Lens review

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

12 June 2014
Arkadiusz Olech

7. Coma, astigmatism and bokeh

Let’s quote first the press release the producer published with the launch of the lens:

Because of an optical design that borrows from its sister lens (the professional NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4), point light sources are reproduced with minimal sagittal coma flare, a factor that enables stunning nightscapes.

I suppose I should start with the fact that the Nikkor’s AF-S 35 mm f/1.4G coma correction was weak – the details are included in our test of that lens - so quoting here its performance is an misunderstanding.

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The authors of press releases really bend over backwards because praising the coma correction of the tested lens when it shows such bad results in full frame corners is a huge slip-up. The coma is corrected well but only on the small APS-C/DX sensor. On full frame its level is significant and even after stopping down to f/2.5 you can’t eliminate it completely.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED - Coma, astigmatism and bokeh

Also the astigmatism makes itself felt, especially at the maximum relative aperture. Its influence is visible in a diode photo (above) we got in the frame centre by f/1.8. The image is not perfectly circular and there is a bit asymmetric gleam around it. The average difference between vertical and horizontal MTF50 function values amounted to as much as 23% and it is rather high. The astigmatism is an important factor limiting the performance of the lens especially by f/1.8-2.0. It decreases to negligent levels in an aperture range from f/2.8 to f/4.0

The defocused light points look great for a change. The light is spread very evenly, without any concentric circles, rims or local extremes. We think the blur provided by the Nikkor 1.8/35 G might be pleasing to the eye.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.8G ED - Coma, astigmatism and bokeh