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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:14 pm 
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This is to announce that a copy of this lens is somewhere heading my way and will get the usual treatment from me.

If you have any question, comment or suggestion regarding my review head over here.
Und wenn es irgendwelche Fragen, Kommentare und Anregungen zu meinem Review gibt, hier gibt's die Möglichkeit auch für unsere deutschsprachigen Forums-Besucher!

My review is now finished in a well formated (Thanks, Gordon!) article over here including new, never before published material.
Hope you like it.


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:44 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:59 pm 
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===facts from the catalog===

Image

Now, while waiting for Nikon to deliver on their latest and hopefully greatest 35mm f/1.4 lens, let's have a look at the technical data and make some comparison to similar lenses.

Size: 83x90mm = medium size :? double the length of the 35/2.0 and still 17mm longer than the Zeiss 35/2.0. This size is still pretty decent although it's funny to see a wide-angle lens being so long.
Weight: 600 g = :( The heaviest of all current 35mm lenses, 70g heavier than the Zeiss, almost 400g more than my diminutive 25/2.0.
Optics: 10 elements in 7 groups = one element more than the Zeiss and 4 elements/2 groups more than the 35/2.0. Still this is far better than the zooms that tend to have something like 15/11 for the Nikon 24-70/2.8 or 14/11 for the Nikon 14-24/2.8. That bodes well for contrast and flare-resistance - helped by that mysterious Nano-coating that Nikon is using like snake-oil to improve lens-performance. Looking at the cross-section you see the interesting design with one big/deep central lens-element plus one aspherical element (blue):
Image
Closest focus distance/max.magnification: 0.3m / 1:5 :) This is almost up to the current 35/2.0 which goes to 1:4.2, the DX Nikkor 35/1.8 reaches only to 1:6.2.
Filter-thread: 67mm = smaller than what most pro-lenses use :?
IS: No = a pity :( The Nikon 16-35/4.0 zoom has VRII. But with a 3 stops larger aperture you could easily crank up the shutter speed to where shake is less likely.
AF: AF-S with SWM (silent wave motor), so does work on D60/3000/5000-bodies :D , manual-focus override by turning the focus ring :D
Covers full frame/FX or smaller = very good :) The Nikon 35/1.8 is only covering DX although some report that it can be used on FX with only some corner shading
Comes with a flexible lens pouch, not a nice soft-case :?
Price: around 1600 EUR new (incl. 19% VAT) = expensive :cry: The 35/2.0 is around 300 EUR, the Zeiss (manual focus only!) at 800 EUR. But the new lens has a one stop wider aperture and autofocus, so it fits well into the overall pricing landscape.
The lens-caps are standard Nikon's :D The others still play catch-up
Distance information is relayed to the camera, so the Nikon body can do all the advanced exposure-related stuff with this lens :D But this is true for all the alternatives too.
Aperture ring = no, just like all Nikon G-lenses :?
Lens-shade included and revertible for transport.
Sealing: seems so, but I'm not sure. The 35/2.0 has none.

Motivation:
Large aperture lenses are for isolating your subject. I need this as a nature shooter and even as a landscape shooter I love to have not everything in equal sharpness. So going for 35mm focal length - which is in my opinion the new "normal" on FX bodies - this new lens should prove very valuable for my kind of shooting, once the D700-successor arrives. On a DX-body is "behaves" like a 53mm lens, a "normal-lens" by old standards.

Alternatives:
- The old Nikkor AF 35/2.0: A good lens but with weakness in the FX corners. Small, light and comparatively cheap.
- The Nikkor AF-S 35/1.8 DX: great, cheap little lens for DX bodies. reaches its limits on FX bodies --> vignetting, corner sharpness
- The Zeiss Distagon T* 35/2.0: Some people really love it, but it has no AF wich is a no-no for me when I want to use the lens wide open.
- Sigma has only a 30/1.4 for DX bodies which is very good in the center but lacks sharpness in the corners even at f/4.0


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:02 pm 
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Having done some preliminary first shots I'll show you some of them just to let you participate in this exciting experience.

I probably stumbled across the worst aspect of this lens' performance first: Longitudinal CA
See for yourself in this 100% crop shot at f/1.4:
Image

I got this, because I normally test for AF accuracy first to make sure my shots are in focus. Although for the most critical analysis of resolution I'd go for manual focus in live-view. Well what can I say: AF seems dead-on :D

As always I develop my images with standard setting in CaptureNX2. Lateral CA removal is ON, loCA removal is OFF. I tried, but there was no visible change in the image.


Last edited by Thomas on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:41 pm 
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Now here's the results from the the sharpness test based on Siemens-stars.
I present center results (first row) followed by border (almost corner) results on a D300 (!). So we're looking at the lens only within the limited DX image circle but with a pixel-pitch that is roughly equivalent to a D3x.
Processing was done in CaptureNX2 at standard settings, with white-balance adjusted to a neutral white and some exposure compensation to make the brightness match. CA-removal is ON. Focus was achieved live-view based with a little optimization by hand and it was done separate for the center and the corners because the lens has some field curvature. So you cannot achieve optimal sharpness on flat test-targets.

These are 100% crops!

Center (D300):
Image

Border (D300):
Image

The results in the center are excellent, with only little softness even wide open (remember: you're looking at a f/1.4 lens). In the corners you see a clear drop off in sharpness/contrast below f/2.8. But it shows almost no astigmatism. Closing the aperture beyond f/4.0 does not lift the sharpness any further within the limited DX image circle, which also means that the corners never quite catch up to the excellent center-sharpness unless you reach f/16, where the onset of diffraction levels out the remaining differences in sharpness.

All in all I'd say that from f/2.8 on this lens should even satisfy the pixel-peepers.


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:27 pm 
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Now let's see how this lens stacks up against the venerable (and much cheaper) Nikon AF 35/2.0D. I'll show you borders only, first the new followed by the old lens.

Border of 35/1.4G (above) vs. 35/2.0D (below) on D300:
Image
............................35/2.0D: Image

As you can see, the older lens is worse at f/2.0 than the new one at f/1.4 and so on. So the new lens is always at least one aperture stop ahead in sharpness/contrast up until f/5.6. To get the performance of the new lens at f/2.8 you even have to go to f/5.6 with the 35/2.0D!
It's the same story in the center, you can have a look at the center-performance of the 35/2.0D here.

So all in all the new design gives not only a 1 stop advantage over the smaller/older sibling, which gives you more dof-separation and more light to work with, it also delivers better image quality at every aperture. Which is a good thing if you're interested in top-most performance. If price, size and weight is a concern, the 35/2.0D is a great alternative at a fifth of the price as it does in itself perform pretty decent, even very good from f/5.6 on.


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:51 pm 
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Let's have a look at the theoretical performance (MTF-charts) of both 35mm lenses:
35/1.4G: Image 35/2.0D: Image
Now you have to remember that these charts show the lens-performance only at the largest aperture. So the left chart is for f/1.4 the right one for f/2.0. To read these charts you only have to remember that higher values are better and that the closer the dotted and the continuous lines are together the less astigmatism* the lens displays.
These charts confirm the findings of the comparison above: The 35/1.4G is sligthly better even at one stop larger aperture. The DX-borders where I measure with my D300 are at approx. 12mm on the X-axis.

---
*astigmatism: resolution depends on the orientation of the test-pattern


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:32 pm 
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Having done all my shots over the holidays with the new lens I can give you some insight into the overall performance and how my findings so far reveal themselves in the images.

Sharpness/contrast:
Overall contrast is very good even wide open and with very bright backgrounds like snow. Sharpness and micro-contrast is reduced at f/1.4 and f/2.0 (you have to look at 66% or 100% magnification on your monitor) but performance from f/2.8 onwards is impeccable on my D300. I'm very impressed.

Focus:
Focus speed is never an issue for me, although the lens takes some time to "recover" to infinity from a very close-up shot (30 cm distance or so). Focus accuracy is of much greater interest to me especially with an f/1.4 lens where every inch of misfocus is immediately punished. Well, what can I say: up to now I had no real outliers although I was provoking trouble by using the lens wide open as often as possible. Even when shooting Siemens-stars and letting the AF find focus from infinity or close-up I only had few case where the combo couldn't find good focus or behaved better when approaching from one side than from the other. No problems under low light either. So everything seems OK.

Longitudinal CA:
Well, this is the only gripe I have with this lens, as it has a tendency to show up under the current test conditions: Wide open aperture and snow covered grounds. Here's a real-life example for you to see the effect, shot at f/1.4 with standard development in CaptureNX on the left and with the results if you switch on 50% loCA-reduction:
Image
Nikon 35f1.4G loCA 28047 by Thomas, on Flickr
I was quite astonished at the effectiveness of the loCA removal as it didn't achieve anything in the testshot of my 3rd post in this thread.
You should also notice that the image you see here is only shown only at 50%! And still the devastating effect of the loCA can clearly be seen. (Click through the image to access the 100% crop).


Last edited by Thomas on Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:51 am 
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Looking at close-up performance I shot this rusty inscription from the closest focus distance of 30cm. Naturally I stopped down somewhat to f/4.0 as dof at a magnification of 1:5 is already becoming critical and field-curvature might also influence a shot of a flat subject. I developed the shot in HDR Efex pro to pull out the fine structures - which also has a sharpening effect. That may not be in line with standard testing procedures but rest assured: you cannot pull-out and emphasize what was not originally there. So here we go (the slightly cropped original can be accessed by clicking through the image).

1999:
Image
1999 28031_51 by Thomas, on Flickr

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Last edited by Thomas on Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:38 pm 
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Vignetting is clearly visible even on a DX body. I have not the best tools to measure it but I'd guess it's around -1EV in the corners at standard settings on a D300 at infinity. At minimum focus distance vignetting is reduced to only half of that value.


Last edited by Thomas on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:09 pm 
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Here's a shot showing the AF-S 35/1.4G (second from the left) in comparison to other primes and one zoom. All lenses are FX:

Image
Primes w Hood 28444 by Thomas, on Flickr

From left to right: AF 35/2.0D, AF-S 35/1.4G, AF-S 50/1.4G, AF-S 85/1.4G, AF-S 28-300 VR.


Last edited by Thomas on Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:59 pm 
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Coming back to the loCA topic of this lens I did a series of test-shots to
(1) give you a comparison of loCA across different apertures and
(2) make the comparison across different large aperture Nikon primes namely the 35/1.4G, the 50/1.4G and the 85/1.4G

So here's the result for the AF-S 35/1.4G showing a crop at below 50%:
Image
Clicking through the image gives you access the 100% crop. Processing was done in CaptureNX2 with standard setting meaning lateral CA removal was ON, loCA removal=OFF. At f/5.6 the greenish (background) and reddish (foreground) hues are almost gone - but not completely.

The second image gives you the results from switching loCA remocal ON at 100% (again, you see the crop here at <50%):
Image

This works pretty good! Bear in mind though that CaptureNX 2's secret sauce for loCA removal seems to depend on the magnification and gets better the smaller the magnification is (this test-shot was at 1:20). That can be confirmed from real-life shots.

If you have any question, comment or suggestion regarding my review head over here.
Und wenn es irgendwelche Fragen, Kommentare und Anregungen zu meinem Review gibt, hier gibt's die Möglichkeit auch für unsere deutschsprachigen Forums-Besucher!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:41 pm 
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My review is now finished in a well formated (Thanks, Gordon!) article over here including new, never before published material.
Hope you like it.

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Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


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