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Review Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor (N APS-C)

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We previously reviewed the Nikon 35 mm 1.8 on a camera with a DX sensor (Nikon D3200). This cheap Nikon lens put up a very good performance. We also previously reviewed the brighter Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G on a camera with a full frame sensor (Nikon D800E). This this expensive lens – not unexpectedly – also put up a really good performance on a camera with a full frame sensor.
Out of curiosity, we've now tested the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G with a Nikon D7100. Will a good, expensive lens (Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G) on a very good camera (Nikon D7100) succeed in beating a cheap lens (Nikon 35 mm 1.8) on a cheaper camera with the same number of megapixels (Nikon D3200)?

 

Nikon-35-mm-review-product1

 

Nikon-35-mm-14-review-apsc-sample
Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor, f/1.4
Nikon-35-mm-14-review-apsc-sample-image
OOF (out of focus) detail
A 35 mm lens on a camera with a DX sensor offers a field of view that pretty much matches the field of view of a 50 mm on a camera with an FX sensor. You could see the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G as a very bright standard lens for a Nikon with a DX sensor, like our Nikon D7100 test camera. A major advantage of a large aperture is that not only can you can shoot well in the dark without getting blurred pictures, but that you also get a very nice background blur.

Construction and auto focus

 
The Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G is very well built. This is a lens that in terms of construction will meet the toughest demands of a professional photographer. The exterior is made of high quality plastic, probably to save weight. This is a lens with no frills. There's just one switch on the lens, with which you can choose between AF and manual focusing.
The drive of the internal autofocus drive works fast and quiet in combination with the Nikon D7100. Also in low light, focusing is good, thanks to the high brightness of this len. The Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G has no built-in image stabilization. With VR this would have been a total dream lens. But the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G would be even bigger, heavier and more expensive than it already is.
Specifications
Nikon 35 mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:10/7
length x diameter:90 / 83
filter size:67
Weight:600
Lens hood:+

Vignetting

 
At aperture 1.4 there is somewhat visible vignetting of just over half a stop, which is pretty much gone after the stopping down 1 stop. From aperture 2, vignetting is negligible. Quite an achievement for such a bright lens. This was also to be expected, because this lens is designed for use in combination with a camera with an FX sensor. Nikon-35-review-vignetting

Distortion

 
The distortion of Nikon D7000 jpg files from the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G was low, but not as low as in the test of the same lens on a Nikon D800E. This is explained by the in-camera distortion correction applied to the Nikon D800E files. In terms of distortion, the Nikon 40 mm f/2.8 G macro lens is even better than the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G. As most will know by now, the distortion in RAW files is very easy to correct with lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom. Nikon-35-review-distortion
bokeh

Bokeh

The Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G on a camera with a full frame sensor delivered a very nice bokeh, as it appeared during our test of the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G on a Nikon D800E. In terms of depth of field – an important, but certainly not the only parameter contributing to the bokeh –a 35 mm f/1.4 on a camera with an APS-C sensor matches a 24 mm f/2 on a camera with a full frame sensor.
In this test, the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G at maximum aperture on the Nikon D7100, a camera with an APS-C sensor, shows a nice bokeh. The practice shot above, or a detail from the studio picture of our standard bokeh test setup on the right, make that clear. In terms of bokeh the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G beats both the Nikon 35 mm 1.8 G and the Micro Nikkor 40 mm f/2.8.
Nikon-35-review-apsc-bokeh

Flare

 
The Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G in practice, thanks to Nikon's nano-crystal coating, has no flare. Only when making night shots with the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G did we encounter ghosts when a light source shone directly into the lens. Under such extreme conditions, almost all lenses suffer from flare and/or ghosts. You will also have such effects if the sun is shining brightly and you are shooting straight into the sun. During our test, the sun wasn't shining enough to try to show that. Nikon-35-review-apsc-flare

Resolution

In terms of resolution, the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G surpasses both the Nikon 35 mm 1.8 G and the Nikon 40 mm 2.8 macro. Though the differences are small, the image quality of all three lenses is high.
The high center sharpness of the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G – and this starts at full aperture – is the first thing you notice. If you step down a little, the center sharpness increases, although the differences in the range between f/2 and f/11 are very small. The center sharpness in that range is good throughout. The sharpness at the edges and in the corners lags behind the center sharpness at maximum aperture and is optimal from f/4.

Nikon-35-review-resolution

Chromatic aberration

Lateral chromatic aberration of jpg files created with the Nikon D7100 and the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G is so low that at very high magnifications you won't see it. Even in a 100% outcropping of an image, the corners show no visible chromatic aberration.
Like many other bright lenses, this lens below aperture 2 shows visible longitudinal chromatic aberration, which is sometimes also called color bokeh. Sharp contrast transitions that behind the focus plane are purple and sharp contrast transitions in front of the focus plane are green. Below you can see two examples of longitudinal chromatic aberration from the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 G at aperture 1.4. To be fair, we need to mention that this is the most extreme example that we encountered. In our standard test for color bokeh (right), it is far less visible.
Colorbokeh

kleurbokeh-groen

kleurbokeh-paars

Conclusion Nikon 35mm f/1.4G review @ Nikon D7100

 

Nikon-35-mm-review-product1

See our list of tested lenses or the lenses with a Nikon mount tested by us to compare the performance of this lens to other lenses.
ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
35
53
7.3
6.7
8.7
8.4
8.3
6
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.

35
53
8.0
7.7
8.9
9.1
8.5
6

Pros

  • High brightness
  • Low distortion and chromatic aberration
  • Nice bokeh
  • Very nicely finished

Cons

 

  • Weight
  • Price
  • Longitudinal chromatic aberration

 

We didn't conduct this test because we seriously expected that many owners of a Nikon camera with a DX sensor would objectively consider buying this relatively expensive lens. The choice for the cheaper Nikon 35 mm 1.8 is probably more obvious if you only have a camera with a DX sensor, like the Nikon D3200, D5200 or D7100 have. The level of quality of all three Nikon lenses mentioned with a fixed focal length of ~35 mm is so high, and the differences in image quality are so small, that you really won't regret buying a cheap lens. That might be different if you're thinking of buying a camera with a full frame sensor, or if only the very highest quality is good enough for you. Because if you look at the build quality, the (center) sharpness and bokeh, then the Nikon 35 mm 1.4 (G) beats the two other previously tested Nikon lenses with a similar focal length.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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