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Monday, 09 February 2009


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You are preaching to the choir. I'm more and more disappointed in Nikon these days. The D3x pricing is unrealistic in the extreme. The D700 is more expensive than it should be; that you can buy 3 D90s for the price of 1 D700 is a failure of pricing when they are all the same resolution (granted, not the same image quality.) This lens was a disappointment as well.

I'm too far invested in Nikkor glass to switch to Canon, but there is no Nikon DSLR body I'm willing to pay for these days. Rumor says that there is a D400 coming out but unless it's aggressively priced, it's not going to be interesting to me.

I make do with my Lumix LX3.

But then again I seriously doubt that if Nikon were to make this a 35/1.8 AF-S FX, it wouldn't weigh that little, and it certainly wouldn't be that cheap. Or as small, though it is a bit bigger than the old 35/2. That ring-type AF-S motor seems to take up some room...

Me thinks there's going to be a 35/1.4 FX-lens in the near future.

I agree on the point about the stupid focal length. It could've been a 33mm as well, to make it an even 50mm EFL.

But a D40+35/1.8-combination sounds awfully nice. A small camera with a reasonably fast, small, lightweight modern prime that was designed for digital...

Still, I'm waiting for that 23/1.8 or 23/2, and a version of the D60 that has a smaller grip, or no grip at all. I'm thinking about a poor man's Leica... Or the Olympus m4/3 with the 20/1.7!

Yeah, why not 33mm? Well i suppose there is an engineering/cost savings by "starting with" 35mm, since you have nearly 80 years of R&D hung on that?

I use the 35mm f/2 AF D on my DX bodies, and find it to be a very nice lense. While it AF's on my D200's, it does not on my D60.
I must admit that i would find it tempting for the little D60, but only if it tests well. I will await photozone.de or Sean Reid's take on it.

i don't get this lens - can you use it on an fx camera? I don't think there's anything to stop you - hardware wise - so why call it a DX?

"why call it a DX?"

Because it won't cover 24x36. It'll only cover the smaller format.

Mike J.

This lens is aimed squarely at D40/D60 owners. It's a cheap, plastic consumer grade lens that will sit right next to the kit lens and 55-200mm small aperture zoom. The target market isn't D300 owners or even D90 owners. So it's a bit pointless complaining about things like the lack of a distance scale or a metal mount. If you care about those things, this lens isn't for you. You might as well complain about the lack of 51 AF points in the D60. It's a consumer lens. And frankly, I'm glad to see it. I was beginning to think Nikon forgot about me and my little D40 while they were off designing $8000 cameras. :)

I'm happy with this lens, as it finally gives the d40/d60 users a cheap prime option that has been missing. It may not be what i wanted, per se, but at least it's not too bad, price wise. I image a new 35 1.8 would be in the 50 1.4G range - silly. It would be nice to see a 35 1.4, true, but I know i couldn't afford that.

This little guy, tho, i can see my friends saving up for to add to their d60 kit, and getting a lot of milage out of it.

But how will it compare with the old Pentax FA 35mm f2.

Thirty-five seems an unexciting length for DX, but if it goes for $200, it will undercut (and possibly outperform) the Sigma 30mm lens. That should be enough for Nikon to sell significant units.

Just because it's called a 35mm doesn't mean actual FOV will be equivalent to 35mm (~37.8 degrees). Nikon seems to ballpark the numbers. For instance, the FOV of a 17-55dx at 17mm is actually narrower then the 18-70mm at 18mm.

I already have the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, which works really well on my D300, so I don't have any interest in this one. But I can see it pairing very nicely with the smaller DX bodies.

And it's kind of interesting to see that -- after years of griping about Nikon not upgrading their primes -- that when they do come out with new ones we're greeted with more griping.

Yeah, I suppose I'm mainly disappointed because my immediate reaction was that they'd released the 35mm counterpart to the recent 50mm, which is FX. It was only after a minute or two that it dawned on my punkin' brain that it's a DX lens. What a letdown.

Mike J.

And that's why I love Pentax. No dearth of primes there.

Meh. Grass is always greener on the other side. Canon's lens line up has it's oddities too. I still don't see a proper step-up standard zoom for Canon APS-C cameras. I'd love to see something slightly better than the 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM II, for example, but then 18-70/4.0-ish.

But buying lenses is sort of like collecting marbles anyway. You get one you like, then you get the next one you like because it is just enough unlike the previous ones in your collection. This 35/1.8dx will appeal to a lot of people. It would to me.

Still. I'm happy to report that the Canon 35/2.0 is an EF lens and similarly priced.

I think it may have a metal lense mount.

zygote daddy,
Recent, or older twins? If the former, congratulations!

I suppose Pentax doesn't have a dearth of primes, but there's no smallish, light-ish 35/1.8 equivalent in that line either.

My basic lens is a small, light 35/2-equivalent or close to it, and the digital camera market has been a desert in recent years.

The newer FX Nikons bring the old AF-Nikkor back into play, which is nice. No such lens in the Olympus system. There's the old Pentax 24/2 in the Pentax system, but it's big and expensive because it's a full-frame WA. A couple of options for Nikon full-frame, but no dedicated DX lens. No APS-C lens in the Canon lineup, although you can use the slower 24's in either N or C. They don't quite satisfy.

Sony hasn't even bothered to bring out a warmed-over Maxxum 35/2 for the A900. So I'd have to consider buying a beat-up old Maxxum lens for a hugely inflated price. Which in a way is good; because otherwise I'd probably have to own an A900 by now. Can't get that beautiful camera out of my head.

Mike J.

"after years of griping about Nikon not upgrading their primes -- that when they do come out with new ones we're greeted with more griping."

That's because it's the wrong lens. They already had a 35mm f/2.

Mike J.

On a positive note, the arrival of a fast DX prime tells us something reassuring about DX, even if it ends up being used in some non-SLR EVIL format.

I'm curious to see how well this new f/1.8 copes using autofocus wide open. In my experience, that aperture seems to test phase-detect autofocus systems pretty hard at closer subject distances. Perhaps the focus microadjutment of newer cameras helps here, potentially allowing a new, D40-class camera (or an EVIL) to become a really decent low-light device, either with the new lens or a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. The Sigma is one of several faster lenses that has tended to generate complaints about autofocus accuracy with older cameras. Would contrast-detect AF do better for accuracy?

Yep, that's pretty much my reaction as well.

First Nikon updates the badly out of date 50/1.4AF-D, but gives us a lens that's still seriously inferior to all three of the f1.4 normals from the 3rd parties (The Voigtlander 58/1.4, Zeiss 50/1.4 and Sigma 50/1.4 HSM) and is priced comparably to the middle of the 3rd party range and now Nikon introduces a 35mm lens that won't cover 35mm, thus ensuring that a large chunk of those who actually buy primes won't buy it (the DX crowd LOVES their 50's, I rarely see 35's used on DX, even by those who would spend the extra on the 35/2 AF-D) it's the FX crowd that wanted a new 35.

"it's the FX crowd that wanted a new 35."

That's what I think.

Mike J.

Nikon fumbles again. I thought the whole point of a DX prime was wide angles, like 28mm-e and wider. Or maybe even telephotos, for size and cost savings. A DX normal prime seems totally pointless, and just pushes back an FX 35mm refresh even further. This lens should have been rolled out 5 years ago, before the half-dozen 18-xx DX zooms.

If only one tenth of one percent of DX camera owners buy this lens, Nikon will still sell millions of units. Making it FX would have gained them about ten* more customers but then would have made the price closer to $500 per lens, thus losing millions in potential sales. Should Nikon make more AFS FX primes? Sure. Will they? Absolutely. Will they cost $200? No way!

* - obviously I don´t mean ten, but it would certainly be closer to ten than to a million.

I'm glad it's DX. FX would be larger, heavier and more expensive. The same factors make DX bodies more appealing to me than FX bodies.

I'm not against FX users getting new unifocal lenses, I'm just against them getting all the new unifocal lenses.

I like it. I would prefer it a bit shorter though.

You may be disappointed that you have not got your FX wide-angle lens, but I am happy that Nikon now has a DX normal lens. It makes me hope that Nikon takes DX users seriously and does not think that they are interested only in slow zooms. As, it seems, some people here seem to think.

So let's wait for the first tests to see if it is better on DX than the 35mm f/2. It is the same weight and AF-S, that might at least be seen as convenient.

And yes, as a DX lens it would not have had to be 35mm, but I do nor really care if it is 44° or 46°.

I dunno, I find an old af 28mm 2.8 non-d that I got from KEH to be a wonderful walkabout lens for my d80, and I've been thinking of trying the 35 2.0 for the speed, if I could pick one up on the cheap. This is faster _and_ cheaper--what's to complain about? Also, doesn't this do exactly for the DX folks what the new 50/1.4 does for the FX folks, at about the same fraction of price that a DX camera is to an FX camera?

A neighbor of mine has a good expression to cover things like this: “Whoopty thrill pants!” he says.

The S motor focusing mechanism might be attractive, but the DX format is a turnoff, from my perspective. The f/1.8 is a gimmick.

In my kit is a ca 1999 Nikon 35mm f/2 AF D lens that has seen duty on Nikon F3, F5, D1H, D2Hs, D200, and D70 camera bodies. Good as gold, never very expensive, very utilitarian, small and lightweight workhorse.

What I really might like is a 23mm or 24mm f/2 AF lens – hopefully compact and lightweight -- to replace my 24mm f/2.8, which isn’t one of Nikon’s greatest ever designs. That would give a very nice, fast lens to give me that lovable old 35mm lens perspective (on film or FX) with a DX body. It would be a fine tool.

That's because it's the wrong lens. They already had a 35mm f/2.
Mike J."

Mike: It's for us D40/40x/60 folks who for the first time will have an auto focus fast prime. The 35mm f/2 won't auto focus on our cameras. The new 50mm f/1.4 AF-S is a little long, a little heavy, and way more expensive. A D40 with this lens will weigh just 25 ounces total. Cool!

A Pentax 35mm/1.8 DA with the focus clutch at that price would be nice. Wider's harder, as ever, and 50mm was always a compromise. 35mm in this case is the same compromise, but worse. I wouldn't be one to quibble over a couple of mm-e. I think this is great. Way to go, Nikon!

Pentax has a 30mm DA* on the roadmap ... being a poor hobbyist I prefer the Nikon way .. can't believe I just said that ...

OK, I have to cut in here. This is a lens that I have wanted for a long, long time. My biggest complaint about DX format Nikon cameras has been the lack of a fast, light 50mm-e lens. This does it. Is it all things to all people? No. Would a full-frame (FX) 35mm lens have done just as well? Perhaps, but I am fairly certain that this lens is DX only in order to segment the market. Fine by me, since it means the lens is only $200 and I expect I'll be using DX-format Nikons for a while.* When Nikon decides to bring out a 35mm FX lens that is faster than f/2, I'll eat my hat if it's only $200.

I can understand the frustration of those who want or have been waiting for an updated FX 35, but don't begrudge those of us shooting DX cameras a fast, cheap, normal prime.

To answer some of the other points:

- Yes, Nikon does have the 35mm f/2 AF lens. But it isn't all that hot, it doesn't AF on the D40, D40x or D60 and it costs $150 more. And if you think the 35/2 is sufficient, then feel free to use it on your FX body, all of which can use AF with it. But don't argue both ways.

- Yes, there is the Sigma 30/1.4. But it is big, heavy and costs more than twice as much. And the Sigma is also DX-only, by the way.

- Yes, there is the Nikon 50/1.4G. But...it's $500, nowhere near a "normal" lens on a DX body (it's not useless, but it's not normal, and I REALLY want a normal lens) and bigger/heavier.

- This lens really makes one of the D40/x/60 cameras an attractive 2nd body for those who shoot any of the higher-level Nikons. I see little benefit to shooting a D3/x/D700 with a prime lens (whether DX or FX), when the camera itself is so bulky and heavy. But this lens coupled with one of the smaller DX bodies makes a great, take-anywhere combo.

My enthusiasm is subject to actual image quality, but at least Nikon has thrown DX shooters a bone here. I think people have gotten so caught-up in the full-frame, professional and flagship camera hype recently that they have forgotten to check back in with reality. There are far more DX shooters than FX shooters, and this isn't going to change anytime soon. While $2,700 is cheap compared to what FX bodies cost a few years ago (assuming FX bodies were even available in your preferred camera mount), it's still not chump change. So don't underestimate how many people have been waiting for a lens like this. Besides, FX shooters already have more normal choices than DX shooters. If you want to complain about something, complain about continued pricing disparities: with the dollar having dropped more vis-a-vis the yen in the last year than the Euro (thus prompting the recent Nikon price hikes), and with the Euro worth more than the dollar, how is it that this lens costs only $199, but €243? Even the price in GBP is lower than the Euro price! Still, I'll take it, and I won't begrudge those in the US a deal.

Other notes:

- If you want something fast and wide on FX that won't break the bank (and you don't like the 35mm f/2 (despite admonitions to DX shooters to be happy with it), check out the 35mm f/1.4 or 28mm f/2.0 AI or AI-S lenses. No AF, but they will meter fine on any of the FX bodies. I have the 28/2 and it is stellar.

- If you are shooting DX and want a fast-ish prime that is wider, consider either the 28/2 mentioned above, or the Sigma 24mm f/2.8 macro Super-Wide II. It won't autofocus on a D40/x/60, but it will meter and otherwise performs very nicely, though focus is a bit slow. I have been using both of these lenses on my D300, just waiting for the 35mm f/1.8 to show up! (Between the two, I really recommend the 28/2, which is just amazing. But if you need wider, you need wider.)


*P.S. Why DX if I can afford FX? For all of the reasons below:
- Price
- Size
- Weight
- Existing lens collection optimized for DX
- FX only provides slightly more than 1 but less than 2 stops of high ISO improvement (D3/D700 only)
- I expect these goodies (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2008/12/still-keeping-t.html) will keep DX relevant for a while yet.

When I do upgrade to FX (and I will eventually) it will probably be for the viewfinder.

Well, I'm one who is reasonably OK with this. A fast, small, lightweight, 'normal' lens for my D90? Seems fine to me and the price looks sensible enough for my amateur efforts. I suspect one will end up in the bag sometime.

Permit me to join the chorus lamenting the dearth of wider primes generally, however?

I guess Pentax led the way with their 21mm (for APS format), but it barely qualifies as a wide-angle in my opinion. Then they jumped to the opposite extreme with a 15mm (if it's yet available?)...

Nobody else seems very interested in wide primes and NOBODY seems to want to make a wide prime for APS format in the 16mm - 18mm range. What's up with that? In the days of 35mm film 24mm and 28mm wide-angles were popular for good reason, methinks. So, why not offer an equivalent for the smaller sensors of (most) DSLRs? I find it hard to believe there's no demand.

"I suppose Pentax doesn't have a dearth of primes, but there's no smallish, light-ish 35/1.8 equivalent in that line either. "

Is it a 24-2 enough for your Wisconsin Highness? :0) [36 equiv]. Actually, a wünderplastic FA 24 -2 AL [not in production, but still very widely avaliable]

I can only imagine what the quality of the pictures that this thing could take. And at the price it is, can't really beat that either.

Dick Bolton says the f/1.8 is a gimmick but wide apertures are important for DX for two reasons. First, the current Nikon DX cameras tend to be noisier than their contemporary FX counterparts - compare the D90/D300 with the D3/D700, all offering 12MP. The older 10MP designs like mine are considerably noisier. Every stop you gain in low light is useful for commercial use. Second, use of shallow DoF on a DX generally demands a stop or so over its FX counterpart, given the same distance and angle of view so it's nice to see the f/1.8 in an advanced design.

The proof of the pudding will always be in the tasting but DX users who haven't already stumped up for a Sigma 28mm f/1.8 (that's what I use - optically very good but no focus motor and very bulky) or 30mm should be pleased with the Nikon if build and performance work out.

Quite a few photographers own DX camera bodies capable of producing high-quality images. For them this lens (if it performs well) is a cost-effective way to shoot with a prime lens.

I have a Nikkor 35/2 AIS which will serve me well on the FX body in my future. If the 35/1.8 performance is what it should be, I will order one for my D300 as I plan to keep that body for a long time.

"Yeah, why not 33mm?" -let me remind you that many classic "50mm" lenses have actually been 52.4mm, as in case of Contax and all of it's heirs. Leica probably was 51-point-something? And 35X1.5=52.5. I, personally, am glad that Nikon's first affordable DX prime lens has that same classic viewing angle, even when it's actual focal length may happen to be, say, 33mm:)

Just to be complete on the 35mm (ish) equivalency for APS-C cameras, there's the Sigma 24/1.8 DG. It's available for all major lens mounts, but it's also pretty big and pretty expensive. The Pentax 21mm is an interesting alternative, except that at f/3.2 it's kind of slow for a prime.

I can't use a 50mm-e these days. Feels like sitting between two chairs: no good for vistas, no good for details.

A compact, 2.0 24mm (36mm-e) would be kewl.

I already have a 20mm 2.8 Nikkor, but sadly it is not so crisp in the edges as it should be, unless you stop it down two stops. Not even on a reduced-frame camera.

I'll never understand why some people take these things so personally as if the designers have somehow ignored the whims and fancies of all their consumers because after all, the opinion of one person must surely represent all the views of users out there. I might not have too much use for this lens but there are many consumers out there who will, particularly D40/60 owners.So be it. Other lenses will come in time, but this is by no means worthy of a barrage of gripes and moans. The world and the community of users is a big and varied place, and all the better for being so.

Some other, less related hypothesizing... Nikon has now moved up on the "cameras Mike may have recently purchased list", given his passionate response to this lens release.

And the A900 can be removed from that list, as well, see: "...otherwise I'd probably have to own an A900 by now. Can't get that beautiful camera out of my head."


Why do I feel like a tea-leaf?

Mike J.

I quite like the idea of this. My 35 F2 AFD spends most of its time on my D200 and gives very pleasing results. Its a shame its not FX in some respects as I'd hesitate to buy for future reasons. I'd contemplated the Sigma but its just too big - might as well have the zoom on the front.

I'll be interested to see the image results (Like many) wide open as the 35 F2 doesn't really pop until F2.8.

If its really good then perhaps it will become my D80s standard lens for a lightweight compact kit.....

Well, I don't agree with your dissapointment at all. Why?
Some time ago you've written about why traditional, film-designed lenses don't work well with digital cameras. You stated then, that it's because anti-reflection coatings that are not good enough, that the light reflects from the sensor, reflects again from the lens and kills the contrast.
Well, frankly speaking, I don't belive that scenario. ASAIK AR coatings (I mean "comercial" ones, not the scientific or specialty ones) are nowadays not anough better than, say 15 years ago even to fix the extra reflections caused by extra elements put to modern lens designs. I suspect that contrast loss is caused by the fact that the field of view of full-frame lenses is way too big for APS_C cameras. There is much light that reflects from the

Ahhhh, all of this yammering on about the dearth of Nikon primes that don't sound like a fly trying to get through a closed window when they focus, reinforces my decision not to jump ship from Canon last year for just this very reason. I lusted after the D700 until I realized that below 85mm (a focal length I don't use) Nikon had nothing that wasn't old, noisy and of questionable quality on an FX sensor. I realized that I'd have to use MF Zeiss lenses or AI Nikkors from the 80's. In order to do that, I'd have to either use the original focus screen that is not optimized for MF, or have one customized by Bill Maxwell. Glad I stuck with what I had.

I'm of two minds here. As a recent purchaser of a D700, and one who has basically left the 35mm AF-D Nikkor on the camera, my heart leapt while I still believed that a brand-new, AF-S, 1.8 prime in my focal length of choice was heading my way.

At the same time, as a person that bounced around from cropped sensor camera to cropped sensor camera, never quite able to find a primes solution that was just what I wanted, I know that with my previous camera my heart would have leapt just as much at this announcement. This not being the lens I want now doesn't take away from the fact that it was the lens I badly wanted then. If I'd had a D40, I might've gone crazy without AF-S primes like this. So on balance, it *is* great news.

I still can't for the life of me figure out why Nikon hasn't made a 16mm 2.8 DX prime. Four years ago, when I had a D70, I knew in my soul that such a lens would round everything out, paired with a 24, 35, and 50mm prime set, coming close enough to my loved 24, 35, 50, and 85 (that, thanks to the D700, I now have). I suppose that now that there's an entire line of cameras that can't use AF-D lenses, Nikon has bigger fish to fry, but for all the D80/90/200/300 users out there, I imagine the 16mm option would be a godsend.

Still, I'm glad to see Nikon following Pentax and Olympus in actually making a prime lens designed for the cropped sensors. I don't expect to see Canon ever doing much of the same.

Oh, and as for focal length, I'm of several minds on that. While making a 33mm lens would certainly match better, where's the rule that says that focal lengths need to match those of the larger format? Pentax's lineup of odd focal lengths (and odder equivalents) is downright charming. That DA Limited set being, essentially, a 22mm, 31mm, 60mm, and 105mm appeals to me on some level.


As an Olympus shooter, I couldn't care less about this lens (or the griping).

What I am interested in is news on Mike's camera purchase. That cat wants out of that damn'd bag!

PMFJI. You may have missed the point on this one Mike. Nikon Inc. are not in the business of making lenses. They are in the business of making money.

This thing may bloody well sell like hotcakes to the D40/D60 crowd. It will autofocus with those bodies - and Nikon sells a BUNCH of those for every FX that leaves the factory.

$200 U.S.? The Sigma 'dirty 30' goes for what, maybe another $150? If you shot D40 - and the new lens captured reasonable images - why would you not?

May not be everyone's cuppa - but for mass marketing you pretty much have to market to the masses.

Not to worry, Mike; when I order mine I'll be sure to use the TOP link to B&H.


(I shoot D300, but have a D70S backup body. For $200, why not give it a shot?)

Take care.

A few of the above commenters hint at this, but to understand Nikon's actions one needs to consider that Nikon is not only competing with Sigma, Zeiss and the other third party lensmakers, but also with itself.

There is a very large catalogue of lenses available both new and second hand. Nikon has to make a value proposition that ideally fills a gap in the market, outdoes competitors, and will sell enough in these economic times. The 35mm DX lens does this by aiming low - 200 USD should be affordable, and significantly undercuts the faster Sigma 30mm.

To sell to the much smaller FX market Nikon will have to deliver something that outperforms the back catalogue. Just adding AFS might not be enough - consider the mixed reception of the new 50mm. For inspiration, I hope they look at Canon's lens catalogue.

"Nikon has now moved up on the 'cameras Mike may have recently purchased list', given his passionate response to this lens release."

That was my first reaction, too. But given the nature of the gripe, you'd think it was a full-frame Nikon, which I believe start in A900 territory, price wise. Then I remembered that our tea leaf is among other things a professional curmudgeon, which means that he gets to rant passionately on behalf of others, especially concerning lenses, and most especially concerning prime lenses. ;-)

Which leaves me stumped, for now. I don't think Mike's going to let the cat out of the bag any time soon, either. He knows what he'd be in for if he did.

"He knows what he'd be in for if he did."

robert e,
TESTIFY, brother.


Mike J.

I have an old 28mm f2.0 AI lens that I am using on my D40. It makes for a truly wonderful walkabout lens for me. I wish this new lens was a 28mm instead of 35mm. I am still going to get it since no metering and manual focusing on D40 with older lenses mean I often miss out on decisive moments.

Adam: It's also the DX crowd that wants a new 35. The reason that we DX users love our 50s is because they're significantly better than the 35/2. Don't get me wrong - I love my 35/2, but on a D300, it's no match to either 50 below f/4, and that's where I want to use it. With the large number of DX users, this new lens will only help fund Nikon's massive R&D budget, and will fill a large hole in their lens lineup at the same time.

I can't wait to see some tests. The sample image and MTF chart look promising!

Hmm, the sample image looks really good. By contrast the AF 35/2D lens has pretty crappy bokeh. I guess we'll just wait and see how good it is. And yes, it would have been nice if this were a 30 mm.

I read these comments and find that I feel even more committed to film.

Jim: The Sigma 30/1.4 is $439 at B&H online just now. So more like $240 more.

If I hadn't recently bought a 35mm 2 D recently very cheap (beaten up sample). I would buy it for sure. Its a really nice, fast, cheap addition to any DX shooter.
I really like the 35mm 2 AF-D performance by the way, great lens (even beaten up).

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