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A small Nikon 35mm f2.5 E test

Ian Rance , Feb 05, 2008; 04:44 a.m.

I purchaced the 35mm f2.5 E to try as it was a useful focal length to me, was a fairly modern design, usefully fast and also light and compact to use on my MF body. I have had my first set of results through, and am rather pleased with them. The strong points of this lens optically are: no visible vignetting, low distortion, low flare and clean colours. It is sharper closer up than at infinity, but even at infinity it is usefully sharp.

These are full-frame scans done by Snappy Snaps.

On this photo: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6914713 you can see the lack of barrel distortion, and if you click on 'larger' you can see the detail in the 'Ferguson' badge and weave (this was taken at f5.6).

On this photo: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6914755 the bark of the two oaks is cleanly rendered, and only a wiffle of corner softness is visible (this was taken at f8).

On this photo: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6914737 I focussed on the front flowers and you can still read the small writing on the plant info tab (click on 'larger' to see).

All photos taken on Kodak 400 UC rated at 320.

They are an absolute give-away at the moment, and if you see one at a good price, don't pass it by as it may surprise you with it's qualities.

Ian, UK


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Gary Watson , Feb 05, 2008; 09:52 a.m.

Most of the E series were good, some true sleepers, but all got dissed or suffered rumour damage for their alleged flimsiness or light weight. The 50mm, 100mm, and 75-150 are sweet.Buy 'em, shoot 'em, and enjoy some reverse snobbery--I do!

Phil Evans , Feb 05, 2008; 10:02 a.m.

When I first purchased a nikon, an fe way back in the film days, it came with a series E 50mm lens. I thought it felt so cheap that I almost immediately sold it and replaced it with a nikkor. Now all but the pro line of lenses are made just as cheaply so we have become used to them. I blame this on the fact that we now use autofocus and set our aperture with the body so we don't have to touch the lens anymore. However, when talking about manual focus lenses, the series E lenses still have to be touched. Regardless of how series E lenses stack up optically to their nikkor counterparts, they still feel like crap. Given how inexpensive mf nikkor lenses are today I don't really get the desire to own the flimsy plastic version. I have a 35mm f2.8 mf nikkor which I bought for $80 at a pawn shop and I probably paid to much.

Gary Watson , Feb 05, 2008; 12:10 p.m.

We're not turd polishing here, Phil. Yes, the optical quality of the E lenses is just fine to sometimes great. Even though my 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 do, unquestionably, contain plastic, their mounts are metal and the focus action is the same as their upmarket cousins.For casual, non-professional use--Nikon's design objectives--they deliver.BTW, manual focus Nikkor prices are not exactly in freefall. The E series lenses are very affordable now--Ian's point--and provide great value. He's having fun with them. That's the point.

Phil Evans , Feb 05, 2008; 02:29 p.m.

Hey Gary, I do understand your point, even before you made it. But I do get it.

However, "focus action"? You are kidding right?

Gary Watson , Feb 05, 2008; 05:11 p.m.

Mine are just fine. Probably the result of the profound emabarrassment that kept former owners from using them publicly...Seriously, the cheapo 100/2.8 I snagged for like 70 bucks is sweet: smooth focus, light, pin-sharp.Don't think about 105/2.5s anymore, either.

Phil Evans , Feb 05, 2008; 05:17 p.m.

I paid $125 for my 105 2.5 I have heard very good things about the 100. If a series E floats my way some day I will try it again.

Brian Hemmis , Feb 05, 2008; 10:10 p.m.

the 75-150 is a killer lens...wish I still had one-even though it's MF

John Williamson , Feb 05, 2008; 10:36 p.m.

"Regardless of how series E lenses stack up optically to their nikkor counterparts, they still feel like crap."

Really ? That's a rather large blanket statement. I have a 80-200mm f4.5 AI lens that is NOT an E series and a 75-150mm f3.5 E series. The big lens has zoom creap at ANY angle. The E series has none. Hold it pointing straight down and it doesn't move. Because of this, the AI lens feels way too free and the E series feels quite nice.

Maybe the E series lenses you've had in your hand were a bit beaten to crap, and therefore felt that way.

James Brodsky , Feb 05, 2008; 11:10 p.m.

"I don't really get the desire to own the flimsy plastic version."

Here's a good reason, at least for the 50mm. It's a tiny lens! Easily half the bulk of my standard non-AI-but-late-version Nikkor 50/1.4, and at least 2/3rds the bulk of my first-generation 50/1.8 AF. Yes, it is flimsy and the focus action is jerky compared to the more expensive lenses. So what?

For hiking/backpacking on a small body like an FM or an FG, the E is the perfect companion without giving up image quality. And if I damage or lose the lens, I can buy another one in great condition for less than $50.

I see no difference in images taken with my 50 1.8 E, my 50 1.4, and my 50 1.8 AF, at least at apertures f2.8 and smaller.

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