« Followup: Paul Byrnes on Truth at the Movies | Main | Update: Michael Nash »

Monday, 18 February 2013


I bought the 85 1.8 prime. Its well regarded and I think a good deal at about $400. I'm intending to use it for no-flash candids of my kids playing and other stuff like that. Should be a fun lens.


Before you spend for the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 even with the discount, read Lloyd Chambers opinions on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4. He thinks it's stellar and a relative bargain. It's approximately $900 @ B&H. I do not work for him, Sigma or B&H and I'm not a fan of that focal length but...

Sigma's latest 35 is better and cheaper ;)

Have you investigated the Sigma 35mm 1.4 for Nikon? It's only $899 but stock is limited so it hasn't been widely available. Trustworthy sources (Thom Hogan, Roger Cicala, DXO) have indicated that it's an optically better lens than the Nikon 35mm 1.4G.

"If anybody can tell me anything bad about that big 35mm, that might help."

Well, sure Mike.

There's one thing seriously wrong with that lens:

It's missing from your bag...

It's a truly detestable lens: http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com/365redux/e4db8c3dc

It's painted black: http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com/365redux/e4e0be594

Annoyingly, they made it tubular: http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com/365redux/e4e71d280

They used glass, instead of that delightful Diana or Lomo plastic: http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com/365redux/e4ea8a7a8

And really, who needs f/1.4 other than poseurs? http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com/365redux/e50532b98


According to the B&H website, the offer is valid until March 2nd, so you might have to hold on a bit more than 8 days...


I've never tried either 35/1.4, but I'm reading raves regarding the new Sigma 35/1.4. Even with Nikon's discount, the Sigma is still some $500+ cheaper. Something else to consider.

That Sigma 35mm f/1.4 by some reviews, sacrifices (a more) beautiful bokeh in lieu of it's well-regarded sharpness. Paying more for the Nikkor buys both attributes. This comment is only what I've read from other reviewers, as I'm still using the much, much earlier 35mm f/1.4 AI'd (non-autofocus) version.

Bad... it's big, it's heavy, it's expensive, it's on sale? Aaah, this would be easier if you were willing to, or even preferred, manual focus.

"I do not need one more. I do not deserve one more. I cannot afford one more." My next line in this litany is usually, "now where did I put my credit card?"

Thom Hogan and Roger Cicala (lensrentals.com) both claim the Sigma is better optically....and it's a lot cheaper, even with the rebate.

Hi Mike:

Check out Thom Hogan's site for a complete rundown on all the lens discounts. He doesn't think the 35mm is that great a bargain but does like the 35mm Sigma.

I'll chip in with all those who have recommended the Sigma 35mm f1.4 - I've had mine for a couple of weeks and I'd say it probably is the sharpest wide angle I've ever owned (right into the corners, too).

Very well built (heavy), sophisticated appearance, rapid accurate focussing, beats (optically) all other available 35/1.4 lenses for dslrs . . . I could go on.

For what it's worth Nikon guru Thom Hogan recommends the Sigma ("$600 cheaper" and "better optically").

This probably won't help you, as it might be even more tempting than the Nikon, but at least it will be easier on your bank account. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM:

Thom Hogan gives his take on the Nikon lens sale in a new post (Feb 18) on his bythom site.

It's a complex lens with lots of plastic parts, the electronics were built with lead-free solder, it is large and heavy, and considering the high ISO performance of the D800 you could do 99.9% of all your photos with the lowly $300 35/2 AF-D. The old screw-drive lens will focus faster, work on legacy film bodies, and be considerably lighter and more compact at 20% of the 35/1.4's price.

Don't fall for marketing crap Mike!

You might want to read today's post by Thom Hogan about the various Nikon lenses on sale, and specifically his comments about the 35 in question.

Mike, Tim Ashley just ran a Sigma 35 1.4 through its paces on his blog and described it as "possibly great". I found the Nikon 35 1.4G quite good, but it's not a focal length I'm in love with.

Alas the plumber just pulled out of my driveway with the check for my new 18-300 in his pocket.

Sell all the other lenses and get it.

The worst thing about that lens is that it doesn't easily fit my Canon...

You know, I have a number of older nikon manual and autofocus lenses, mostly primes like the 24 f2.8 af, 35 f/2 af-d, 50 f1.4 af-d, and 85 f1.4 af-d, which all work very well on my D600. So I have to ask, is it really worth it to spend up to $1799, on sale, for the 24 f1.4g when my 24 f2.8 af works just fine on my digital camera, not to mention all my film cameras? Plus, these new ones don't have an aperture ring so they are pretty much useless on film cameras.

I understand these are all state of the art lenses Nikon is currently producing, but when is it ever enough? I'm having a hard time justifying replacing the perfectly fine older lenses with these newer versions. Am I missing something here?

From what I've read the Sigma 35/1.4 is very sharp wide open. From what I know from personal experience the Nikon 35/1.4 AF-S is plenty sharp, too. However, and I think that could be the more interesting point for you, the Zeiss 35/1.4 has smoother bokeh. Being an MF lens it's not easy to focus wide open, though.

It's not an option for those demanding auto focus, but as others elsewhere have testified, the Ultron 40mm f2 pancake is one incredibly sharp, lightweight and "moderately priced" performer.

There's always the Zeiss 35mm F2.0 (or the F1.4 for more bling). The F2.0 is supposedly sharper on the D800.

Having been considering a D800E w/ Sigma 35 F1.4 for my upcoming
birthday (justification). But my credit & cash accounts are all jointly
held with spouse (reality).

Try a juice fast for 7 days to clear your mind and then perhaps decide to be
35mm whole again or not to be.

No money for lenses, I'm afraid. My big temptation is a better M43 body, but that's my secondary system so it's really not a priority.

It'd be interesting to try the 24, 35, and 50 f/1.4 lenses and the 24-120/4 zoom as a possible replacement (along with the 85/1.8 I've got) for the 28-70/2.8 zoom, but, um, adding up that column of figures makes me feel ill.

"If anybody can tell me anything bad about that big 35mm, that might help."

Let me try.

First a disclaimer: I have one, and it is my main lens for the D700. I love it.

So far it won't help you. But here it comes: The lens is heavy, big, and draws unnecessary attention, all the more that the camera body isn't light and small either. Since owning an OM-D E-M5 the DSLR sees it's only action at home. Amazingly, for my use the two cameras are a draw as far as image quality is concerned. So it are weight and size that made the balance tilt in favour of the smaller one. It is much nicer to carry around and to travel with.

I bought my 85 1.8g 3 weeks ago locally at Hunts Photo a regional chain, yes i felt a little guilty after buying my D800 at B&H (through this site). I doubt that they will do anything for me.
B&H is rare in that they honor price reductions in 30 days without question they did so with the D800 without hesitation.

Didn't bite, as there is nothing I'm looking for. Nikon needs a decent 24/25mm f/1.8 or f/2 or even f/2.8 that can keep up with the D800.

The 85/1.8G is excellent, really excellent at a good price now, but already own it.

The Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM A for "Art" lens is excellent. Own it, excellent central and border sharpness wide open - for my needs (which revolve around 35mm as my most often used lens) I wouldn't consider the Nikkor 35/1.4G for not quite double the price. The Nikon is probably a bit more resistant to contrast reducing veiling flare in some situations; the Sigma suffers from less CA. Outer focus points with the Sigma are not usable but there are hints a firmware update will address this (on the lens via their USB dock or a service); I've no idea if the Nikkor 35G would be any different on my copy of the D800. In the meantime, for my purposes, focus and recompose works well with this very nice lens, my first Sigma.

Hey, maybe Sigma will bring out a 24mm prime that is up to the same sort of IQ and build that this new 35 is at.

The one that I would have bought would have been that new 70-200/f4G. But it wasn't on the list, darn it.

Both those 85s are sure swell, and I'm almost tempted by them, but don't think they'd get enough serious use to warrant the expenditure.

I know that feeling...too many lenses, and not enough money to buy the new one I (really) want(need). Maybe its time to sell some of the ones I never use to help defray the cost of one I (think) I will use?? Of course, if I don't have that sold one, some day I will desperately need it (sure!).

I would suggest looking at a Nikkor 35mm F1.4 AIS lens. Careful shopping will probably find you one around $500 and on my D700 it is superb! Plus theres just something about the feel of those older lenses.

Not the sale you were writing about, but I just picked up a nice Nikkor 135mm f2.8 Ai for a hundred bucks. Those new lens prices, even on sale, are too much for me. Now I've got money left over to buy film.

Another nikon 85mm/1.8 bought through TOP's referral link. I'd rather have bought it through my local shop honestly, but the discount seems to be US only :(

Ahem. I can think of something grossly defective about a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Of your ten favorite photographs, how many were taken at f/1.4? Zero? You don't need the speed for aesthetics.

I have the 24/1.4G, bought on your advice to use as a 35mm-equivalent lens. I had the 35/2 AFD lens when I shot film. If I were shooting a D800, I'd get the f/2 lens in a heartbeat and skip the huge, expensive, globular hunk of glass. Back when I used Kodak TP, I needed the speed. Now, f/2 is good enough. You don't need the speed for technical reasons.

You don't need the speed.

I should add that since its winter here in Maine I limit my excursions to minutes from the car. So I have been using just the 85 1.8g and an older 24 2.8d and have been stunned by the shots in my D800. They print unbelievably well!

Ultra fast Lenses seem a bit OTT now that ISO speed is so high. Remember when 400 seemed just a bit too grainy and 800 horrible.

"If anybody can tell me anything bad about that big 35mm, that might help."

I'd be lying if I did.

All right, I'm stupid. I bought the 50 f1.8, not the 35.

Like everyone else, I don't see the advantage of the Nikon over the Sigma in most situations; the Sigma prime trio (35, 50, and 85) is impressive both objectively and for the money.

I had the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G for a while. I ended up selling it. While it could be great, its AF performance at the widest apertures left me wanting many times. I expect a lens that expensive to walk on water and, well, it fell a bit short.

I may get the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 at some point. Until then, I'm making do with the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX (in 4x5 crop on the D800) or my Zeiss ZF 35mm f/2 when I go manual.

BTW, I ordered the 85mm 1.8 with the rebate. I like the smaller and lighter 1.8 options for the D800. Thanks for the notice on the rebate. You saved me some cash as I was going to get the 85mm anyway.

The other day, you were wondering whether or not you wanted to keep the D800. If you sold it, you'd have no reason to lust for this lens. Two birds with one stone.

None as there is no Nikon love for the RoW.
B&H and Amazon won't ship to a Canadian address.

I bought the 85mm f/1.8, to pair with my two-month old Sigma 35mm f/1.4 for a nice two lens walkaround bag.

Off topic....An encouraging review of Nikon's D5200 http://www.eoshd.com may be of interest for it's economy and performance cheers

Mike replies: There's coverage. The ƒ/1.8 is an APS-C lens, which I think Nikon calls "DX." It's not meant to cover full frame.

Yes, "DX" is Nikon code for their APS-C cameras. I'm pretty sure that the 50/1.8G is a full frame, though.


I ordered a Samyang 35mm f/1.4. Should be here tomorrow. $500 and it gets very positive reviews. It is manual focus but I can live with that just fine. I would like to get a 50mm f/1.4 G but they're on back order. May opt for a AF-D version and pocket the difference.

Would love to get my hands on the 35mm. Hope to by the end of the deadline.

I bought the 24-120mm. I've wanted it for a long time, and had been saving up to pay full price. The timing couldn't have been better.

[Cool. Makes me feel better, vicariously. I bought not one but two of these sale lenses...for full price. Not good timing on my part! --Mike]

Even though you can't afford the 35mm f1.4, at least you can console yourself with the Canon 40mm f2.8 pancake which is currently only $149 over at B&H. It would be great on your Nikon D800...oh, sorry. Nikon. Yeah.

Well, how about the 35mm f2.0 IS? Does 95% of what the f1.4 does for 2/3 of the price, and it has IS! Oh yeah, D800 again.

Damn. You Nikon guys have it hard sometimes.

A friend I referred to your column has ordered an 18-300.

The worst thing about the Nikon 35 1.4G is that it shares store space with the optically superior, and costing half as much, Sigma 35 1.4 DG

Did you see Kirk's "fancy" and cheap 85mm F/1.5 quick review?

And it seems the Sigma 35/1.4 is all the talk now... and

Good luck ;-)

You should not buy the 35mm f1.4 to protest the fact that Nikon hasn't come out with a 35mm f1.8 or f2 yet. The 28mm, 50mm and 85mm f1.8's are all really quite good and far cheaper (and lighter) than the f1.4 stuff.

Or buy the Sigma. I've heard nothing but good about the lens but don't have the cash to give it a try.

I feel your pain, Mike. I bought the 24-120mm about two weeks ago from BH. Grrr... But a fast 85mm would be nice. Decisions, decisions.

One of the beast deals on these rebates, is on 24-120mm. This is a stellar lens and has the highest discount in percentage. Don't take Thom Hogan's word for it, I personally vouch for this (provided that you get a good copy).

I got the 85/1.8 - I've been wanting/not needing it for a while, so this made the choice easy for me.

Mike, have you considered the new Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens? Lloyd Chambers gave it hight marks, stating it´s better than the Nikon he have...

Luiz Kamnitzer

I have the Sigma 35mm f1.4 and it is astoundingly good. I also have the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 ZF2 that I use when I have the luxury of using live view on a tripod. In its optical characteristics I think the Sigma is better in every way although mechanically the Zeiss is fabulous - precise manual focus is important to me in some of the photography I do and that is not a strength of the Sigma at all.

I've been meaning to pick up the 85/1.8, but was waiting until I sold off more of my old system. I'm going to order one (today) while the getting is good. I was briefly tempted by a couple others ... the 18-300 is supposed to be good but that's just silly; I've never been a superzoom person. The macro lenses are also somewhat tempting - I've done macro in the past and would like to do more, but I'll wait until I know I'm going to use it. (I'd be perfectly fine doing macro with a manual focus lens, too, so I have lots of options available when the time comes).

Did you read Thom's comment on the 35 ? (He posted a quick guide to the lenses on sale). His take: get the optically better Sigma for $600 less.

I'm too busy saving for the Fuji 14mm, and the up coming 23mm F1.4. Prime use on my D600 is relegated to my aged but still good D lenses (50 F1.4D and 85 F1.8D) which do sterling service.

My Nikkor lens collection is doomed to stay static, but used appropriately. The sale is irrelevant.

On the other hand, I'm about to order the new Fijinon 14/2.8 XF lens for my X-Pro 1.

Nikon has pretty much lost me as a future customer although I use my existing Nikon gear regularly.

Yes Mike, you do need one more. You do deserve one more. Just saying :)

My first prime since the 180 2.8in the 70's....got the 85 1.8:)

"I would suggest looking at a Nikkor 35mm F1.4 AIS lens."

I once tried that at at 2nd hand shop, and even on the display of the D50 (anyone remember?) I noticed the hideous bokeh!

I did not bite. I started nibbling on m4/3rds stuff instead. I got tired of digital equipment that is as big as a Hasselblad.

Nikon's AF-D 35 f/2.0 lens was one of my favorite all around lenses when I shot film. It's very small, lightweight, well-built and pretty sharp. It's about the only lens I regret selling when I got rid of some film gear. And it can be had for a fraction of the cost of the AF-S 35 f/1.4. Rent one, and if you like it on the D800, that'd save you a pretty penny over the 1.4 lens, sale or no sale.

Nothing yet, but the sale got me thinking, so now trying to turn a D7000 and 2 DX lenses into a D600...The 50 1.4 is finally much more reasonably priced (and i do think the 1.4 is worth it), but I'll miss the remarkably affordable workmanlike 35 1.8 DX. I shudder at the price of what Nikon's eventual 35 f2 FX replacement will cost.

Well, let's hear it for the Internet. A D600, found when looking at the lens deals, on the way (by way of affiliate link, of course). Nefarious plan, tempting enough folks into buying enough to offset your own purchase....you have a few extra rooms for all us free clickers when our wives/husbands/spouses find out what we bought?

This is not going to help you, so stop reading now...

I have the D800E and the 35mm f/1.4. It DOES have a special look to it, that lens. Super sharp in the center wide open, and has a certain DOF and vignetting that makes SUPERB people pictures. They have a timeless quality to them. Sell the 28mm and get the 35mm and then be done with it. The only other lens you will need would be something a little longer, and you can get that later.

I'll jus add another vote for the 85mm f1.8 - fantastic lens - small - cheap - sharp - fast

... Oh hang on a minute - I'm talking about the Canon......

Trying as hard as I can, but I'm just not able to wrap by brain around the thought of buying any Nikkor G lenses. The fast primes are truly monstrous in size which can be intimidating for many human subjects. Then there's also the fact that these lenses have no aperture rings, thus unusable on any of my Nikons save the two newest ones. Lastly, the one Nikkor with silent wave motor that I own, the optically excellent 28-70 f.28 ED IF, was claimed to be professional-grade build. Yet it soon developed an embarrassing squeak, and I was told by an authorized Nikon Repair shop, "if it focuses OK don't worry about the squeak". The lens is now about five years old, and the motor can't get started by itself without a manual twist of the focus ring first. It obviously needs a whole new motor that will probably set me back several hundred dollars.

When the repair bill starts pushing well up against replacement cost, one basically owns a throw away lens. I have my suspicions that this will be the case for all of the G glass. And if I'm right, then gray market G lenses would be the way to go for those that want to own them.

Meanwhile, I have numerous Pre-AI and AIS Nikkor lenses, the pre AI glass working perfectly after thirty+ years in service, and the AIS glass working perfectly with two decades of use. I'm also enjoying a real renaissance of photography using the AIS lenses on my D800E. So, I'm thinking that for me, the new lenses to look at may just be the CPU enabled manual F-mount offerings from Zeiss, Voigtlander, Samyang, etc.

Mike, I'm also looking at some of the older Ai and AiS lenses while being tempted by the D800. I'm still shooting older Nikon film cameras so that is my excuse for not considering the new G primes. I've seen excellent results from the current pro-grade Nikkor primes, and even from my mid-grade G zooms, but I think we can only now with cameras such as the D800/D800E twins see just how nice many of those "obsolete" Ai thru AF-D lenses are.

There is your excuse for not buying. That fast 35 G would be great on your Nikkormat if you still have it. It would be wide-open all of the time though.

OK, I had the same problem. As I could see, most of your work is with static subjects. I found the electronic rangefinder works much better on my D800, than it worked even on D3.
For all static pictures I decided to use my old, trusted Nikkor AIS 35mm f:1.4. Even much stronger build and with remarquable finger print at open aperture.
It is true that corners at 1.4 are a bit fuzzy. But the overall picture is stronger.
Yes, I also bought a 28mm 1.8 G for very dynamic moments. Some of them are back-focusing.

Hmmpph. Somebody must have bitten, because the 85/1.8G is out of stock at B&H, Adorama, Amazon, Unique Photo and Crutchfield !

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007