Nikon 35mm f/1.8 vs 35mm f/1.4


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Dec 25, 2009
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NE Ohio
I already have the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G and really like it (mainly for family snapshots), so I figured I'd take a look at the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G when it came out.

Now here's the question: The f1.4 lens lists at nine times the cost of the f1.8 lens ($200 vs $1800), and I'm curious as to why?

I understand Nikon can ask whatever they want to for a lens, however, how is that cost justified in the minds of the people that buy it?

The f1.4 lens is both FX and DX compatible, is obviously faster glass, and has a Nano Crystal Coat (for what that's worth), but is there something else I'm missing that makes this lens so much more expensive?

Thanks, Ralph
One is a Honda. The other is a Bentley. Both are 4-wheeled, closed-roof automobiles. One costs nine or ten times more than the other. You might also compare the Canon 200mm f/2.8 EF lens to the Canon 200mm f/2 IS-L lens. Similar price difference.
The cost of going from f1.8 to f1.4 is much higher, let alone going from a DX f1.8 to FX f1.4. The f1.4 has Nano Coating and is full pro built.
So what I'm hearing is: it's not just about the technical aspects of the lens, although important and certainly a factor, it's also about quality and durability.

I can appreciate that.

Thanks for the responses.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 vs 35mm f/1.4 vs 35mm f/2.0D

Am I the odd one out? :( It still takes great pictures.
He owns the f1.8 and is thinking about upgrading. Getting a slower lens isn't much of an upgrade ;)

After having used the canon 5D MKII along with canon's 35mm f1.4 I have high hopes that the nikkor will match canon's offering, which is great.
You won't miss the 0.2 difference in max aperture. The nearly $200 price difference will be IMO. Much less barrel distortion, handles CA better, build quality.

Buuuuuut, if I was looking for a f/1.4, that's another story to tell. :)
The 35mm f/2 AF-D is an "economy" 35mm lens design. I own one. It's only "okay". The 35mm f/2 Ai-S is a full-fledged, expensive,competent 35mm lens design. The older 35/2 Ai-S manual focus has much better image quality at the edges of the frame than the newer, cheaper, simplified 35/2 AF-D. I bought nthe 35/2 Ai-S when I found a used one really affordably, back when the Nikon D100 was causing people to dump anything they owned in order to raise cash to "go digital". It's a very good lens! Better than the autofocus model--provided you can hit focus right!

Nikon was wayyyyyy late in bringing autofocus to the 35mm focal length...they worked on their zooms back then, in the mid-1980's. The 35/2 AF was developed after much of the AF lineup was brought out, as a cheaper alternative lens to the "professional" 35mm 1.4 Ai-S and the professional 35/2 Ai-S lenses. The 35/2 AF and AF-D lenses are really old technology designs, made cheaper than the Ai-S models; they have a very 1980's AF-Nikkor ethos about them. Plastick-y. So-so optics. Sub-par corners.

Today, there are multiple zoom lenses that out-resolve the 35/2 AF-D...there has not been much demand for 35mm primes from Nikon users in the DX camera era; now that more and more Nikon shooters are switching to FX format cameras, and Nikon wants some new, high-profit, high-spec lenses to get people buying again, the 35/1.4 AF-S G makes sense; they have done it up in big-time style, going for an all-out, pro-level, ultra-fast 35mm lens design that's supposed to be made without compromises on cost, or size, or weight. MOST of the market wants a $200, lightweight "pretty good" 35mm 1.8 DX lens. But, a certain segment is willing to pay top dollar for the newest, best Nikon lenses for their photography. Nikon has always catered to the advanced shooter's needs, throughout much of the lineup. They also have a hobbyist lineup of lenses, like the $200 35/1.8 DX lens, and the various kit zooms, and the 18-200 VR, etc,etc.

here's some expert Nikon lens reviews from Bjorn. Wide-Angle Lenses For Nikon 'F' Mount
You said you're using it for family snapshots.

Honestly, you probably won't see any difference in family snapshots with this lens.

Rent one first, then see if you want to shell out the cash.

It's a specialty lens for people who shoot in really dark places - like wedding photographers in poorly lit churches.
You said you're using it for family snapshots.

Honestly, you probably won't see any difference in family snapshots with this lens.

Rent one first, then see if you want to shell out the cash.

It's a specialty lens for people who shoot in really dark places - like wedding photographers in poorly lit churches.

I did actually consider renting it over some of the upcoming holidays.

I already got the feeling that this was more towards the pro realm than would be necessary for me. But, I do really like to own the highest quality equiptment that I can afford. (I even priced the Bentley when I traded in my Honda :D )

Thanks, Ralph
personally, I think 35mm is the perfect walked around/event prime lens. That's why I would LOVE to have the 1.4G, but it's way out of my price range. I will probably pick up the f/2 AF-D version.
I think i'm one of those few people who are genuinely interested in the 35G.

i have the 24G and 50G, but i've run into situations where the 24 is either too wide, or the 50 is too long, and as a result i have to use the DX crop on the 24, which knocks me down to 5MP. it really sucks because the difference between 5 and 12MP is big.

I agree with Derrel, the 35mm f/2 is an OK lens, but you can really tell it's a 30 year old design in the IQ and construction dept. Also, it doesn't quite give the depth that a 1.4 would.

I'm excited to see when people start getting them and we can see some user reviews.

I was thinking of doing 16-35VR, 24G, 50G, 85G, and 70-200 f/4VR (we all know it will happen), but i rented the 16-35 and i really can't imagine many situations where 24mm isn't wide enough for me. Also the 35mm end kind of sucks on that lens being slow and not really sharp wide open. So the 35G seems like a reasonable alternative considering it's 8 times as bright and i'm pretty sure will be darn close to optically perfect by f/4, just like the new 24, 50 and 85's are.

The more i use modern canon, sony, and nikon primes, the more i see how much of a compromise zooms are. As Nikon shooters, we didn't see it because two years ago, when all the current fast wide-normal primes were designed last century (literally), some were so mediocre that of course the zooms looked awesome in comparison. They weren't designed in the 80's, or in the case of the 35mm f/1.4, designed 40 years ago.

Another reason i'm getting these fast primes is that they'll still be current 10 years from now. Looking on Nikon's past track record for AF primes, they stay in style for at least 15 years. I get them at a discount, so worse case scenario i sell them for what I paid for them, and if the 35 or 24 get discontinued, than i'll bank on them.

So, in a nutshell:

By giving up the convenience of a zoom, and (potentially) spending a more money, prime shooters get significantly faster optics, usually significantly sharper optics, smaller optics, and are not affected by depreciation like zoom shooters are. Even though i'm making minimum wage and i'm in school, I'm hip to that jive.
I owned the 35 f/2 and it was pretty soft. I just picked up my copy of the 35mm 1.4 AFS and it is SICK! Sharp from edge to edge and on FX, a perfect local length. I never mounted the 35 f/2 because there wasn't really a compelling reason was boring. Prior to getting the f/1.4, I used my 24-70 almost exclusively. The f/1.4 has not left my camera since it was first mounted two weeks ago. I kept the 24-70 due to its versatility but the f/1.4's shallow depth of field and ability to shoot in much lower light...its particularly useful in night-time photography.

I didn't get the 24mm f/1.4 primarily because of the low production of the 35 f/1.4...they are still not readily available (still out of stock on most major sites and retail camera stores) and from what I understand may not become so for a little while. The 24mm has already dropped in price and I may pick that up down the road but I am extremely please with the 35mm f/1.4. Very accurate auto-focus (even in low light although not that quick...the slowest of all my AF lenses), great color and contrast, razor sharp, again razor sharp, great focal length for FX.

I also went through my old photos and realized that I primarily utilized the 24mm and 70mm end of my 24-70 but I also realized that I tended to crop my 24mm images unless it was landscape (which is infrequent and I tend to favor the 20mm f/4 AIS for landscapes since large apertures are relatively moot).

I hope that this helps someone make a decision since it was hard for me to find any comments on this lens before I plopped $1800 for it. I got rid of my 17-35 f/2.8 and my 35mm f/2 after this purchase.
Man, now I really want a 35/1.4. I use the 35/2 AF-D, and I think it's amazing on a crop frame ('cause you don't get the worst bit of the distortion, like you do in full frame). It's my most used lens. I found it to be sharp enough for my needs, but if the 35/1.4 is sharper... oh man. I bought this lens when it was the only full frame autofocus 35mm lens... but a few months later the 35/1.4 comes out... humm....

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