One question went through my mind when I was reviewing the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition. That question: is this best paired with the Nikon Zf? Using this lens with the Nikon z8 reminded me of using vintage optics on Nikon DSLRs. Something about it felt both right and wrong. And so if the Nikon Zf ever really does come out, then the Artralab 35mm f1.4 could indeed be a great lens to pair with the camera. But until then, there’s a lot to like about the ergonomics of this lens. If you’re looking for vintage optics that are just a bit cleaner, then you’re in the right place.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
At the time of my reviewing this lens, I don’t think that there is an appropriate Nikon Z mount camera to use with the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition. If the Nikon Zf ever comes, then I’ll do an update. With that aside, this lens feels nice in the hand and operates so much like most others that are manual focus on the market. However, I’d surely say that the ease of use falls off when using it as the focusing ring turns a bit too easily. That, and if you’re new to photography, then you’ll probably be frustrated with using it.
If you’re a veteran, you’ll really like this lens — though I still wish the brand did more with it.
The Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition receives four out of five stars.
- Small size
- Very much true to the original one made by Nikon in the 1980s
- Feels great in the hands
- Nice image quality
- You’ll never want to take it off your Nikon camera.
- I wish it had focus communication. It’s a modern lens that’s a retake on an older one, after all.
- I truly wish they added or built in weather resistance
- The apertures click a bit too loosely for my liking
- The focusing is a tad too loose.
We tested the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition on the Nikon Z8.
The Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition is a reimagination of a vintage optic for mirrorless cameras. With that said, it’s not really innovative, except that no one else has really done something like this in the creation of the optics and all from the ground up.
Taken from our original Preview:
The Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition is a beautiful gem of a lens. If you didn’t know any better and were quickly glancing at it, you’d think it was a vintage Nikon lens — providing you knew what you were talking about. That’s precisely what you’re getting here. This variant is made for Nikon Z mount. One of the big things missing is the bunny ears, and that’s because it doesn’t have an aperture lever to move.
There are two controls: an aperture ring and a focusing ring. The aperture ring clicks in full stops and does so with a nice tactile feeling akin to a slight vibration that an iPhone would give you. The focusing ring feels quite nice as well too!
While this lens is built of metal with a bit of rubber and plastic, it unmistakably feels vintage. That’s to also say that it overall feels great in your hands when you’re working with it to shoot photos. However, it’s also not weather resistant. And unlike several of the old Nikon F cameras, there are a lot of electronics inside the newer Nikon Z mount cameras. So I wouldn’t at all chance using this lens with a modern Nikon Z camera in the rain or even in a dusty situation at all.
Ease of Use
Using this lens is overall mostly a joy. Think of it as using an old mechanical lens without an electronic adapter on it. That’s to say further that you more or less have to be very dedicated to wanting to use it. Otherwise, most modern photographers can’t live without autofocus at all.
Speaking of autofocus — there is none with the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition. Instead, you’ll have to manually focus it. More specifically, if you’re doing street photography, then you have to zone focus. However, it can be a bit difficult to do as the camera system isn’t all that great with focus-peaking accuracy — which is a problem for every camera system except for Canon. But that also has something to do with the lens and its lack of focus communication.
One of my biggest problems here has to do with the fact that the focusing ring moves too easily. If you’re shooting zone focused, then it’s very hard to keep the focus on a specific spot. You’re bound to make it move or turn at some point by accident.
Now we’re getting to the best part of the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition review: the image quality. Well, for some of us, the ergonomics could be it as we’ve all been really looking forward to some sort of great lens to use, hold, and feel. Image quality these days is pretty standard — and even with this lens, we don’t see a whole lot of character that makes it stand out so much.
The bokeh from this lens is beautiful and best experienced when shooting with it wide open and focusing closely. You’ll see your subject sharply in the frame and the background just blur out with ease. It’s gorgeous to look at.
One of my favorite things about the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition is the color rendition. When you use it, you’ll get vivid colors overall. This isn’t like some other lenses that are really vivid when shooting wide open only to putter out when you stop it down. It’s consistently nice and vivid.
Sure, there’s lens flare. But the Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition removes any issues you might find with stuff like color fringing from the original lens. So overall, they kept the image quality close to the original but not perfectly alike. Yes, there’s lens flare. But it’s pretty well controlled.
Quite honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this lens and some other modern optics.
This lens is sharp wide open, but it only gets sharper when you stop it down to somewhere around f5.6. It maxes out between f8 and f11 like most other lenses on the market.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Who Should Buy the ArtraLabs 35mm f1.4 80s?
The Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s edition is a beautiful lens for those who want to have something that looks and feels retro. But at the same time, the optics feel pretty modern and don’t have the character of some of those older Nikkor lenses. If you’re looking for a cleaner variant of those lenses, then get this. Otherwise, consider getting one of those older lenses and simply adapting it.
The bigger and more important thing, though is that Artralab is doing something that the industry has been asking for for several years now. And that’s a wonderful thing.
These tech specs are taken from the official website:
|NONIKKOR-MC 35mm F1.4 (Full Frame) 1980’s
|Nikon Z, Sony E, L Mount (Leica / Sigma / Panasonic)
|Whether to support full frame:
|Lens filter size:
|Pure Manual Lens
|Lens anti-shake function:
|Landscape, Architecture, Still Life, Insect, Tourism, People