Nikon AF S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G, a new Nikon high-end wide angle lens

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lens Review
Nikon AF S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G, a new Nikon high-end wide angle lens

With the Nikon AF S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G, Nikon completes its existing 35mm prime lenses lineup with a high end wide angle lens, fitting all Nikon cameras. But, let's have a look at it in more details, as some alternatives are available at a lower price point.

Announced before Kina 2010, this new lens was eagerly awaited by photographers with Full Frame cameras who had to content themselves with the aged AF 35mm f2.0D for too long. Indeed, the cheap pretty good Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is only suited for APS-C bodies.

For this lens, Nikon uses a typical professional design with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for a quieter auto-focus and Nano-Crystal coating that Nikon uses to reduce the flare. In term of optical design, this lens is made up of 10 elements in seven groups, including one aspherical glass element.

So, this wide-angle wide-aperture lens, which fits all Nikon cameras, is a good addition, but at $1797 it's worth paying attention to its DxOMark measurements and compare it with its main competitors: the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G and Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM Nikon for APS-C, Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon.

Image Quality Measurements

The full measurement results are available for many cameras, including:

What we like

  • The DxOMark score is awesome (27 for a Nikon D3x, 25 mounted on a D3) , these scores put this lens among the best lenses tested on dxomark.com
  • The score map even indicates that this lens delivers very high quality for most apertures (from f/1.4 to f/5.6).
  • Distortion, chromatic aberration are well controlled and should not produce noticeable artifacts on your photos

What could be better

At this price level, we tend to be a bit demanding, so here are a few small improvements:

  • Resolution could be better: at its wider aperture, the resolution in the center is "only" 54 lp/mm on a Nikon D3x
  • Overall homogeneity is pretty good but at f/1.4 the resolution decreases by 30% in the corners
  • Vignetting is a bit strong at f1.4, but this was to be expected

Nikon vs Nikon on an APS-C

On APS-C cameras, the Nikon AF S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G has a very strong competitor, from Nikon itself: the ten times cheaper Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. For example, see the comparison on Nikon D7000:

Nikon AF S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G vs Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

Prime vs zoom Nikon lens

For the same price, Nikon also proposes the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, which will make you choose between excellent pictures at 35mm and versatility:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G / Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon vs Carl Zeiss

Twice cheaper, the Carl Zeiss T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon can be considered as a good alternative for photographer who are not bothered by manual focusing: the Carl Zeiss lens do not have an Autofocus.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G / Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon