Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Review

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Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Nikkor Lens Nikon designed their new AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX lens so photographers using DX-sensor Nikon digital SLRs like the D90, D5000 and D300 could have the image quality and performance of a classic 50mm prime lens. With a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and an effective focal length of 52.5mm, the 35mm f/1.8G Nikkor is very similar to a 50mm lens on a full frame camera – a focal length historically favored for street photography and photojournalism.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens

In the Eighties and earlier, most of us learned photography with a 50mm lens. For a lot of beginning photographers, that’s all you had for a while. It’s a reasonably flexible lens – not too wide, not too long, and with a nice fast aperture so you can shoot in all kinds of light conditions. However, as the optical quality of zoom lenses improved, the 50mm lost favor with photographers. Recently, photographers have started to realize (remember) that the 50mm focal length has a lot to offer. A standard 50mm lens has excellent image quality, costs $100 or less and will teach you to compose carefully and “zoom with your feet.” Committing to a 50mm lens will help you become a better photographer.

If you own a Nikon DX body like the D5000, D300 or D90, the smaller sensor’s 1.5x crop factor converts the 50mm focal length to an effective 75mm. That has its benefits – 75mm is a great focal length for portraits. But it’s not the same as a 50mm lens on a 35mm SLR. Sigma was the first to identify the 50mm focal length void for DSLR owners. About 4 years ago they introduced a 30mm f/1.4 prime lens (30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM) designed specifically for digital SLRs. And now Nikon has their own AF-S lens for crop-sensor 50mm aficionados. It’s a compact, well-built lens with a metal mount and AF-S motor so it can be used with the D60, D5000 and other Nikon bodies that don’t have a built-in auto focus motor.

next pageNikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Image Quality & Sample Photos >>

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Franglais says:

    Good. I keep on telling people to rush out and buy it. The comparison out out-of-focus with the other lenses is interesting, I didn’t try it. But my favourite image is the cat

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for commenting. And thanks for posting a user review for it, too :-)

    My favorite photo is the cat, too. The combination of usable ISO 1600 and f/1.8 is hard to beat. The only thing missing is VR! The other photos aren’t masterpieces. But hopefully they demonstrate why you’d want to use a fast aperture prime lens. And I was also very curious to see how the 35mm DX lens compared to the 50mm at full frame. It compares very well, although the bokeh isn’t quite as nice. The tradeoff is the little bit more depth-of-field you get from the 35mm lens makes focusing easier when the lens is wide open.

    We don’t have very many sample photos in the gallery from the 35mm DX lens. I went out and took some more last night just to add to the pool. If you have some, please upload to the gallery so we have a better selection of samples. I hadn’t included a link to all the 35mm DX photos in the gallery because there weren’t enough. If we can add a few more I’ll add that link.

  • Paul B says:

    Indeed have just picked up a D5000 with kit and am debating whether the 35mm f/1.8 is necessary/essential but given my taste for natural light and resistance to using a flash I think this is probably a must-have. Thanks for the review. And, agree the cat photo was exactly what I was looking in demonstrating the advantages of the lens! (and is a nice photo)

  • Tim G says:

    I’ve had one of these for a few months now and use it on my D300. Overall I find it excellent, and the only weak points for me are the lack of a focus scale and the slightly rough feel when focusing manually, neither of which are a major problem. The results are far, far better than my 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 and noticably better than my 50mm f/1.8 or 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. I will be ebaying the 50mm as I just don’t use it any more.

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