Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX AF-S lens


10 years after Nikon introduced their first DSLR with a DX sensor, the D1, Nikon introduces a normal fast prime lens specifically for DX DSLRs. The 35mm focal length is equivalent to about 52mm on a full-frame camera. 50mm is a standard "normal" lens for the 135 format, which Nikon has termed FX for it's DSLR line. Since the inception of 35mm film the 50mm lens was the standard lens that was paired with most cameras since it approximates the same field of view as human eyesite.

When Nikon introduced it's DSLR line in 1999 they used a smaller APS-C sized sensor that was substantially smaller than a frame of 35mm film. This introduced what is known as a crop factor. Since the frame was smaller the field of view that sensor captured was reduced, resulting in the lens acting like a lens of a longer focal length.

For all these years Nikon has continued to manufacture DX cameras yet they have ignored the fact that there was really no option for someone who wanted a fast, "normal", inexpensive prime lens. The closest options were the 28mm f/2.8 (42mm equiv.) or the 35mm f/2. Both of these lenses worked OK, but weren't optimized for digital sensors.

The new 35mm f/1.8 was completely designed for DX cameras and bears no resemblance to the dinosaur 35mm f/2. The DX 35mm is smaller, more compact, and has newer and sharper lens elements that have a completely new design. The new lens also has the AF-S "Silent Wave" motor, which allows for super fast, super quiet focusing. This is also great news for D40/x and D60 users. Finally there's a cheap fast prime lens that can autofocus with these cameras.

No longer are DX camera users stuck with the 50mm f/1.8 as a good affordable prime lens. The 50mm is one of Nikon's most amazing lenses, but on a DX camera it's a short telephoto which makes it great for portraits but a little too long for most typical shooting scenarios.

The 35mm f/1.8G is the perfect light-weight, affordable, fast prime lens for all Nikon DX users from the D40 all the way up to the D300.

Nikon also ensures us that this is just the first of a new crop of lenses. I look for Nikon to unveil a few more gems during PMA this year.

Thanks Nikon, better late than never!


Tony said...

Nice post about this lens. I have pre-ordered it from Amazon and am eager to receive it. I love the 50mm f1.8 with my D40 but would not mind having auto focus and a wider perspective.

Let's hope this lens is good!

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Yeah, the 50mm is a great lens, but it can be a little limiting on DX. This new 35mm will a great all-around lens.

Anonymous said...

There is no apostrophe in the possessive "its".

J. Dennis Thomas said...

To the person that emailed me with the grammar correction.

You are correct, there is no apostrophe in the possessive "its".

However if you look closely, what you are referring to is NOT a possessive. What I have there is a contraction for "it is", in which case the apostrophe "it's" is the correct usage.

Thanks anyway!

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous was referring this this sentence:
"When Nikon introduced it's DSLR line in 1999 they used a smaller APS-C sized sensor that was substantially smaller than a frame of 35mm film."

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Well great, I'm glad everyone is so interested in a minor grammatical error that I made in a blog post that I wrote at 2 am.

Thanks everyone.

Georg said...

Sure, the 35/1.8 seems like a dream come true... but WHY did Nikon "forget" to put a distance scale on an AVAILABLE LIGHT lens???
I'm so furious - and can't even find an email adress to contact Nikon directly :-(

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Georg, it was probably left out to keep the cost of manufacture minimal. It's a $200 lens entry level lens. Most users aren't going to need the distance scale.

I can't say that I've missed having it.

You can go here to create an account with Nikon which will allow you to email them: