Nikon 35mm lens

I went back to Malaysia for a weekend some weeks ago. I was in Jakarta on business for a couple of weeks and decided to fly over to Malaysia for the weekend. It was a short but pleasant trip. I had the chance to see my family, play with and photograph my adorable nephews, enjoy some local food and... guess what? I got myself a Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens! Well actually, my parents got it for me as a birthday present. Boy, oh boy am I pleased with it.

I haven't used a prime (fixed focal length) lens for some time now. Some people often herald the benefits of prime lenses over more conventional zoom lenses. Ok, zoom lenses used to be a rarity but it has been the norm for some time now. Old 35mm cameras such as the Yashica FX-3 SLR that I had, came with prime lenses - usually 50mm. 50mm lenses (35mm equivalent) are often called normal lenses because they generate images that generally look natural to an observer under normal viewing conditions. By the way, that's the Wikipedia description.

The Nikon or should I say Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens is a normal lens when paired with a Nikon DSLR with an APS-C sensor (non full-frame sensor). Nikon DSLRs such as my D60 have a cropping factor of 1.5. So, a 35mm lens on these cameras is equivalent to ~50mm (i.e. 35mm x 1.5 = 52.5mm) on a 35mm / full-frame camera.

I decided on this lens for three reasons. First and foremost, I wanted a fast lens for low light photography. A fast lens is one with a large aperture (small f-stop number). There is a good article on Digital Photography School about fast lenses if you'd like to know more - click here. I've tried photographing kids indoor with my zoom lens and unless I use a flash or really bump up the ISO (which results in noisy pictures) the images usually turn out soft because the shutter is too slow. With a large aperture, I figured that I'd be able to use a faster shutter speed and avoid soft images. While I have found this to be true, the large aperture also results in a very narrow depth of field and you have to be careful when focusing to ensure sharp images.

I have found this lens to be a little soft and blurry when used at its maximum aperture of f1.8. I recommend stopping it down to at least f2.0 to get the best shots. The picture below, which was taken at f1.8 is rather soft.

Secondly, I wanted a fast lens to get the bokeh effect in my shots, especially portraits. Bokeh refers to the part of an image that is rendered out of focus on purpose by using a narrow depth of field (large aperture, small f-stop). This is often done to isolate the subject from a distracting background and / or foreground. There's a good article about bokeh on Wikipedia - click here.

Finally, I wanted a prime lens. Prime lenses typically produce better photos than equivalently priced zoom lenses. However, you sacrifice some flexibility and convenience since you have to "zoom" with your feet. I find that with this lens the color reproduction is better and my shots are sharper than with my AF-s 18-105 VR zoom lens.

All the shots in this post were taken with my D60 and Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.8 lens - judge for yourselves. Overall, I'm very pleased with this lens and would gladly recommend it.


Dave Nevard said...

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