Friday, May 10, 2013

Nikon AF 35-80mm f/4-5.6D

Much like the Nikkor AF 35-70mm, this is a very cheap, very basic, very modest autofocus (screw-type) lens, that often comes bundled with film cameras - but sometimes digital ones, too. I got one myself for this very purpose, to possibly bundle it with a camera I'm trying to sell.

+ a very cheap lens - I bought mine (used of course) for $40.
+ stopped down, it's quite sharp actually.
+ although not a true macro, its close-focus performance is very good.

- very modest focal length range...
- ...and definitely not wide enough for DX
- although it's sharp, wide-open it suffers from aberrations

Closed down a stop, it's reasonably sharp

As you can perhaps notice, aberrations can be produced if pushed enough.

Intended Users
Great for:
  • bundling a camera with, to increase selling value
  • Full frame range isn't great, but it's usable
  • the center is quite good, so I suspect (although I admit I haven't tried it), that it would work reasonably well on a mirrorless (2x crop) camera - although remember, it'd be manual focus.

Not for:
  • a "proper" (i.e. main) midrange zoom lens for DX. Simply not wide enough.
  • for $10-$20 more, the Nikkor AF 28-80mm is a bit better and more useful (being wider and bit faster).
  • apart from experimenting with it for a while, I don't see why someone would like to really use this lens for longer term.

Final Verdict
Cheap, small & light, and does the job stopped-down. Is it a lousy lens? No, I can't really say that. I think you get at least as much as you pay for - probably a bit more, too. But with so, so many options around, there are many other lenses that make more sense.The biggest issue with midrange zooms are a) optical quality, and b) scope. With regards to a), this is definitely (let's be serious!) not a pro caliber zoom. Then again, it costs about 5% of a true pro zoom. As for b), the biggest issue I have with midrange zooms is that there are so many great 50mm f/1.4-1.8 lenses out there, that most pros and advanced amateurs (but by no means all) would probably give up the focal length flexibility for a better, smaller, and much faster lens.

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