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Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G Gordon Laing, June 2010

More results : Sharpness / 35mm vs 16-85mm / 35mm vs 18-105mm / 35mm vs 18-200mm II / Geometry / Vignetting


Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 Real-life sharpness compared to Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR at 35mm

 
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To compare real-life sharpness in the corner and center of the frame, we shot this scene with the Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G and DX 16-85mm VR lenses mounted on a Nikon D90 body at all apertures. The DX 16-85mm VR was adjusted to deliver the same field-of-view.

The D90 was set to RAW to avoid in-camera JPEG corrections; all files were processed in Nikon's Capture NX 2.2.3 with lens corrections disabled and the default sharpness of 3.


The image above was taken with the Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G mounted on a Nikon D90 body at a sensitivity of 200 ISO. Magnified assistance in Live View was used to confirm the focusing and eliminate lens calibration errors. VR was disabled on the DX 16-85mm lens. The crops taken from the areas marked with the red squares for presentation here at 100%.

The first table compares crops taken from the corner of each image at different aperture settings and the second table compares crops taken from the centres of the same images.

Set to a focal length of 35mm, the DX 16-85mm VR has a maximum aperture of f4.5, so our comparison starts there. At 35mm f4.5, the DX 16-85mm VR suffers from visible softening and darkening in the corners, and while there's little or no fringing to worry about, the DX 35mm f/1.8G at f4 delivers a far superior result; indeed even with its aperture wide-open at f1.8 (where it's almost three stops brighter), the DX 35mm produces a preferable image.

At f5.6, the corner performance of the DX 16-85mm VR improves with less vignetting and slightly sharper details, but it's still not a patch on any of the samples from the DX 35mm f/1.8G.

With the aperture closed to f8, the DX 16-85mm VR enjoys a boost in corner sharpness which would satisfy most people when viewed in isolation, but again alongside the DX 35mm f/1.8G samples, it still looks soft. Indeed the DX 16-85mm VR's best corner result here (at f8) remains below that of the DX 35mm f/1.8G's worst (at f1.8).

The DX 16-85mm VR's performance greatly improves as you move away from the extreme corners though. As you can see in the second table of crops, the sample at the maximum aperture looks pretty good, and interestingly doesn't appear to get noticeably better as the aperture is closed.

That said, the DX 35mm f/1.8G's crops still enjoy visibly higher contrast, and if you look closely, you'll notice finer detail too, such as in the branches of the trees by the lakefront. We'd say the DX 16-85mm VR's center performance at 35mm f4.5 is roughly equivalent to the DX 35mm f/1.8G at around f2.4, but again the prime takes a comfortable lead as it's stopped down a little.

So if you commonly use the 35mm focal length and want uniformly sharper images right into the corners, along with much greater light gathering capabilities, then the DX 35mm f/1.8G is a great complement to the DX 16-85mm VR zoom.

Now let's pitch the DX 35mm f/1.8 versus the DX 18-105mm VR.



Corner sharpness with both lenses at 35mm

Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner sharpness
 
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner sharpness at 35mm
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f1.8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at f1.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f2
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at f2 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f2.8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at f2.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f4
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at 35mm f4.5
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f5.6
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at 35mm f5.6
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR corner crop at 35mm f8




Center sharpness with all lenses at 35mm

Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center sharpness
 
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center sharpness at 35mm
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f1.8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at f1.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f2
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at f2 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f2.8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at f2.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f4
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at 35mm f4.5
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f5.6
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at 35mm f5.6
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f8
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR center crop at 35mm f8


Now let's see how the Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G compares against the Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR.



More results : Sharpness / 35mm vs 16-85mm / 35mm vs 18-105mm / 35mm vs 18-200mm II / Geometry / Vignetting



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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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