This Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens produces sharp pictures and great color and contrast. It is also perfect for portrait and other general purposes (semi-macro etc). This lens also produces nice bokeh. The picture quality and bokeh quality are comparable with the other Nikon prime lenses (50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 AF-S etc) lens which are famous for being sharp. Overall, this is a very versatile lens. On a non full frame DSLR (such as D40, D40x, D60, D5000, D5100, D3000, D3100, D3200, D7000, D80, D90, D200, D300 etc), this 35mm focal length is equivalent to about 50mm which is considered a normal lens (normal as to being close to a person eye viewing angle perspective).
Many of us, including those who already own the 50mm prime, have been waiting for this lens (prime lens that has wider angle than the 50mm) for a long time, especially for non full frame DSLR owners that usually have about 1.5x magnification due to the smaller sensor size. Those 50mm lens on a non full frame DSLR is equivalent to 75mm which is often too much zoom for many situation. For example in a room where you can't keep backing up to compose your photos, or when taking picture of a group of people where you will need to move back a lot with the 50mm lens. This 35mm lens will solve that problem to some extent as this is a lot wider lens than the 50mm prime lenses. Having said that the 50mm prime lens is still a great lens. If you don't own any of the earlier version of the 50mm lens and wondering if you should get this 35mm or the 50mm, then I would recommend you to get this lens over 50mm, unless you know for sure that you need more zoom than the 35mm for your purpose, then you can go and buy the 50mm or 85mm (both available on f/1.4 or f/1.8).
This lens (DX lens) is not designed for a full frame camera (FX or Film). There will be light fall-off which is quite significant. If you have a full frame DSLR, you might want to get the 50mm f/1.4 AF-S, or the older 35mm f/2 AF-D lens instead.
Being a prime lens (this 35mm lens), you will need to move your feet a lot to compose your picture.
While this lens produces very sharp images at f/1.8, the corner show lower contrast. Sharpness and contrast increases further as you stop down to f/2, f/2.8 and f/4. Sharpness increases slowly after f/2.8 (i.e. at f/2.8 seems to be the optimal, without sacrificing too much speed)
The big plus with this lens over the older 35mm lens is the AF-S feature which is auto focus system that is internal to the lens, very fast and very silent. This lens will please a lot of people who currently own D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, and D5100 as they now can benefit from the autofocus.
Another big win is the manual override on autofocus mode (M/A mode), which will allow us to change the focus without having to change the mode to manual mode (this is pretty standard to most Nikon newer lenses but it's quite new for Nikon prime lens series)
This lens doens't have image stabilization (VR), but that is kind of expected as Nikon also doesn't include VR on their new 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens. It would be nice to have VR (for longer exposure handheld operation, and for people with less stable photography technique) but it will probably increase the size, weight and cost of this lens.
If you are wondering whether you should get a fast lens or a lens with VR (Vibration Reduction), here's my take: In overall, VR does help a lot (as it will reduce camera shake) and will produce better/sharper picture than equivalent lens without VR (especially if the object is static). If the object is moving fast (sports/action) then VR feature alone might not help (depending on how fast the object is moving and how much light is available), and a fast lens often end up being a far better solution, even without VR feature as it will allow much faster shutter speed to freeze motion. Using tripod (and a remote) will substitute for the need of VR feature. In general I would recommend getting a fast lens with VR feature (and usually it is expensive) such as the 70-200 f/2.8 VR, but if one can only get for one or the other, then find out what do you want to use the lens for and then use the guideline mentioned here.
If you are wondering whether you will get the benefit of buying f/1.4 lens over a f/1.8 lens, just remember that the f/1.4 lens is about 60% faster than f/1.8 at its widest aperture setting. With this information, you can decide if the additional speed will justify the additional cost. The bokeh is nicer as well in f/1.4 lens but I think speed is usually the main factor in deciding whether to get the more expensive f/1.4 lens.
Here are the summary of pros and cons for this Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S lens:
1. AF-S AF-S AF-S (very fast focus, internal focus, and very silent)
2. M/A mode (manual focus override available on autofocus mode)
3. Very fast lens (f/1.8)
4. Very sharp pictures
5. Great for sport/action photography (though you might need more zoom)
6. Great for indoor and low light situation
7. Great for portrait
8. Bokeh is almost as good as many expensive Nikon tele-lens
9. Perfect for low light with no-flash event. However, also check out the following lens for low light photography: 17-35mm f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, 17-55mm f/2.8, 28-70mm f/2.8 or the the 50mm nikon prime lenses.
9. Great focal length (35mm). About 50mm equivalent which is a normal lens (If you need more zoom, you can get the Nikon 50mm or 85mm prime lens or 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens).
10. Did I already mention very fast and very silent focus? :)
1. Being prime lens, you need to move your feet a lot to adjust/compose
2. Being a G lens (no aperture ring available), this lens will not work on manual focus camera where you need to set the aperture from the lens)
3. No VR. As VR will be useful for taking handheld shots on low light (especially if the object is somewhat static or if the photographer doesn't have steady hands when taking photograph)
4. Not designed for full frame cameras (FX or Film) where there will be siginificant light fall-off.
Bottom line: This lens is so versatile that I think everyone should own this lens in addition to all the lenses that they already have (even if they alredy have the 50mm prime lens). Being a very fast lens, it will allow people to take action shot in low light that otherwise wouldn't be able to be do. And now, with AF-S, there is nothing to dislike about this lens (though in my opinion, this lens might attract even more interest if it has a VR feature).
on October 23, 2009
Nikon has absolutely nailed it with this lens. A modest sum gets you exactly what you need in a lens, nothing you don't, and it works beautifully. It is relatively feature-rich at its price: cheap lenses, even from Nikon, often lack important features - but not here. Unlike other recent DX bargains this lens has Nikon's M/A focus setting, which allows automatic focus with instant manual over-ride. This is a simple and intuitive method of combining the ease and accuracy of AF with sometimes-necessary manual control, and Nikon has done users of this lens a great favor by including it, despite the low price. It also features, less importantly, a proper metal mount and a gasket to keep dust ingress from occurring through the camera/lens interface. A couple of items do remain absent: there is no focus distance scale, and as a consequence there is no depth-of-field scale, an unfortunate omission that is nevertheless justified at the price point. This is a bargain lens, a no-brainer for any photographer aspiring beyond the point-and-shoot level, and the lack of distance and depth scales are a reasonable trade-off.
What is clear to me in using this lens is that Nikon has put its money in exactly the right places to make this lens a star despite its price. There may be nitpicks here and there, but the optics, the coatings, the engineering, and perhaps most importantly the quality of the focusing system, are exactly what they need to be to allow this lens to make photographs that are the equal of those made by professional zooms costing in the thousands.
The important thing to keep in mind with this lens is that it is a relatively fast prime lens, and the most important quality of a fast prime is its ability to take photographs using a large aperture: without this ability there are any number of excellent consumer and professional zooms that are capable of doing the same job. Its essential distinguishing quality, then, is its ability to make images at apertures wider than f/2.8 or so, and at such large apertures there are two hurdles that a lens must overcome. The first is simply a matter of optics: most lenses, historically at least, have been made from an assemblage of spherically-ground lens elements. Spherical elements do a good job of approximating the perfect shape for a lens at smaller apertures and are used because they can be manufactured inexpensively - but at larger apertures, their spherical nature varies optically from perfection, leading to something called spherical aberration. This results in a lack of acuity, and sharpness, in the resulting image. The 35/1.8 uses an aspherical element (actually a hybrid aspherical for what it's worth) to correct this imperfection. The result, in this well-engineered example, is a lens that performs nearly as well at a wide-open f/1.8 aperture as at an optimal f/5.6 or f/8 aperture.
The other important hurdle in performance for a modern fast lens is the quality of the focusing system. This is more complicated than simply the lens itself, as it relies on electronics in both the lens and the camera body. Nevertheless the more I use Nikon's AF-S lenses - and have the opportunity to compare them with older and third-party technology - the more I am impressed by their performance. The difficulty is that at f/1.8, even with a "normal" (35mm for DX) lens, the depth of field is very narrow. The focusing system needs to be able to find focus within a very small margin of error, and just as importantly it needs to be able to alter focus in very small increments in response to minor changes in the position of the camera or subject. The requirement for accuracy is stringent enough that earlier generations of AF lenses, those which relied on motors in the camera body, tended to be somewhat clumsy in their ability to consistently maintain perfect focus. They would "hunt," requiring several back-and-forth adjustments to find perfect focus, and they would often either fail to respond or lose focus altogether when small adjustments were needed. Nikon's AF-S lenses comprise a significant technical advance in that they largely eliminate these problems. The AF-S motors, in combination with the in-camera focusing logic of Nikon's contemporary bodies, are able to make the small adjustments necessary to find and maintain focus even within small depths of field. They rarely hunt, they are typically very accurate, and the 35/1.8 seems to be as good as the best of them. This is important, because it allows the 35/1.8 get excellent, perfectly focused pictures while other lenses are trying to figure themselves out or are shooting pictures an inch or fractions of an inch out of perfection, often enough to ruin the shot.
These are the most important things to keep in mind, for most photographers, when looking for a fast "normal" lens. Everything else should be considered as well, but when it comes to the ability to make consistently good images with proper AF function, these are by far the most important points for this type of lens. Everything else, by comparison, is a minor detail.
As for those minor details, some do work against this lens. There are well-documented chromatic imperfections in the lens' performance. These are largely corrected by Nikon's electronics and by its software, but are apparent, if usually subtle, when these corrective elements are not used (for example, in lower-end camera bodies that do not correct for chromatic aberrations). It has a bit more distortion than you'll find in most "normal" primes, enough to be noticeable in photos with strong horizontal or vertical elements that pass through the majority of the frame. And its build quality is very much in the consumer range - light, plastic, and not necessarily of high tactile quality, though certainly of high actual quality. None of these things matter all that much, however, if what you want to do is point this lens in the right direction and get excellent photographic imagery in return. Some seemingly superior lenses give the photographer better first impressions but can't equal the results - see my review of Sigma's competing 30mm f/1.4 prime for an example.
I rank this as a four-and-a-half star lens. Amazon doesn't allow half-star ratings, and I won't quite give it a full five, but by getting the most important details just about as right as any lens can be, it is very close. I don't believe in ranking lenses differently according to price. This lens gives a 4-1/2 star performance, and at its price that is remarkable, but I won't call it a five-star lens because it is cheap: that determination is for the reader to make. What I will say is that, among the variety of "normal" primes I've used, on DX and on film, most of which are pretty reasonably priced, this lens is a standout. It gives me the highest proportion of great images, with perfect clarity and color, of any - and it does it with a minimum of fuss. It's wonderful to use, and I love it. It's one of my favorite lenses.
- This lens has fairly poor bokeh. Bokeh is a word used to describe the quality of blur in out-of-focus areas in the frame, and can be important for fast lenses because a fast lens allows the photographer to "isolate" his subject in the frame by rendering the remainder of the frame out of focus. Nevertheless, bokeh is a less important quality in a 35mm lens than in a longer lens, because the actual degree of blur is less: in fact, the degree of blur achievable by any lens is related to its focal length and nothing else. It is true, if one looks closely, that some other lenses in this range have better bokeh, however the blur itself is a relatively subtle effect in all such lenses, and concentrating too acutely on the quality of this modest blur seems to me to be somewhat misguided. The ability to isolate one's subject remains critical, but it is a more subtle level of isolation that one might achieve with a longer lens, say an 85/1.4 or 180/2.8, and consequently the precise nature of the blur is just not all that important, at least for my purposes. The exception is close-range photography, where the background can be thrown well out of focus, and which is consequently not this lens' forte.
- The 35/1.8 uses Nikon's standard 52mm filter thread, which is of some importance to those of us who already have a decent collection of filters and step rings. I'd advise any buyer of this lens to buy a high quality, multi-coated polarizing filter and a high quality, multi-coated neutral density filter of 2-3 stops. That can come close to doubling your investment in the lens, but those filters can be used with a significant spectrum of Nikkors that share the same filter thread. The filters will allow you to maintain this lens' desirable narrow depth of field even in brighter conditions, which is otherwise not possible; or while using synced flash, which is usually limited to somewhere in the range of 1/200 sec shutter speed.
- One minor drawback of this lens, for me personally, is that the 35mm focal length is just a bit longer than I'd like for a "normal" perspective on DX. I'd rather Nikon have made this lens with a 30mm, or even possibly a 28mm, field of view. Though this is a minor point, there are some alternatives out there in these ranges that some might prefer. Nikon's 28mm f/2.8D is a perfectly decent lens, not quite as good as this 35/1.8, and also not as fast, but it's available on the used market for next to nothing and might be desirable to some who prefer its focal length. It does not have a built-in focus motor, but it is sharp, light, and unlike the 35/1.8 it can also be used on full-frame and film cameras. There is also a 35mm f/2D lens, which on paper seems as though it might be a better buy than this lens, despite its higher price. While it is also sharp, my copy was somewhat muted in terms of color rendition - less contrasty - although it has the offsetting advantage that it, also, can be used on full-frame/film bodies. Both these lenses lack the fine, incremental focusing ability of the 35/1.8 AF-S, and neither is quite as sharp, especially wide-open.
- The 35/1.8 is a very contrasty lens, equal in this regard to the best Nikkor or third-party lenses I've used, and significantly better than many. This is the likely result of Nikon's use of premium, high-quality lens coatings, which attenuate internal reflections that can otherwise literally "dilute" the light that is transmitted properly through the elements. While some lower-cost lenses seem to give up a smidgen of performance in terms of contrast, I see no evidence of that here.
- This lens is a reduced-image-circle lens, designed only for use on DX cameras and not properly useable on full-frame or film cameras. This has been taken by some as a disadvantage - however, I disagree. By designing the lens for DX, Nikon has undoubtedly been able to optimize the lens' optics to provide maximum acuity within the smaller DX image circle. DX cameras, with their high-density pixels, require a higher level of precision within this smaller image circle, and allowing the designers to give up the transmission of the image outside this small area has certainly facilitated their success. It also allows the lens to be smaller, lighter, and less expensive than it would otherwise need to be, with less glass area. The promise of DX is exactly that: high performance and compact size at a reduced price. By creating this and other DX lenses Nikon has committed to the DX format and given DX users a tool that in some ways is superior to those available to FX/film users. There is room for both formats in the Nikon world and with this lens, DX users have plenty to be thankful for.
on June 12, 2009
Being a self proclaimed prosumer I'm not exactly a pro, but I am still demanding when it comes to camera hardware (and software for that matter). I mention this because it puts this review in the proper context.
On to the lens...
First off, when a $199 lens comes around from Nikon I have two thoughts, "Right on!" and "Seems pretty cheap for Nikon". I was skeptical but for $199 and all the great reviews why not give it a shot? Well, I did.
Amazon taunted me, B&H teased me, and my local camera shops didn't exactly sooth my fear that it would be months before I could get my hand on one. Putting a pre-order in with all the above mentioned establishments my local store came through first (and for the same 199 dollar price tag).
I get it home, take it out of the box and the first thing that comes to mind is how much heavier it is than some of the kit lenses I have picked up. Yes it's plastic, but the thing has a different level of quality from the other Nikon budget/consumer lenses. You can peruse the other reviews on Amazon and other websites for more specifics but the point is there is a noticeable difference.
I then put the thing on my camera (made sure to put on a filter first) and start snapping away, outside, inside, and everywhere in between. The pictures are fantastic, in low light in particular. The bokeh isn't top notch but for anyone but a pro this likely will be worth the tradeoff being the 199 price tag is a huge selling point here. And don't get me wrong, the bokeh isn't terrible, I've just seen better with more (much more) expensive lenses.
So is it hype? Can a Nikon lens selling at $199 be good enough for the more demanding consumers out there? You betcha, this thing is probably the best and smartest purchase I've made in the last five years. I have three other lenses and I can say without any hesitation the 35mm F/1.8 AF-S will be on my camera 90% of the time - if not more - from here on out.
In closing, if you love photography but don't have the means to drop hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on nicer lenses, get annoyed at the fact that low light photography with the kit lens just doesn't cut it, and want to expand, this is THE lens to get.
I promise you, you will not be disappointed.
on October 28, 2011
I imagine for most people, this will be either the 2nd or 3rd lens they buy (counting the kit lens, if you got one). For me, this was my 3rd lens. The first were the kit 18-55mm Nikon VR lens and the 55-200mm telephoto Nikon non-VR lens. Both of those lenses are very good, and very versatile, but in terms of image quality they can't even remotely touch this one.
First things first, it's a prime lens, meaning no zoom. Kind of obvious, but should at least be mentioned for those newer to the hobby. However, that doesn't mean that it can't take pictures from far away, on the contrary, it can take some stunning pictures from a distance, it will just be that you can't zoom in closer on things at a distance. It's actually very good at landscapes, especially late evening sunsets and night time skylines, for instance.Additionally, this lens is so sharp, that you can crop a LOT. Meaning that you can effectively get zoom after the fact by cropping your picture in photo editing software, and the image will still look very good, as long as you nailed your focus in the original picture (obviously the more you crop, the more you notice things being out of focus).
Secondly, it doesn't have vibration reduction. However, this is a fast lens, which negates most of the need for VR in the first place. What photo nerds mean by a 'fast lens' that is that it lets in a lot of light, meaning that the shutter can open and close very quickly and still properly expose the image, meaning that blur, both from camera shake and moving subjects are DRASTICALLY minimized. It also thus better at 'freezing' moving objects, that would blur in a slower lens. The only time where VR would be a welcome addition is possibly extremely low light photography, but even then you should be fine without it. To be honest, I'm almost glad it's not on there, because I often forget to turn VR off when I don't need it, and VR does run your battery down faster.
Now that those two caveats are out of the way, on to the strengths:
This will enable photos that you just can't take with the kit lens. Especially if you're interested in concert photography (or any other form of photography that involves low light, but also movement). In most instances, this lens just takes better looking pictures than the kit lens. But in low light concert photography it will actually take pictures that a slower lens just can't take without extreme blur (or using the flash, which both kills the atmosphere and often times isn't allowed). For instance, a lead singer who moves his head back and forth some on a dimly lit stage. With the kit lens his head will just be a blur, which is sometimes a cool effect, but sometimes it just looks blurry. With this lens, you can get a nice crisp image if you want, or adjust your aperture, or your shutter speed and get the motion blur as well, if you want it. It's nice to have both options.
The bokeh. Bokeh is a photography term that essentially just means 'blurry background'. This is what really makes portraits 'pop' as the subject's face can really be set apart from the background. It's also good when you have a busy background that would otherwise be distracting, even if you're not shooting portraits. Just go into aperture priority mode and set this baby to f1.8, get relatively close (a few feet) to your subject and fire away. Your portraits will take on that dreamy professional look. The closer you are to your subject, the more extreme the bokeh effect is (which is why this lens can effectively take landscape shots, because the effect is diminished greatly when you're shooting from a large distance).
More control over your depth of field. This is basically the same strength as the previous point, but just more widely considered. With the kit lens, at any given focal length, your f/stop options are going to be pretty limited. Meaning you're basically stuck with the depth of field you have. However, with this lens, you basically always have from f1.8 to f22. This gives you extreme control over how deep your field is (essentially how large the range of 'in focus' is, and how gradually images fade from in focus to out of focus). You can create that nice blurred background we talked about above, or you can have an identifiable background as well. This is especially useful when shooting dogs, for instance, because sometimes (like when they're in profile) you want a very shallow depth of field, to give good bokeh and sharpness, while others you want a little more depth of field (like if they're looking straight forward at you and you want to keep the tip of their nose all the way to their ears in focus. Being able to control your depth of field is really the first step (of many) into going from a snapshot shooter with a nice camera to an actual photographer.
Light weight, short length. doesn't seem like a big deal into you lug a heavy 15-300 zoom lens around on your neck all day long. It's also short, which is surprisingly helpful in a crowded environment, like a concert.
While this lens is obviously not quite as versatile as a kit or telephoto lens, the images you get will blow you away. Yes, you will have to move around more to get the shot you want and/or crop more. But that's not much of a price to pay for drastically improved image quality. Since I've bought this lens, the 18-55 mm lens rarely comes out of the bag. I still use other lenses, but this is the default go to lens. The one that stays attached when the camera is in my bag, so that if I need to pull it out and snap off a shot in a hurry, this is the one that will be taking it.
on July 12, 2011
Wow. I'm absolutely blown away.
I don't like giving perfect-score ratings in reviews, so the fact that I'm doing so now is really saying something about this lens. I've been into digital photography for a few years now, and have used several Nikon cameras and lenses. I currently shoot with a D7000 and I'm really going to have to quote the controversial Ken Rockwell here: "This could be the only lens you ever need for a DX camera."
And he's not kidding. 35mm on a cropped sensor is roughly 50mm on a full frame, which gives the most "ideal" or "normal" field of view. You can shoot everything with this focal lengths, ranging from landscapes (back up a bit) to portraits (get up close). It's also plenty fast, at f/1.8, and also plenty sharp wide open. I drop it down to f/2.8 for the best balance between speed and sharpness though. I've shot with f/1.4 lenses and can't tell the difference when you shoot both at f/2.8 or smaller.
In essentially every aspect this lens has blown me away. The color rendition, clarity, lack of chromatic aberration, etc. It's all excellent. There is a slight bit of barrel distortion but that's easily correctable in Photoshop. Also some people may say the bokeh sucks on this lens, but I think it's at least fair if not decent (guess that's all subjective anyway). But other than that, this lens is wonderful to use. What I like most about it is just how simple it is to use. It's super compact and super stealthy too (very silent AF motor). It makes my not-very-light D7000 seem weightless after I take off something like an 80-200mm f/2.8.
And the best part is the price. For $200 you really can't get anything better. Canon can't touch this either, because their equivalent, the 35mm f/2, sucks, and is 50% more expensive. There are many days in which I pick up my 35mm prime over my f/2.8 wide angle zoom. It's just that good. I really can't describe in words how great of a lens this is so you'll have to buy it or borrow one from a friend to realize its power. Happy Shooting!
Edit - I've owned this lens for more than a year at the writing of this review, so I'm way past the "honeymoon" period that accompanies many new purchases. So the fact that I'm still amazed by this lens *really* says something about its performance.
on July 14, 2009
This lens has been on my cameras (D-60 and D-90) now for over 6 months, for thousands of images, and the honeymoon is not yet over. After decades of film use on several Nikon cameras, I went I went kicking and screaming into digital. This lens on my DSLR is very close to my normal way of shooting from my film days.
So, why the reason for the reduced rating? If I could, I'd give it four and a half stars, but five is perfect, and it is not perfect. I can't understand why Nikon decided to not have any distance scale on this lens. Additionally, the lens could use at least a minimal DOF scale (set for the DX format) for maybe two apertures to go with that missing distance scale. Surly this would not have added much to the cost of this lens, and would have made it more operationally sound by allowing zone and hyper-focusing.
With that said, my experience with this lens has been very rewarding. The mechanical construction seems good, given to price range. The hood that is included seems a bit shallow, since it should be for a lens with an angle of view of a standard 50mm on a FX capture, but I have not seen any adverse flare, so it seems to be effective.
Optically, I am very happy with this lens. Maybe 80% of my images were made at f/1.8, and my experience backs up the review of this lens that appeared in Popular Photography magazine. That review shows a very consistently high performance, with the best sharpness starting very early in the aperture range. My images made at f/1.8 show good sharpness on the narrow plane of focus, that is made to appear even more sharp against the soft blur of the out of focus area. This lens will enable you to make photos that can't be replicated by a f/4-5.6 zoom. Selective focus is addictive after playing with this lens.
FWIW, I have seen reviews on this lens complaining about aberrations (CA), and indeed this may be valid for those that like to over-analyze such things. For me, I would rather look at photos than to pixel peep and look at graphs and charts. I have a dozen 16 X 20 inch prints from this lens, all made at f/1.8 that are stunning. When I am at my lab picking up my prints, nobody (customers or staff) that is oohing and aahing is pointing to any CA.
Put this lens on a camera with good image quality at high ISOs, set it to aperture priority at f/1.8, leave the flash off and make photos that are so good that you would never miss the the "other" focal lengths that your slow zoom might have.
on September 20, 2009
Okay, so I'm just an amateur enthusiast. I won't pretend to talk about chromatic abberation, or lens elements or all those things I don't know much about, and frankly, never consciously care about when I'm taking photographs.
So straight off: who should NOT be buying this lens?
1. it's a DX lens, so it's great for digital SLRs but not for for film SLRs. Which is a real pity, because I still retain my old Nikon N75 and consider it a brilliant camera.
2. it'll work great on all the cameras any enthusiast like me could have bought from Nikon in the last 10 years (yes, including the most basic and most excellent Nikon D40 and of course the brand new Nikon D5000). It lacks an aperture ring, so you'll only have problems on some really old film cameras -- for which this lens is in any case not the right size (see 1).
I have to confess that for the last ten years, since I started putting money into (Nikon) SLR cameras and lenses, I've always bought myself zooms. I've always been on a low budget, and considered fixed focal length lenses the playground of the rich and the professional.
I didn't know what I was missing.
There's a reason pros ALWAYS have "prime" lenses (like these). After years of never shooting below f/3.5 (on my Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens) or f/4.5 (on my Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras), it is so fantabulously amazing to have a lens that is SO sensitive to light. With this lens, I can go all the way down to f/1.8, and boy, suddenly I can take absolutely wonderful night shots -- all with no VR and no tripod (who can lug those around anyway?!). Oh, and the fact that a prime lens like this is lighter than zooms, means your hand will shake less to begin with.
I also like to do a little bit of food photography, and I've noticed that the way to make food look really great is to have low depth of field -- just focus on the food, and blur out even the plate and the table and stuff. And that's another place a prime lens is invaluable, because its depth of field can be made so obscenely small that a *portion* of a dish (say just the cherry on top of the cake) can be put into sharp focus, with everything else nicely blurred out. Needless to say, this also makes it great for portrait shots taken from shorter distances (for long distance portraits, I love my 70-300mm).
One other feature of this lens you'll really love is the AF-S motor. That's Nikon's way of telling you that you can keep the lens in autofocus mode, and if on a particular shot the camera doesn't happen to zero in on the exact spot you care about, you can just rotate the focus ring and manually set focus -- without having to flip any switch to get into manual focus mode! Little things like this make all the difference between getting the shot you want, and going "Damn!".
So by all means, if you've never had a prime lens, make this your first one -- for just $200 (or $250) you'll get photos that'll make you feel like a pro! :)
The only issue, of course, is that you can't zoom. Much of this can be overcome by moving physically closer/further from your subject, but if you really like wide-angle shots, you'll keep wanting to switch between this lens and a zoom. In my opinion, at its low price and light weight, adding this lens to your camera bag is still a total no-brainer.
on November 28, 2014
First lens after the kit (only used the kit a week haha) and I love it. For the $200 bucks, you get a great lens! I chose the 35mm over the nifty-fifty because I felt I could get wider shots.
Quick to focus, very versatile from landscapes to portraits to night photography. A very fun lens to use that challenges you to work on getting the angle or the distance you want since its a prime and doesn't give you the flexibility of zoom like the kit lens.
Overall I think this is a great first lens after a kit lens. Gives you much sharper images and really encourages you to become a better photographer, professional or enthusiast. You'll appreciate your shots that much more knowing you had to work a littler harder and get a little closer for them.
on September 29, 2012
I cannot lie, I was drawn by the affordability of the lens. With that, it takes amazing portrait type photos with excellent bokeh and very little effort. You do have to move around to position yourself to take the photo as some have stated due to the non-existent zoom, but it's easy to get used to. I cannot speak to any high-speed technical lingo as I'm still learning my camera, but some of the best photos I have taken are with this lens. I have the Nikon D5100. I don't know how helpful this review is, but if you're an amateur like me and want to get your feet wet with different lenses without breaking your pocket book just yet - this lens is definitely a must have.
Update: I've been using this lens for a while now, and I've also learned to appreciate the compact size without sacrificing photo quality. Sometimes you don't want to lug around the 18-300mm due to weight. Also as you may know, longer lens need external flash for low light/dark photos to avoid the shadow effect the lens produces when using the built-in flash. External flash then adds more to the weight and inconvenience of lugging this thing around your neck. The 35mm lens is great for when you want to travel light and it takes good pictures at night/indoors with built-in flash (no shadowing) while maintaining good bokeh.
I bought the 35mm f/1.8G AF-S lens because I wanted a fast, light lens that worked with my camera (a Nikon D40x). Since getting the lens two months ago, I haven't taken it off my camera. I'd recommend this lens to anyone with a newer Nikon DSLR. If you'd like to know more about my experiences with the lens, read on.
I'm not a professional photographer, or even a very serious hobbyist. I don't have a huge budget for camera equipment (my only camera is a Nikon D40x), and mostly use my camera to take pictures of my children.
For the past couple of years, I've mostly used the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens. I love this lens: it's very flexible, and works much better than I expected a lens with that wide a range to work. Unfortunately the 18-200mm lens, like a lot of the zooms that work with the D40/D40x/D60/D5000, have some issues. First of all, the 18-200 is kind of slow. For indoor pictures without a flash, it's difficult to get sharp pictures. Secondly, the 18-200 is heavy. It's awkward walking around with a one pound lens strung around your neck.
I bought the 35mm f/1.8G AF-S lens because I wanted a faster, lighter lens. I hadn't tried a fast prime lens in a long time (probably not since I shot on 35mm film), and probably had unrealistic expectations about what a lens like this could do. I was hoping that I could just set my camera to auto and snap pictures. With normal daylight, I could take some very good pictures inside without a flash. However, there are some practical limits to what a fast prime on a low end camera can do; I had a harder time taking pictures in dimmer light (for example, in an aquarium). It definitely works better than an f/4 lens (which is the approximate aperture for most zooms are at this focal length), but it's a subtle difference. (I did get some better results by manually changing ISO and aperture settings, but that's not usually practical when you're trying to shoot a moving toddler.)
On the other hand, this lens is noticeably sharper than the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens. I've found it easier to take pictures of people with faces in focus and background blurred than I could with the zoom lens. When I bought this lens, I wasn't even thinking about sharpness, but I'm mostly happy with the results. If you can get the foreground in focus, it will look very sharp.
The one issue I have with this lens is that out of focus backgrounds... look a little strange. Photographers call the look of out-of focus backgrounds "bokeh." Most photographers want out of focus backgrounds to look subtly blurry; you'd want a point of light to look bright in the middle then taper off at the edges. This lens does the opposite: points of light turn look much more like rings with this lens. To me, the backgrounds look like "ghosting" on an old television. This isn't a deal killer, but it can lead to weird results, particularly if you're taking pictures of people against complicated backgrounds. I can definitely take pictures with this lens that I couldn't take without it. However, don't expect a D40 with this lens to perform as well as a Nikon D700 12.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras.
I have few other complaints about this lens's performance. It feels as light on the camera as I hoped; it's really nice walking around with such a light camera after lugging around a zoom for so long. The camera focuses very quickly and quietly; like most of the AF-S lenses I've tried, focusing is very fast and accurate. Overall, I'm happy with this lens (especially at half the price of Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras). It's not perfect, but it's reasonably priced and very useful.