15. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S vs Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED
How does the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S compare to its Nikon F brother? Let’s take a look at the Imatest results from both lenses:
While both lenses are very similar in center performance at large apertures, once the lenses are stopped down to f/2.8, the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S takes off to a whole new level we have previously not seen on both Z mount and F mount lenses. It is clear that the Z 35mm f/1.8 S is designed to take advantage of a high-resolution 45 MP sensor, whereas the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED is somewhat limited in comparison. Still, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G performs admirably once stopped down to f/4, which is its sweet spot. The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S, on the other hand, shines at very aperture from f/2.8 onwards, which is very impressive. Note how much better its mid-frame and corner performance is in comparison at f/5.6.
16. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S vs Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
What about the older Nikon 35mm f/1.4G? Let’s see how it did in comparison:
The older design of the 35mm f/1.4G really shows its weakness here. Its performance at f/1.4 and even f/1.8 is noticeably worse and its resolving power is even poorer than that of the 35mm f/1.8G ED, even when stopped down to f/4. Nikon should update the 35mm f/1.4G with a newer optical design that will be able to take advantage of high-resolution sensors. For example, the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E is an absolutely breathtaking lens in terms of its sharpness on Nikon DSLRs, so we know that lenses with modern optics do far better with high-resolution sensors compared to their film and early digital counterparts.
17. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S vs Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
Lastly, let’s take a look at how the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S compares to the highly-praised Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art:
While the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is a phenomenal lens, the Z 35mm f/1.8 S clearly shows superior overall performance at every aperture. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is about the same in sharpness at f/1.8 and f/2, but once stopped down to f/2.8, the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S takes off to the point where the Sigma cannot catch up at any aperture. The difference is sharpness is not only visible in the center, but also in the extreme corners, where the Z 35mm f/1.8S demonstrates visibly better results.
Overall, based on the above charts, it is very clear that Nikon’s new optical design of the Z mount is leaving its F mount counterparts in the dust. The difference is very clear in both our lab and field tests, with the Z mount lenses showing much better sharpness and contrast in comparison. We have seen a similar pattern with other Nikon Z mount lenses. For example, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is currently the best 24-70mm lens on the market by our estimates.