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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G DX review

March 2009 | By Andy Westlake

The AF-S Nikkor 35mm F1.8G DX is Nikon's latest lens, announced in February for PMA 2009. Its introduction came as something of a surprise to many observers, not because it's an updated 35mm lens with a built-in autofocus motor, but because the 'DX' designation indicates that it's designed for use on DX format bodies, and isn't fully compatible with Nikon's growing FX format camera range. According to Nikon, this has allowed the company to design a lens that is smaller, lighter and cheaper than it would have been had it offered full coverage of the FX image circle. In effect, the lens is primarily targeted as an inexpensive, large aperture option for users of the entry-level (D40 / D40X /D60) series of DSLRs.

The 35mm focal length is roughly equivalent to 50mm on an FX camera, and the lens therefore fits into the 'standard' category, with an angle of view offering none of the 'perspective distortion' associated with wideangle or telephoto lenses. The fast F1.8 maximum aperture admits more than four times as much light as the AF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR DX kit lens, which is useful for shooting in low light while keeping shutter speeds reasonably high. The 'Silent Wave Motor' allows autofocus on all of Nikon's DSLR bodies, with the added bonus of allowing the user to tweak focus manually in AF mode if desired.

The 35mm F1.8G features an optical design of 8 elements in 6 groups, including an aspherical element for the correction of aberrations usually associated with large aperture prime lenses. However unlike the typical 50mm standard prime for the full frame (FX) format, this lens's focal length is rather shorter than the flange distance from the lens mount to the imager. This necessitates the use of a so-called 'retrofocal' design, which is more usually associated with wideangle lenses; unfortunately this often results in increased aberrations relative to traditional near-symmetric 50mm designs. So how does the 35mm F1.8 DX measure up?

Headline features

  • 35mm focal length; fast F1.8 maximum aperture
  • Silent Wave Motor allows autofocusing on all Nikon DSLRs
  • Full-time manual focus override
  • For DX format cameras

Angle of view

The picture below illustrates the angle of view (click here for comparisons with the Nikon 50mm F1.4D):

35mm (DX format)


Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G DX specifications

Street price • $200 (US)
• £200 (UK)
Date introduced February 2009
Maximum format size DX
Focal length 35mm
35mm equivalent focal length
Diagonal Angle of view 47º
Maximum aperture F1.8
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 8 elements / 6 groups
• 1 hybrid aspherical element
Number of diaphragm blades 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.3m (1.0 ft)
Maximum magnification 0.16x
AF motor type • Ring-type Silent Wave Motor (ultrasonic-type)
• Full-time manual focus
Focus method Internal (rear) focus
Image stabilization • None
Filter thread • 52mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• HB-46 hood
Optional accessories  
Weight 210g (7.4 oz)
Dimensions 70mm diameter x 52.5mm length
(2.8 x 2.1 in)
Lens Mount Nikon F only

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

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Total comments: 5

I've just bought it for 1 week, but the thing i likely to know is AM Focus i can twsit, mean while the ring is lock beside M Focus doesn't lock?

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting

This lens need an expensive body to work. On my D3200 it almost NEVER gets focus right, and its even worse when i use single point af.. But on my D600 it works just as good as my 50mm af-s 1.8... Strange lens..


A great standard lens for Nikon DX cameras. A very sharp lens. Great value for money. I enjoy using this lens with my D3200, which makes a great walk about commbination. The manual focus ring lacks the finese of more expensive models and feels rather 'rough'. An ideal first prime lens which outshines kit zoom lenses.


This lens is great for video also:

1 upvote

Hey, I just stumbled across your site and am extremely grateful to you for the time and effort you have put into the whole site. I have used a Nikon for work on auto-everything and have done well by mediocre standards required for what I do (surveillance photos using long range f2.8 lenses at 300mm..), but am going away on vacation with my family and want to buy my own camera/lenses appropriate for the task at hand. Again, thanks!

Total comments: 5