Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

Started Sep 18, 2017 | Discussions thread
em jo photo Regular Member • Posts: 353
Competitive Choices

anotherMike wrote:

Good points. I've been saying, ever since the 105/1.4E came out, that Nikon *seriously* needed to upgrade a few of their key lenses, and the 35/1.4G tops that list easily . . . .

Nobody is perfect, but of the big manufacturers, Nikon certainly is the one that needs (IMO) the most work.


This thought really pulls us right down to the heart of the matter--namely, that if you criticize the 35G (as I have) you're also criticizing the design strategy that drove the excellent new E primes--the 105/1.4E and 28/1.4E (which I do).

Because it strikes me that Nikon has aimed the new "E" primes at the workhorse 35 & 85 primes you'd consider from Canon or Sony. They're inviting you to shoot your wide normals a little wider--tell a little more of the story, carry one wide prime instead of two; or shoot your near-teles a little tighter, leverage the 105's excellent field rendition even at distance, even with a little compression. The suggestion, basically: "You know what will make your 35mm and 85mm work really stand out? Shooting it at 28mm and 105mm." It's no coincidence that they buttonholed Marko Marinkovic--who makes a point of shooting a minimal D750 + 35G + 85G setup--to photograph the 28E's publicity and ad stills.

Nikon did the same thing with the 58G. Zeiss, Sigma, et al. were suddenly making the "hot rod 50" a thing, so Nikon joined the party but on its own terms--with a little focal length tweak and optics aimed at specific, portrait-oriented design priorities: field rendition-clarity-purity and defocus quality over MTFs.

(And you might also argue that the idiosyncratic "strategery" isn't new--that the 28/1.4D was, back in the day, a "how 'bout you carry just one wide prime" answer to Canon's 24 and 35 1.4 Ls.)

It's a soft suggestion, of course. The 24G, 35G, 50G, and 85G all exist. But they just aren't special like Canon's 35, 50, and 85 Ls are. On the other hand, Canon's fast 28 and 105 primes are ancient; Sony's 28/2 is down-market and its 105 APO is . . . strange.

So Nikon's play is gutsy, in a way. But the big gamble, of course, is that you're willing to indulge the suggestion--that you like Nikon's idea of tweaking what would have been your 24, 35, 50, 85, 135 work toward 28, 58, and 105. That you can make the shifts your own. Marko Marinkovic certainly seems to have come out the other side with a new appreciation of the 28mm field of view.

Nikon is right in the sense that you can use a 28 or a 105 in most of the cases you'd ordinarily reach for a 35 or an 85, and the results will absolutely look unique for the shift (especially given the lenses in question). The question is whether the difference works for you--you don't want to be working for the difference.

And I just don't know how many of us can jump into that without reservation. I certainly can't.

 em jo photo's gear list:em jo photo's gear list
Sony RX1R II Olympus OM-D E-M5 Nikon D810 Nikon D750 Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D +9 more
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