Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G DX review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent image quality when stopped down just a little
- Fast and accurate autofocus with full-time manual override
- Generally attractive rendition of out-of-focus regions ('bokeh')
- Resistant to flare
- Low price
Conclusion - Cons
- Slightly soft and low in contrast wide open
- Lateral chromatic aberration somewhat higher than traditional 50mm 'standard' primes
- Prone to purple fringing and bokeh chromatic aberration, most visible at large apertures
The AF-S Nikkor 35mm F1.8G DX is a lens which certainly caused a degree of dismay on its release, with many Nikon fans disappointed by the decision to make it compatible with the DX format only. However the main benefit of that decision is plain for all to see - even at its introductory price the lens costs rather less than the venerable AF-Nikkor 35mm F2.0D, despite the addition of an AF-S motor to allow autofocusing on Nikon's entry-level D40 / D40X / D60 bodies. It's also less than half the price of the few other DX format standard primes currently on the market (such as the Pentax 35mm F2.8 Macro, Tokina 35mm F2.8 Macro and Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM), so Nikon has managed with this lens to produce the first genuinely inexpensive (sub-$200) fast standard prime designed specifically for digital SLRs.
Within this context, the lens's performance is very impressive. It produces finely detailed images at all apertures (although with somewhat low contrast wide open), focuses quickly and accurately, and handles well in a small, light package. In particular, it's much sharper than typical DX standard zooms such as the Nikon AF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DX VR or Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 DX VR. The fast maximum aperture allows pictures to be taken hand-held in low light levels, while maintaining relatively fast shutter speeds to avoid blur from subject motion (a key advantage over image-stabilised, but slow, kit zooms when photographing people without flash indoors). The slightly less tangible aspects of image quality - such as resistance to flare, and the rendition of out-of-focus regions of the frame - are also dealt with nicely.
If the lens has one major flaw, it is a certain propensity to show chromatic aberration, of both the lateral kind (which can be corrected by the in-camera JPEG processing of the D90 and D300), and the longitudinal (which cannot). To be fair the latter is a pretty well unavoidable with a fast prime, but the 35mm F1.8G DX suffers from it to a rather high degree, and in particular can give some unpleasant purple fringing effects if you're not careful.
Overall, though, it seems almost churlish to complain about these flaws in a lens so inexpensive, which gives otherwise such fine results. It's good to see Nikon finally addressing the lack of purpose-designed, inexpensive fast primes for DX format DSLRs, and we hope they - and other companies - continue with this trend. As it is the 35mm F1.8G DX is, for its winning combination of high image quality, large maximum aperture and low price, a lens which deserves to be on many a Nikon shooter's shopping list.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
There are 25 images in the samples gallery. All pictures are shot in RAW and processed using Adobe Camera RAW to bypass the test cameras' automatic chromatic aberration correction in JPEG. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. To provide the fairest impression of the lens itself, images are shot in RAW and converted using Adobe Camera Raw at default settings (to bypass the test cameras' automatic JPEG chromatic aberration correction). A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G Review Samples
Preview Samples Gallery
There are 17 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
All images with ACR in the filename have been processed using Adobe Camera Raw v5.2 with corrections made to white balance but no attempt made to remove chromatic aberrations.