Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

Started Sep 18, 2017 | Discussions
MichaelK81 Regular Member • Posts: 203
Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
2

I've owned this lens for a number of years, taking it out of my camera bag form time to time.  Every time I do, I figure I'll give it another chance.  And every time it disappoints.  For full body environmental portraits, the thing is just too darn soft at 1.4.  I've toyed with AF-Fine Tune time and time again, but the softness seems inherent.  When I recently upgraded my camera from the D4 to D5, I've seen a significant improvement in AF accuracy on my 85 1.4 and 105 1.4.  The D5 seemed to breathe new light into those lenses.  Sadly, the 35 remains unchanged.

I've referenced DXO Mark to see how the 35 1.4 stacks up, and true to my experience with this lens, it doesn't rate very well.

I can't say I'll be sorry to part with it.  I'm going to give the 28 1.4 a try.  Reviews are limited, and the lens doesn't appear on DXO Mark yet, but the 35 is going off on eBay tomorrow.

Just thought I'd share my experience.

Nikon D4 Nikon D5
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Daniel1978 Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

Hi,

I'm sorry to read about your experience.

I've been playing with my new 35 1.4G for a couple of weeks and - for me!! - it's excellent. No need any fine tunning and sharp enough at F1. 4. In fact, at 1.8 it was sharper than my copy of the 35 1.8G in the centre...

I also had Sigma Art 35 and ended selling it. Very sharp, yes, but I did not like it. 35 1.4G rendering is much nicer in my opinion and sharp enough for me.

I also had a copy of the new 28 1.4G. I returned it... Very sharp but edges lacking a bit. My copy had something strange (bit decentered) and CA on the right edge depending of focusing distance.

For the money... It went back.

I'm veeery happy with 35 1.4G on my D810.

Good luck in your choice!

 Daniel1978's gear list:Daniel1978's gear list
Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon 24-70mm F2.8E ED VR Nikon AF-S 105mm F1.4E ED Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4 +1 more
Perry pauliss New Member • Posts: 20
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

That's sad because the 35mm 1.4 can be a beautiful lens. Pure sharpness isn't its strengh like you will know but I am surprised that the lens did not deliver. Myself opted a few years ago for the sigma 35 art, mostly for financial reasons but that lens was very sharp at 1.4 and the bokeh not bad either. On the D700 and D750 even better.

1.4 at 35mm gives a typical 3D effect to a full body portrait but for moving people I used most of the time 2.0 or 2.2. And even for static subjects 1.4 DOF was most of the time to shallow imo. So I was curious what your experience is at 2.2 and if you're ever tried a sigma. That being said, the 28mm 1.4 looks like a gem, although the FOV is of course a bit different than a 35mm FOV.  Succes!

Jim Keye Senior Member • Posts: 2,095
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

MichaelK81 wrote:

Just thought I'd share my experience.

You're not the first person to say this. I don't generally get jealous of Canon's options, but their most recent 16-35 f2.8 and 35 f1.4 lenses have me wishing.

sfnikon Senior Member • Posts: 2,298
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

That's too bad.    I'm satisfied with it's f/1.4 performance (not thrilled) at body portrait distance.    What convinced me to keep it (after comparing closely with the Sigma 35 Art) was the beautiful bokeh and rendering.    Also stop it down just slightly and it becomes a very sharp lens.   Like the 58/1.4 it's weakest point is f/1.4 resolution and it's strength is everything else (ok other than the size/weight/price lol).

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Jake

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
4

Love my 35 1.4G. I shot fireworks in the sky above me at 1.4 and was very pleased with the results. I don't ever shoot at f1.4 other than situations where I absolutely need the extra speed - it's f2.8 or higher most all of the time. f5.6 it's amazing, and f8 it's brilliant. Performs well out to f16 when necessary.

I've never understood why people want to shoot a portrait at f1.4 - you want to make sure the whole person is in focus, from the tip of the nose to the back of the ear. If your background is too distracting, choose another background!

I like the environmental portrait, where the background tells the story about the person being photographed, and that is where the 28mm lens comes in. 
The 35mm lens is my favorite focal length for walking around, people pictures, any subject. It sees how I see and I am usually never without my Df with the 35 1.4G welded on it. Great combo!

 camerosity's gear list:camerosity's gear list
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azoele Contributing Member • Posts: 663
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
5

Ah, the 35 1.4G... so many memories
Lovely build, small and unobtrusive, loved to handle it.

But if you complain about the autofocus with the D4 and the D5, you should have seen what it would do on the D700 and the D3s... now, those are bad memories for me!

Also, no matter fine tunes or live view focus: the 35 is just one heck of a ugly (sharpness wide open and near wide open wise) lens. It is just not sharp. When I review images taken with it and the D700/D3s, the softness at ƒ1.4 is such that it seems like I'm shooting with a lens from another generation. Wonderful lens ƒ2.8+, crystal clear, but a disaster at ƒ1.4-2.

On the other hand, I still remember vividly the first day I received the Sigma 35 1.4 Art. Mounted it on the D4, and it was sharpat ƒ1.4. I was speechless! (coming from the very weak 1.4G trio, 24/35/85, the Sigma seemed to come from another planet The Sigma was exceedingly sharp at ƒ1.4, and it even improved a bit stopping down.
I kept both 35s for some time, and eventually shot both side by side, evaluated sharpness and useability, and... pronto the Nikon got sold.

So no: you are most definitely not alone.

As to the 28, now that's another beast altogether...
It belongs to the newer generation, similar to the 105 1.4E, where Nikon changed its approach and priorities.
The 28 1.4E is very sharp already wide open, has a nice bokeh, and acceptable control of aberrations. And it focuses reliably.
So, if you like the 28mm focal length, you simply can't go wrong with it.
If you instead prefer 35mm, the Sigma is certainly an excellent choice.

Bests,
Lory

MichaelK81 wrote:

I've owned this lens for a number of years, taking it out of my camera bag form time to time. Every time I do, I figure I'll give it another chance. And every time it disappoints. For full body environmental portraits, the thing is just too darn soft at 1.4. I've toyed with AF-Fine Tune time and time again, but the softness seems inherent. When I recently upgraded my camera from the D4 to D5, I've seen a significant improvement in AF accuracy on my 85 1.4 and 105 1.4. The D5 seemed to breathe new light into those lenses. Sadly, the 35 remains unchanged.

I've referenced DXO Mark to see how the 35 1.4 stacks up, and true to my experience with this lens, it doesn't rate very well.

I can't say I'll be sorry to part with it. I'm going to give the 28 1.4 a try. Reviews are limited, and the lens doesn't appear on DXO Mark yet, but the 35 is going off on eBay tomorrow.

Just thought I'd share my experience.

-- hide signature --

'The human race is a race of cowards. And I'm not only marching in that procession, but carrying a banner.'
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FelixCatana
FelixCatana Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

camerosity wrote:

Love my 35 1.4G. I shot fireworks in the sky above me at 1.4 and was very pleased with the results. I don't ever shoot at f1.4 other than situations where I absolutely need the extra speed - it's f2.8 or higher most all of the time. f5.6 it's amazing, and f8 it's brilliant. Performs well out to f16 when necessary.

I've never understood why people want to shoot a portrait at f1.4 - you want to make sure the whole person is in focus, from the tip of the nose to the back of the ear. If your background is too distracting, choose another background!

I like the environmental portrait, where the background tells the story about the person being photographed, and that is where the 28mm lens comes in.
The 35mm lens is my favorite focal length for walking around, people pictures, any subject. It sees how I see and I am usually never without my Df with the 35 1.4G welded on it. Great combo!

So if you use it at 2.8 or higher why not just use a 24-70 2.8 and have more primes in one lens?

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

FelixCatana wrote:

camerosity wrote:

Love my 35 1.4G. I shot fireworks in the sky above me at 1.4 and was very pleased with the results. I don't ever shoot at f1.4 other than situations where I absolutely need the extra speed - it's f2.8 or higher most all of the time. f5.6 it's amazing, and f8 it's brilliant. Performs well out to f16 when necessary.

I've never understood why people want to shoot a portrait at f1.4 - you want to make sure the whole person is in focus, from the tip of the nose to the back of the ear. If your background is too distracting, choose another background!

I like the environmental portrait, where the background tells the story about the person being photographed, and that is where the 28mm lens comes in.
The 35mm lens is my favorite focal length for walking around, people pictures, any subject. It sees how I see and I am usually never without my Df with the 35 1.4G welded on it. Great combo!

So if you use it at 2.8 or higher why not just use a 24-70 2.8 and have more primes in one lens?

Like I stated above, I only shoot at f1.4 when I need the extra speed. But when I need it, it's there.

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Vlad3
Vlad3 Regular Member • Posts: 154
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I enjoyed the bokeh of Nikon 35mm/1.4 G but the sharpness @f1.4 was always unpredictable. There is no excuse for it when you shell out so much money, so it’s gone…

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

Vlad3 wrote:

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I enjoyed the bokeh of Nikon 35mm/1.4 G but the sharpness @f1.4 was always unpredictable. There is no excuse for it when you shell out so much money, so it’s gone…

Expecting a full frame lens to be sharp at f1.4 is rather silly. You shoot at f1.4 to have a very short depth of field. If you focus accurately at f1.4 you will have good results. If you expect your camera to focus accurately at f1.4 you're missing the point. I bought the 35mm f1.4 to have the best Nikon glass in that focal length, not just the f1.4 feature. I also need weather sealing. Fortunately I have been able to get decent enough results at 1.4 but those images only represent about 1% of the photos I take with this lens.

YMMV

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Jim Keye Senior Member • Posts: 2,095
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
3

camerosity wrote:

Vlad3 wrote:

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I enjoyed the bokeh of Nikon 35mm/1.4 G but the sharpness @f1.4 was always unpredictable. There is no excuse for it when you shell out so much money, so it’s gone…

Expecting a full frame lens to be sharp at f1.4 is rather silly.

No, it's not. Further, there is a range of sharpness--yes any f1.4 lens will be sharper stopped down to f2.8. But there is range in which we find acceptable, and for many people the 35 f1.4 falls out of that range. This is only exacerbated by higher MP bodies.

You shoot at f1.4 to have a very short depth of field. If you focus accurately at f1.4 you will have good results.

This isn't a focus issue. (And I'll just mention that if you stop down, you might also have focus issues)

If you expect your camera to focus accurately at f1.4 you're missing the point.

If you can't get it focus accurately at f1.4, you likely have some body/learning issues.

I bought the 35mm f1.4 to have the best Nikon glass in that focal length

That is debatable, though it depends on intended usage.

There are two kinds of 35 f1.4 (nikkor) owners out there: wedding shooters who don't place a priority on sharpness, and people who used to own it.

Sara Valentine Regular Member • Posts: 461
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
3

Jim Keye wrote:

There are two kinds of 35 f1.4 (nikkor) owners out there: wedding shooters who don't place a priority on sharpness, and people who used to own it.

There's a third: unrepentant bokeholics.

anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 9,169
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
3

"There are two kinds of 35 f1.4 (nikkor) owners out there: wedding shooters who don't place a priority on sharpness, and people who used to own it."

LOL - absolutely spot on. Thanks for the laugh.

(and I'm obviously in the second category. Awesome, awesome bokeh lens, just mid-pack in terms of overall resolution compared to quite a few other options today, and that's at any aperture)

It seriously, seriously needs an update...

-m

Rexgig0
Rexgig0 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,314
My 35 1.4G Has Its Role.
1

Jim Keye wrote:

There are two kinds of 35 f1.4 (nikkor) owners out there: wedding shooters who don't place a priority on sharpness, and people who used to own it.

Well, I may be one of a kind, but find the 35/1.4 useful for quite sharp images at f/2 to f/5.6, especially about f/4, when I need a lens with the ruggedness to match a D3s. It is, at least, sturdier, and optically better, than the 35/2D.

Yes, it would be nice to see an optically-improved 35/1.4E.

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I wear a badge and pistol, and make evidentiary images at night, which incorporates elements of portrait, macro, still life, landscape, architecture, and PJ. I enjoy using both Canons and Nikons.

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Vlad3
Vlad3 Regular Member • Posts: 154
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G

Agreed. This otherwise beautiful piece of glass is absolutely due for update!

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Jim Keye Senior Member • Posts: 2,095
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
1

Sara Valentine wrote:

Jim Keye wrote:

There are two kinds of 35 f1.4 (nikkor) owners out there: wedding shooters who don't place a priority on sharpness, and people who used to own it.

There's a third: unrepentant bokeholics.

True enough.

WickedlNl Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
1

Just a few days ago I was gonna buy the Sigma 35 1.4g Art lens. Luckily i found a place near me i could rent it for a day. I really dont understand all the positive reviews, yes its extremely sharp but 70% of photos i can just send right to the trash can. It has a beautiful bokeh and that was the primary reason to get it at that focul length too, i wanted that extra stop.

I have never shot with a lens so unreliable with its autofocus. Ive been doing this for 9 years, i got steady hands, even through a viewfinder i am pointing my focus on the eye but i see its 70% times focused either forward or backward. Yes its much easier to handle and is very sharp at f4 and f5.6 but tell me which lense isnt? If you go that high it loses its signature...to get the subject out of the background. I tried a second copy, same thing. Im shooting on a d800.

Just jumping into topic to share im sad i hear even the Nikon one based on your opinions isnt too reliable either. I really wanted to like it...maybe im spoiled that my 24-70 and 70-200 produce perfect focus 9 out of 10 times but the 35 isnt some cheap lense like the 50 1.8G....its a fairly priced lense and i have no idea how u can use it as street lense when everything is in motion and u need to act quickly but most of your focus is off...

anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 9,169
Re: Frustrated with the 35 1.4G
2

I think if critical AF requirements are the deal, then the pro 2.8 zooms (24-70e, 70-200E FL) are in order. It seems like the primes - from all camps - are just all over the map on the wide end.

My experience was that when I had the 35/1.4G, it focused fine and I could absolutely trust it. It was *s l o w* to af, but accurate. The Sigma 35/1.4 Art I replaced it with is totally reliable and predictable; I can shoot thousands of frames with it and maybe a half dozen will be OOF. But then there are lenses like the 24/1.4G Nikkor - gorgeous lens with nice rendering, but it's AF consistency was below average, could never trust it. The 105/2 DC Nikkor is the worlds biggest piece of dog excrement when it comes to AF consistency/reliability, a lens so utterly horrendous at autofocus I consider it manual focus only, and am so glad I got rid of it and that Nikon finally came out with an AF 105 that is worth of the name Nikon (the 105/1.4E), which is fine AF wise and ridiculous image quality wise. On the Sigma side, the worst wide angle lens I've ever used AF wise was their 20/1.4 - tried two copies, neither had a clue what focus was, so bad it made the 105/2 DC I despise so much look like the best lens ever made. Horrendous AF performance. The Sigma 11-24 Art zoom (I think that's the range - the new one) was horrendous as well, it couldn't focus consistently either. Yet the Sigma 85/1.4 Art I own is fine, and the 135/1.8 Art I evaluated was fine. My 24-35/2 Sigma Art is fine. My 50/1.4 Sigma art is in the middle - generally fine, not horrible, but not as good as my 35/1.4, so I tend to keep an eye on focus with it.

So my experience has been all over the map - except that any F/2.8 pro zoom from Nikon I've ever owned - ever - has been money. Reliable, accurate, consistent. So for me, it's tool for the job. I shoot landscape as well as studio, so for landscape, manual focus isn't an issue. For things where I need focus, by now I know which of my lenses I can count on - and which ones I don't dare count on.

It is sort of sad in a way, you'd think things would improve along this front...

-m

em jo photo Regular Member • Posts: 353
The 35G is a major comparative problem

anotherMike wrote:

It is sort of sad in a way, you'd think things would improve along this front...

I don't disagree with anything written here, except regarding the severity of the problem. It's not sad in a way--it's a deep and potentially fatal flaw.

If you pay $2,000 or more for a camera body, and then $1500 or more per prime lens, it should work spectacularly. It should blow you away, without reservation.

Worse, fast 35mm primes are, along with the 70-200s, the most important workhorse lenses in any system. They're non-negotiable carries for PJs of all stripes, wedding togs, fashion shooters, environmental portrait artists and all kinds of commercial photography. If you were building a pro system from the ground up, regardless of what you shoot, you could do worse than picking one by simply evaluating the quality of its professional 35mm prime.

Frankly, frustrating as the 35G is, it's outright cringeworthy that the 35 f/2D was Nikon's best AF entry in this category until 2009. (A hurt compounded by the end of 28mm f/1.4D production in 2006.)

It remains an open sore, a legitimate point at which Sony (and others) sink real claws into the Nikon system. Shooting Sony involves its own tradeoffs, but neither AF nor fundamental image quality issues with vital workhorse lenses are among them.

Quite to the contrary, Sony's Zeiss FE 35 is a deadly serious contender. Whatever sample variation early adopters reported seems to have cleared up in short order. What we're left with is an optically superb lens featuring outstanding weather sealing, fine construction, and a well-implemented, innovative, FAST linear-rail AF system.

Hey, Canon understands the table stakes perhaps better than anyone. Criticize the lack of innovation in Canon bodies all you like, but the 35L II with its "blue spectrum refractive optics" is an outright masterpiece, and it's built like a proverbial brick $hithouse to boot. Lensrentals.com recently did a teardown of one, and the helicoid machining / engineering in the lens core is a work of art--heavy metal rollers with precision bearings all around. Truly, it's a lens designed to last a professional lifetime.

Comparatively, the plastic 35G looks, feels, and performs so poorly. I shudder to think how many talented shooters bypass Nikon altogether because of it, or how many feel they shoot Nikon despite it.

Nice as the new 28E appears to be, a revamp of the 35G with similar design / engineering principles probably should have been a higher priority.

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