The AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G  is a DX format lens. The equivalent focal length on a DSLR with a APS-C sized sensor is about 52.5mm, which gives roughly the same field of view (FOV) as a 50mm lens on a full frame camera such as the Nikon D700 and D3/D3X. For many D40/D40X/D60 users, this new lens should be a welcome addition because the lowest cost large aperture option AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D would not auto-focus on their cameras. I have had the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D for quite a while. The image quality is very good but the focal length is a little inconvenient for close range shots. Another aspect of the new lens I like is the ability to manually override the auto-focus by turning the focus ring without putting the camera in manual focus mode. This is not possible with the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D.  So I am very interested in finding out how the lens compares to the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D.

Dimensions

The very obvious difference is the size. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is quite larger, measureing 2.8×2.1in. (Diameter x Length), compared to 2.5×1.5in. for the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D. The following photo should give you an idea about the size differenes.

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The front element on the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D is deeply recessed while the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G is not. Perhaps that’s why a lens hood is supplied with the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G in the package. If you are afraid of bumping your lens into things, you may also want to get UV protection filter. Both have 52mm filter thread.

20090318_045408lnd_4658You will also notice that there is no markings on the front of the lens barrel on the 35mm lens. The front element on the 50mm lens moves during focusing while the the front element on the 35mm lens does not.

Build quality

Both are made in China and both are mostly plastic except the lens mount. But there is nothing to complain about. The new lens does have a better finish similar to many current Nikon DSLRs and lenses while the 50mm lens has plain satin finish. The labels and markings on the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D are all printed. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G has the front label engraved in golden metal but other labels are still printed. Other big differences: no aperture ring and focus distance markings on the 35mm lens.

Diaphragm Blades

Both have 7 blades. However they look quite different. It looks like new AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G has the blades mounted backwards?! The rear of the blade on the 35mm lens looks like the front of the 50mm. None of my other lenses are like this. I am not sure about this one. It probably won’t affect image quality, it just looks ugly.

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Auto focus

The focus speed is nothing to write home about even though it has the silent wave motor (SWM). It also makes a scratching sound during focusing that is a little annoying. The focus accuracy may be another concern. Mine seems to have the tendency of back focusing. The 35mm lens has minimal focus distance of 0.3m (1 ft) while the 50mm lens has minimal focus distance of 0.45m (1.5 ft).

Image quality

I have not been able to fully test the new lens. From a few limited shots around the house, I think the sharpness and contrast are excellent. However chromatic abbreviation (CA) appears to be quite strong when the lens is at its widest aperture. When I have time to fully experience the new lens, I will post a follow-up to this review.

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