Review: Vivitar 35mm f1.4 (Nikon F Mount)

This 35mm is a classic wide angle lens and at f1.4 is very fast. The label on the lens says Vivitar. This company is not a well-known name when it comes to lenses. All in all, though, it is a very delightful piece of glass. Being a manual focus lens, you will not be breaking the bank. F1.4 Autofocus prime lenses are usually expensive. The Vivitar 35mm f1.4 is not, yet provides great value for your dollar.

Let’s see why.

Gear Used

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo Video Listing

Focal Length 35 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.4
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Nikon F
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 63°
Minimum Focus Distance 12″ (30.48 cm)
Groups/Elements 10/12
Diaphragm Blades 8
The Vivitar 35mm f1.4 is also available for Canon, Pentax and Sony

Build Quality and Ergonomics

This lens is an extremely well built combination of metal and plastic. It’s not heavy and you never mind walking around with it. The lens comes with a plastic, petal shaped, hood,which does its job nicely. The focus ring is a comfortable size, and has a rubbery plastic texture to it. This lens does feel really good in hand.

The lens ring mount, where the CPU contacts are located, are made of metal. Aperture value scale, depth of field scale and distance scale and is engraved and painted.The Aperture adjustment ring is a nice size.

This lens can be used on film cameras. It feels really big in that scenario, but it also feels right.


The Vivitar 35mm f1.4 focuses manually. Using the focus ring to get your subject tack sharp is very easy and comfortable. Using its CPU contacts, the lens can communicate with the autofocus system of the camera, to assist in focusing. With this lens, focusing was pleasant and allowed for really nice fine tuning to get exactly what I wanted in focus. It allowed for precise fine tuning of the image. This does come in handy when shooting at f1.4. Once you get used to it, you can focus quicker and even use it on photo walks.

 Sharpness & Image Quality

The images really pop with Vivitar 35mm . The colors are crisp and the contrast is nice. Skin tones come out nice and clean. This lens does not distort thing, when close up but is can distort things at a distance. I would definitely shoot portraits with this lens, but liked it more for food photography, landscapes and still life images.

Depth of Field

The Vivitar 35mm is an f1.4 lens which is a really shallow depth of field. If you are shooting with a subject up close, you get a razor thin depth of field due to the nature and construction. The Bokeh is nice and smooth. If you are very close at f1.4, you may just pick out a piece of your subject, blurring the rest. You may want to stop the lens down to f2.8 or move away a little to get better results with your image.

 On a DX camera

This lens is okay on a DX camera, but not amazing. With a field of view of around 53mm due to the crop factor, it’s a nice portrait lens. It’s also nice for video due to the size of its focus ring. While the images on were decent with the DX, I felt like I was not using the lens to its fullest potential.


Video with this lens is interesting because of the depth of field this lens has. With the focus ring being so big, it’s easy to change focus when necessary. The lens worked well close up and with distance. With some creativity and skill (which I lack when it comes to video) you can get interesting effects with out a PC.


One of the things that makes this lens stand out is the price $459.99 at B&H. Compare it to the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G Wide-Angle Lens at $1649.00 or Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide-Angle Autofocus Lens at $1479.00, these auto focuses lenses have a distinct difference. Manually focusing saves a LOT of money! If you are on a budget yet want a ultra fast lens , you really have to give this lens a look.


There is a little bowing on wide shots. With some angle changes or some post processing this can be fixed easily enough. Beyond that this lens is built minimalisticly so there is very little  else to go wrong.

Who is this lens for?

This lens is for those with the patience to shoot with a manual lens. With the Vivitar 35mm f1.4 there is no putting the camera in program mode, and just relaxing. You have to work that shot. Again this lens is for the patient photographer. If you are shooting still life, coffee, or people standing still this lens is fine. If you are shooting action shots, and you are not a manual focusing magician, you may have an issue or two. This lens performs best on a full frame camera.

 In the end

This lens is quick, has great resolution, looks wonderful and handles well.The Vivitar 35mm does help a subject , which is close, stay in context with it’s environment. It has great character. Even though it’s manual it has great functionality. Overall it’s very good and well worth a look.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.