My Review of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

I posted some thoughts and pictures right after I got my new lens, The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX arrives – First Impression, and now that I’ve used it for several weeks I wanted to post a follow up review.

For St. Patrick’s Day we had dinner and hung out with friends and babies. Lighting was fairly low with a chandelier fixture in the dining room and one floor lamp bouncing off the ceiling in the living room. Even wide open at f/1.8, AUTO ISO was getting bumped up to keep the shutter above 1/40 second in some shots. Combine that with babies who don’t politely sit still for pictures and you have yourself a difficult shooting situation. With one of the kit lenses or even the 18-200mm VR, most of these shots wouldn’t have been possible. I had some ISO to play with on some, but most of them are hitting 1600 or 3200. If I stepped up to a minimum f/3.5 lens, my shutter would have dropped even more and my “keeper” rate would have dropped from 10% to maybe 3-5% without adding flash.

I’m extremely pleased with the lens. I swore off pixel peeping so I’m not going to go into boring details or shooting test charts. All I cared about initially was if the lens let me get indoor shots without using flash all of the time. If you’re happy with the DX format (and happy not spending thousands more on a new FX body and lens) then I suspect you’ll find the image and build quality of the lens more than satisfactory. What surprised me is that I’m starting to like the 35mm f/1.8 more than the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR AF-S DX .

One thing to consider with lenses is the size and weight. Compared to the 18-55mm the 35mm isn’t a whole lot smaller or lighter, but next to the 18-200mm it is night and day. I got the 18-200mm as a walk around, jack of all trades lens and now the size and weight have become deterrents to taking it out with me. The 18-200mm weighs 1.23 lbs. The 35mm weighs 0.45 lbs. The D90 weighs 1.6 lbs by itself. That’s a lot of weight to carry around all day on vacation or on a night out and I’d rather have 0.78 lbs less most of the time. The other difference is the 35mm situates it’s weight closer to the body of the lens. The 18-200mm is front heavy and more awkward to carry around, it usually ends up pointed straight down with the zoom fully extended when I hang the camera on my shoulder.

I could never use the 50mm f/1.8 as a walk around lens because it was simply too long. I use the wider end of the 18-200mm more than I use the long end so I don’t think I’ll miss the extra reach. The 35mm f/1.8 isn’t perfect, but it is such a well rounded lens that it might replace my 18-200mm and never leave my camera. At $200 I think it packs the best bang for your buck in the entire Nikon DX lens line up.

I got my Nikon 35mm f/1.8 at Amazon.

5 Replies to “My Review of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX”

  1. i’m looking forward to buy this 35mm too…woohohoho… do u think that it will be much different if i’m using d40 with 35mm compare to d90 like yours?

  2. I just got the lens, and it’s my first Nikon lens with SWM on it. What’s bothering me is the “scratchy” “clicky” noise during focusing.

    I’ve found one site that mentioned the same thing, and a short discussion on flickr about whether it’s scratchy or completely silent. I also own the 50mm f/1.8 and I know this far more quiet compare to that lens, but I’d not call is silent. I wonder if you can share with us your impression of the noise you hear. Thanks.

  3. Charles,

    I shot with my 35mm last night to see if I noticed anything out of the ordinary. The focusing on mine does have an audible “whirring”, but definetely not “clicking”. It might appear to sound clicky if you’ve got AF-C on and it is hunting for a lock. I’ve got the 18-200mm VR and had the 18-70mm before it and I haven’t heard much difference between them.

    Compared to the 50mm they are much quieter. I always hated when the 50mm slams into infinity with a loud clunk as it hunts for focus.

    So yeah it isn’t silent, but from a couple feet away nobody else would even hear it.

  4. I just bought a 52 mm prime for my d5000. I was wondering if the 35mm would have been a better option :? or should I own both? I noticed 52mm gives better depth but 35mm is good for close ups.

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