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Nikon Z 35mm F/1.8S Lens Review

John Riley is putting the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8S lens to the test on the Nikon Z II camera at the Whitby Goth Festival where some really great portraits have been captured.

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Nikkor Z 35mm F1,8S On Z7II With Hood | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

The Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8S looks the identical twin to the also reviewed 50mm. It is a straightforward prime lens, the focal length being the favoured “wide standard lens” of generations of photojournalists and street photographers and indeed anyone who prefers a slightly wider view of the world than the 50mm offers. Indeed, at one time the 35mm was considered a wide angle lens, when amateur photographers used 35mm, 50mm and 135mm lenses as a complete set, but now considered only marginally wide angle as we become increasingly used to the look of the ultra-wide. Widescreen TV may have a lot to do with this change of perception. The 50mm lens was a clear Editor's Choice, so can the 35mm possibly reach the same pinnacle of performance? Let's couple it up with the 45.7MP Nikon Z 7 II and find out.



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Nikon Z 35mm F/1.8S Handling and Features

Nikkor Z 35mm F1,8S Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

As mentioned, the lens is a twin of its 50mm sibling in size and appearance, measuring 73mm in diameter and 86mm long. It is slightly lighter, weighing in at just 370g. There is a provided petal lens hood and this bayonets cleanly into place. There is no tendency for it to loosen in use and no need for a locking catch. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 62mm filter thread, conveniently the same size as the 50mm lens.

The lens is very well made and sealed from dust and water droplets, always a welcome feature. Focus breathing is virtually eliminated, this being of value particularly to videographers, along with the smooth and silent electromagnetic aperture control.

The only control ring on the lens barrel is the generously wide manual focus ring, which is active in AF as well as MF. The control is smooth, as we would expect any electronic control to be. AF is provided by a fast and accurate stepping motor that is virtually silent in operation. Focusing is down to 0.25m, or 0.82 feet, about what we would expect from a traditional 35mm lens.

Optical construction is 11 elements in 9 groups, including 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) and 3 Aspherical. Floating elements in the design help to maintain sharpness at closer distances. Nano crystal coatings are there to reduce any chance of flare. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades and the resulting aperture is rounded to improve the bokeh of the image.


Nikkor Z 35mm F1,8S Front Element View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 53.0 mm | ISO 100

The only control on the lens apart from the focusing ring is the A/M switch, which is self-explanatory. However, the AF system is so good, in even the dimmest light, that no real need for MF was found during the review process.

Whether the 50mm or this slightly wider 35mm is preferred as a standard lens is largely a matter of taste, depending on how the photographer sees the world and what sort of images are undertaken. The 35mm is perhaps more versatile in close quarters and with small groups of people. It also gives a different perspective, forcing the photographer to move closer to fill the viewfinder with, for example, a single person. Portraits with 35mm lenses are now well accepted, a reflection of our wider perceptions changing as photography and tastes have evolved. The 35mm may no longer be a wide-angle lens. With street photography, the photographer also becomes more immersed as the best advantage may be gained by moving in and becoming much more a part of the action. A telephoto would have the opposite effect, making the photographer more remote from what is happening around them.

For architecture and landscape, the slightly wider 35mm also gives a little more scope in closer quarters. Coupled with this change in perspective of course the quality of the results is still paramount and the lens needs to be up there with the best to justify its higher cost. Let's then have a look at the performance and see if the Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8S lens can match up to the outstanding performance of its 50mm sibling.


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