Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Sturdy build quality and weather-resistance
  • Focusing is near-silent
  • Very sharp, particularly once stopped down a little
  • Very good consistency across the frame
  • Coma is well controlled
  • Lateral CA absent after corrections
  • LoCA present at widest apertures
  • 'Onion ring' and 'orange peel' artifacts can lead to busier bokeh
  • Not the sharpest or fastest to focus in its class
  • Expensive (by traditional standards) considering its focal length and aperture
  • Slight barrel distortion

A classic focal length, a classic medium-fast maximum aperture… if it wasn’t for the size and the price tag, this is a lens that we'd automatically recommend to any Nikon Z-series photographer as a general-purpose 'carry everywhere' medium-wide prime. But like the more recently-announced (and excellent) Sony FE 35mm F1.8, it's substantially more pricey than the workhorse D/SLR-era 35mm F1.8s which it nominally replaces.

So is it time we raised our expectations?

In short, yes. Everything from general build quality (including weather-sealing) to optical performance is improved to some degree in the Z 35mm F1.8 S compared to those earlier designs.

This portrait tells the story of the Z 35mm F1.8 S - lovely and sharp at wide apertures, mostly pleasant out of focus rendering, with some noticeable texture in high-contrast bokeh balls and visible LoCA in areas fore and aft of the point of focus.

ISO 160 | 1/320 sec | F2.2

Anyone using the Z 35mm F1.8 S as a general walk-around lens will appreciate its ability to render subjects sharply at all aperture settings, with (mostly) pleasant backgrounds, and distortion, vignetting and lateral chromatic aberration are either corrected out of images automatically, or easily removable in Raw post-processing.

Because the Z 35mm f1.8 S offers such good cross-frame sharpness at wide apertures, it's possible to shoot at maximum aperture for effect, and not worry too much about the usual nasties, like haze and corner sharpness.

ISO 200 | 1/250 sec | F1.8

Those who need ultra-fast focusing, however, or a lens which renders out-of-focus highlights in the same way as a more expensive 35mm F1.4 should - of course - manage their expectations. Z-series photographers who have invested in the Z 50mm F1.8 S may be especially disheartened to find that the companion Z 35mm doesn’t quite match the cheaper 50mm’s biting wide-aperture sharpness and definitely can't compete on LoCA - that is, purple and green fringing - suppression. To be fair, very few lenses can. Our 'reference' 35mm lens is still the Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM, which costs - and weighs - a great deal more than the Z 35mm F1.8 S.

None of this detracts from the Z 35mm F1.8 S's performance as a sharp, versatile and well-made lens, and one that is highly recommended for Nikon Z users.


Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S
Category: Wideangle Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S is a solid medium-wideangle lens for the Z series, which offers excellent sharpness and pleasant handling characteristics on the Z6 and Z7. Low light fans might miss a wider aperture, and optically, the 35mm cannot compete with its (cheaper) cousin the Z 50mm f1.8 S, but for Nikon Z shooters that need wide-aperture sharpness, the Z 35mm F1.8 S is definitely worth looking at.
Good for
Low-light or wide-aperture fans that need sharp images at fast apertures
Not so good for
Portrait fans who might be bothered by the colored fringing in out of focus areas, those requiring the absolute fastest autofocus, video shooters looking for linear focus response
85%
Overall score

Sample Gallery

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