Review Nikon AF-S 35 mm f/1.8 G ED (@ FX)
Is this the perfect Nikon FX documentary lens?
Since February 2014, the Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 G AF-S has been available. We previously reviewed a Nikon 28 mm f/1.8 G, 50 mm f/1.8 G and an 85 mm f/1.8 G. This 35 mm lens probably completes the series of 1.8 G lenses with a fixed focal length that are suitable for both FX and DX. With a list price of 579 euros, this is a lighter, more compact and more attractively priced alternative for the brighter, but much more expensive Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 G AF-S. And the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35 mm f/1.8 G is in turn more expensive than the Nikon 35 mm DX 1.8 G, which is designed for cameras with a DX sensor, and with which the image on an FX camera will be cut off. How does the most recent Nikon 35 mm fixed focal length perform on a DX camera in comparison with the two Nikon 35 mm lenses that we previously reviewed?
|On a Nikon FX camera, the 35 mm f/1.8 G is a fine documentary lens and ideal for street photography and (urban) landscape photography.|
Build and auto focus
|This lens is made in China and contains primarily high-quality plastic. The mount is metal and sealed against moisture, which is not noticeable, as far as I'm concerned. Ergonomically seen, this is a fantastic lens to use on a Nikon FX camera. |
Thanks to Nikon's SWM (Silent Wave Motor), the auto focus is precise, smooth, silent and fast. Also thanks to the SWM AF motor, you also have auto focus available on the Nikon D3300 or D5300 camera. The shortest focal distance amounts to 0.25 m. For those who want to use the lens for video, there are signs of "focus breathing": the image of the Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 AF-S becomes a bit larger when you focus from infinity to close-up.
As to be expected from a lens that is designed for use on a camera with a larger FX sensor, vignetting is nothing to worry about. At full aperture, vignetting is visible, but after stopping down 1 stop, that's already completely gone. Here, too, there's no difference from the other two Nikon 35 mm lenses with a fixed focal length that we saw earlier.
If we look at the distortion in uncorrected RAW files, then the Nikon 35 mm f/1.4 G performs a bit better than the Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 G, while the Nikon 35 mm DX f/1.8 G shows more distortion. In Capture NX, DxO Optics, Lightroom or Photoshop, distortion in RAW files is simple to correct with the included lens correction profiles.
Even under extreme circumstances – think about photographing directly against the sun – we did not encounter any ghosts. The optical construction consists of 11 elements in 8 groups. In addition, one aspherical lens element and one ED glass element are applied in order to prevent chromatic aberration and for sharp, contrast-rich shots. Point light sources are therefore displayed with a minimum of chromatic aberration, and that's important for night shots.
At full aperture, you already have a sharp image in which the corners and edges lag a bit behind the center. The highest sharpness in the center will be reached at f/5. In the corners, that's f/5.6. Thereafter, the sharpness drops off slowly as a result of diffraction. In particular at f/1.8 and f/2.8, the sharpness in the corners lagged behind the rest of the image.
|We measured the sharpness of unsharpened RAW files and in-camera jpg files (standard image style) that were simultaneously saved in the camera with Imatest. The RAW files scored a bit higher for resolution than the jpg files. On the basis of the assessment of the practice shots, we have the impression that the measured values for the RAW files in this case were the best match for what we saw. |
|You have to enlarge the RAW files to 200%, as in the excerpt shown here, in order to make lateral chromatic aberration in uncorrected RAW files visible. In jpg files, you don't see any lateral chromatic aberration at all. As with most bright lenses, you can find color bokeh at full aperture: green and purple edges at sharp contrast transitions in front of and behind the focal point, but not in such measure that it's anything to worry about. |
Thanks to the large aperture of f/1.8, this lens offers exceptional control over the focal depth. In this way, you can create a clear separation between the subject and its background. As may be expected from a bright NIKKOR lens, special attention is paid with this lens to the display options: The bokeh is round and nicely soft, thanks to the rounded aperture and the especially fine gradation of the image distortion from the focal point to the background.
Conclusion Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 review with Nikon D800E
WYSIWYG score: DThis table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration) applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".