Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens

Started Apr 16, 2013 | Questions
faram k
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Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
Apr 16, 2013

Hi everybody,

I recently purchased a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens.

Since going digital, for reasons of convenience and cost,  i have always used zoom lenses. Anyway, after reading lots of good reviews about the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens and seeing that it is relatively inexpensive, i went and bought it. Having read in lots of different places that, in general, prime lens images are sharper than zooms, i expected the images taken with this lens to be much sharper than the ones taken with my Nikon 18-300 f/4.5-5.6 zoom. Unfortunately, i couldn't discern any difference in image quality in real-life photos i shot. So, for the last week or two i've shot hundreds of test shots of various resolution charts but here too i can't find much difference.

I've added below, 100% crops of a USAF 1951 chart shot from 50 inches away using the 35mm f/1.8 lens and the 18-300 lens set to 35mm. The sharpest images seem to be at f/5.6 and f/8 for both lenses. The 35mm f/1.8 lens images are shot from f/1.8 to f/11 and the 18-300 lens images are from f/4.5 to f/11.

I placed the camera (D7000) on a sturdy table as i didn't want tripod shake to come into the equation. I used remote shutter release with mirror up and switched off VR in the 18-300 lens. I also tested for front/back focus but didn't need to use AF micro-adjustment for both the lenses, at least at 50 inches target distance.

Can you please advice me if the results i obtained are normal or whether the 35mm f/1.8 lens i have is defective and should be returned.

Thanks


35MM F/1.8 DX LENS IMAGES


18-300 F/4.5-5.6 DX LENS IMAGES

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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mobi1
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to faram k, Apr 16, 2013

Usually smaller apertures are great equalizers. To show 35 mm F/1.8 its true mettle, you need to shoot real life pictures using larger aperture and in low light.
Having said so, I think this lens is overrated. For outdoor shooting in bright light, its quality is comparable to that of a standard zoom (like Nikon 18-55/18-200 etc.). However, this lens is good for creative shots where you can have a very shallow DOF.

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gatorowl
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to mobi1, Apr 16, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Usually smaller apertures are great equalizers. To show 35 mm F/1.8 its true mettle, you need to shoot real life pictures using larger aperture and in low light.
Having said so, I think this lens is overrated. For outdoor shooting in bright light, its quality is comparable to that of a standard zoom (like Nikon 18-55/18-200 etc.). However, this lens is good for creative shots where you can have a very shallow DOF.

I agree with the first part but disagree with the comparison to the kit.  If the OP's test results are accurate, I suspect the OP has a bad copy of the 35mm.

See the review of the 35mm lens at Cameralabs. The lens is sharper at 1.8 than the 16-85mm is at 4.5. The 16-85mm is considered to be superior to the kit lens. By f2.8 the 35mm is prickly sharp, a sharpness level that the 16-85mm never reaches. In this test, the 35mm is noticeably sharper at all common apertures. Other reviews of the 35mm are consistent.

My copy of the 35mm (since given away) also was extremely sharp, and it was definitely sharper than a kit lens. Unfortunately, I did not find that it excel in shallow DOF shooting because the quality of the OOF areas (bokeh) was extremely harsh. I do agree that if you shoot at f11 or smaller apertures, there is likely little difference.

Therefore, I recommend the OP exchange his copy of the 35mm and retest.

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HSway
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to faram k, Apr 16, 2013

Hi,

At f8 the 35/1.8’s sample is cleaner, a tad sharper and has more contrast. You will see the difference in fine detail like colour transitions, subtle detail separation and the like. The prime at f1.8 better than the zoom at f4.5 is about the summary here. You see more axial CA in the 2.8 shot because the black detail is on a much brighter white compared to wide open. Nothing looking abnormal to me. It’s nice compact inexpensive lens sharper at 2.8 than Tokina 35/2.8. Some zooms can give it a tough competition at smaller apertures, 16-85 at 35mm for example. Samples of this one not too shabby either.

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Guidenet
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to faram k, Apr 16, 2013

At 35mm, the 18-300 is a pretty sharp lens overall. It's just big and slow. Where the 18-300 really suffers is from 135mm all the way to 300mm. IMO, it is somewhat pathetic performance-wise and there's where you're more likely to use a long lens. At under 135mm, there are so many more compact and easier to use choices.

Now, Camera Labs did a comparison of several super ratio zoom lenses to the 35 f/1.8 and the sides and corners were horrendous in comparison to the prime lens. I'm not sure the 18-300 was part of it, but I'm sure it would be the same thing.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your 35 f/1.8 except maybe your expectations. I'd go out and create some compelling images rather than test charts. If you can't tell what you have in real life shooting, you might consider some other endeavor. I've never seen a great compelling composition of a test chart. You've got a decent camera and decent lens. Master them both and show us what you can do.

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Cheers, Craig
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Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon D3S Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF +24 more
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faram k
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to mobi1, Apr 17, 2013

mobi1 wrote:

Usually smaller apertures are great equalizers. To show 35 mm F/1.8 its true mettle, you need to shoot real life pictures using larger aperture and in low light.

Thanks mobi1.

My experience with the 35mm f/1.8 till date seems to support what you say.

In low light, to freeze motion, the 35mm f/1.8 is unbeatable due to its large max aperture which allows a high enough shutter speed to be used, but when stopped down by a stop or two, i couldn't find much difference between this lens and the 18-300.

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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faram k
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to gatorowl, Apr 17, 2013

gatorowl wrote:

I agree with the first part but disagree with the comparison to the kit.  If the OP's test results are accurate, I suspect the OP has a bad copy of the 35mm.

See the review of the 35mm lens at Cameralabs. The lens is sharper at 1.8 than the 16-85mm is at 4.5. The 16-85mm is considered to be superior to the kit lens. By f2.8 the 35mm is prickly sharp, a sharpness level that the 16-85mm never reaches. In this test, the 35mm is noticeably sharper at all common apertures. Other reviews of the 35mm are consistent.

My copy of the 35mm (since given away) also was extremely sharp, and it was definitely sharper than a kit lens. Unfortunately, I did not find that it excel in shallow DOF shooting because the quality of the OOF areas (bokeh) was extremely harsh. I do agree that if you shoot at f11 or smaller apertures, there is likely little difference.

Therefore, I recommend the OP exchange his copy of the 35mm and retest.

Thanks for the advice gatorowl and your experiences with the lens.

Yes i did read the Cameralabs review previously, as also many other reviews which mentioned that the 35mm f/1.8 had excellent sharpness which is why i was surprised by my experience with the lens and my test results, and makes me think i might have a bad copy of the lens.

The thing is, where i live, there is no automatic replacement policy like in some other places. As this lens has no obvious physical/mechanical defects and no (i think) front/back focus issues, i'll need to convince the shopkeeper, from where i bought the lens, that it might indeed be defective.

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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faram k
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to HSway, Apr 17, 2013

HSway wrote:

Hi,

At f8 the 35/1.8’s sample is cleaner, a tad sharper and has more contrast. You will see the difference in fine detail like colour transitions, subtle detail separation and the like. The prime at f1.8 better than the zoom at f4.5 is about the summary here. You see more axial CA in the 2.8 shot because the black detail is on a much brighter white compared to wide open. Nothing looking abnormal to me. It’s nice compact inexpensive lens sharper at 2.8 than Tokina 35/2.8. Some zooms can give it a tough competition at smaller apertures, 16-85 at 35mm for example. Samples of this one not too shabby either.

Thanks for reviewing the sample shots Hynek.

Yes, the prime is sharper at f/1.8 than the zoom at f/4.5, but a f/5.6 or f/8, there seems to be negligible difference between the two.

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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faram k
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to Guidenet, Apr 17, 2013

Guidenet wrote:

Now, Camera Labs did a comparison of several super ratio zoom lenses to the 35 f/1.8 and the sides and corners were horrendous in comparison to the prime lens. I'm not sure the 18-300 was part of it, but I'm sure it would be the same thing.

Thanks for responding Craig.

Yes, i did see the Cameralabs comparisons.

I did my tests just for the image centre, not the corners as i thought i'd sort out the centre sharpness issue first.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your 35 f/1.8 except maybe your expectations. I'd go out and create some compelling images rather than test charts. If you can't tell what you have in real life shooting, you might consider some other endeavor. I've never seen a great compelling composition of a test chart. You've got a decent camera and decent lens. Master them both and show us what you can do.

This is a good point. For my style of shooting, i think i've got the best APS-C DSLR in the market i.e. the D7000. Secondly, i've been very happy with the image quality of my 18-300mm zoom lens, including at 300mm (which includes the majority of my photos). So my equipment quality matches/surpasses my expectations. But what confuses me is that most reviewers/users think the 18-300 zoom has average/poor image quality, especially at 300mm (while i think its very good) and most of the reviewers/users say the 35mm f/1.8 has very good image quality - so i'd logically expect to find its IQ to be much better than that of the 18-300 but, in practice, i found them to be almost the same when stopped down a stop or two.

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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boviscopophobic
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to faram k, Apr 17, 2013

I know that you said you didn't need to use AF fine tune, but I would suggest doing the test with live view focusing just to remove any possible focusing issues from the equation. The 35mm does suffer from focus shift as you stop down.

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faram k
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Re: Need advice reg. recently bought 35mm f/1.8 Dx lens
In reply to boviscopophobic, Apr 17, 2013

boviscopophobic wrote:

I know that you said you didn't need to use AF fine tune, but I would suggest doing the test with live view focusing just to remove any possible focusing issues from the equation. The 35mm does suffer from focus shift as you stop down.

Thanks for the tip.

I did use previously Live View autofocus as well as manual focus (with image in LCD magnified to the full) many times to use as a reference while checking for front/back focus and found that a bit of negative AF fine tune was required when target distance was 30 inches but didn't find any need for it at 50 inches target distance, used in the above test images.

I also did the above tests for various apertures using live view AF and manual focus but image sharpness remained the same as shown in above test images.

 faram k's gear list:faram k's gear list
Nikon D7000 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 AF 2.0x Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
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