Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 G (CX) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon CX

Review by Markus Stamm, published March 2013

Introduction

Until Nikon comes up with a native lens (like the 35mm f/1.2 Nano), the easiest way to get something close to a fast portait lens on a Nikon 1 camera is to adapt an existing F-mount lens. This is possible with the FT-1 adapter, which comes with a few limitations, though (AF-S lenses required for AF functionality, AF limited to central AF field and no servo mode).

Because of the small CX format and the influence this small sensor size has on depth of field in the final image, the fastest lens available would of course be the preferred choice. In the 35mm focal range, there is an obvious candidate: the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4. Unfortunately that lens is quite expensive and probably beyond the budget of most CX shooters.

There is a slightly slower, but also much more affordable alternative: the Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8.

So, let's have a look at how this lens performs on our current CX test camera, the Nikon V1.

The build quality of the lens is very decent thanks to an outer barrel made out of high quality plastics. The lens looks and feels like a little brother to the Nikkor AF-S 50, except the 35 does not feature a distance scale.

The rubberized focus ring is slightly damped and operates reasonably smooth. However there's a little play when changing the focus direction in manual focus mode. It's minimal, but can be a little disturbing during fine tuning (for example in magnified Live View mode). In this mode, the tested lens also showed a slight shift of the whole image when the focus direction was changed, not by much, though. The effect is invisible in the viewfinder, but easily noticeable in maximum magnification in Live View.

The physical length of the lens remains constant at all focus settings (rear focus group).

The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible. The filter thread has a diameter of 52 mm which is in line with most other short Nikkor primes. A dedicated (but rather short) hood with bayonet mount is part of the package, as well as a pouch to store and protect the lens.

Thanks to an AF-S drive the lens is compatible with the FT-1 adapter and features AF functionality on the Nikon 1 cameras (limited to the center AF field, though, but as already mentioned that's a limitation of the adapter and/or camera, not the lens). In addition, the Silent Wave ultrasonic drive allows for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at all times. The AF speed is ok, but not blazingly fast..

Specifications
Equiv. focal length95 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction8 elements in 6 groups (with one aspherical lens)
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.3 m (max. magnification ratio 1:6.1)
Dimensions70 mm x 52.5 mm
Weight200 g
Filter size52 mm (non-rotating)
HoodNikon HB-46, barrel shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresLens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor




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