We have just shared our first impressions of the new Nikon 35mm f1.8 G, Nikon’s latest wide-angle lens for full-frame (FX format) cameras. Being only 2/3rds of a stop slower than the 35mm f1.4 G, the lens is a viable alternative for those with slightly slimmer wallets. What we’re most curious about, then, is how the more affordable full-frame 35mm in Nikon’s lens stable performs compared to its proven f1.4 sibling.
DxOMark has just put the lens under scrutiny, and thanks to the comparison tool available on their website, we get a pretty good impression of how it performs compared to the 35mm f1.4. With both lenses mounted to a Nikon D800 (we would’ve preferred to see the results with a D800E, but the 35mm f1.4 was not tested on that camera,) it becomes apparent that despite the huge difference in price, the difference in performance is only marginal.
As for sharpness, the new 35mm f1.8 performs admirably from its widest aperture setting upward, and keeps up its great performance until f11, after which sharpness slightly drops. Now here’s the interesting part: even at f1.8, it is sharper than the 35mm f1.4 when stopped down to f2, and it stays slightly ahead throughout the whole aperture range. In addition to its slightly sharper rendering, it also shows less distortion and chromatic aberration at all apertures, whereas the 35mm f1.4 has the edge in terms of vignetting.
Until we finished our own review of the lens, we’re going to take DxOMark’s measurements with a grain of salt–after all, they test lenses using machines, while we use them in real-world photographic scenarios. But if anything, their test demonstrates that if you’re in for a fast 35mm for your full-frame Nikon, but can’t shell out the big money for the f1.4 G, the f1.8 G is just as good, and even a bit better in some departments.