Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX AF-S Nikkor
Lab Test Results
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May 4, 2009
by Andrew Alexander
Nikon caused a bit of stir with the release of this lens: an economically-priced, fast prime lens, compatible with entry-level Nikon digital SLR bodies not equipped with the mechanical autofocus motor. A fast prime lens is typically a subsequent purchase for budding photo enthusiasts, who find the limitations of the kit zoom lens too restrictive.
The lens is listed as a DX-format lens, meaning it has been designed to be fully-compatible only with Nikon's APS-C sized digital sensor camera bodies. However, on an FX or film-based body the lens produces only minimal vignetting. When mounted on a DX-format digital SLR, the lens produces an effective field of view of 53mm.
The lens comes standard with a round, bayonet-mounted HB-46 lens hood, and is available now for around $200.
For a $200 lens, the 35mm ƒ/1.8DX provides surprisingly good results. With the lens set to its widest aperture of ƒ/1.8 overall image sharpness is quite respectable, with a sharp central region of 1.5 blur units, and slightly soft corners approaching 3 blur units. Image sharpness improves slightly at ƒ/2. At ƒ/2.8 we see excellent results, under 1.5 blur units in the center and under 2 blur units in the corners. Things get marginally better as you stop down further, reaching an optimal setting at ƒ/5.6. But for practical purposes things are about as sharp as they can realistically get at ƒ/2.8.
Diffraction limiting sets in ƒ/8, but it isn't until the lens is stopped down to ƒ/16 that there's any real impact on image sharpness. At ƒ/16 we see results of just over 2 blur units across the frame. Fully stopped-down at ƒ/22, the lens shows results of around 3 blur units. Overall, quite impressive performance.
The 35mm ƒ/1.8DX is optimized to reduce chromatic aberration, more so in the wider (and probably more popular) end of its aperture range. Its best performance is found at ƒ/2 (only a hair's breadth better than ƒ/1.8) where we note very little CA in the corners or across the frame. Stopping down the lens increases the amount of CA; anything above ƒ/4 produces about the same amount. It's not extreme, just slightly more than we'd like, and it isn't confined to just the corners. It's worth taking a look at the sample photos to see if the CA produced is overly objectionable to you.
The lens shows some light falloff when used at larger apertures (ƒ/1.8 - ƒ/2.8), but at ƒ/4 and smaller corner shading drops off almost completely. At ƒ/1.8 the corners are 2/3EV darker than the center; at ƒ/2.8 the corners are 1/3EV darker.
While the lens will inevitably be marketed as ''the standard lens for DX cameras,'' it's still a 35mm lens and effectively in the wide-angle category. Consequently it's no surprise that it produces some barrel distortion, and in this case, a bit more than expected. Specifically we note +0.5% distortion in the corners, and +0.25% throughout the image. The distortion isn't complex, and can be easily corrected in image post-processing software.
The 35mm ƒ/1.8G DX uses an AF-S focusing motor, making it compatible with all modern Nikon camera bodies. Autofocus is fast, about one second to slew through infinity - close-focus - infinity, and is near silent. Autofocus results can be overridden at any time by just turning the focus ring.
The lens isn't endowed with exceptional macro capabilities: its magnification rating is only 0.16x. To its credit, its minimum close-focusing distance is just under one foot.
Build Quality and Handling
The 35mm ƒ/1.8G DX is a small and light lens, made so by its use of a plastic shell and low number of elements (8 in 6 groups). The lens mount is metal and the 52mm filter threads are plastic. At only 200 grams (7 ounces) in weight, the lens makes a very light combination on Nikon's consumer dSLRs; on a pro body, you wouldn't even know it was there.
Given the price point of this lens, it's not surprising that Nikon hasn't loaded it with much in the way of frills. In fact the only two features of note are the focus ring and a manual focus selector switch. The lens does not come equipped with a distance scale and has spawned many a discussion on the internet regarding the usefulness of this information.
The 1/2-inch wide focus ring is rubber, a series of ribs running parallel to the body of the lens. It seems to take around ninety degrees to turn through its focusing range, but this is hard to confirm without a distance scale. A slight increase in resistance lets you know you've reached the end of the focusing distance, but the ring will continue to turn. Without a distance scale, it's impossible to know whether the lens focuses past infinity (well, it's probably not impossible, just casually difficult).
The 52mm filter ring doesn't turn during autofocus operation, making it useful for polarizer users. As well, given that the lens focuses with the rear element, there is no lens extension during autofocusing. The lens uses seven rounded diaphragm blades to make up the aperture, which should produce pleasing out-of-focus elements.
The HB-46 lens hood is small, less than an inch in depth. The hood is a bayonet-mount that reverses onto the lens for easy storage, but denies access to the focus ring in this configuration. The lens is nicely resistant to obvious flare from bright light sources such as the sun, but the hood works well to reduce generalized veiling flare.
I alluded early on in this review to the lens' usage on full-frame Nikon camera bodies such as the D3. While there is a fair amount of light falloff, it occurs as a function of the selected aperture and the focus distance. The worst ''hard'' vignetting occurs when the lens is set to infinity focus with a small aperture such as ƒ/22. However, when used at large apertures, and at a closer focus distance, it isn't overly objectionable. We've included a few sample photos so you can judge the effect for yourself.
Nikon 35mm ƒ/2D AF Nikkor ~$340
The obvious alternative in the Nikon lineup, the 35mm ƒ/2 is compatible with full-frame cameras, however, it will not autofocus on D40/D60/D5000-level cameras. We haven't yet tested this lens.
Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 EX DC HSM ~$400
This lens has been in Sigma's lineup for some time now, and was the go-to choice for a fast ''standard'' prime that worked on the Nikon D40/D60/D5000-level camera. The lens is about as sharp as the Nikon 35mm ƒ/1.8DX, if perhaps a bit softer in the corners. It also provides about the same level of performance for chromatic aberration. Light falloff is about the same, perhaps a bit darker in the corners by ƒ/4. Distortion is the same at +0.5% barrel distortion in the corners. The lens is more expensive, but you do get that fast ƒ/1.4 performance.
Tokina 35mm ƒ/2.8 AT-X M35 PRO DX ~$400
Tokina offers this lens in a macro configuration, with a 1:1 reproduction ratio. Unfortunately the autofocus system of this lens is mechanical, meaning it won't autofocus on D40/D60/D5000-level cameras. As well the lens uses a maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8. We haven't yet tested this lens.
The 35mm ƒ/1.8G DX fills an obvious hole in Nikon's lineup, and with its very reasonable price point Nikon may have found a way to ride out the recession. In our tests, the lens performs very well, with good results for sharpness at ƒ/1.8, becoming excellent at ƒ/2.8. Chromatic aberration is visible but not overly objectionable and light falloff is nicely controlled. Distortion is a little high for our tastes, especially if the lens is to be marketed as a ''standard'' lens. But for the money you can't beat it, especially if what you've had to work with has been an 18-55mm kit zoom.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX AF-S Nikkor
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Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX AF-S Nikkor User Reviews
9 out of 10 points and recommended by eskil (8 reviews)small, light, sharp, affordableno weather seal, focal length a bit too long
A small, fast and sharp prime för $200 or less you can't go wrong. There are better performing lenses out there, but they are all larger and more expensive.reviewed May 5th, 2014 (purchased for $155)
The only reason I traded away this lens is the focal length. IMHO, 35 mm is too short for portraits and too long for most other situations. 28-30 mm is a more ideal focal length for a DX normal prime.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by podperson (2 reviews)Small, light, very sharp, fast focusingMediocre build quality (a bit loose)
This is really the first lens any DX shooter should get. It would be nice to have a similarly small and inexpensive 24mm f1.8 (35mm equivalent) for DX.reviewed February 19th, 2014 (purchased for $200)
8 out of 10 points and recommended by m-ex (3 reviews)Sharp @ 1.8, light, good AFbarrel distorsion, vignette on FF body :)
Using that lens on my D90 and D600 (FF body in FX mode)reviewed October 15th, 2013 (purchased for $270)
On D90 that lens produces very nice image, over all it's best price/image qality what you can get right the same as Rokinon 14mm f/2.8. Tack sharp @ 1.8.
On D600 in FX mode, that lens is also great bargin, it produces great image on 1.8, with a slight vignette on the bottom corners, but if you are using that lens only on F/1.8, vignette wouldn't boder you at all.
Also that distorsion an vignette can be easily fixed in adobe products like PS, or Lightroom.
Very nice lens for DX, and very cool money saver for FX body, because when you will look to Nikkor 35 1.4, 10 times expensive, you can make some conclusions.
4 out of 10 points and recommended by TomE (4 reviews)cheap, lightnot sharp until f4, sloooww
I am very disppointed with this lens. OK, it's cheap,but what good is f1.8 if it doens't give you sharp results untill f4?reviewed May 30th, 2013
I went so far testing this lens, that I mounted the camera on a tripod and shot my bookshelf (which I normally never do). Nothing sharp, not in AF nor MF, untill f4. Maybe it's my copy, but for me, even though it's cheap, it's not worth the investment.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Tord (23 reviews)Sharp as a needle, nice focusing speed, low cost, low weightNo weather-sealing
I bought this lens quite a while back, for my V1, and it has been a delight, from the very first day. Sharp, light, and compact, what more could you ask for?!reviewed April 7th, 2013 (purchased for $300)
On my V1 it became a fast portrait lens, first and foremost, while on the D3200 it became my kit lens, always on it. Now, with the D3200 gone, it resides once again on the V1, or, occasionally, on the D600.
I use it on the D600 in full format (not the cropped mode), and crop the files afterwards.
With a Canon 250D screw-on lens (52mm thread version) it becomes a nice close-up lens, if not really macro. Very useful, indeed! You can even add another 250D on top, without vignetting!
In short, this is the only F Mount prime I have for my V1, as the Nikon 1 lenses I have work very well - eventually there will be a Nikon 1 32/1.2, but it has not yet been released.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by Lee Brandon (1 reviews)Value for money image qualityfocus ring not very smooth, lack of dof scale
OK, yes there are sharper lenses out there but not for the price, all the critisims made of these cheap as chips lenses are relevent, but where more relevent in the film days when correcting perfomance issues was near as dammit, impossible. These days chromic abberation, minor distortions etc are a just a few clicks in the post processing software which is constantly advancing and to my knowledge something everyone plays with these day.reviewed March 30th, 2013 (purchased for $226)
The time of print as is with perhaps a bit of dodging in the darkroom has long since dissapeared.
I must be getting deaf but I cant hear the SWMotor focusing & speed wise its enough, this is not a sports lens, the worst thing is the focus ring which is very rough to use manually so not ideal for video differential focusing .
I also have the 50mm 1.8D and to be honest I think the 35mm is a tad better probably because the 35mm is computed for DX just the same as the difference is between a Matched Multiplier and a Tele Convertor they both work but the dedicated computation does make a difference in performance.
I have over the years come to the conclusion that over analising anything leads to obsession with the faults and not the overall results.
Dont get me wrong I once was the same except it was with HiFi, I had all the top line kit but ended up listening more for the pops and crackles than listening to the actual music.
The 35 1.8 is a bargain and will produce exhibition size prints with just a little bit of PP work.
Perfect at wide open nop but only very few and very expensive lenses perfom at all stops with the same quality, as the biggest stop is always pushing a lenses abilities to the max.
IMO the 35 is a really good lens and at the price a fantastic lens
Yes its plastic but then most DX cameras are partly or totally made of plastic, will that make the end image worse? no. It has some barrel distortion but once a little PP is done will that slap the image viewer in the face? no. if you want a standard lens for DX the 35 1.8g is the best price/quality on the market if price is no object why are you using a DX?
3 out of 10 points and not recommended by mXan (1 reviews)Light, small, metal mountSlow AF, poor wide open, it's a prime
Wide open is poor: not really sharp even in the center (much less than the kit lens) and it's darker than the aperture would suggest: at f1.8 it's t2.1, let's say t2 to be optimistic. At f2.8 it's sharp as a knife.reviewed January 7th, 2013 (purchased for $250)
This means that it's just one stop faster than f2.8 zooms, of which the Tamron is just a few €s more.
Unless you are a fanatic of primes, you would be served better by a midrange f2.8 zoom. Planning to sell mine shortly.
8 out of 10 points and recommended by dugong5pm (52 reviews)small, light, build quality, IQ, fast 50mm (equiv)none for the price
do you shoot on normal lens? do you use Nikon DX? if yes, then this is your lens. no brainer.reviewed October 14th, 2012 (purchased for $199)
Nikon released this lens as their tribute to comemmorate Henri Cartier Bresson (the 50 cron guy). This is the best "normal" lens for DX sensor. In fact, for me, this is Nikon's best DX-sensor lens ever! so highly recommended for DX users.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by CYI_DEAL (2 reviews)Super sharp, Light weight, Rocket fast and near silent focus, f/1.8None
Very fast and precise autofocus, Fantastic for high contrast pics. This lens is a must have for everyone! There is no better bang for your dollar!reviewed September 13th, 2011 (purchased for $191)
9 out of 10 points and recommended by tclune (6 reviews)bright, good combination of sharpness and color vibrance, versatile primelateral CA
This is a wonderful lens. It is a light sponge -- it seems like you could shoot in the dark with this puppy. It has very nice color rendition and contrast. While it isn't the sharpest lens in my kit (that honor belongs to my Tamron 90), it is sharp enough that it isn't an issue. The field of view is just about perfect for me -- my first "real" camera was a 35 mm Voigtlander Vito CLR, which had a 50mm lens. This is essentially the same field of view, so using this lens feels like coming home.reviewed April 29th, 2011 (purchased for $199)
This was the first lens I bought when I got my D5000 body. That combo was the system I wanted to start my foray into dSLRs with, and it continues to be my "go-to" setup, even though I have a few more lenses now. This is a wonderful general-purpose lens if you like shooting with primes.
About the only thing to be aware of is that the lens has a lot of lateral CA. The D5000 will automatically remove this kind of CA (unlike the LoCA of the Tamron) in JPEGs, and Capture NX2 does the same with your NEF files if you use that, so you may never have to contend with the CA of this lens at all. Indeed, it seems to be designed to sweep all the design faults into this easily-corrected pile.
But I have seen some folks with older Nikons complain about the CA while folks with newer cameras often have no idea what they are complaining about. If you're shooting with a D40, you need to plan on cleaning up the CA. Unlike LoCA, the CA in this lens can be cleaned up without degrading sharpness, color fidelity, or vibrance -- so it's nothing to worry about if you're willing to spend the time in PP.
For the rest of us, this lens is one of those wonderful design confluences where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a delight to shoot with.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by maskinmoller (6 reviews)Sharp! light and good AFCould be sharper wide open
Love this little lens!reviewed March 16th, 2011 (purchased for $280)
I give this a 10 for IQ as its center sharpness just blows anything else away at f.2.2 and reach outstanding quality from f.2.8
Only the borders never reach the same impressive quality, but still very fine from f2.8
AF is fast, build is basic but fine and even with a sealing.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by abanerjee (2 reviews)price, speed, sharpness, great focal length, bang for the buckdistortion, silent motor not exactly silent, manual focus is meh
OK: You want an affordable, fast lens at a very useful focal length. You do not want to spend more than a $1,000 and nor do you even really feel like shelling out $400. I would take this over Sigma's f/1.4 30mm lens - unless you're desperate for the extra speed.reviewed December 12th, 2010 (purchased for $235)
I've had this lens since April of 2010, I believe. For a walkaround lens this is much more flexible than the Nifty Fifty. I'm surprised it took Nikon so long to drop this sucker and I would even recommend this over the 50mm f/1.8 as a second lens.
Bokeh is also quite smooth.
Distortion is quite a pain to deal with - but post-processing and the camera's inbuilt adjustments do help. You will notice it on some of your pictures, usually if you're capturing a building or a wall. Easily corrected, however. Construction seems okay. So long as you're not shooting in warzones you're not gonna have a problem, but it does use a lot of plastic. Advantage though: Its so light.
You'll be happy with it.
8 out of 10 points and recommended by mskitty (4 reviews)Silent Motor, Sharp,Fast and ClearCheap Plastic Housing. AND truly Who Uses This lens?
I have been using the Nikkor 35mm 1.8 for over a month now..IT is a sharp, crystal clear lens. No problems. I love how clean my shots are, BUT not as clear and sharp as the Nikkor 50mm 1.4reviewed December 1st, 2010 (purchased for $199)
I would recommend this lens to a beginner to mid-level camera users. It is a good lens...that cost around 199.00. Which is good for Nikon.
But truly who uses this lens?
9 out of 10 points and recommended by Gandalf (8 reviews)Sharp, light, inexpensiveSome distortion
If we only should consider what what get for our money, this lens deserves a "10-er", but there is no such parameter, so I gave it a 9-er, because of some distortion.reviewed November 4th, 2010
It is OK-sharp wide open, and really sharp at f. 2.8, and it is so light and easy to carry, and mounted on my new D3100, this set can stay in my pocket (jacket)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by RJNaylor (4 reviews)Sharp, LightNot great in terms of distortion
It is surprising to see this lens rated only in the 8's on the main page. Between 2.8 and 5.6 this lens is really sharp. I don't know if i got a better copy than some but seeing the number of 10's below, I'd say a bad copy is the exception. For a DX sensor this lens serves as a relatively "normal' lens. I end up carrying it instead of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 because of its sharpness and utility for low light shooting. (I generally have my 16-85, 70-300, and 12-24 along with one or two SB600's so I can;t bring much more with my current bag and two lens mounted).reviewed May 21st, 2010 (purchased for $200)
I've compared it numerous times with my 16-85VR to see if I can't do as well in low light with the VR on and I cannot. Shoot this guy at 1600 ISO and the regular lighting in a room is just fine.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Zolotusca (2 reviews)Fast f/1.8 lens, very high resolution, very low optical aberations, high speed on AF-S, acceptable priceNo Vibration Reduction
Over 2 months of intense use with high satisfaction.reviewed April 11th, 2010 (purchased for $245)
I used of this lens with a D5000 camera (DX). Shots in interior with existing light and with flash (SB-900), as well shots in exterior (abundant lighting <snow>, normal daylight, dimmlight and night shoots gave excellent results, and, what was exceptional, there were no missed shots.
Very fast and precise autofocus with D5000 camera.
Exceptional for high contrast (wedding shots and contre-jour).
The construction is reliable, gives a good-feeling touch, besides the use of plastic and rubber - but of a very good quality.
M/A swich is a versatile tool to adjust the focus.
Tight, fast and simple attachment of the plastic hood.
Very usefull rubber sealing for dust and rain, at the rear of lens, when attached to camera.
Very light and small, special for DX format, is exceptional for normal-angle photos, for high details without distorsion, practically no vigneting nor chomatic aberration at f/2.8 and over. Very good quality at f/1.8 and better at f/2.0.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by Nikoboyd (12 reviews)Extremely sharp, Light weight, very fast and near silent focus, f/1.8Nothing for it's own quality but should be a FX lens
Excellent standard lens for DX format. I can't find any flaw so I can complain nothing. PERFECT is all I can say.reviewed January 28th, 2010 (purchased for $260)
I tried to use the lens in very low light and the subject was very far away so the AF assist can't help. I switched the lens to MF mode. The feeling of the MF was great, not as good as old timer MF lenses but much better than any AF Nikkor I tried.
8 out of 10 points and not recommended by Perry Rhodan (28 reviews)Sharp, light, quick, silent, excellent handling overallReally nothing at this price
Excellent "standard" lens for the D90. Nice DOF play, OOF is good. For this price a bargain on the D90. For the D7k a lot worse. Very inconsistent in IQ espescially corners and abberation. AF so/so ans slooow. Mostly due to the D7k.reviewed January 8th, 2010 (purchased for $150)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by moose (21 reviews)Lightweight, fast and sharp as a tackNo faults at all
Nikon professional user. I use this lens on the D300 and D200 for outdoor work when I need an accurate lightweight 35mm lens.reviewed November 28th, 2009 (purchased for $330)
On holiday I use it on the D40 for extra sharp pro-quality images.
5 out of 10 points and recommended by wingdo (5 reviews)inexpensivefeels cheaply made, soft focus.
[update] I exchanged my lens for another one as it was so soft. This one is much better. It is still not tack sharp, but it is much better.reviewed September 24th, 2009 (purchased for $215)
For the price it's decent although I still cannot get over the fact Nikon cheaped out so much as to not even put a distance meter window in the lens. What does that cost? $2?
It is still has a very cheap feel to it
I have been looking for a full length portrait lens for a DX sensor and I was excited to see an AF-S lens available from Nikon which fits the bill.
Sadly as is usually the case you get what you pay for. The lens feels cheaply constructed and the images are soft from center to corners (less so dead center but they are still soft).
10 out of 10 points and recommended by dumbo (3 reviews)Sharp, cheap, fastNone I would really call a con
Well... There are, of course, weaker points with this lens, as with all lenses.reviewed June 17th, 2009 (purchased for $270)
For me personally the "cons" of this lens are manageble i the way that most of them only occur under certain circumstanses and all but one of them can be corrected for in PP if needed.
The weaknesses are pretty much chromatic aberations and distortion. Distortion is not noticable unless you shoot lots of architecture och brick walls.
The chromatic aberrations rarely get noticable unless you pixelpeep. It can also be corrected in post process, apart from the loCAs which can be tricky to get rid of. I have yet to have a shot ruined by loCAs thoughl.
Enough of the (not so much) weaknesses of this lens and go on with what is good.
Sharpness and contrast are really good, even wide open. Of course you win some by stopping down a stop, but after that there really are not much difference and even wide open it's still sharper than many other lenses stopped down one stop. I'm not the least hesitant about using this lens wide open.
It focuses pretty fast and locks on target w/o hesitation. I'd say it's about as fast as my AF 50/1.8D.
Bokeh is not the best I've seen, but it's OK wide open and gets pretty nice once you stop the lens down only a little.
Flare resistance, I'd say, is very good. No real reason not to shoot with the sky in the picture if you have to. Almost no decrease in contrast and at worst a small green "blob" on the opposite side of the light source that can easily be cloned out.
Bould quality is nice. There are much plastics used, so it pretty light and does not feel like a tank, but the plastics are well put together and the lens feels solid and does not produce any quirking sounds if you put some stress to it.
Being what this lens is, a cheap normal lens for APS-C sensor Nikons, the only real fault with this lens is that it was not released along with the D70.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by lennyk1313 (1 reviews)Excelent lens for night shootingimage could be a little soft sometime
A very good review has been posted on this blog:reviewed June 15th, 2009 (purchased for $199)
4 out of 10 points and not recommended by Toby (6 reviews)Small, AF-S will work on any future camera bodyUnderexposure at open aperture
I have to say that I did not buy the lens, so my review relates only experience from testing in two shops.reviewed June 5th, 2009
I considered it most striking that both samples I tested were producing significantly underexposed pictures at f1.8 as compared to f 2.8, both on my own D300 as well as on one of the shop's D300. I am tempted to say that the lens semed lika a 1:2.5 simply with underexposure at an alleged 1:1.8. My recommendation is to test the lens on your body before buying and to compare exposure across the range of apertures.
Sharpness seemed to be ok, taking into account the price. However, if it turns out that you can not really use f1.8 due to underexposure, then you may rather take your pictures with a higher quality zoom and ramp up the ISO a little.
Construction seemed to be good, but I can not say much more since I do not own the lens
8 out of 10 points and recommended by Itzadeal (2 reviews)Sharp, lightweightFirst one was defective
I purchased this at a Dodd Camera (cleveland) expo. The nikon rep suggested it and they had a special price ($179 plus tax). It arrived in 3 weeks and worked well except about 5% of the shots were grossly overexposed. Took it back to Dodd, said the diaphragm was defective and replaced it same day. Replacement works just fine, sharp, good contrast, nice size.reviewed June 4th, 2009 (purchased for $180)
8 out of 10 points and recommended by Cliff Beard (12 reviews)Good value, decent build at price level, good performance wide opensome loss of contrast wide open, some CA esp at close focus
This lens is well built at the price point with a metal mount and internal focus so there is no vulnerable barrel protruding from the front should the lens take a knock. The plastic is solid and well finished.reviewed May 7th, 2009
Performance wide open is surprisingly good, at least in the centre area of the frame.. even lots of expensive lenses are quite weak wide open so this is a great design feature as we buy these lenses for the speed after all. Peak..probably about F2.8-F4.
Despitethe relatively short focal length the bokeh is well developed and probably peaks around F2 to F3.2, where the background is nice and smooth. Occasionally very bright highlights can cause a bright outline, but there are no nasty doughnuts or ghosting etc.
Performance seems good right through to F16 (where all DX lenses seem to suffer from diffraction) and the DOF develops progressively, so the lens has a large usable range.
Focus is generally accurate. I notice a slight tendency for the lens to focus slightly closer than the focus point on my D80 when close up and aimed at an angled target...this may be the camera (not tested on D300 yet). Face-on its spot-on. You have to be seriously careful to focus accurately as DOF is so small at F1.8. I recommend continuous focus (AFC) so the camera constantly corrects. Focus is not that fast ...about average for consumer SWM lenses and comparable to 18-135 etc. Its nice to be able to simply turn the focus ring to tweak focus rather than switching to manual. I lament the demise of distance scales as they are great when AF is failing in poor light or for landscape etc.
There is CA, especially at close focus and around some highlights. Close up it appears as green and red...one colour each side of the focal plane. Its a soft halation rather than the hard blue CA you get from some lenses. Its not ideal but not too bad and often not relevant unless viewing at 100%. Some of it is correctable in camera (if shooting Jpeg on newer bodies) or in PP in camera RAW.
I got this lens primarily to get a standard prime for my DX bodies, as the 50mm is simply too long to fit that bill (although it is great as a short tele) and it does exactly what I want it to do. Its a great carry-around if you want one of those creative days without a bag full of kit and offers users of the cheaper zooms something fast, sharp and with less distortion at a sensible price.
I also got it for travel as I never go away with pro kit...too pricey and way too heavy. As most consumer lenses are rather slow (F3.5-5.6) I wanted a fast lens to widen my shooting options and that I could pop in the bag without concern about the weight, size and value. This lens does exactly that so I can highly recommend it.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Bobcopeland (7 reviews)Very sharp across range of apetures, compact, blurred backgroundsCA
I have owned this lens now for a couple of weeks and tried it on a wide range of subjects.reviewed April 24th, 2009 (purchased for $291)
Its sharpness is very good across the range but it definitely improves a little from f2.8 upwards. The wide apature has enabled me to go back to the good old film days when, due to budget constraints, I had only a wide apeture standard lens which forced me to work harder to get the best shots. Low light portraits in particular look more interesting due to the small depth of field.
With regard to CA, it is present and like other writers, I was concerned about this when I ordered the lens. I use a D200 so there is no automatic reduction of this problem. That said, the problem is not serious and on shots which I feel may be spoiled by CA I convert from Raw with View NX first. This is free and does a good job of removing the CA. I have tried Capture NX2 which also works well but I stuggle to understand the logic of this program.
Focusing I have found to be pretty much as fast as my other Consumer AF-S lenses and is more reliable and much faster that I would be able to achieve manually. I think people make too much of focus speed.
Focus locks on quickly in most cases but I have found that it is not so good on very low contrast subjects. I am unsure whether this is caused by the lens or the body.
The lens focuses internally so the front element does not extend or rotate. This is beneficial as it should not suck in moisture or dust as could happen with lenses which extend the front of the lens to achieve focus or zoom.
Overall I am very pleased with this lens. It is very sharp, focuses well, offers shallow depth of field and seems sturdy. What more could you want.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by r3g (2 reviews)Cheap, EXTREMELY Sharp, Fast, Decent build qualityCA, A little more distortion than other 35mm lenses.
Bottom line this is an AWESOME lens regardless of its price. Its sharp as a tack, light weight, and while the AF may not be as fast as other primes I feel like its fast enough to never be a problem. AF is also quite silent.reviewed April 20th, 2009 (purchased for $250)
There has been so much talk about the bad CA on this camera. Let me say that in real world use, from taking pics outside in birght sun to doing photoshoots with bright strobes, the majority of the time the CA isnt noticeable until you start cropping or viewing closer to 100%. I was quite worried when I purchased this lens because of all the CA talk but from experience I can say that its not nearly as bad as people make it seem. Many of the people making these claims have never even shot with the lens.
Anywho.. As I said before images are always very sharp. Wide open is a bit softer of course but still sharp enough to make the shooter happy. I hoenstly feel like the other all performance of this lens is well above its price range.
Build quality is good.. yes its made out of plastic.. yes its not the most solid feeling lens around but in its price range what do you expect. The build quality is much higher than the 18-55mm kitlens and the 55-200mm VR. Both of which I actually own. No part of the lens feels loose or flemsy. The focus ring is smooth yet firm. Absolutely nothing wrong with the build quality.
If you want a fast prime with good IQ this is definately the lens to get unless your using an FX camera. THERE IS WAY TOO MANY OPINIONS BEING FORMED FROM "TESTS" THAN FROM REAL WORLD USE.. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE.
**This review is based on use on both my D90 and D40
9 out of 10 points and recommended by SolokNikon (3 reviews)IQ, Small, Lightweight, Cheap, Very FastMaybe too small? No distance scale, AF perhaps isnÃÂ´t the fastest
Great lens, very cheap and extremely fast in low light. Very compact and lightweight, a bargain really, not much to argue about that.reviewed April 17th, 2009 (purchased for $230)
IQ is good, but of course not as good as the AF-S 60mm macro, neither is the AF-speed, but still, a great lens.
8 out of 10 points and recommended by Canon-Nikon-user (14 reviews)cheap, sharper than the D, good colors and contrast.look and feel very lousy, very slow AF compared to real ring USM on my Canon
hey, goldeniggy, you shouldn`t have bought it from Yodobashi.reviewed April 17th, 2009 (purchased for $220)
you know it is much cheaper if you get it at Kitamura or Sampou camera and there are many many places you can bargain.
if you know how to bargain ,there is no place you buy any lens cheaper than Tokyo or Osaka.
next time you buy a lens locally ,get the cheapest price for it and with it , you go to a Kitamura or Map camera or like that and bargain it, they will know you know the price and they will discount it.
You should go to kakaku.com before buying any lens in Japan cause they dont give you real local price (like in HK)unless you show them that you the cheapest price for any lens u want to buy.
As for the lens , IMHO, I like the older D version better , since my D300 AF faster with it than this one, I like this new G for its ultimate sharpness but it requires me to PP more because of the serious distortion and CA.
I think if you use D300 and up, then no need this but other wise , it is a good walk around prime makes my D90 so small.
Note : the AFD AF faster on a pro body or semi pro body, but on a D90 it is faster than the D version.
7 out of 10 points and recommended by Thoppa (16 reviews)Sharp, light, fits in a pocketCA
It's kit lens quality ; very similar to the performance of the 50mm f1.8 with better border sharpness but worse CA.reviewed March 13th, 2009 (purchased for $210)
There's the usual CA (PF) you might expect with a lens at this price point. However, at wide apertures and close focus, high-contrast objects in front of the field of focus take on a magenta/red hue, and those just behind have a green hue. This is almost impossible to completely correct in software and is an example of the lens' limitations. It reduces as I stop down but doesn't go away completely.
However, if you avoid such silliness, and shoot everyday stuff, this lens is great value for money, a joy to use, and gives good results. It's also perfectly useable at f1.8.
Flare control is okay. Shooting with the sun just outside the top left corner creates a small low-contrast green halo in the bottom right corner and I can just manage to get one small green sunstar. The hood doesn't seem to make much difference but to be honest I need to try more situations. Shooting with the sun in the frame results in huge loss of contrast; no surprise there.
Although the 7 blades are rounded, looking at them opening and closing, they do not create anything even remotely circular. It looks more like a robot laid an egg. I haven't seen any weird bokeh shapes yet, but I expect they're there, given the aperture shape. So far, bokeh seems quite okay.
It is a rear focus lens. Of the 8 elements, the rear four appear to be moving as a unit, although they might be geared slightly, that I couldn't say for sure. AF speed is adequate.
It is possible to use a 36mm Kenko extension tube to get a 1:1 macro but the lens is extremely close to the subject. It also emphasizes the CA. AF still works but manual +DOF preview is better for macro work anyway.
Price, well, it's a bargain compared to the AF-S 50mm f1.4 but not so compared to the AF-D 50mm f1.8. I expect it'll drop when the initial gushing excitement has receded and people see it for what it is; a DX kit prime.
I am reasonably impressed with the build quality but the mount initially felt too tight a fit for my D90. All the other lenses I have fitted perfectly straight from the box but this one has had to settle in. It makes me wonder about the long-term reliability of the lens.
My lens is well-centred and focus is spot-on, as is exposure. So although it's made in China, it seems it is well-made in China.
I had a Sigma 30 f1.4 and I sold it when I heard this lens was in the pipeline. The Sigma had weird "smeared" bokeh, over-exposed by 1/3 stop and front-focused. Considering this lens is half the price, it is much better value than the Sigma. However, the Sigma does control CA better.
Overall, it's a great little lens, but it's Achilles heal is the CA. I wish it had an ED element and a focus scale; I'd gladly pay more for these, but of course, that would miss the point of the lens; a cheap-ish standard prime for D40/60 users.
For reference, I have a D90, Nikkor 12-24, 16-85VR, 70-300VR and 105VR micro. My wish list is a 45-140mm DX VR f2.8G, a 300mm VR f4G, 180 f2.8 VR and a 70mm DC f1.8G.
9 out of 10 points and recommended by goldenpiggy (6 reviews)Sharp, sharp, and sharp even wide openVisible barrel distortion, falloff in the corners
I'll cut to the chase: EVERYONE WHO OWNS A DX SENSOR NIKON SLR NEEDS TO PLACE AN ORDER FOR THIS LENS NOW! You NEED this lens. It is going to be a very hot item, much like when the 18-200VR came out.reviewed March 7th, 2009 (purchased for $269)
I picked up this lens today at Yodobashi Camera in Japan. It was the last one they had. Price was 29,900 yen before their customary 10% discount. Ouch. It's significantly more expensive in Japan than elsewhere. What can I do, I currently live and work in Japan.
I don't have equivalent lenses to compare to, so I'll make a lot of comparisons to other lenses I own. Sorry.
Lens made in China
Comes with hood, pouch, front/rear caps.
Build quality: Very good. Surprisingly good for the amount of money. Yes it has metal mounts and rubber gasket, which I didn't expect for the price. It does not look or feel like a low end lens. Feels more solid than the older ( non AF-S) 50mm f/1.4 and 1.8. Those 50mm lens look and feel cheap in comparison. My only complaint with the 35mm f/1.8 DX is the somewhat wobbly manual focus ring which has play in the horizontal axis. I think it's the same issue with the new 50mm f/1.4 AF-S in that the ring is all the way in front, so it's not sandwiched into the lens body. The manual focus ring on my 18-200VR feels much better.
Size & Weight: This lens is bulkier than the older (non AF-S) 50mm f/1.4 and 1.8 due to the silent wave motor around the glass. But it's light as hell, and that's what makes it so great on the D300 which is a heavy body. I do not miss the weight of the 18-200VR.
Filter: takes standard 52mm filters. Not sure if you need filter as a protection since the glass is fairly well-recessed, the front element doesn't rotate, and the price isn't that much.
Viewfinder: wow, what a difference a fast lens can make. The image in the viewfinder just got really bright. It's great.
AF: very fast but not snapping fast on the D300. Probably fast like all AF-S lenses, although I was expecting it be instantaneous. There's no focus hunting whatsoever. Minimum focusing distance is about 1 foot, which is great. The lens is just about silent when focusing.
MF: great because being an AF-S lens, you just leave the focus switch on the lens to "M/A" and grab the focus ring anytime. The focus ring has good resistance, but it is not totally fluid or smooth when you rotate. You can feel small "steps" as you rotate the ring. When you go from clockwise to counterclockwise and vice versa, there's a little play. My 18-200VR has none of these problems. There is no distance scale.
Sharpness: AWESOME. This is an extremely sharp lens, center to almost corners. I don't have equivalent lens to compare, but it is subjectively sharper wide-open than all my other lens stopped down to their best f-stop (18-200VR, 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D. 300 f/4. Tokina 11-16). Stopped down to f/2 through f/2.8 and it gets ever so slightly sharper in the center and noticeably sharper in the corners. Going beyond f/2.8 didn't seem to improve sharpness for me. Don't get me wrong, corners are already good wide open. Which is what makes this lens so good. It's one you can truly use wide open. (For example, I have to stop down to f/4 on my Tokina 11-16 to get really sharp images).
Note: I don't have test charts to test sharpness. My testing is not scientific: I take close-up shots of things printed on an offset printing press such as product packaging, magazine covers etc. I then zoom in and look at how well defined the halftones are. On very sharp lens you can see very well defined halftone shapes and edges. On soft lens, these halftones are kind blurred. This method worked well for me.
Image quality: contrast is as good as my other lenses (better than Tokina 11-16). I have not shot outdoors yet, so I can't tell you about ghosting and flaring. I shoot JPEG on the D300, so it takes care of CA problems and I couldn't detect any. My only complaint in the image qualiy department are: some corner light falloff and barrel distortion. No big deal, as we can fix these things with Photoshop, DXO, etc.
Conclusion: This is a remarkable lens for the price. I don't know how they did it. The sharpest lens I owned prior to this was, believe it or not, the 18-135mm Nikon. I sold that to get the less-sharp 18-200VR. The 35mm DX blows the 18-135 out of the water. Not even close. I wouldn't be surprised if the 35mm DX tests out sharper than the new 50mm AF-S. With this lens, looking through the viewfinder and looking at the subject with my eyes give the same distance and depth of field. It will be the lens to stay on my D300 most of the time.
You will not regret buying this lens.