Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f1.8G Review

August 27, 2009 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f1.8G is a good, fast yet inexpensive 'normal prime' for Nikon DX cameras. Its angle of view is some 2-3 degrees tighter than that of a common 50mm lens mounted to an FX or film body, but that is not a major deviation, and those who liked to use a 'nifty-fifty' on their film cameras will find the new Nikkor to behave very similarly on a DX type DSLR.

The 35mm f1.8G is somewhat under-featured, as it lacks some of the most basic things like a distance scale and DOF marks, which is a pity because the compact, fast lens mated to a small and discreet body like the new Nikon D5000 is otherwise a dream come true for street photographers. Of probably less importance is the omission of weather sealing and Vibration Reduction (VR), the latter of which is arguably not a must have with a fast, short prime like this.

One feature that the Nikon 35mm f1.8G does sport is a Silent Wave Motor, which provides for near-silent auto-focusing, even on cameras that do not have a body-integral focus motor. We have found it to be fast to acquire focus too, as long as you used the camera as a 'normal' SLR, i.e. without Live View engaged. The solution employed also makes it possible to manually override the auto-focus at any time, without having to switch the focus mode selector to the M position.

While the build quality cannot match that of the older 50mm 'normal primes', which Nikon developed for their film SLRs, the lens is quite a performer in the optical department. Except for the extremes of the f-stop range, the lens is commendably sharp across the frame, with sharpness peaking at f/4 and f/5.6. As long as the lens is mounted on a DX body, for which it was designed, there is no vignetting and no field-relevant light fall-off to speak of. Chromatic aberrations are noticeable, especially if you shoot raw, but they are usually within acceptable limits. With maximum magnification being just 0.16x, the lens is certainly not the best choice for macro work, though taking close-ups of bigger flowers, for example, is certainly possible with it.

Overall, Nikon's 35mm f1.8G is a sharp, fast and compact 'normal' lens that is also highly affordable, therefore it easily earns our 'Highly Recommended' rating.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 4
Value for money 5