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Review by Markus Stamm, published February 2016
35 mm is a classical and fairly popular wide angle focal length, so it came a little surprising that Nikon in its continued endeavor to update its line of midrange primes targeted other, less popular focal lengths, like 28mm, first. One reason might have been that Nikon's biggest group of customers - those using a DX camera - was already pleased for many years with a dedicated 35mm DX prime.
However, with FX cameras becoming more affordable and thus more and more popular, the pressure rose to upgrade the Nikkor AF-D 35/2.0 - a lens that looked a little outdated compared to its competition and in addition didn't perform overly well in our FX review.
So, here it is, our a little overdue review of a long overdue lens: the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 G ED.
The build quality is perfectly in line with all other recently released f/1.8 Nikkor primes, which means the lens is based on a metal mount with a barrel made of high quality plastics. Due to its fairly low weight, the lens doesn't feel like a high-end premium product (which it isn't), but it's also far from feeling cheap.
The rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly.
Well, about that focus ring... some of you may already be tired of reading it, and rest assured we're tired of writing it, but still: there's a little play, not in the focus ring itself, but the coupling with the actual focus unit. When changing the focus direction, it takes a few millimeters of movement until the focus unit actually follows the focus ring. If you primarily rely on autofocus, it's not something you need to worry about. But if you sometimes appreciate or simply need the ability to carefully focus manually, this behaviour has the potential to drive you nuts.
Thanks to an IF (inner focus) design the length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. So, using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
The lens features a Silent Wave ultrasonic drive allowing for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at all times. The AF speed is quite fast.
The AF-S 35 is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Optical construction||11 elements in 8 groups, incl. 1 ED and 1 aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.25 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.2)|
|Dimensions||72 x 71.5 mm|
|Filter size||58 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-70, petal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor|