April 6, 2010
The Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-S is one of the few manual focus lenses without a CPU that is left in Nikon's lens line up. The 35 1.4 lenses have been in Nikon's lens lineup since 1970. One of the reasons the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 lenses are well known is that NASA used some of the earlier Nikon 35 f/1.4 lenses in space. Nikon and NASA have a long relation ship, Nikon had earlier made custom made cameras and lenses for NASA. These days they claim that NASA is using stock equipment from Nikon.
The lens features Nikon's CRC (Close Range Correction) this usually means outstanding close focus performance. First and foremost this lens is targeted at photojournalists. For Nikon DX users though this lens will be an equivalent to a 50mm normal lens. And is currently the only lens in Nikon's lens lineup that will provide DX users a f/1.4 normal prime lens
This time the lens has been tested on the Nikon D3 and Nikon D2X for "normal" shooting, and the Nikon D2H IR for the usual infrared test.
|| 9 elements in 7 groups
|Minimum focus distance:
|| 0.3m / 1 ft
||52mm Front lens cap
Rear lens cap LF-1
67.5 × 62mm / 2.7"x 2.4"
||400g / 14.6oz
|| 9 straight blades
- Build quality, good old Nikkor quality built to last a lifetime.
- DOF / IR markings. As usual with older prime lenses the lens comes with Depth Of Field markings, and an Infrared focus compensation mark.
- Contrast is pretty good wide open, at f/2 the contrast is simply stunning.
- CRC correction, close focus on this lens is outstanding.
- CA wide open, in the worst lighting situations you will most likely see some CA wide open. It is quite easy to fix this in Capture NX2 though.
- Infinity, it has some tendencies for blooming at infinity wide open, stop down to f/2 and it's minimal.
- IR performance. The Nikon 35mm f/1.4 hot-spots at f/5.6 so this takes down the infrared performance, however stunning results can be had with the lens at f/1.4 to f/4.
- No CPU, not really sure why Nikon hasn't updated the manual focus lenses with a cpu yet. That would make these old gems more useful on a Dslr.
- Coma, very very very bad at f/1.4, improves slightly stopping down to f/2, at f/4 it's not really a problem anymore.
Extreme corner of image, coma performance at f/1.4
Resized image, shows coma corner performance at f/1.4
This might very well be the ultimate semi wide angle photojournalist lens, if you are on the FX format or if you still shoot film. On the D3 the lens shows quite a bit of vignetting wide open and to f/2.8(f/4 if you want perfection) for photojournalists this is usually not a problem.
When you hit f/2 the lens really starts performing. At f/2 it's sharper then the 35mm f/2 (AF and MF) without a doubt. That goes for both center sharpness and corner sharpness. Diffraction starts at f/11 on the D3, that said acceptable sharpness is present at f/16 as well. On the D2X the results on f/16 is not quite as good as on the D3.
For DX users this lens will be equal to a normal lens: If you are expecting a 50mm f/1.4 AI-S performance for the DX format you will be disappointed with the infinity performance, but if you stop down to f/2 and more it is stellar. Other then that this is the closest you will get to the good old Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses on the DX format.
This lens is targeted at photojournalists and I rated it accordingly. Compared to the manual focus 35mm f/2 AI or the auto focus 35mm f/2D, the 35mm f/1.4 reviewed here outperforms the f/2 versions at all apertures. The f/1.4 is sharper and corners are more defined. You might see some purple fringing even at f/2, but this is a one click fix in Nikon Capture NX2 so I did not take down the performance of the lens for this.
Nikon 35mm f /1.4 Price: $999.95 USD
Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days(including the lenses used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.
Zeiss MF 35mm f/2 ZF Distagon T* Price: $826.00 USD
Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D ED-IF From: $569.95 USD
Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF From: $1,599.95 USD
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Price From: $194.95 USD
Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Price: $439.00 USD
*Prices and rebates are subject to change. Listed price is from April 6, 2010
Images have been imported to photoshop CS4 through Capture NX 2 thus leaving the original image settings as shot, I. E white balance, sharpening, etc .etc. As usually the sample images have not been post processed beyond the in camera settings. Full resolution sample images are in RGB color mode. Check out my copyright page for information about usage of these images.