Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED

12 June 2014
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED was based on RAW files from the Nikon D3x camera. In the case of that camera the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm. High quality, fixed-focus lenses get the best results around 47-49 lpmm and the record value belongs to the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 which, by f/4.0, exceeded slightly a level of 50 lpmm. You should also mention here an excellent result of the Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 which was able to reach near 49 lpmm. The expensive Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.4G didn’t break any records here, getting only a bit higher than 46 lpmm.

Let’s check how the Nikkor’s 1.8/35G ED results compare here. Its performance in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor and on the edge of full frame are presented on the graph below.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED - Image resolution

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The good news is easy to spot. In the frame centre, even at the maximum relative aperture, the lens exceeds slightly 30 lpmm so is able to generate useful images. It is a big advantage. Then, on stopping down, the MTFs improve sharply and the peak of its possibilities, amounting to about 46 lpmm, the lens is able to reach by f/4.0-5.6. These are not record values but still such a level is good, comparable to the performance of a more expensive, faster Nikkor 1.4/35G.

However if you compare the Nikkor to its direct rivals those achievements aren’t impressive any longer. The Canon 2/35 IS at the maximum relative aperture is well above the decency level and on stopping down gets results as high as it befits the best ‘prime’. The same can be said about the Sigma 1.4/35 which even by f/1.4 is fully useful and after stopping down can brush against record values.

Even more reservations you can have while looking at the edge of the frame. Already in the case of the APS-C sensor and by f/1.8/2.0 image is not useful. The Canon 2/35 IS, even though it was slower, didn’t experience such problems. The Sigma could be useful even by f/1.4.

When it comes to the edge of full frame the Nikkor 1.8/35 must be closed down to f/2.8 in order to present a decent image quality. The maximum results are average, reaching about 33 lpmm. Still the performance is better than that of the Nikkor 1.4/35G but it remains worse than that of the Sigma. In the duel with the Canon the Nikkor finally can score some points here. The Canon was very weak by f/2.0 and f/2.8 so it had to be stopped down to f/4.0 in order to generate useful images on the edge of full frame.

To sum up our impressions are mixed. The frame centre is beyond reproach and the new lens still fares better than the more expensive Nikkor 1.4/35G. Unfortunately for Nikon the rivals proved beyond any doubt that you can manufacture far better 35 mm devices.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED - Image resolution