Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
The 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor is a small, fairly fast, light-weight moderate
wide-angle lens. It is a viable alternative to the standard 50mm lens,
offering a slightly wider view and allowing handheld photography at
a longer shutter speed.
You might complain that the 35/2 is boring (and say the same about
a 50mm). It lacks the dramatic wide-angle coverage of lenses like the
AF 24/2.8 and it does not have the
"automatic clutter removal feature" of a telephoto lens,
such as the AF 80-200/2.8 zoom. While that
may be true, I think it simply takes a good photographer to effectively
use any lens, boring 35s and 50s included.
Pick up a copy of John Shaw's Landscape Photography
and browse through it. You will notice that your landscape photography
skills need quite a bit of practice and that John Shaw uses a wide variety
of lenses for his photos. There is an impressive Turret arch at 20 mm,
a great capture of a single juniper tree against red sandstone with
a 105 mm lens, but also a very rich autumn scene with a Nikon 35 mm lens.
I agree with his statement that "there is no single correct lens
for landscape photography."
Before I bought my 35/2 lens, I considered some alternatives. I put my
thoughts into writing in a
short article on my
personal website. It may be an interesting read if you consider buying
a 35 or 50 mm lens yourself.
6 elements in 5 groups
Minimum Focus Distance
25 cm / 9.8 inch
Maximum Reproduction Ratio
1 : 4.2
Dimensions (diameter x length)
64.5 x 43.5 mm / 2.5 x 1.7 inch
205 gram / 7.2 oz
Note that on Nikon D1, D1X, D1H and D100 digital SLR cameras, the view
is cropped to an effective 53 mm. On these cameras, this lens could be
regarded as the new standard lens.
Most Nikon wide-angle lenses are equipped with CRC (Close-range Correction),
which should improve optical quality when focussed at short distances.
The Nikon lenses brochure (Dutch 2000 edition) specifically mentions
CRC for the AF 20/2.8D, AF 24/2.8D, AF 28/1.4D but not for the AF 28/2.8D
and the AF 35/2D.
I had not tried this lens in a photo shop before buying it and
when it finally arrived, I was pleasently surprised. As expected,
the lens is light and small. It looks a bit cheap with an all-plastic
exterior except for the metal lens mount, but in this case, looks
are certainly deceiving! After mounting the lens on my F100, I noticed
how bright the viewfinder is with a fast lens. This is indeed much
better than with slower zooms; my AF 70-210/4-5.6 seems horribly dark
Autofocus (tested with modern cameras such as the F100 and D1H) is
very fast and accurate: the picture snaps into focus. Manual focussing
is the best I have yet experienced on an AF lens, safe perhaps the
AF-S zooms which are also much more expensive. The aperture ring
has clearly defined stops and feels very solid.
Currently, I mostly use my two AF-S zooms, the 17-35/2.8 and
the 80-200/2.8: they are versatile and offer very high quality
optics. They are also very big and heavy. Every once in a while,
I remove the MB-15 grip from my F100, mount the 35/2 and load
an ISO 400 print film. The result is a wonderfully light and
still very usuable package. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
The 35/2 combines very nicely with the 24/2.8 and 105/2.8 Micro-Nikkor
lenses into a relatively affordable and useful Nikon setup, very
much comparable to the 24, 50 and 105 system I suggest in my
105/2.8 Micro-Nikkor review.
There are numerous reports on the Web regarding sticky aperture blades
on this lens, necessitating a fairly expensive repair. I have owned
my 35/2 for almost two years now and everything is fine. Maybe Nikon
has fixed this problem, maybe I am just lucky -- I'm not sure.
There is not a whole lot to be said about the image quality of
this lens. I find it perfectly acceptable throughout its range
of apertures. This lens produces excellent, sharp images.
I only noticed a bit of flare under some extreme conditions and
there seems to be a slight tendency to barrel distortion.
Other than that, I am very happy with this lens.
the AF 35/2 scores a 4.07 ("very good"), better than Canon's EF 35/2 (3.5 or "good")
or Minolta's AF 35/2 (3.45 or "good"). Most notably is the fact that the Nikon AF 35/2
is beaten by the cheap Nikon AF 50/1.8, which is given a 4.19 ("very good") score.
The MTF grade for this lens on
is a 3.9, the same grade the Canon EF 35/2 receives and only marginally worse
than Minolta's AF 35/2 lens, which scores a 4. The Nikon AF 50/1.8, Canon EF 50/1.4
and Minolta AF 50/1.4 receive top marks in this test: 4.4.
If you are interested in this lens, you should probably consider
the following lenses as well:
Obviously, this is not an autofocus lens, but it is faster,
has Nikon's CRC feature and looks like a more solid (metal
barrel) lens. If you do not need autofocus and have a camera
that can still meter with a non-CPU lens, this is Nikon's
best 35 option.
Very cheap and even lighter than the 35/2. If you want a 50, or
in fact any prime lens, this is Nikon's best deal.
Reportedly, the 50/1.4 is mechanically nicer than the 50/1.8 and probably
equal to the 35/2. It also adds a full stop of speed. It is much more
expensive than the 50/1.8 lens, but a bit cheaper than the 35/2.
If you want a 50, this is most likely Nikon's nicest.
If you feel like spending a lot of money, carrying much more weight and
losing a stop of light, perhaps the 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF
AF-S Zoom-Nikkor is more appealing.
You will gain much in versatility with the lens.
Sadly, Nikon does not make an AF-S 35/1.4 lens.
Where to Buy
This lens is sold by Adorama, both as gray import
and with Nikon USA warranty. It is also
stocked by B&H. Please use the preceding link
and enter the product code NI352DAF in the "Search" box.
Adorama and B&H are retailers that pay photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep
this site in operation.
Small, light, well built and great optical quality. If you like the picture
angle of a 35mm lens, the AF 35/2D is a very good choice. Keep in mind that
the AF 50/1.8D has a much better price/performance ratio and that various
zooms offer greater flexibility.