Quick and dirty test - Nikon AFS 35mm/f1.4 vs AFD35mm/f2


nightwolf75

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Dec 18, 2003
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#1
*disclaimer* This is not a scientific test. This is not a scientific test. This is not a scientific test. *disclaimer*

just got hold of my own copy of the new AFS 35mm/f1.4... yes, my own. not a loan copy from nikon SG. so those who want to claim bias, you can go stand one corner now...

i have always been partial towards 35mm lenses cos i love the view of the 35 - not too wide, not too tele. some claim it is wat the human eye POV is... frankly, i have no idea wat is the eye's POV.

my old AFD35/f2 lens has been faithfully serving as my baby lens for the last 3-4 yrs - i will say 90% of my 2 elder kids' photos were taken by this lens. it is one of my better low-light lenses in the cabinet that screams to be used at F2 and nothing else. do i wish for f1.8 or lower? of course. but, f2 is a pretty good compromise as i am not too fond of the 50mm lenses (i had both and sold them to get the 35mm).

so, when the AFS35mm/1.4 was announced, i was debating whether to get this lens or a medium format camera. in the end, the 35mm won. now, the bigger question is whether is it worth the upgrade? after all, the old AFD 35/2 costs ard $490 when i first bought it. the AFS 35/1.4 easily costs ard $2.2. give or take, it is 4 times the price.

off the bat? you have a look...





AFS35mm @ f1.4 with D3. hand-held in available light only, resized in PSE. sharpening turned off in D3, using standard colour mode. the exif is still present, i think... unless photobucket stripped it. :)

so, is it worth it? hell yah..... (more pics after this)
 

nightwolf75

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#2
i did some quick and dirty test of the 2 lenses using my light tent. all pics just resized and uncropped. the original JPGs will be available at the end of this thread as a ZIP file for those pixel peepers. now... any mistakes is mine - ie. PLBV.

this is how the 2 lenses compared in size



wat other differences in specs? well, most of the specs are already available online. i will just highlight 2 things that will affect me as a shooter.

a) the AFS 35mm has a slightly longer closest focusing distance compared to the AFD 35mm; 0.3m vs 0.25m. this means that i have to stand a tad further away.

b) AFS 35mm only goes to f16 while the AFD 35mm goes to f22. what this means is that, on the rare occasions that i do bring this outdoors, i have to use ND filters if i want to cut down more light, suppose it i want to recreate a smoky water effect.

how are these 2 lenses at f8 then?

AFS 35mm/f8. the focus point is on the nose of the baby prof figurine.



AFD 35mm/f8. same focus point



in the originals, i will say that there is very little that separates these 2 lenses at f8. perhaps, the AFS 35mm is slightly sharper cos i can read the label of the pill bottle better that the AFD.
 

nightwolf75

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#3
but frankly, IMO, these 2 lenses scream to be used wide-open and nothing else. so, i decided to line up my minifigs to test the bokeh. my D3 is mounted on the tripod. the only difference between these 2 sets of the pics is that i have to move the d3 a little further back for the AFS cos of the focusing distance.

@f1.4


@f1.8


@f2.8


@f4


@f5.6


..cont
 

nightwolf75

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#6
and @f22


all the focus point is on Darth Vader's nose.

it is when i was taking this series of photo that i confirmed for myself that, yes, the AFS35mm does hunt a bit when there is a distinct lack of contrast. it doesn't lock on as easily as the AFD35mm in this aspect. strange tho... i had to resort to manual focus when i was taking this series of pics with the AFS.

minifigs is one thing. what abt shooting people? well, i asked my son to pose for me as a i snapped a series of pics. before you complain that how come the framing is not the same... yaddah, yaddah... my son is not a model. don't expect him to stand still.

AFS 35mm @ f1.4



AFD 35mm @ f2



and AFS35mm with D1x



this, IMO, is where the AFS shines. the f1.4 has a much nicer bokeh than f2. the contrast and sharpness are much better too. granted, this is taken under florescent lights. still, this lens performed better than i expected. i am waiting for the sun to come out before i take this outdoors. in the ZIP files later, it contains the rest of the pics of my son at different f-stops.

initial impression? this lens rocks. ;p

i will have to take it out for more shooting before i can definitely confirm for myself the $2.2k is worth it. but, from the looks of it, this is going to be in the bag of a lot of low-light/available light shooters. but, as mentioned, this is not for everyone, especially if you don't like to zoom with legs. if you want a low-light lens without blowing a hole in your wallet, the 50/1.8 or the AFD35/2 still represent your best choices.

*disclaimer* This is not a scientific test. *disclaimer*


original zips here.
 

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2100

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#7
Thanks for the review! :)
 

leowyien

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Jan 31, 2010
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Serangoon
#8
yr son playing bejewelled??
Does the afd 35mm f/2 autofocus?
 

NikF601

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#11
Simple test but lot of setup and effort.. Thks
 

daredevil123

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#13
Thanks for sharing.

And congrats on the new additions to the family (both your child and the lens.)
 

nightwolf75

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#15
finally got a chance to bring it out this morning when there's some sunlight.

this was done this morning at chinese garden @ f16. just tweaked the colours a bit. the sharpness is amazing tho (granted it has been downsized in PSE and shot in JPG).



unfortunately, i've already sold my AFD35/2 to another CSer. so i can't test how resistant the old lens was to flare vs the new lens. i found that, when i shoot head-on towards the sun, it was ok, even without the hood. the flare only comes when the sun is slightly off centre like these 2 - one was this morning at chinese garden, the other was taken in the afternoon at kranji war memorial.




(kranji war memorial was taken with a D1x)

please click on the kranji pic if you want to check for CA. personally, i only found very marginal CA on the leaves' edges.
 

nightwolf75

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#16
(ok... for those trolls, if you don't like wat i am about to do, dun read...)

took a (almost) brick wall shot at kranji to test for distortion.



click on image for full-size pic. taken with D1x, no tweaking done. personally, i can't see any curves at the edges of the straight lines.

lastly, in real life, how is the bokeh @ f1.4?






(these 2 were taken with D1x)

one word - creamy. even on DX bodies.

after playing with the lens for almost 1 wk, wat do i think? IMO, apart from the slightly wonky AF, the AFS35/1.4 is a dramatic improvement over the AFD35/2. to be honest, when the nano-thingy first came out among lenses like the AFS85/1.4 and 70-200VR2, i wasn't too sure that they helped to improve the lenses over their predecessors. but, for the 35mm, i think it really made the difference. still, at almost 5 times the price of the AFD35/2, it is a lot to pay for the improvements. for budget seekers (regardless FX or DX users), your best budget options will still be the 50/1.8, 35/2 or the DX35/1.8, IMO, if you want low-light/available light options. but... if you want absolute performance, the 35/1.4 will make an excellent complement to the trio of 1.4 lenses (24 and 85).

prime lenses are NOT for everyone, just to repeat myself. for 90% of users, i reckon your typical f2.8 zooms (like the tamron 17-50) will be better and more convenient to use. i have switched from zooms to primes (save for the 24-120VR2) this year cos i want a smaller setup. i find that i have to take a little more time and effort to take my pics now. so, find out wat is your shooting style before making the fateful decision of getting this lens. ;p
 

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