Friday, July 11, 2014

Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series E

Another E Series lens for today. The Nikkor 35mm f/2.5. Like all Series E lenses, it was made with budget being the primary design aim. Comparing it to the AI-S versions is inevitable (although perhaps unfair, considering the significantly lower price tag). In any case, here are my findings.

+ optically very good, especially considering the price tag. Better than the AF-D 35mm f/2 in any case.
+ very small and very light (which does have drawbacks, though; read below)
+ if you need a 35mm lens for your full frame camera and budget is an issue, this could be a perfect solution

- construction quality nothing to rave about
- small size & weight means it's a bit off-balance with a heavy, D700-type body (let alone anything bigger)
- for the same reason, the focus ring feels a bit small and not as great as with the AI-S lenses

Image quality is nothing spectacular, but it's very good - considering the price tag

Intended Users
Great for:
  • FX users on a budget looking for wider-than-normal lens
  • travelling light, obviously. This is the perfect travelling lens for a light film camera, by the way.
  • I suspect (didn't try) it'd make a good candidate for using it with a Nikon 1 camera: with a crop factor of x2.8, it'd make a great short tele, light and optically quite a good match for the small Nikon 1 sensor

Not for:
  • manual focus means it's pretty difficult to use with moving subjects
  • 35mm is a focal length I don't like in full frame: too short for normal, too long for wide
  • ultimately, it's not as good optically or ergonomically as the modern (but more expensive)
  • Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8

Final Verdict
In absolute terms, this is a quite good lens. It's very cheap, and it offers you full-frame coverage for the 35mm focal length. Whether you need that or not, that's an other story. Personally, I think the 35mm is not a great focal length - too short for normal, too long for wide. But for some people and some scenes, it might be the perfect balance. If you're a DX user, the no-brainer choice is the Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 which is one of Nikon's best lenses ever, in terms of value. For FX users, the FX version, the Nikkor 35mm AF-S f/1.8Gis what you need. If you're looking for the absolute best 35mm lens for FX, and are prepared to throw in some serious cash, take a look at the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4

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