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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new version of Nikon's 35mm prime lens, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Lens.

|  Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Nikon Dx 35mm 1 8 G

This compact wide aperture lens for DX compatible Nikon digital SLRs costs around £170 and provides a similar angle of view to a 50mm lens used on a 35mm camera and sports a silent focusing motor.

Nikon also produce a 35mm f/2D lens, which is compatible with full frame cameras as a wideangle optic and costs around £255. This lens has a slightly smaller maximum aperture and lacks silent focusing though.


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Sigma's 30mm f/1.4 EX DC is the closest equivalent from third party manufacturers, offering a slightly wider field of view and a slightly brighter maximum aperture for around £380.

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Handling and Features

Weighing only 200g, and being only 52.5mm long, this lens is exceedingly lightweight, compact and should be easy enough to stow away in a kit bag for when you need it without it being a burden. The lens balances well on the Nikon D300 used for testing.

Build quality is good, with the lens barrel being constructed from high quality plastics and the lens mount is made of metal. A silent wave focusing motor provides speedy and accurate autofocus, which can be overridden at any point by simply turning the focus ring. The slim focus ring is nicely damped, making it east to apply fine adjustments, although there is no distance window, or hyperfocal marking, so it can be difficult to tell which end is focused at infinity without checking through the viewfinder. The minimum focus distance of 30cm allows shooting in cramped environments.

The lens takes 52mm filters, which is a common size for Nikon prime lenses and as focusing is performed internally the filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens perfect for use with polarising and graduated filters.


Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Performance

This lens puts in an excellent optical performance at every aperture. Sharpness is already very good in the centre at maximum aperture and the quality towards the edges is fairly good.

Stopping the lens down improves sharpness across the frame, with peak quality being achieved between f/4 and f/5.6. Here the sharpness in the centre is outstanding and the quality towards the edges is excellent.

Resolution at 35mm

How to read our graphs

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Resolution 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 an Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are also well controlled, hovering just under one pixel in width towards the edges at most apertures. This level of fringing should pose few issues, even in large print sizes or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.


Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm

How to read our charts

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Chromatic Aberrations 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 an Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is very well controlled, especially for a wide aperture lens. At f/1.8 the corners are only 0.41 stops darker than the image centre and illumination is visually uniform at f/2.8.

Distortion is stronger than I would expect from a fixed focal length lens. Imatest detected 2.4% barrel distortion, which will become apparent in images with straight lines towards the edges of the frame. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform, so this should be easy enough to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Flare is kept well under control, even when shooting into strong light sources like the sun. Contrast holds up well under these conditions too. A circular lens hood is supplied with the lens which does an excellent job of protecting the lens from extraneous light that may cause flare.


Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo
Out of focus areas are smoothly rendered at maximum aperture - ISO200, 1/2000, f/1.8, 35mm The near focus distance of 30cm allows frame filling shots - ISO200, 1/400, f/11, 35mm
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo
Contrast holds up well when shooting into the light - ISO200, 1/640, f/2.5, 35mm Images have excellent sharpness from edge to edge when the lens is stopped down - ISO400, 1/100, f/8, 35mm
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo
ISO200, 1/1250, f/8, 35mm ISO200, 1/250, f/2.8, 35mm
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Sample Photo
ISO200, 1/200, f/8, 35mm ISO200, 1/640, f/8, 35mm


Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Verdict

With a price of around £170, this lens is a bit of a bargain for DX users looking for a compact high quality lens for low light shooting, or to isolate a subject by exploiting shallow depth of field. The optical quality is excellent for a lens at this price point, and that coupled with the good build quality and light weight should mean this lens finds its way into many a Nikon users' kit bag.

The Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX is a superb value prime lens that delivers excellent quality images.

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Pros
Excellent optical quality
Good build quality
Light weight
Keenly priced

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Cons
No distance markings for manual focusing




Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Specification

Price £170
Filter size 52mm
Format APS-C
Construction 8 elements in 6 groups
Angle-of-view 47º
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 52.5mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 30cm
Maximum aperture f/1.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Weight 200g
Size (lxw) 70 x 52.5mm
In the box Bayonet hood HB-46, Flexible lens pounch CL-0913
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This is my Number 1 lens in my bag.
I also have one and agree with the Review 100%. So good to have a 'Standard' f1.8 lens again.
A good review, apart from a minor technical detail.
The viewfinder of a DSLR or SLR acts as a second aperture, limiting the discernible maximum brightness and depth of field effect through the viewfinder to f2.8 on a D300/7000 or f2.5 on a D3s when a faster lens is in use.
Although the Sigma has a faster maximum aperture the difference between the 35mm f1.8 or (not in the review) the 17-55 f2.8 cannot be seen in the viewfinder.
Nit picking maybe but it is not 100% accurate to say the Sigma has " a slightly brighter maximum aperture". Faster yes - but extra brightness cannot be seen through viewfinder.
always number one in my kit bag too and on my d40 it produces some cracking pics and lots of bokeh
A superb lens - I'm very pleased with it

Quote:Nit picking maybe but it is not 100% accurate to say the Sigma has " a slightly brighter maximum aperture". Faster yes - but extra brightness cannot be seen through viewfinder.

I would expect nothing less from you Len Tongue

I made no reference to the brightness of the viewfinder. I believe it it also acceptable to describe a 'fast' aperture as a 'bright' aperture, as more light is available for making exposures.
Very much a point and shoot candid type lens. Shame that hyperfocal and infrared photography must be hit and miss due to lack of any focus indications. Perhaps that's why the f2 35mm lens continues to be made.
I love this lens!

Superb value for money and makes me think about my compositions more!
If you're considering getting one then get one!
CathyT 16 7.3k 18 United Kingdom does it compare to the 50mm?
I have not removed this lens since I put it on a few months back, it just produces much better images than my kit lens it practically made it obsolete plus its relatively affordable.
How can the rating be that good compared to the Nikon 40mm micro or the Tokina 35mm DX Macro? Resolution is lower than both, chromatic aberrations are strongly visible (into the light picture) and there is even significant distortion, that the others don't have.
I was tempted by the price, but the ugly bokeh made me hesitate. The two macro lenses deliver a nice bokeh, much better optical performance and a macro bonus for little more money.

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