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Review by Markus Stamm, published February 2011
A 35 mm lens with an ultra large aperture - that's a combination that Nikon has ignored for quite a while. Well, to be fair, they didn't ignore it completely. Until just recently they still sold the ancient manual focus Ai-S 35/1,4. However, an AF version of such a lens had never been announced.
This has changed now with the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4 G. It's one of the new ultra fast Nikkor primes, a product line that saw a significant refresh by Nikon in 2010, which was somewhat overdue to catch up with the competition. Regarding its street price of 1800 EUR/USD at the time of this review the lens is obviously not targeted at the consumer market.
The AF-S 35/1.4 is cleary designed with the professional photographer in mind, featuring a very solid construction mostly made of metal (including magnesium alloy parts) as well as dust and weather sealing. The rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly. We're glad to report that the focus unit follows the focus ring immediately and without any delay, even when changing the focus direction.
The AF-S 35 has a rear focus group so its length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
The optical formula of the lens includes an aspherical element as well as Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat, which helps to reduce flare and ghosting in backlight conditions.
The lens features a Silent Wave ultrasonic drive allowing for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at any time. The AF speed is not overly fast and certainly slower than the high end f/2.8 professional zooms. However, for typical usage, even press work, the AF is certainly fast enough in the field.
The AF-S 35 is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Optical construction||10 elements in 7 groups including 1 aspherical element and Nano Crystal Coat|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.3 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)|
|Dimensions||83 x 89.5 mm|
|Filter size||67 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-59, petal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor, dust and weather sealing|