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).