Nikon 35mm f/1.4G Testing

The Nikon 35mm f/1.4G has been tough to obtain due to high demand and low supply – I finally got my hands on one today! I was hoping for an ultimate 35mm f/1.4 lens comparison, but the darn Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 is not available yet, so I had to resort to Zeiss f/2 instead:

Nikon 35mm Testing

What am I missing here besides the Zeiss f/1.4? I can only think of Tokina f/2.8, but then it would be the slowest lens of the bunch, plus it is a DX/macro lens. The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX is also not in the picture, but will probably be included in the tests, if I perform some tests on a DX body.

Lenses in the above picture (from left to right):

  1. Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
  2. Nikon 35mm f/2.0D AF
  3. Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AIS
  4. Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2.0 ZF.2

My next few weeks are going to be very interesting and busy! ;-)


Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Marian

    Probably you can add 35/1.8 and compare for DX format. Probably, 35/1.8 won’t be worse than 35/1.4.

    • 2
      ) Nino Cinco

      35 1.8 is great lens! cheap and great image quality comparable to 35 1.4G. I’ve heard that it works great in full frame too but with vignetting :-/

      • 3
        ) Marian

        That’s why my proposal is to test (compare) it on DX.

  2. 4
    ) Peter

    Nasim, you took the challenge! A Nikkor-Zeiss battle. Courage my good man!

    I think it’s a good idea that you compare the Nikkor with the Zeiss f/2 because all of the Zeiss owners I know tout the f/2 as the best lens ever made.

    The ultimate question should be about value: the ratio between lens quality and cost.

  3. 5
    ) Tobi
  4. 6
    ) Paul

    Hi Nasim,

    I was actually wondering if you might compare the 16-35mm f/4 at 35mm vs the new 35mm 1.4G. I’m actually trying to decided between the two lenses to pair with my 85mm 1.4G on a D700. I’d be curious to find out the difference between the two lenses.

  5. 7
    ) Peter

    Marion, Tobi, Paul…PLEASE STOP asking Nasim to do infinite comparisons between the Nikkor 35, the Zeiss 35, and myriad other lenses and combinations. I asked Nasim for a Nikkor/Zeiss comparison weeks ago, and he finally took the challenge. This is a major league comparison and all other comparisons are minor league stuff. Let him do job #1. You can extrapolate from his analysis and decide on your issue.

    If you ask for additional comparisons, and he accepts, it will never end and we’ll see the results in 2012.
    And you know what’s going to happen to all of us in 2012!

    • 8
      ) Hans

      Well, I’m glad that the author of the blog found a spokesman in you…

      The lenses that are on the table now, are all slower than the Nikon, and apart from that, well known and tested dozens of times.
      The Nikkor 2/35 lacks pretty much everything wide open, the Nikkor AI-S 1.4/35 is very good from f/2 onwards and finally the Zeiss 2/35, very sharp, even wide open, even in the corners, better color rendition than any of the Nikkors, but lacks 1.4 and AF. In most of the pictures the bokeh from the Zeiss 2/35 and the Nikkor 1.4/35 will be pleasing, but with both lenses you’ll find focusing distances that create some disturbances in the background and foreground…

      My suggestion is to wait for the Zeiss AND the Samyang 1.4/35 for a comparing review (THIS would be major league, btw), and make a AF-S 1.4/35 only review right now.

      Oh, hello and a good afternoon to you too, Mr. Peter

    • 9
      ) Tobi

      Hello?

      Well, all the people that decided to buy a Zeiss, very much know why they did, and would rater consider the Zeiss 1.4/35 than the Nikkor, so no major league here… As Hans wrote the Zeiss lenses do have a nicer color rendition, but even more importantly they have all the VERY same. So if you once started to buy into the Zeiss lens selection, it makes sense to stick with it.

      Ha, hello and good afternoon from me too, Mr. Peter
      Oh and before I forget, I like your avatar, Mr. Peter, kind of fits ;)

      • 11
        ) Peter

        The facts will tell all.

        I await Nasim’s Nikkor/Zeiss faceoff; all else is dribble.

        As far as Samyang is concerned, Tobi and Hans:
        ” Samyang Optics has devoted enormous effort to develop a more reliable and error-free security system. To meet the demands of advanced security systems, Samyang Optics has built a manufacturing system based on innovative, high performing, and high quality CCTV lenses.”

        Wow! Avatar knows all!

        Need I say more?

        • 12
          ) Tobi

          Have you ever used one of the Samyang lenses? My guess is, no. But you’d be pleasantly surprised about their performance, especially about the performance/price ratio. And in this regard I think that this lens would fit very well into the comparison of the Zeiss and Nikkor 1.4/35. Same basic specification (in contrast to your major league comparison) but at a fraction of the price.

          And yes, 35mm lenses is not Samyangs only product line? So what? In the world of Zeiss, the 35mm lenses are a very small fraction of the whole picture as well…

          • 13
            ) Peter

            Give me a break! The Samyang 70-210 sells at Adorama for $84.95 and their 500 sells for $149.
            No wonder I never heard of this lens co.

            Also, see below writeup on their 35mm:
            “The news arrives hard on the heels of the announcements of the Nikon
            and Carl Zeiss designs. Like the Carl Zeiss optic, the Samyang is a
            manual focus lens, whereas the new Nikkor is AF. However, the Samyang
            lacks the on-lens CPU that allows the Zeiss to access metering and
            auto modes when it is used with Nikon’s early and consumer DSLRs.”

            Manual focus! No on-lens CPU! Come on.

            As I said a while ago – minor league stuff!

            On with the Nikon/Zeiss competition.

            • 14
              ) Tobi

              You might want to start here:

              http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/532-samyang14f28eosff?start=1

              Then think about, which other company gives you 14mm on FX, and what you pay for it, and how sharp it is, sure, the Nikkor 14-24 is excellent, but again, it comes at it’s price…

              The newer Samyang lenses do have a CPU. Oh, and did you know, it’s not so long ago that Zeiss added a chip to their Nikon lineup, an I don’t want to destroy any castles in the air here, but Zeiss lenses for Nikon are MF only as well… ;)

          • 15
            ) Peter

            I will give you this: Samyang does have a place in the camera lens world. I did read the Photozone review and you even have to admit, that barrel distortion is fairly severe.
            That says something to me about their R&D.
            There are a lot of good lenses out there and many times too much is made of it. But, at my age, I buy the best I can afford…within limits. How good a lens does one need? Is Zeiss really worth the money for a non-professionals? No, not unless you have the need to tell your friends that you “shoot with Zeiss lenses.” That’s why I’m curious about Nasim’s review. He does a good job and is very practical, too.

            • 16
              ) Tobi

              Well, about the barrel distortion, Nikons 2.8/14-24 and Canons 2.8/14 aren’t exactly stellar performer here either. Does this say something about their R&D as well? Most of the Zeiss wide angle also have too much distortion to be usable for architecture purposes, out of cam.

              But I wouldn’t worry too much about distortions nowadays. There’s this mighty little tool around for quite a while http://epaperpress.com/ptlens/ standalone and as Photoshop plugin, for really next to nothing, and it corrects distortions really very well.
              Also Adobe has in the meantime, I think since Camera Raw3.0, a build in lens corrections, that corrects among others also distortions.

              And finally, the only reason I brought up the Samyang is because I read this in the post “What am I missing here besides the Zeiss f/1.4? I can only think of Tokina f/2.8…” and I believe that the Samyang is a better fit for a comparison than any of the other lenses.

          • 17
            ) Peter

            PTLens, which I use too, only lists 1 (one) Samyang lens – the 14mm. Scroll down PTlens listing of lenses covered by their program and ask yourself why there is only 1 Samyang listed (two if you count a newer version of the 14mm). Also, take a look at the review below of the Samyang 14mm, especially after the word “but”. That’s where the rubber meets the road!

            Based on all this, I believe Samyang would be a waste of time to cover in Nasim’s review. It is NOT a popular lens, based on all I read on the Internet. I would rather see him review a Sigma!

            —————————————————–
            REVIEW:
            I would like to stress that the distortion (even very complicated) can be easily corrected using different graphic programs. There’s just one “but” – such a huge barrel distortion moves a significant portion of the image outside the frame – these fragments simply won’t be registered. The distortion correction can make the lines straight again but it won’t be able to reconstruct a non-registered image. If you want a frame without any empty spaces you must crop it and, by doing so, limit the field of view of our ultra wide-angle lens. However, you buy such lenses exactly in order to get the widest field of view…

            • 20
              ) Tobi
            • 21
              ) Peter

              The “but distortion” issue is there in the photozone review…3rd oprder distrortion.

              If you want a frame without any empty spaces you must crop it and, by doing so, limit the field of view of our ultra wide-angle lens. However, you buy such lenses exactly in order to get the widest field of view…

            • 22
              ) Tobi

              and again… distortions shouldn’t really be anything to worry about, if you know a tiny tiny little bit about post production…

              Dude, just admit that the lens is far better than you thought it would be and that it’s quite worthy to be tested against the Nikon and Zeiss…

            • 23
              ) Peter

              Let me try to explain for the last time. I have done all my own postprossing for the last 20 years, and know what it means to get distortion on a wideangle lens. Once you correct the distortion you have to crop it to rid the empty spaces. The question then arises: If I have to do all this cropping on a cheap 35mm lens, I might as well shoot with a Nikkor 50mm lens and not have to crop to get the same size photo.

              So, Dude, that’s why I buy Nikkor lenses not third party stuff. If lens comparisons are going to be made, I would rather see Nikkor v. Zeiss, as Nasim has done.

              By the way, the word “Dude” started in the ’60s by the Hippies. It’s very outdated and does not fit my age bracket.

            • 24
              ) Tobi

              You are so funny.
              “Buddy”, you might want to have a look at the distortions of the Nikon. The distortions will also force you to crop the picture later… So you really don’t have a point here. Sorry.
              Or look at the distortions of Zeiss Distagon 2.8/21, very pronounced distortions, very difficult to correct manually.
              Distortions are just a piece of almost every wider angle lens, but luckily it’s not a problem to deal with it, nowadays.

              Oh and if you seriously want to substitute a 35mm lens with a 50mm lens because you’re afraid of what you loose in order to get rid of the distortions, you a.) can’t have understood a thing about perspective and b.) not have corrected a single picture, because you’d actually know how little you loose by a correction. A good photographer knows his gear, knows its weaknesses and deals with it. In this case, just frame your picture not too tight… And really having sensors with 20+ mp, resolution can’t be the problem.

              But let’s assume that you do use the 50mm instead, you will have to crop your picture again, because Nikons 50mm lenses have a good amount of distortions as well. But you probably just use than a 85mm…

            • 25
              ) Tobi

              FYI:

              http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/News/DxOMark-news/Carl-Zeiss-Distagon-T-35mm-f-1.4-ZF2-a-premium-Zeiss-wide-angle-lens-to-the-test

              “…on a Nikon D3x (Full frame), the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is better than the Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF2 in almost all measures, for a price…”

            • Tobi, that’s a very interesting observation on behalf of DxO. Going forward, I have already decided to include the Samyang/Rokinon in my tests. Looks like the glass is cheap, but performs very well against the well-known brands.

  6. 10
    ) Del-Uks

    My two cents : Despite some vignetting issues, the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX is also a great lens for FX cameras !

  7. 18
    ) Alex

    Hello Nasim,

    Are you planning to do a review of lens Nikkor AF 135 mm f2, 0 DC ?
    It will be very interesting to read your opinion about this lens.

    Thank you.

  8. 19
    ) Peter

    Putting lens sharpness in perspective, Ansel Adams has something to say:

    “Any good modern lens is corrected for maximum definition at the larger stops. Using a small stop only increases depth…” Ansel Adams, June 3, 1937, in a reply to Edward Weston asking for lens suggestions, page 244 of Ansel’s autobiography. Ansel made fantastically sharp images seventy years ago without wasting time worrying about how sharp his lenses were. With seventy years of improvement we’re far better off concentrating on making stunning photos than photographing test charts.

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