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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 18-105mm 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 18-105mm VR lenses mounted on a Nikon D90 body at all apertures. The DX 18-105mm 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 18-105mm 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 18-105mm VR has a maximum aperture of f4.5, so our comparisons start there. At 35mm f4.5, the DX 18-105mm VR delivers a far better result in the corner than the premium DX 16-85mm VR did on the last page. We've seen this before on other tests, and while the DX 18-105mm VR is far from perfect throughout its range, it can deliver excellent results at certain focal lengths.

At 35mm f4.5, the DX 18-105mm VR delivers a good result that's bereft of fringing and only suffering from a little softness in the corners; indeed the worst aspect is visible darkening due to vignetting, but it's still a great result for this kit lens. It's much closer to the DX 35mm f/1.8 at this point than our previous comparison with the DX 16-85mm VR, and we'd say in terms of sharpness it's roughly equivalent to the prime when set to a point between f2 and f2.8.

At f5.6 the DX 18-105mm VR becomes sharper in the corners and reduces the effect of vignetting too; it's now looking very close to the output from the prime lens. Finally at f8, the DX 18-105mm VR improves a little more in terms of sharpness and has eliminated the worst of its vignetting.

Moving onto the crops taken from the centre, the DX 18-105mm VR performs when well viewed in isolation, but looks soft compared to the DX 35mm f/1.8G. The DX 18-105mm VR at 35mm f4.5 looks roughly similar to the DX 35mm f/1.8 at f2, and while its sharpness and contrast improves at f5.6, it lacks the ultimate crispness of the prime lens at its sweetspot, along with the very finest details.

Overall though, the DX 18-105mm VR performs very well for a kit lens, and switching it with the DX 35mm f/1.8 won't bring you the same degree of benefit in the corners as we saw on the DX 16-85mm VR – at least at the 35mm focal length anyway. But the image from the DX 35mm f/1.8G remained crisper, especially at its optimal aperture settings, and of course it's also much brighter. So even though the corner performance of the kit zoom is pretty respectable at 35mm, the DX 35mm f/1.8 remains a preferable companion at this focal length.

Now let's pitch the DX 35mm f/1.8 versus the DX 18-200mm VR II.



Corner sharpness with both lenses at 35mm

Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner sharpness
 
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner sharpness at 35mm
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f1.8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at f1.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f2
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at f2 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f2.8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at f2.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f4
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at 35mm f4.5
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f5.6
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at 35mm f5.6
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G corner crop at f8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR corner crop at 35mm f8




Center sharpness with all lenses at 35mm

Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center sharpness
 
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center sharpness at 35mm
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f1.8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at f1.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f2
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at f2 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f2.8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at f2.8 not available
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f4
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at 35mm f4.5
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f5.6
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at 35mm f5.6
     
Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G center crop at f8
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR center crop at 35mm f8


Now let's see how the Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G compares against the Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR.



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



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