Nikon AF-D lens reviews

Thursday February 02 2012

Lens Review
Introduction | Nikon AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D | Nikon AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D | Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D | Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D

Nikkor AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D mounted on a Nikon D3x

With a DxOMark overall score of 19, the Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D is still a good lens, just like both the 20mm and 28mm lenses in the AF-D line that we previously analyzed in parts 1 & 2 of our “Oldies” review.

Strong points Weak points
Satisfactory sharpness Susceptible to vignetting (a classic problem for this kind of lens)
A very bright lens  
Very little distortion  
Negligeable chromatic aberrations  
Very light (205g, just like the 28mm f/2.8D)  
Affordable (365 USD)  

Now let’s look at how our older AF-D lens compares with a real youngster (2010)

Nikkor AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D vs Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G (both mounted on a Nikon D3x)

With a DxO Mark score of 27, the 35mm f/1.4G comes out significantly ahead of its predecessor.

The advantages of Nikon 35mm f/1.4G:

  • Far superior resolution over the field at wide apertures (notably at f/2.0, f/2.8, and f/4) — which explains the difference in DxOMark scores.
  • Brighter, with a gain of 0.61EV in the center at full aperture.
  • Negligeable distortion.
  • Integrated autofocus motor (SWM, or “silent wave motor”).
  • At f/2.0, there is a total absence of vignetting over 2/3 of the field, which is truly remarkable for this kind of fixed lens.

The advantages of the Nikon 35mm f/2.0D:

  • Three times lighter!
  • About 1400 USD less expensive.
  • Negligeable distortion.
  • Better treatment of chromatic aberrations.
  • Aperture control ring.

Strictly in terms of image quality, the youthful 35mm 1.4G unquestionably takes the lead. But again, it’s important to keep the 35mm f/2.0D’s many charms in mind— i.e., it gets pretty darned good results for an older lens that is both very light-weight and low in price.

While we’re at it, here are a few other 35mm comparisons

Sony 35mm F1.4 G on a Sony A900 vs Nikon 35mm f/2.0D on a Nikon D3x:

Sony still needs to make more progress before it can justify the price difference between its lens and the Nikon 35mm f/2.0.

Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon vs Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D, both on a Nikon D3x:

For those who aren’t put off by manual focusing, the Samyang remains competitive in this lens category.

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G vs Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D, both on a Nikon D90:

Finally, here’s how the DX 35mm f/1.8G and our vintage Nikkor 35mm compare when mounted on a Nikon D90.