A Quick Update to Our Nikon 35mm F1.8 S Lens Review. It Got Better.

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If there is anything that’s true about the Nikon Z mount system, it’s that it has truly improved. Nikon has worked to release as many lenses as possible in a short time. They’ve also put out a bunch of firmware updates and made new cameras. Those cameras work very well now. And one of our favorite lenses, the Nikon 35mm f1.8 S, has also changed. This lens hasn’t had the firmware updated, but the cameras have improved so much that we’ve felt it necessary to update our review. So how is it? Hit the jump for our findings in our revamped Nikon 35mm f1.8 S review.

Check out our full Nikon 35mm f1.8 S review which includes the update.

The lens is basically what we thought: capable of focusing incredibly fast. But the problem is Nikon’s autofocus system. As we’ve seen, it has improved a lot. To that end, the lens’ performance has too. I can confidently say that I can use the Nikon 35mm lens and get sharp images for most of the work I do. But if you’re shooting subjects in motion, you’ll still have a tough time. 

However, I think the tough time stems more from Nikon’s autofocus system. It has surely improved. but it’s still behind much of the pack. It’s still better than Sigma’s and Hasselblad’s. In low light, the Nikon 35mm f1.8 S can do a great job on the right camera. But this is only in the single focus selection mode. When it comes to AF-C and tracking, there are still problems. Even those have improved, though. 

If the work you do isn’t demanding on the autofocus, then you’ll like the Nikon 35mm f1.8 S. It boasts wonderful colors. But keep in mind that it’s more like a tiger: it can nail the shot the first time. But like a tiger, it doesn’t have much stamina to consistently keep it up. It’s also not a terrible price right now.

Here’s the relevant part of our update:

Update June 2021. The Nikon 35mm f1.8 S lens hasn’t received a firmware update per se, but what it can do has surely improved. Nikon has made lots of firmware updates to their cameras and even released new ones. This lens was tested again on the Nikon Z5. 

First off, we’re still in the tail end of a pandemic. So we didn’t take this lens out to a concert to test it out. But instead, we used it in very low light shooting street photography, food and other things. Because the cameras have improved, so too did the Nikon 35mm f1.8 S. It focuses much faster in low light now and face detection has greatly improved. However, Nikon is really only good at single focusing, not continuous and not tracking. So if you want to do street photography, try to get the photo in the first shot. 

Acquiring a subject is also pretty fast now too. 

In comparison to other systems, Nikon is still behind. Fujifilm is great in low light. And if we’re looking at their fastest focusing cameras, then we’re considering the GFX 100S and the XT4. Both of Fujifilm’s cameras are faster. So too then are their lenses at this point. Even Leica SL and Panasonic L mount cameras can focus faster with similar lenses. 

Still though, the Nikon 35mm f1.8 S is surely usable. But I wouldn’t rely on it for critical and very important work where I’m very stressed.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.