Nikkor 35/1.4 opinions sought

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by perkeleellinen, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Seems like a good combination of speed and angle for day to day shooting that often goes indoors. The price is high, hence the question. What's it like? Please bear in mind I enlarge no bigger than 5"x7".
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    They are nice if you need f/1.4. I got to borrow an AI version for a few weeks one time, and I loved it.

    Pricewise, you are better off if you have an early body, as the early versions of Nikon lenses are cheaper than the AI versions.

    Keep in mind that the 35mm f/2.0 has the same hand held light gathering ability as a 50mm f/1.4, due to the one over focal length rule letting you [carefully] use the 35mm at '30. If you find yourself being able to get enough exposure with your 50mm 1.4, you can get by just fine with the 35mm f/2.0.

    Of course, this means the 35mm 1.4 has twice the hand held low light ability as the 50mm 1.4.......

    I have the 35mm f/2.0 and the 50mm f/1.4 (both F versions), and I love them both. The 1.4 is on my list, however......but only since I shoot a lot in very low light, not because I have any complaints about the f/2.0.
     
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  3. mudman

    mudman Member

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    I just got a copy of the 35mm f2, shooting with it right now to see the results. I have to say for the price I paid for my lens ($30!) I'd be hard pressed to look for the $700 35mm f1.4
     
  4. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The lens is a whisker short of £900 new at Robert White and Amazon. In fact it's so alarmingly easy to buy this lens new at amazon that I must be careful not to be online after a few beers. I cannot justify buying this lens new.

    2F/2F: If I follow you correctly, I think you're saying that hand-held I can shoot the 35/2 at 1/30 compared to 1/60 for the 50/1.4. A convincing argument until you follow it through to its logical conclusion: the 35/1.4 implies the difference between 1/15 and 1/30 in even lower light.

    I hadn't considered the 35/2 to be honest but I did once have the 28/2 and was rather disappointed with the image in the corners. Now, I'm not sure if my example was bad - but I found it very soft and distorted corner-wise at f2.

    I can get the 35/1.4 2nd hand for around £500 - I haven't found a 35/2 yet. I'm thinking I could part fund the purchase by trading in my 45/2.8.

    Oh, and I have an FM2n.
     
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  5. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I never owned a 35/1.4 although I really wanted one. Used to own the 35/2.0 AF, and I used it in low light with some success. I could definitely handhold it at 1/30 and maybe 1/15 if I was careful. If money is an issue, go for the 35/2.0.
     
  6. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    The 35mm f/2 was the first lens I purchased for my first Nikon SLR (the original F). The 35mm f/2 had been my favorite lens (on 35mm format) for years until it was dethroned by the 35mm f/1.4. I needed the light gathering feature provided by that extra stop.

    When I first purchased the f/1.4 version, I did not expect it to perform as well as the f/2 version. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I suffered no loss in image quality by using the f/1.4 version.

    I still own and use both lenses. Both are great lenses. I just wish Nikon would make an auto focus version of the 35mm f/1.4.
     
  7. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I had it for a while, but wasn't impressed by its signature, though it was very sharp stopped down.

    In the Nikon range, my favorite 35mm remains the f/2.0

    If Zeiss ever produces its 35mm f/1.4 in Nikon mount, I'd highly reccomend it, as it has one of the best "looks" I've ever found in a lens.
     
  8. Joe Brugger

    Joe Brugger Member

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    35/1.4 is a nice lens but expensive enough to give you pause.
    Bought my AIS used probably 15 years ago when prices were a little more rational.
    Bright and very easy to focus. Slight softness at edges wide open disappears quickly on stopping down. Razor-sharp with good color rendition from f/4 to 7/11. You can go to 11x14 easily.
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I mentioned this in my post.
     
  10. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    You did indeed, I hope I wasn't labouring the point, it is, of course, the main reason for looking at this lens.
     
  11. eddym

    eddym Member

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    It wasn't a Nikon, it was a Rollei SL35E with a Zeiss 35mm f1.4, but years ago I made a shot in an alley on Old San Juan on Kodachrome 64 at f1.4 @ 1/15. It was gorgeous. I don't have a scan of it, or I would post it. But yes, if you have steady hands, good breath control, and can maybe brace yourself, 1/15 handheld with a 35mm f1.4 lens should be doable.
     
  12. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    I'd say that the 35mm 1.4 is well deserving of the Legend status. If you get to know its unique imaging properties you'll know what I mean, it works well as a general 35mm lens when you stop it down, incredibly sharp actually. When you use it closer in, at between 1.4 and 2 the narrow plane of sharpness with the quantity and quality of the bokeh makes for compelling images. I have 3 of the older N and N.C. versions, the ones with the radioactive elements, and while the color images need a bit more correction the B&W images are brilliant. I've tested several of the Ais versions with mine, and the newer Ais version seems to have a bit more crunchy look to the sharpness, whereas the older optical version seems smoother in its sharpness. Subtle, but if you do more B&W get a converted N or N.C, if you do more color get an Ais. Nikon has a good 'story' about this lens at http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/technology/nikkor/n27_e.htm
    Note that the changes in optical formula is very subtle at the end, Nikon had to change out the radioactive glass.
     
  13. stealthman_1

    stealthman_1 Member

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    I've had mine (AIS) for almost a year now. I love it. Is it the best lens in my bag, no, but it is the most versatile. It's permanently mounted on my FA which I carry everywhere in my vehicle. It has good bokeh, doesn't overwhelm a small body, but has enough weight to balance well, focuses nicely and in poor light gives you 1/15th vs. 1/8th with the f2. That's the difference between getting a shot and not.
    Clown Kachina shot at 1/15th, hand held on Tri-X, stand developed in Rodinal.
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Lukas_87

    Lukas_87 Member

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    a friend of mine, Tomas Szepe, has written something about this lens on fstop's discussion forums (someone was asking about zeiss distagon 2/35)... i will try to translate it there:
    "I use nikkor 1.4/35 AI (7 bladed aperture) as my "main lens" for about 5 years and I love it. You can see some internal reflections and coma when shoot fully open (curiously mudding edges of very bright subjects and points and looses contrast - it's easily seen on my last photo in workshop http://www.fstop.cz/e/85.szepe/untitled/ ) but usualy the conditions when I need to shoot at f/1.4 are so that the extra graphic effect is handy :smile: stopped to f/2 the lens aren't doing that anymore. From f/2.8 it's deadly sharp, especially stopped to f/4-5.6 where it also have acceptable bokeh when shooting at conventional distance (1-2 meters).
    http://​www.​mir.​com.​my/​rb/​photography/​companies/​nikon/​nikkoresources/​35mmnikkor/​35mm14.​htm"
    link to his portfolio http://www.fstop.cz/e/szepe/
     
  16. ssloansjca

    ssloansjca Member

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    It is the only Nikon lens I own two of. I keep one at work and one at home. I love them!
     
  17. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Well, I bought one. I managed to find a fairly cheap example with a slightly tighter than normal focusing barrel, selling my 45mm f2.8P gave me a little more than 2/3 the funds I needed. I shot a roll with it yesterday and it certainly does seem to be a versatile lens, bigger and heaver than the 45mm of course, but fast and it focuses quite close. I'm going to make some prints this weekend, so far first impressions are good.
     
  18. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    What version did you get? I've done a fair bit of CLA on this lens, Ais and N versions, and the internal construction allows for (some) adjustments to the focus. It may just need some Nikon grease or perhaps somewhere along the line it took a whack and one of the helicoids is out of round. Generally speaking the older N versions were firmer, the Ais versions could be very smooth (worn or 'broken in' is quite slick) and the Ai version could really really be stiff. The Ai version was the only one I passed on, hey I have 3! and that one had a bit more wear on the glass than I prefer and the focus was really tight, and from what I know about what's waiting inside an Ai series I passed. I still wonder if I should have gotten it, it was like $125 or so, not bad really.
     
  19. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    It's the Ai version, the serial number indicates 1977-'81 as it's manu date. When I first got it I thought that is stiff, but after playing with it, it doesn't seem that bad. It would benefit from a CLA, but it's not urgent.
     
  20. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Ok then, I figured it was the Ai version. If it seems as if it loosening up, then don't CLA it until it is absolutely needed, like if it feels dry or rough or grinding. Just give it a good workout focussing while watching TV or something, and it will loosen to the point were it will be easier to use. Lots of those top-tier pro Ai lenses didn't get the workout they expected/needed and basically have little to no wear on the internals, and when new were slightly more firm than the F Nikkor series after time the lube tended to collect at the ends of the focus limits, thus making it even more tighter. Trust me, I've been inside them ( I do my own CLA for lens, 12+ years, for myself and others) and had a few lenses where they were basically alright but I thought a good CLA would do them good. In the process of CLA, the additional complexity of the Ai series vs the Ais or F nikkor made the potential for 'complications' to the disassembly, which then could lead to additional efforts to get the focus smooth. On some lenses, the extra effort made to do a CLA made the focus only *marginally* better, and in a couple of cases the lens would have been better off if left alone. I learned my lesson, and those Ai lenses in my stable that are that way but in Nikon Factory condition I leave alone and deal with the stiffness, like I said sometimes if the pro lens is in excellent cosmetic condition then working it out improves it.
    Enjoy, its a great lens, and do read the Nikon article I posted above, the point about the lenses ability in relation to the type of photographic material used is an excellent observation.
     
  21. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I missed your post above with that article, I'll read it now. Thanks for the tips also, I was thinking it might ease up a little if I just spent some time twisting the focusing barrel. There's no dryness or grinding feeling, just tightness, it seems like it's tighter going toward infinity than it is the other way, but that may be more to do with my muscle strength! I shot a roll of colour with it today and I'll take it into my local high street lab tomorrow. I got a quote for a CLA from a very good UK repair place for £75, but I think I'll wait and see if it improves with use. The optics and cosmetics are perfect so there's no real hurry to send it off, especially as Spring is just around the corner here and I'm starting to shoot more now.
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Maximum aperture does not affect the minimum hand held shutter speed. It just determines how much exposure you can get at that shutter speed. Say the slowest you can hand hold a 35mm f/2.0 lens is '30, based on your own experience. Going to a 35mm f/1.4 still means that '30 is as slow as you can hand hold the lens, but it does give you an extra f stop. It allows you to get '30 at f/1.4 as opposed to '30 at f/2.0, but not '15 hand held.

    I wasn't trying to make an argument against the 35mm f/1.4. My only point was that if a 50mm f/1.4 gives you enough exposure for what you shoot, then so will a 35mm f/2.0. If you want/need more exposure, then the 35mm f/1.4 will make a difference.
     
  23. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I know what you mean - the general rule being focal length = slowest hand held speed: 35mm = 1/30. Therefore, the stop you 'loose' by shooting a 50 instead of a 35 is 'gained' by having f1.4 over f2. I suppose then the 35/1.4 would have the same exposure potential as the 50/1.2.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Same exposure potential as 50mm f/1.0. f/1.2 is only a half stop from f/1.4.
     
  25. Grev

    Grev Member

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    Seriously, I think one thing you guys have overlooked with this lens, is that the internal reflections give VERY bad coma in high contrast areas at f1.4!! Personally I found it unuseable at f1.4 but even at f2 it will be as sharp as any other lens, this is one of the only (albeit major) flaw that I found with this lens. Other than that, I've been using my 50mm f1.2 much more now since realising it's acute focusing issues.
     
  26. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Um, you'll probably find that by stopping down even a *tiny* bit, to like 1.6 or 1.7, you'll significantly reduce that. Besides, I think you're being somewhat over sensitive to this, optical design is a game of imperfect compromise. Looking for optical design challenges in high contrast areas wide open?! If you want wide open perfection at 35mm get a Leica ASPH Summilux.

    Consider that the first design of this lens was during the late 60's, and it doesn't use an aspherical element and has way less elements, is smaller and lighter than the Canon design. Also consider my point from above, if you haven't used this lens wide open with all of the imaging option available then you don't really know what it can do. Shooting only on digital gives an incomplete view of what the lens can do.