Announced together with Nikon’s Z mount system in 2018, the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 S is billed as a professional-grade prime lens taking advantage of all that is different with Z-mount.
Curiously versus the much praised Nikkor 50mm f1.8 S, there is much lesser mention of the 35mm f1.8 S (going forward, Z 35/1.8 for short) and so here’s me sharing my mini take on this piece of optics.
A camera system is only as good as the lens available, and it’s great to see Nikon release Z mount lenses on a consistent basis.
Part of the line of Z mount f1.8 lenses, the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 S features a mix of aluminium and plastic construction coming in at 370g (13.05 oz) and 73 x 86mm (2.9 x 3.4 inches), 62mm filter size. This works towards a nice balance of weight and size.
Include a robust dust and weather-resistant design as well as a bright f1.8 aperture, we have a prime lens that Nikon hopes will be your do-it-all lens for travel or daily use.
Personally, I find the 35mm focal length the to-go-to focal length to document my daily moments. 35mm is a versatile focal length popular suitable for street, landscapes, portraits, and many other genres of photography, and in this sense the 1st choice for me for my everyday moments.
The design of the lens comes in 11 elements in 9 groups and 9 aperture blades that has a rounded diaphragm with an excellent short minimum focusing distance of 0.25 m (0.82 feet), allowing me to move much closer to the subject.
For the geeks among us, there’s 3 aspherical and 2 extra-low dispersion (ED) elements and its glass is coated with both Nikon’s Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coating. In comparison, the much budget friendlier Nikon f-mount 35mm f/1.8G ED consists of 11 elements in 8 groups, has one aspherical and one ED elements, a 7-blade rounded diaphragm and it does not feature Nano Crystal coating.
The lens is pretty minimalist in design and I love how all the Z mount f1.8 lenses have consistency in their design DNA. They are also relatively similar in size and weight so they always feel familiar when switching between them. On the lens, there is only one focus ring and no aperture ring. There is only one switch that allows you to choose between auto and manual focus and that is all. Nothing to distract, just all that is necessary and useful.
Using and handling the Z 35/1.8 has been pleasant, with the lens giving a good balance on the Z6 body (which anyway is near identical to the Z5, Z7, Z6 II and Z7 II bodies). Autofocus is fast, with Nikon providing a stepper motor and most importantly, almost silent and reliable.
In terms of image quality, this lens is up there with some of the best in the 35mm focal length. There is excellent center sharpness at f1.8 with edge sharpness all good f4 onwards. Most users will probably not associate a 35mm f1.8 lens with creamy bokeh but if you are shooting headshots or even mid-body grown-up shots, the beautiful bokeh is there. Coupled with the smooth focus fall-off, images come out smooth and buttery when shot at f1.8.
With the Z 35/1.8 and human subjects, one point to bring up as mentioned before in my Z6 review on portraiture (link here), is that however, the face/eye detect on the Z6 only takes effect when the photographer is ‘close enough’ or the subject’s face is ‘large’ enough in the frame. I have not shot the Z6 II and do wonder whether is this phenomenon improved.
Yes, the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 S is not the cheapest 35mm around, but however there is no denying it is a quality piece of optics. If you are a 35mm shooter, the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S is worth every cent with its excellent handling, robust construction and very excellent optical performance.
Thank you for reading.
- The Nikon Z6 and 35mm f1.8 S used here are production copies and my personal ones.
- All images shared are photographed by me and edited in LR to my preferences.
- I am pretty easygoing with copyright and will for sure appreciate a request first.