Friday, March 11, 2011

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 - review

I love prime lenses. There is something almost romantic about having to zoom with your feet instead of rotating a silly zoom ring. Primes force me to be more creative, to move more, and to consider my subject from a variety of angles.

With that mindset, I've drooled over the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 since it was introduced. This year I included it on my Christmas list - not at all expecting to get one.

My parents surprised me. I got one.
It's got silentwave, rear-element focus. This is great because the front element does NOT move when focusing, which it does *smokin* fast. Of course it has the proprietary Nikon lens coating as well. It focuses at one foot. Not nearly as good as my 28mm, but significantly better than the 50mm. And - it'll open up to f/1.8. I tend to keep it between f/2 and the sweet spot at f/4

At first I wasn't sure what I would do with it - I already had a 50mm f/1.8 and a 28mm f/2.8. The 35mm falls in the middle.

After some experimenting, I found a great use for it.


Believe it or not - I use the 35mm as my primary basketball lens. At f/2, it's sharper than any lens I own. The lens hood (included) means that I get better contrast and I can get by without using a UV filter.

NAU Men's Basketball celebrating a recent tournament win

Josh Lepley - NAU

I know - they aren't freakin' Sports Illustrated worthy. Still - for the lighting conditions I'm in, I think they're alright. These are straight out of camera. No adjustments except for resizing for the blog.
The 35mm allows me to get an entire 6'5" basketball player in the frame, tip to toe while he's going for a big dunk. Previously, I'd used my 50mm prime, which gave me most of a player's torso and the dunking arm. The 50mm also doesn't have a lens hood, so I generally keep a UV filter on it. That filter gives me gnarly lens flare, and it's another piece of glass through which to shoot.

Overall, I highly recommend this lens. It's fast (in terms of light). It's fast (in terms of focus speed) and it's durable enough to take whatever I can throw at it (so far).

This morning I am leaving with 7 other awesome creatives on the visualCollective trip to Death Valley, CA. We've got 3 models and 5 photographers/cinematographers. I'm tweeting at @visCollective and we're blogging at