The 35mm f1.4G and a filter: A cautionary tale

Started Jul 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
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harold1968
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The 35mm f1.4G and a filter: A cautionary tale
Jul 3, 2012

So I bought a new 35mm f1.4G for my D800E.
This was meant to be my main lens, covering travel and indoors.

I have previously reported that I was a little disappointed at f1.4, in that the centre was not critically sharp. Also the contrast and colours were not amazing at this aperture.

However, everything really contrasted up at f2 and sharpness in the centre was very good and the colour and draw provided by Nikon's top coatings and glass really starts to be seen. At f2.8-f4 everything becomes tack and this lens rises to the top of 35mm capability.

Anyhow as soon as the 35mm was delivered I had slapped on a UV filter. As it is expensive I worry about damaging the front element so this has become standard procedure for me.

The filter I put on was a 5 (or more) year old standard Jessops 67mm filter. Jessops is a UK retailer and has its own brand filters manufactured by Hoya.

I don't want to cast dispersions on Hoya as IMHO they make the best filters, as verifyed by this filter review:

http://www.lenstip.com/113.4-article-UV_filters_test_Description_of_the_results_and_summary.html

However I think at the time Jessops used the lowest grade of Hoya filter. There is a huge difference between Hoya Pro-1 and HD filters, which lead the industry, and the cheaper ones which are frankly not that great.

I noticed the surface of the glass was quite dark and also that it reduced the light reaching the lens by around half a stop but dismissed this as "normal". My impression of the 35mm, as written above, thus was entirely produced when using this filter.

I was also psychologically backed up by Ming Thein putting the 35mm down in his recommendated lenses for the D800 (although interestingly he doesn't rate the 24mm, 35mm or 85mm f1.4G highly on the D800 - Nikon's best prime lenses! (arguably), which itself is interesting).

Anyhow, for some random reason, I had this idea that the best glass needs the best filter and ordered the top B+W UV filter, the B+W 010 MRC Nano Coated XSDP Mount (a real mouthful).

Taking this filter out of the box was pretty revealing. Firstly its very thin. Second its very very well made (I think of brass - which reduces the contraction/expansion coefficient based on hot/cold environments). Thirdly I though at first it had no glass!! Then holding at a slight angle I saw a reflection - wow, light transmission must be extremely high.

On putting this filter on the 35mm, instead of the Jessops one, everything sharpened up at f1.4 and some decent micro-contrast kicked in.

The Nikkor 35mm is still not a Leica wide open, but certainly at f2 and up no one could tell the difference and f1.4 is now decently sharp with just a touch of softness.

The moral of the story, don't skimp on filters!

Back to Ming and f1.4 lenses. Whats up ? Now I am also looking at the 85mm f1.4G, which gets pretty good reviews on the D800 (e.g. cameralabs) and I previously dismissed.

best rgds

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS30 Sony RX1R Olympus E-M1 Sony Alpha 7 Sony FE 35mm F2.8 +1 more
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