glad to hear that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make corrections in image editing software afterwards relatively straightforward to apply.

Thanks to Nikon's Nano-crystal coating, incidences of flare and ghosting are very rare indeed. Contrast holds up very well indeed, even when shooting into the light. A petal-shaped hood comes supplied with the lens, which does a good job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Sample Photos

Value for Money

As this is one of Nikon's top of the range lenses, it comes with a top of the line price tag of around £1300. As the sharpness levels are so high in the centre, this may be justified if your usage suits the characteristics of this lens. What sets this lens apart is its weather-sealed magnesium construction, which helps to justify the price.

Sigma do offer an alternative in their 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens, which retails for around £750. The performance of this lens is comparable in many ways to the Nikon optic, so may make a worthy alternative.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Verdict

   
  The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G is extremely sharp in the centre and highly resistant to flare.  
 

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For those looking for a wide angle lens with a fast maximum aperture could do a lot worse than this 35mm f/1.4 from Nikon. Sharpness levels in the centre are extremely high from maximum aperture, it's well built and focuses fast. Those looking for the same high level of sharpness, towards the edges of the frame, may be a little disappointed though, especially for the £1300 asking price.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Pros

Very sharp in the centre of the frame
Silent focusing
Low distortion
Very low CA
Highly resistant to flare
Durable weather-sealed magnesium construction

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Cons

Falloff of illumination towards the corners at wide apertures
Sharpness towards the edges of the frame falls behind the performance in the centre of the frame

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Nikon AF G
Lens
Focal Length35mm
Angle of View63
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades9
Elements10
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight600g
Height89.5mm

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Comments


josa 2 25 Czech Republic
15 Jan 2013 11:27AM
I think you're right, for this kind of money one would expect a flawless lens...

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lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
15 Jan 2013 12:07PM

Quote:I think you're right, for this kind of money one would expect a flawless lens...


I don't think there is any amount of money that would make a flawless lens possible.

One has to be practical, if you want to pixel peep shots of flat walls, you shouldn't use a wide-angle lens at all, let alone a high speed one like this.

For anyone wanting a durable, fast, general purpose lens this would fill the bill.

It's possibly of more use to professionals, where ultimate sharpness and performance is of less importance than durabilty, speed and handling.
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
17 Jan 2013 11:20AM
I think you've hit the nail on the head there Lemmy. The thing is, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 gives better performance towards the edges of the frame, whilst still maintaining decent sharpness in the centre. I'd personally find this a better compromise, especially as the price is lower too.

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