Additional information on Nikkor 35mm f/1.4, f/2.0 and f/2.8 Lenses

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The 35mm lens has a unique characteristic of providing a moderate perspective and this particular focal length used to be quite a popular lens those days. The manual focus Nikkor at 35mm focal length starts with a high speed lens that provides a maximum aperture of f/1.4, followed by a full-stop slower f/2.0 lens alternative and lastly a f/2.8 lens with a moderately maximum aperture. Generally, faster lenses of these Nikkor also provide a bigger image size compared to other wide-angles, enabling precise focusing easier even under low available light conditions and greater control of depth of field. Many photographers used to prefer the 35mm focal length as their standard lens for much of their indoor (and outdoor) shooting over standard lenses with focal length at 50mm. Its 63° angle of view provides about twice the image area of the 50mm. That can be a big help for indoor photography where you need just a touch more coverage - rather than using an extreme wide angle of view provides by lenses of even shorter focal length. It also offers slightly broader depth of field than the normal lens at the same aperture and focus setting.

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These Nikkor lenses at this particular focal length make them an all round usage lens. It is just like the wider 28mm, but if you are looking for a moderate wide angle lens to use without distorted too much, these lenses could provide the best solution. The best way to use this lens is to treat it as a wideangle standard lens.

Compare this with the autofocus AF Nikkor 35mm lens group

Among all the Nikkor wideangle lenses, the 35mm focal length is the closest to that of the normal lens. It therefore produces an almost natural perspective, making it ideal for photographers who are just beginning with wideangle photography. Because of its wider coverage and greater depth of field, the 35mm lens is often used for snapshots and general photography taking the place of a normal lens. In addition, this lens is convenient for flash photography since most flash units are designed to cover a picture angle up to about 60 degrees. Dating back to the early seventies, Nikon has already had three 35mm models in different lens speeds in this focal length. Its 63° angle of view provides about twice the image area of the 50mm. That can be a big help for indoor photography where you need just a touch more coverage - rather than the extreme wide angle of view of shorter lens That is why seasoned photographer those days used them as a standard lens with a somewhat wider angle of view.

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I would regard modern days Nikkor lenses at this focal length should be quite perfect after all the years of lens research and development. When Nikon 1 was introduced in 1948, a Nikkor-W 3.5cm f/3.5 lens was among 5 original series of Nikkor lenses debuted with the camera. Subsequently, there were quite a few updated variations at f/3.5 lens speed during the '50, along the way, Nikon also introduced two other popular lens at faster speed, i.e. a 6 elements Nikkor-W 3.5cm f/2.5 and a 7 elements high speed Nikkor-W 3.5cm f/1.8.

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Even during the many reflex Nikkor lenses made available during the early '60 and '70, there were continual upgrades for lenses at this specific focal length( will be explained at the sections where it relates in this site). By the time towards the end of '70 and early '80, development work has stabilized a little and there were three offering from Nikon with varying lens speed and performance which formed the core at this focal length.

Miami Skyline in the evening
Credit: Image courtesy of Vieri John Terenzio, who maintains an online PORTFOLIO on his own. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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Three lenses, Nikkor 35mm f1.4, Nikkor 35mm f/2.0 and Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 with different lens speed, performance and price tags should be adequate for you to choose from to fit your requirement covering most of your photographic needs. I doubt Nikon still sells these lenses officially (other than the high speed Nikkor 35mm f/1.4) but you may still be able to locate many of them at larger retail outlets and/or popular online auction sites.

Credit: Image(s) displayed herein courtesy of all the nice folks from Taiwan's Digitize-Future@EBAY®. Some of them are extracted from their very popular online EBAY STORE. The Company also has a website on their own at Image(s) copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Generally, most retail outlets would prefer to keep stocks for autofocus versions o f equivalent focal length, so that is a reality we have to encounter these days but if you are still aiming to acquire one of these manual focus optic, there is no shortage everywhere as there is a huge volume of used lenses surfaced at various online stores or auction points. With a little patience and a little bit of luck, you may be able to locate a good used unit that may even fits a lower budget. I have owned quite a few versions of these three lenses before and I have varying degree of dislike, satisfaction and experience and some of the personal remarks published herein may be entirely personal.

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To begin with, the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 was widely regarded as a true Nikon classic, debut in 1971 and it was also the first Nikkor lens that has Nikon famed Nikon Integrated Coating Process (NIC) applied onto its production. It was a big hit among many users and I remembered a photographic journal in France even selected it as one of the top 10 classic photographic lens of modern times during the early eighties.

Credit: This lovely image of the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 Ai wideangle lens displayed in this site courtesy of Mr. "Keith Weinman®" <>. Keith is a full time professional, he has a website at: All images copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

SUPPLEMENTS: From: Dan Lindsay <>
Subject: Nikkor lenses and Thorium Glass
To: Leonard P S Foo <>

Do you think there is any interest in a discussion of the use of Thorium glass in Nikkor lenses? Nikon used Thorium glass in the early 35mm f/1.4 to attain higher refraction figures. This was a very common design option in the 1960s and very early 1970s (when the 35mm f/1.4 lens was designed). Evidence of this can be obtained either through the use of a Geiger counter to actually read the radioactivity emitted from the lens or by observing the yellowing of the glass from the aging of the element(s) that contain Thorium. The early versions of the 35mm f/1.4 Nikkor are now over 30 years old and as such they will appear yellow when you view a white piece of paper through them. Should you shoot color slides with such a lens you will get a definite yellow cast to the pictures. They say that the yellow can be bleached out over time by leaving the glass uncovered in bright sunlight for many weeks. (I cannot personally attest to that method). Maybe this could be integrated somewhere on the page that discusses the 35mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens. The current AIS version doesn't employ Thorium glass. Dan Lindsay Santa Barbara

On the other hand, the Nikkor 35mm f/2.0 with its well render depth of field characteristic and with its fairly large maximum aperture makes it an ideal lens even for indoor available light photography. It is a good wideangle lens without seeing too much distorting at its extreme ends like other wideangles of shorter focal length. I have little memory of the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 though, as I briefly owned it for a short spell because during those days I was very amateuristic to see it has the little front lens elements and thought it was not "impressive" to carry around for PR functions, how stupid.... Lenses at this focal length is also a good choice to cover events, party or wedding or any PR function - provided if you are happy to include only a few people within the picture frame. However, if you often need broader angle of view to cover a small group of people, like a night group picture of 6 or seven persons, I would suggest you to settle with a 28mm lens instead. Regardless of lens speed, all Nikkor 35mm wideangle lenses are being designed with a standard 52mm filter attachment size and thus, it enables every models share many standard 52mm lens accessories.

From: John Laughlin <>
Subject: Re: Nikkor 35f1.4 aperture ring...

Leonard, Here's the reason why Nikon deleted f/22 from the 35f1.4 when they went to the AI version. It was due to the fact that at f/22, the aperture ring would hit the coupling lever on an AI or newer body. I have an early 35f1.4 (#350535) that I had converted to AI last month. To mount it to my F2A, F3P, FM2n, and F4, I must set the aperture ring to an aperture wider than f/22. Otherwise, the lens cannot be mounted without moving the coupling ring while attaching the lens.

My lens does have the yellowing problem with its Thorium lens elements that Dan Lindsay talked about in his email.
-John, Duvall, WA, USA

My Dog ..
Credit: Image courtesy of Vieri John Terenzio, who maintains an online PORTFOLIO on his own. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Another lens type at this specific focal length is called "PC-Nikkor" - which was designed to handle Perspective Control, mainly for architectural photography. The optical design and characteristic of lenses of this type is also for suitable for studio and still life work and the shift and tilt features is equally useful for controlling depth of field and altering perspective. These lenses have no direct metering coupling and thus, they can only be used in stopped down metering. Nikon has thus far, provide two options throughout the manual focus days of Nikkor but currently, the AF Nikkor has finally released a long awaited autofocus version but it came at at a short telephoto range of 85mm, other than tilt and shift mechanism, it has macro/close focus capability. Check on the PC Nikkor section later for more information.
Other than the Nikkor and PC Nikkor addressed earlier, there is also an affordable alternative. Back in 1979 when Nikon their first ever ultra compact Nikon EM SLR camera targeted at entry SLR users; it brought along an entirely new series of affordable lenses to supplement the camera. Within the series, we called them Nikon Series E lenses, there was a Nikon E 35mm f/2.5 lens for those which wish just to own prime wideangle lens with a made-by-Nikon tag on without having to burst their budget. For more information , you may CLICK HERE to find out more about the Series E group of lenses. Personally, I have some reservation with their construction, but that is only confined to built quality and not referring to their optical performance.
Whatever it is, interest for 35mm focal length prime lenses seems to have eroding with the advent and popularity of zoom lenses. Most modern high zoom ratio lenses could have had this focal length well 'covered'. To many new emerging young photographers, it may sound very unwise to invest into a sole prime wideangle lens, but these lenses do have their strength in its great portability, faster lens speed and most of all, they are usually have better optical quality than a zoom counterpart with comparing focal length. Well, to be more realistic, unless the price offered is extremely attractive or for any other reasons you must have own one of these lenses, and If financially permit you to do so, always invest into a larger aperture one such as a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 or the f/2.0 version. Strangely, despite after 15 years since the debut of the first Nikon AF SLR camera, the Nikon F501, the autofocus Nikkor lenses (As at 31st December 1999) still has not provided with a high speed 35mm prime lens as with the AF Nikkor 28mm f1.4 D introduced back in 1993.. In the mean time, the famed Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 has not been updated with an autofocus alternative, that again, I think it was another realistic commercial decision as demands may not be as great as Nikon wishes.

Note: As of mid-1988, Nikon has a AF 24-50mm f/3.3-4.5S, a 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5S, a high speed AF 35-70mm f/2.8S, a compact AF 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 S, a AF 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5S, a AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 S and later joined by another AF 35-200mm zoom ! The manual focus zoom (see below of this page for additional sub-links) options were 28mm-50mm f3.5S, a 28-85mm f/3.5-f/4.5 S, a 35-70mm f/3.3-f4.5 S, a 35-105mm f/3.5-f4.5, a 35-135mm f/3.5-f4.5 and finally 35-200mm f/3.5-f4.5 zoom in their product catalogue. Mind boggling ? Me too...

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<<< --- The current version of AF wideangle is a Nikkor 35mm f/2.0s D. Naturally, if you are looking for a prime 35mm lens, this should be sensibly the logical choice as it may provides a better compatibility with possible future AF migration in your photography. I have to stress such recommendation is to preserve your investment should one day, you decide to jump onto the autofocus bandwagon where invested AF lens may still be able to enjoy full benefit of features a modern AF SLR now or future can provide.

Main Index Page - Autofocus Nikkor lenses

AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0s autofocus wideangle lens/ AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.8D autofocus wideangle lens

Whatever it is, a fact remains - zoom lenses are outselling prime lenses now. Nikon has produced easily a dozen of zoom lenses which has this focal covered from an amazing range from an ultrawide of 17mm extends to 200mm ! Two examples are the new AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8sD ED-IF and an obsolete Nikkor Zoom 35-200mm f/3.5-f/4.5s introduced back in 1986. But just like any other zoom lenses, most zoom lenses are confined to slower lens speed optic; however, other than the super-wide zoom that mentioned earlier, Nikon does have another faster zoom with f/2.8 constant aperture; a new AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8sD ED-IF which I think will eventually replace the AF Zoom-Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8s D which has been serving needs of professionals or serious users since 1988.

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As you can notice, nowadays, lens speed difference has narrowed down to only a f-stop with comparing 35mm prime lens; and perhaps that is why Nikon still offers the manual focus Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 to serve the needs of specific users who requires a top class ultra-fast lens for available light photography. Anyway, a pity fact is, virtually all these amazing high performance Nikkor lenses demand a BIG premium for their lens speed.

Manual Focus Versions:- 35mm focal length Manual Focus Nikkor Lenses: | Early non Ai version | Early to mid '70 Pre-Ai | Late 1970 | Early 1980 - present: 35mm f/1.4s | 35mm f/2.0s, 35mm f/2.8s | Relative: PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 and PC-Nikkor 35mm f/3.5

| Back | to Main Index Page of MF Nikkor lenses at 35mm focal length

AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0s autofocus wideangle lens
AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.8D autofocus wideangle lens

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.