Happy New Year! New year, new photographic opportunities. Let's begin 2017 with a review. Today we'll take a look at the Nikon Nikkor 35mm AF-S f/1.4 lens. As I'd mentioned here, 35mm feels a bit weird on FX for my personal preferences. But your mileage may vary. At the end of this article I'll also offer you some similar alternatives.
|Bokeh might be the best thing about this lens|
+ Optical quality is flawless, with one caveat (read below)
+ For an AF-S lens, manual focus is superb - though still not as great as in an AI-S lens
+ Sturdy, it inspires confidence in terms of construction quality...
- ... but plastic is plastic. At this price, I want my lenses to also feel sturdy
- Distortion characteristics are the only blotch on optical performance. Not excessive, but quite complex; difficult to remove
- Price and value. You pay a lot for what you get (which might or might not be important to you)
- live music, performance, etc. in dark theaters
- street photography, especially in low light
- Candid portraiture (but not head-and-shoulder portraits)
- DX. Meaningless, get the AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 instead
- Realistically, how many of you need to spend that much money on a 35mm f/1.4 lens? Check out some alternatives below
- f/1.4 requires focus discipline, even with autofocus. I don't recommend this (or any f/1.4) lens for beginners.
|This was taken inside an almost completely dark stable, and it's where the f/1.4 becomes really useful|
Like with so many other lenses I've reviewed, it all boils down to value. And that's why - I'd like to believe - AmateurNikon tries to help you reach a decision. Visit most review sites out there, they'll all agree: The Nikon Nikkor 35mm AF-S f/1.4 is a stunning piece of glass, the absolute best in its category. I don't challenge that. My issue is with its price & value, particularly because these lenses are bought by people and are used in real life. If it's someone else paying and all I had to shoot was diagrams and charts, then heck, yeah, this is the best. But real photography (and real life) is not like that.
So, let's take a snapshot-look at two alternatives:
Nikon Nikkor AI-S 35mm f/1.4
Much cheaper; good optically from f/2.8 and smaller; manual focus; rather poor wide-open
Samyang 35mm f/1.4
Much cheaper; excellent optically even wide-open; manual focus; superb ergonomics
So, bottom line:
- if money is not a problem and you just want the best there is, get the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4
- if money is to be considered and you don't mind manual focus, I'd pick the Samyang 35mm f/1.4
- if you're both budget-constrained and you want autofocus, you'll have to forego f/1.4. Look at the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, which is a great lens that won't cost you an arm and a leg