Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Review

February 14, 2011 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Optically, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G is a stunningly good lens. Sharpness is remarkably high at f/1.4, and simply excellent from f/2 onwards. Lateral chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum, and the fast lens' ability to separate the subject from the background is outstanding for a wide-angle optic. Bokeh is soft and creamy, with only a bit of longitudinal CA spoiling the effect here and there. The only major criticism that could be levelled against the lens in the optical department is a heavy dose of vignetting, particularly wide open - but that is to be expected from a fast, wide-angle lens on an FX digital body.

Mechanical quality is great for a modern lens, although not quite as good as the old, manual-focus Nikkor 35mm f/1.4. Which brings us to the question of who should buy it and why, especially given that at $1800, the new lens is some 60% more expensive than the old one (and at 600 grams, it's 50% heavier too). One of the reasons is better sharpness and contrast wide open, and the other is, obviously, auto-focus. As we have pointed out in the review, auto-focus is fast and quiet on the AF-S 35mm f/1.4G, but you may experience front- or back-focusing issues on certain camera bodies, so do yourself a favour and check focus accuracy within a day or two of receiving the lens. The kind of extreme front-focusing we have experienced is probably rare, but a slight misalignment between the lens and the AF sensors of your camera might still occur.

The lens is otherwise a great choice for users of Nikon FX digital and film SLRs, and the focal length makes sense on a DX body too (where the angle of view shrinks from 63° to 44°, which is very close to that of a “normal” prime). However, if you are a DX shooter with no plans to go full-frame any time soon, the much smaller and lighter AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is a lot more rational choice at less than 1/9th the price.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 5
Value for money 3.5