The Consumer Electronics Show is taking place in Las Vegas this week, which means lots of announcements of all kinds of gadgets, including cameras and lenses. As usual, we will be picking and covering the most important announcements that are related to the photography industry. One of the biggest news today is the announcement of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G full-frame lens. Ever since the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX lens came out back in 2009 (which got wildly popular for Nikon DX cameras thanks to its excellent performance and low price), many Nikon shooters have been asking for a budget version of the lens for full-frame cameras. Although the professional Nikon 35mm f/1.4G is an excellent chunk of glass (see our in-depth review), it is too expensive for many photo enthusiasts and hobbyists. And that’s exactly the gap that the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G is designed to fill. At an MSRP price of $599, the lens is over 2.5x less expensive than its big brother. It is also twice lighter!
At the same time, the insanely sharp Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens (see our review) with its $899 price presents a challenge for the 35mm f/1.8G. Potential buyers might choose to go with the more expensive Sigma, which not only beats the 35mm f/1.8G lens in sharpness (preliminary assessment based on the MTF), but also has a faster aperture of f/1.4. Let’s take a look at the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G in more detail.
Here are some of the lens specifications:
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length: 35mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/16
- Format: FX/35mm
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 44°
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 63°
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.24x
- Lens Elements: 11
- Lens Groups: 8
- Diaphragm Blades: 7
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.82 ft. (0.25m)
- Focus Mode: Auto, Manual
- G-type: Yes
- Filter Size: 58mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Dimensions (Approx.): 2.83 in. (72 mm) x 2.81 in. (71.5 mm)
- Weight (Approx.): 10.7 oz. (305 g)
Here is the MTF Chart of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens:
A quick analysis:
At the maximum aperture of f/1.8, the lens has excellent contrast and sharpness in the center. Performance falls off from the center towards the corners, with pretty good mid-frame performance. The wavy nature of the blue line indicates presence of some field curvature, so expect mid-frame performance to drop from the center. Corners look very good as well for both contrast and sharpness. Bokeh will not be spectacular, thanks to the separation of the straight and dotted lines above, plus the presence of aspherical lens element will paint the inner side of bokeh highlights with some “onion rings”. Check out my article on reading lens MTF charts if you want to be able to analyze MTF data yourself.
Compared to Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
Let’s take a look at how the lens compares to the much more expensive f/1.4 version:
The center frame performance is definitely better than what the more expensive Nikon 35mm f/1.4G can deliver. The 35mm f/1.8G has a faster fall towards the mid-frame, so it definitely has more field curvature issues. Corners look very good, once again seems better than what the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G is capable of producing. Bokeh quality should be similar on both, perhaps slightly better on the 35mm f/1.8G. Overall, looks like we have a very similar situation as with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G and 85mm f/1.8G lenses – the 35mm f/1.8G seems like another excellent value.
Since Nikon MTF charts only show wide open performance in a simulated environment, I will have to test the 35mm f/1.8G in a lab to discover its real strengths and weaknesses at different apertures, from center to corner.
Here is the official press release:
A wide-angle 35mm fixed focal length (prime) lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 compatible with the Nikon FX format
TOKYO – Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the release of the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED, a wide-angle 35mm fixed focal length (prime) lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 compatible with Nikon FX-format digital SLR cameras.
The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED*1 is an extremely portable lens that, when used with a Nikon digital SLR camera, offers the bright viewfinder image of a fast fixed focal length lens and the beautiful blur characteristics of a shallow depth of field.
In addition, adoption of an ED lens element and an aspherical lens element, which ensure superior image quality, and optical design that controls sagittal coma flare*2 for excellent point image formation make the lens capable of maximizing the distinctive characteristics of high pixel-count digital SLR cameras with expression of the finest details.
Releasing the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED responds to a variety of needs by enriching our fast prime lens lineup covering focal lengths from wide-angle to the mid-telephoto range.
*1 When used with a Nikon DX-format digital SLR camera, the effective angle of view is equivalent to that of a lens with a 52.5mm focal length.
*2 A phenomenon with which the edges of pinpoint light sources in photos of night landscapes and the like are not rendered as point images, but appear distorted to resemble the outspread wings of a bird in flight
Nikon considers point-image formation with design of all NIKKOR lenses, utilizing its long history of striving for the ideal of rendering point images as sharp points. The AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G, which offers superior point-image rendering from maximum aperture, was another fast, fixed focal length lens developed with this same design concept and released last year. Our lineup already includes the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G, which offers similar characteristics, and we have continued this design concept with the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED.
The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED responds to the needs of users looking for a high-performance, wide-angle fixed focal length lens that can easily be taken anywhere, as well as those who want to enjoy capture of more impressive in portraits, night landscapes, photos of starry skies, and the like.
AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED Primary Features
- Optical design that considers point image formation for very little sagittal coma flare
- A new optical design utilizing ED and aspherical lens elements for superior optical performance that enables excellent resolution and contrast
- Convenient portability with good balance when mounted on camera bodies
- Smooth blur characteristics that render subjects more impressively
- A Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for fast and quiet autofocusing