It may come as little surprise to followers of our reports to learn that the Sigma 35mm f1.4 HSM Art series lens continues to do out-do rivals as the best performing prime lens in our database. Nikon’s current AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G is very close in overall optical quality but the Sigma is far ahead of rival full-frame offerings of the same focal length. 

 
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon8993013
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G21992913
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G6902813
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II58992614
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon9692511
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Nikon3282512
Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF12302412
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G1952410
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon18402411
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 25mm f/2 ZF.2 Nikon17002412
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Nikon4992412
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F2.8G ED VR89992413
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon4992311
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon10052311
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon12802312
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon599239
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon18432311
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G17972311
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D3292212
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED22002211

As far as trends are concerned, the full-frame 85mm models continue to offer the highest image quality, followed by 35mm and 50mm focal lengths. It will be little surprise to learn that these models are relatively simple to design and manufacture with a high-degree of correction for image degrading aberrations.

That said, there are one or two anomalies. The high-grade Zeiss 25mm f2 and the Nikon 200mm f/2G ED VR II and 400mm f2.8G ED VR models stand-out for their high image quality, as optimally corrected models. Image quality like this doesn’t usually come cheap.

We revealed earlier that the 24-MPix sensor is capable of capturing higher levels of sharpness with certain lenses over the earlier 16-MPix sensor in the D5100. But, it’s also worth noting that the somewhat low-ish scores overall imply the sensor isn’t particularly efficient. As pure speculation, could this be one of the reasons why Nikon removed the low-pass filter in the D7100 and the new D5300?