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Thread: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

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    [Introduction & Apologies]

    First and foremost, apologies for the very very tardy review. But ever since the launch of the Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED (Feb 2010) and the later addition of the AF-S 35mm f/1.4G (Sept 2010) to their line-up of Nano Crystal Coated lenses, I have always wanted to compare the 35mm on a D700 (FX) to the 24mm on a D7000 (DX, 1.5x crop) - equivalent Field of View (FoV) to 36mm focal length.

    Leading up to that, many of us had long been anticipating and keenly awaiting the production of the update to the legendary AI-S 35mm f/1.4. For the longest time, the only available autofocus Nikon lens at the 35mm focal length was the AF 35mm f/2.0D for Full-Frame (FF), which was reecntly joint by the AF-S 35mm f/1.8G for DX - about 1/3 stop faster for the f/2.0, but a DX lens.

    Anyhow, fastforward to about May 2011 - I managed to pull the following together for a weekend of testshots: D700 (FX), D7000 (DX), AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G, AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED, AF 35mm f/2.0D, AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX, and AI-S 35mm f/1.4.


    Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX | AF 35mm f/2.0D | AI-S 35mm f/1.4 (w/filter)


    Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED (w/filter) | AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED (w/filter)
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 04:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Specifications]

    The obvious comparison would be that of the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G with it's Nano Crystal Coated cousin, the AF-S Nikkor 24mm F/1.4G ED which was announced only about 6-mths earlier. The difference in focal lengths nicely allows for a head-to-head comparison between the 24mm in a DX body (61°) to that of the 35mm on a FX body (63°).

    Physically, they are very similar (see picture in previous post), in dimension (the 35mm is 1mm longer) and weight (the 24mm is 20g heavier). The AF-S Nikkor 24mm F/1.4G ED takes the more "standard" 77mm for their high-end lenses (similar to the 17-35, 24-70, 28-70, 70-200 v1 / v2, etc), whereas the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G has a 67mm filter thread (simialr to the 18-70, 18-105, 18-135).

    One thing of note is the Extra-low Dispersion (ED) lenses on the 24mm, and not the 35mm... while in theory, the ED lens helps to eliminate Chromatic Aberration (CA), but what practical impact does it have when it's missing from the 35mm? Maybe the design of the 35mm did not require the ED lenses, but we'll try to let the picture speak for themselves later on these count.


    Specifications of the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED | AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED | AF 35mm f/2.0D | AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX | AI-S 35mm f/1.4
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 04:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [FX Comparisons of 35mm]

    AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AI-S35mm f/1.4 | AF 35mm f/2.0D | AF-S 24-70mm @ 35mm - all shot wide open, f/5.6 samples are available on flickr.
    Pictures were shot in RAW and converted in PS CS3.

    |

    |
    AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AI-S35mm f/1.4
    AF 35mm f/2.0D | AF-S 24-70mm @ 35mm


    The new 35f1.4G appears to give a much smoother finish to the background blurr (aka "bokeh") compared to the old ais35f1.4, the background appears cluttered and easier on the eyes. But the 35f1.4G is markly sharper with higher contrast on the subject, compared to it's older brother. The 24-70G arguably gives the sharpest and best contrast to the finish, but it's only available at f/2.8. As you stop down to about f/4 - f/5.6, the output from all lenses are practically indistinguishable.

    But if your purpose for your 35mm is to be shot wide-open, be it for available light or thin DoF (as thin as a 35mm can provide), the 35f1.4G gives a very nice signature to the wide-open shots with a nice smooth finish to the "bokeh", and with good contrast and sharpness in the focus plane.


    100% crops, click to see larger image
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 03:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [AF-S 35mm f/1.4G vs AF-S 24mm f/1.4G]

    D700 (FX) AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | D7000 (DX) AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED all wide open.

    |
    AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

    This is a little difficult to be conclusive on this, becuase of i) the focal lengths are different (inferring different DoF), ii) the difference in format (DX vs FX), and iii) D7000 was shot in jpeg, and D700 in raw. The difference in Depth of Field (DoF) between the 35mm and the 24mm (both at f/1.4) explain much of the subtle differences in the finish of the background.

    The colour differences between the 2 shots, which can be seen most evident in the brown box in the foreground, maybe simply due to the JPEG finish of the D7000 vs the RAW processing. Unfortunately, I did't have up-to-date software to handle the D7000 raw files, and my 1-mth trial NikonCapture had already expired).

    The FoV of the 24mm on DX (61°) is a little tigher than that of the 35mm on FX (63°), but it's a minor point. Looking at the 100% crops*, the 35f1.4G (FF) appears to have better contrast wide-open than the 24f1.4G. While possibly "contrasted" by the 35f1.4G, I would have to say that the jury is still out on this, as I didn't manage a "like-for-like" test. But on a practical note, you would also have to consider 690g of the D7000 vs 995g of the D700... my shoulder is already aching just thinking about the weight of the other FX cameras.


    100% crops*, click to see larger image
    * D7000 file was downsized from 4928x3264 to 4256x2832 to get a comparable 100% crop
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 13th September 2011 at 10:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [DX comparisons of 35mm]

    D7000 (DX) AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | D7000 (DX) AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX all wide open.

    |
    AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX

    Firstly, the 35mm (63°) focal length has an effective FoV of a 52.5mm focal length(44°), approx that of a standard 50mm.

    Now to the AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX - at about a 10th of the price of the f/1.4G version, the f/1.8G DX certainly doesn't only give a 10th of the quality of the f/1.4G - but that been said, the f/1.4G is significantly superior... and FX at add. The f/1.8G DX gives a very similar finish to that of the older AF-D 35mm f/2.0, with about 1/3 of a stop faster, and 2/3 the price. The biggest flaw of the 35f/1.8G DX is the purple fringing caused by some Chromatic Aberration (CA) when shot wide-open - this disappears once you stop down. But in terms of sharpness and contrast, the 35f/1.8G DX is excellent for the price... but limited to the DX format.

    That is not to say that the 34f/1.4G should not be used on a DX system. It is 3x heavier and 10x the price, but the overall picture quality produced by the 35f/1.4G is (far) superior to that of the 35f/1.8G DX. Similiar to the conclusion of the FX comparison, if you want something for available light or thin DoF (as thin as a 35mm can provide, with a 52.5mm FoV), the 35f1.4G gives a very nice signature to the wide-open shots with a nice smooth finish to the "bokeh", and with good contrast and sharpness in the focus plane.


    100% crops, click to see larger image
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 04:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Vignette]


    Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G | AI-S 35mm f/1.4 | AF 35mm f/2.0D | AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX | AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Summary]

    There were few surprises in the results in the review, and you get what you pay for. I personally go for the "character" than the "tact sharp" shot... for those who are familiar, it is the pre-aspherical vs the aspherical (apologies, this is from the rangefinder background). The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G provides plenty of sharpness to the focal plane, without clutter the background - the smooth and subtle background. I should qualify that I had only really tested on subjects in the centre of view and not at the sides or corners.

    On the FX system, both the 24mm and the 35mm are fine lenses to mount. Which is better, really depends on you - how do you want to shoot. The 24mm gives a very wide view, and while distortion is vey well controlled, it can be challenge to use at times, as it may require you to go too close in. Then steps in the 35mm... I have few things to say about this lens, other than I wish is was smaller, lighter, and cheaper, while maintaining the quality of the output and esae of use - having my cake and eating it.

    Vignetting from a such a fast lens is expected, and the fall-off is all gone by f/4. But many photographers like to shoot wide open with the slight light fall-off, but your milage may vary - most of my sample shots are taken wide-open.

    So... (you might already be tired of reading this para)... if your purpose for your 35mm is to be shot wide-open, be it for available light or thin DoF (as thin as a 35mm can provide), the 35f1.4G gives a very nice signature to the wide-open shots with a nice smooth finish to the "bokeh", and with good contrast and sharpness in the focus plane.

    Nikon has already updated their 24mm, 35mm, and 85mm with the new line of Nano Crystal Coated lenses, I think we can continue to look forward to more updates to their prime line-up.


    D7000, AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G - Thanks for reading the review!!
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 09:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Samples - D7000 (DX) AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G]

    Sample night shots of using the 35mm f/1.4G - Sri Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple (ஸ்ரீ மன்மத கருநேஸ்வரர் கோவில், or Sivan Temple) and the Nicoll Highway bridge.





    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 09:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Samples - D700 (FX) AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G]

    A few sample shots taken during the RSAF Open House 2011, Boeing F15 Strike Eagle and the AH Apache Longbow.









    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 09:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 09:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [Samples - D700 (FX) AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED]

    Just for good measure, here are a few samples using from the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED on FX







    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th September 2011 at 09:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    add on some shots that is took with this lens, but coupled with a D5100 instead






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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    [FX Comparisons of 35mm vs 24mm]

    AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED - both shot wide open, f/5.6 samples are available on flickr.
    Pictures were shot in RAW and converted in PS CS3.

    |

    Just to round it up, a comparison between the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G | AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED, both on FX.

    The difference in Field of View (FoV) between the 35mm (63°) and the 24mm (81°). Both samples are shot wide-open at f/1.4. While it looks like that 24mm's doesn't "blur" the background as much or as well as the 35mm, and there is some truth to that given the deeper Depth of Field (DoF) of shorter focal lengths, but consider the quality of the "bokeh" when the 24mm was shot on DX. Much of the "definition" of the background of the 24mm on FX is to do with the magnification of the view (12.5% vs 100%).

    The vignette or light fall-off on the 24mm looks a lot worst than it actually is, primarily because of the lighting on the foreground / subject. Samples for light fall-off shows it to be similar to that of the 35mm.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    You could actually go so close with this lens? (with reference to ortega's photo of the water droplets)

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    I don't have the specs but scale on mine says 0.3.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    yes closest focusing distance is 0.3m

    you can see the full specs on nikon website

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    Quote Originally Posted by tehzeh View Post
    You could actually go so close with this lens? (with reference to ortega's photo of the water droplets)
    as mentioned, min focusing distance is 30cm, and not forgetting that it's shot on a DX camera, which gives the addition "magnification" via the tighter FoV.

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    Default Re: Review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G

    Quote Originally Posted by ortega View Post
    yes closest focusing distance is 0.3m

    you can see the full specs on nikon website
    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus jACK View Post
    as mentioned, min focusing distance is 30cm, and not forgetting that it's shot on a DX camera, which gives the addition "magnification" via the tighter FoV.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    I don't have the specs but scale on mine says 0.3.
    Wow ok... that's quite close.

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    Default

    Good review. However, many of what you explained is a bit too much for me to absorb. I would like to hear from you. If I am interested to take just portrait and general shots. Would the 50 or 35 mm is the better choice?

    For general use will the f 1.4 and f 1.8 make any significant difference?

    Thank you

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bukitimah
    Good review. However, many of what you explained is a bit too much for me to absorb. I would like to hear from you. If I am interested to take just portrait and general shots. Would the 50 or 35 mm is the better choice?

    For general use will the f 1.4 and f 1.8 make any significant difference?

    Thank you
    The only way to know what you prefer is to try it yourself, nobody knows you better than 1st you need to decide on which focal length you prefer for your shots.

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