The 35mm F1.8 follows Nikon's new design idiom for AF-S primes, and bears a distinct family resemblance to the AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G (although it lacks the distance scale seen on that lens, presumably in a bid to reduce costs). Build quality and finish is of a standard that belies the relatively lowly price; the lens feels sturdy and well put together. The barrel is made from black plastic, with a metal mount, and one nice touch is the addition of an 'O' ring around the mount to help prevent dust and water entering the camera (note though that the lens is not described as weather-sealed).
Compared to Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G and Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM
Here we see the 35mm F1.8G between two other modern primes. On the left is the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G, a fast standard prime for the FX format released just a few months earlier, and one the right is the lens's most obvious competitor, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM (this particular example is in Canon mount). As can be seen, the 35mm is the smallest of theses lenses, although not by much; it's also the lightest and the cheapest. Of course against that it gives up two thirds of a stop in brightness compared to the F1.4 lenses, and sacrifices the focus distance scale.
On the camera
The 35mm is a relatively small and compact lens. The addition of the SWM autofocus motor makes it larger than many of Nikon's older primes (including the full-frame AF-Nikkor 35mm F2D), but it's still much smaller than the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR kit lens. It therefore handles well on all of Nikon's DSLR bodies, from the largest (the D300, above left) to the smallest (D40 / D60 series, above right). The slim focusing ring is easily accessible at the front of the barrel, and the focus mode switch perfectly placed for operation by the left thumb.
The lens uses a ring-type 'Silent Wave Motor' for autofocus, allowing it to focus on all of Nikon's DSLRs, including the entry-level D40 / D40X / D60 bodies. This system also allows focus to be tweaked manually after autofocusing, when the lens is set to the M/A mode. In use the focusing works extremely well - the motor is fast and almost completely silent. Focus accuracy we generally impressive too, although we did detect a slight tendency towards rear-focusing at intermediate distances (ca. 5m), most visible when shooting at large apertures. As always, it must also be noted that focus speed and accuracy is dependent upon a number of variables, including the camera body used, subject contrast, and light levels.
Lens body elements
Reported aperture vs focal length
This lens allows an aperture range from F1.8 to F22 to be selected.