Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nikkor AF-D 35mm f/2

I love primes, I prefer them to zooms, as they are faster, smaller, and often with shortcomings I can live with. The Nikkor AF-D 35mm f/2 has been around for quite a while, as a fast moderate wide angle full-frame lens. I see plenty of copies of this lens being sold used, and it seems there is demand for them. But is it justified?

+ fast moderate wide angle/normal (FX/DX respectively) lens, good for low light general photography
+ small and light
+ construction quality is quite good (for the price tag)

- optical quality is excellent for DX, but FX corners could be better
- screw-type autofocus
- questionable usefulness of 35mm focal length (for FX)

Shot wide open on full frame (D700)

Details from the 100% crop of the photo above (100% crop from non-resized image).

Intended Users
Great for:
  • full-frame users who need a budget-friendly lens that is wider-than-normal and has autofocus
  • general photography, pretty decent walk-around lens for that.
  • low light

Not for:
  • DX users. The Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 is better in every possible way for DX.
  • portraits. Too short, has distortion.
  • art museums and galleries, sadly. Although the focal length and the large aperture would make it a great lens for such a thing, the fair corners and the distortion of the lens don't make it the best possible option for taking photos of highly-detailed flat surfaces

Final Verdict
A very good lens, the issues of which are more related to things outside of itself. The image quality is decent (if you don't look too much at the FX corners), it's a fast lens (although not f/1.8), but the problem is that there are better options. This lens makes absolutely no sense in DX, since the AF-S 35mm f/1.8 is cheaper and better in every way. As for FX? Well, for me at least the 35mm is a bit weird focal length for full frame. Not long enough to be normal, not wide enough to be truly wide. It's OK for many occasions - this is a good lens for a walk around the city - but realistically you'd probably find a wider or longer lens a better option for some truly inspiring captures. Dare I call this a snapshot lens? Perhaps that's what it is.

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