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Nikon 35mm f/2
AF and AF-D NIKKOR (1989-)
© 2014 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Nikon 35mm f/2.0 AF

Nikon AF-NIKKOR 35mm f/2D (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 52mm filters, 7.0 oz./200g, about $360 new or $330 (gray-market) or about $225 used if you know How to Win at eBay). enlarge.

I got mine at eBay. I'd get it new at Adorama or at Amazon. My biggest source of support is when you use those or these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere. I get no government hand-outs and run no pledge drives to support my research, so please always use any of these links to approved sources for the best prices, service and selection whenever you get anything. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.


July 2014   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

NEWER: 35mm f/1.8 G FX (2014-)

OLDER: 35mm f/2 manual focus (1965-2005)


Sample Image File


McDonald's, 26 July 2012. Nikon D800E, AF-NIKKOR 35mm f/2D, f/8 at 1/250 at ISO 100. Camera-original © 36MP file.


Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Compatibility    History and Production

This is a bargain of a wonderful lens for any purpose on full-frame FX and 35mm cameras. It's 100% compatible with every feature on FX cameras, as well as 100% compatible with all features of all 35mm Nikons made since 1977, auto or manual focus.

This latest 35/2 AF-D lens (1995-today) is the same as the original 35/2 AF lens (1989-1995), differing only in the addition of a focus-distance encoder, which is only a slight help for flash exposure and automated distortion correction. If you're buying used, few people realize that these two are otherwise the same lens, so you can score a bargain on the older AF version which uses exactly the same great optics.

When I mention the AF-D throughout this review, it's the same as the AF lens. I'm saying "AF-D" to differentiate it from the older manual focus lens or the newer f/1.8 AF-S G FX lens. Nikon also refers to the AF-D version as the AF 35mm f/2D.

This 35/2D is sharp, small, light and fast. For FX and 35mm cameras, this is a superb lens. Done.

For DX cameras, use the 35/1.8 DX instead. It's less expensive and is optimized for DX cameras.

The newest 35mm f/1.8 G FX lens is a little sharper, but much bigger and more expensive, and has more corner color fringes and slightly more distortion.

The biggest difference between this 35/2 AF-D and the newest 35/1.8G is that you have to move a switch on your camera to swap between Auto and Manual focus modes, while with the newest f/1.8 G FX lens all you have to do is move the focus ring.

As an FX lens, this review is written for use on FX. On DX, no big deal; just know that when I mention the "corners," I'm talking about a part of this lens' image that isn't seen or used on DX. More at Crop Factor.


Compatibility       intro      top

Full Frame

This is an FX lens, and works especially well on FX, 35mm and DX Nikons like the D4, D4s, D800, D800E, D610, D600, D700, D3X, F6, F5 and F4.

It works fantastically on manual-focus cameras like the F2AS, F3, FE and FA as well, since it has real manual-focus and aperture rings that work exactly as they should.

The 35mm f/2 AF works great with almost every film and digital Nikon camera made since 1977. If you have a coupling prong added to the diaphragm ring, it's perfect with every Nikon back to the original Nikon F of 1959.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AF, AF-D (screw)" column for this lens.


On DX cameras

With DX cameras, the 35mm f/1.8 DX is a much better and more modern lens optimized for DX cameras.

If you want to use this older FX lens on DX, it works fine except that it will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300, D5000, D5100, D5200 or D5300, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. These cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AF, AF-D (screw)" column for this lens.


Nikon 35mm f/2.0 AF

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D.


History and Production       intro      top


1989 March: AF 35mm f/2

Nikon's first fixed 35mm lens for their new AF camera system, the 35mm f/2 AF was introduced in March 1989.

Nikon made about 40,000 of these original 35mm AF lenses.


1995 March: AF 35mm f/2 D

Nikon added the D- feature to this lens in 1995.

The AF and AF-D are 99% the same lens with exactly the same optics.

The only difference is that this newer AF-D lens encodes the focus distance, which helps a little with flash exposure and allows newer cameras to correct its distortion automatically.

Nikon has made about 180,000 of these AF-D lenses, and still makes them today.

Including both versions, there are about 220,000 of these lenses out there.


Specifications        top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


Name       specs       top

Nikon calls this the Nikon AF NIKKOR 35mm f/2 AF or AF-D.

     AF: Auto Focus.

     NIKKOR: Nikon's brand name for their lenses.

     -D: The lens tells the camera the distance to the subject, which helps the exposure meter, especially with on-camera flash, as well as allows in-camera distortion correction.


Optics       specs       top

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D internal diagram

Nikon 35/2 AFD internal diagram.

6 elements in 5 groups.

Conventional unit-focus spherical design.

It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Integrated Coating.


Coverage        top

35mm film, FX and DX.


Close Focus

0.8 feet (0.25 meters), marked.


Maximum Reproduction Ratio



Diaphragm       specs       top

Diaphragm, Nikon 35mm f/2 at f/5.6

Nikon 35 2 AF at f/5.6.

7 conventional blades.

Stops down to f/22.


Aperture Ring       specs       top

Yes, plastic.

Full-stop clicks.


Focal Length        top


When used on a DX camera, it gives angles of view similar to what a 50mm lens gives when used on an FX or 35mm camera.


Angle of View        top

62° on FX and 35mm film.

44° on small-format DX.


Hard Infinity Focus Stop?       specs       top


This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.


Focus Scale       specs       top



Depth-of-Field Scale       specs       top



Infra-Red Focus Index       specs       top

Yes, white dot in the depth-of-field scale.



HN-3 screw-in metal hood, optional.

You don't need it; this lens has great flare performance.


Filter Thread       specs       top

52mm, plastic.

Does not rotate, but moves in and out with focus.



2.5" (63.5mm) around by 2.1" (43.5mm) extension from flange, AF-D version.

2.5" (64.5mm) around by 2.1" (43.5mm) extension from flange, older AF version.

These are measured focused at infinity. It gets about 8mm longer at its closest focus distance.



7.040 oz. (199.6g), actual measured, AF-D version.

Nikon specifies 8 oz. (215g) for the AF-D and 7.2 oz. (205g) for the older AF version.


Made in       specs       top



Introduced       specs       top

March, 1989 (AF version).

March, 1995 (AF-D version).


Nikon Product Number       specs       top



Price, USA       specs       top

$360 new or about $225 used if you know How to Win at eBay, May 2014.

$360, Christmas 2010.


Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Overall   Auto and Manual Focus    Bokeh    Color    Coma    

Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters   Focus Breathing   

Ghosts   Color Fringes    Macro    Mechanics    Sharpness

Spherochromatism   Sunstars   Survivability


Overall      performance      top

The Nikon 35 f/2 AF is one of Nikon's best 35mm lenses.

If you don't mind having to move a switch to get between Auto and Manual focus, there isn't much reason to get the more expensive 35/1.8 G FX.


Auto and Manual Focus      performance      top


AF Speed

AF action is very, very fast. It's as fast as the newer 35/1.8G FX.

One full turn of the AF screw focuses the lens from infinity to 3.'


AF Accuracy

AF is always right-on.


Manual Focus

Manual focus is marvelous. It turns to its closest focus distance in about 140.º

This lens is also designed to work great on manual focus cameras. Manual focus flicks with a fingertip.


Bokeh      performance      top

Bokeh is the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is a little rough at f/2 and neutral at f/2.8 and smaller.

It's not a big deal; there is rarely much that far out of focus with a 35mm lens. If you want out of focus backgrounds, any longer lens (like a 50mm or 85mm) will throw backgrounds much farther out of focus than will any 35mm lens.


Color Rendition      performance      top

The color rendition of this lens matches my other AF NIKKORs.


Coma      performance      top

Coma, also called sagittal coma flare, is weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners at night. They happen with fast and wide lenses at large apertures. Coma goes away as stopped down, and tends not to be seen in slower and tele lenses. Coma is an artifact of spherical aberration.

This lens has a little coma in the corners at f/2, and goes away by f/4. It's much better than the 35/2 AIs, while the 35/1.8 FX is even better.


Distortion      performance      top

The Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D has some barrel distortion, about the same as Nikon's 35mm f/2 manual-focus lens and a hair better than the 35/1.8G FX. The 35mm f/2.8 AI has less distortion, and Nikon's zooms have a lot more.

This 35/2's distortion can be corrected by plugging these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter:


On FX and 35mm, uncorrected

D600 with Correction ON

10' (3m)

Used on recent digital cameras like the D90, D3100, D3200, D3300, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D7000, D7100, D4, D4s, D600, D610, D800 and D800E, the distortion can be set to correct automatically in-camera! Be sure the latest firmware is loaded in your camera for it to recognize this new lens.


Ergonomics      performance      top

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D

Nikon 35/2 AFD.

This 35/2 is easy to mount and dismount.

Manual focus feels great, but keep your fingers away from the focus ring during autofocus because it moves by itself.

The only gotcha with this screw-focus lens is that you have to move a switch on your camera to get between Auto and Manual focus modes.


Falloff (darkened corners)      performance      top

Falloff is visible at f/2, improves greatly at f/2.8, and is gone by f/4.

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.


Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D falloff on FX and film at infinity, no correction.


© 2014 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.


If you set Vignette Correction ON in newer cameras, falloff goes away at large apertures, too.


Filters, Use with      performance      top

There is no problem with vignetting, even with a stack of thick filters.

The filter ring doesn't rotate, and it does move in and out as focussed.


Flare and Ghosts      performance      top

Nikon 35mm f/2 AFD flare

Nikon 35 2 AFD flare at f/10, 29 April 2014. bigger.

This 35mm f/2D AF is free from ghosts, unlike the 35mm f/2.0 AI-s which is among Nikon's worst for ghosts.

If you go out of your way to shoot directly into the sun, overexpose and provide a dark area in the image in front of which to see any ghosts or flare that might materialize, this image above is the worst I could get. The sun was so bright that I would have gone blind if I would have looked through the finder, and it still had nearly no ghosts.

The 35/1.8G FX is slightly better, and as far as I'm concerned for actual photography, they are both completely free from flare and ghosts.


Focus Breathing       performance     top

Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from this conventional unit-focussing lens grows slightly larger as focused more closely.


Lateral Color Fringes      performance      top

There are no lateral color fringes as shot on the D800E, which corrects them automatically as do all current Nikons.

If you look way too close, I did almost see a slight yellow-blue fringe in the last millimeter of the FX corners, but this lens is still much better than the newer 35/1.8 G FX.


Macro      performance      top

This 35mm f/2D AF focuses very, very close. It gets to about 1/4 life size. This is another great unknown feature of this lens.

It does not have close-range correction as the 28mm f/1.4 D AF and 35mm f/1.4 AI-s do. Therefore the 35mm f/2D AF is fuzzy in the corners at close distances at large apertures. This not a problem unless you are silly enough to shoot flat art in the dark hand-held.


Mechanics      performance      top

Nikon 35mm f/2.0 AF

Nikon AF-NIKKOR 35mm f/2D. enlarge.

This 35mm f/2D AF has a plastic filter thread and outer barrel covering so it won't freeze to you in frigid weather, and otherwise the mount and internals seem like sturdy metal.

There was a fatal design flaw I saw in 1999 and 2000 where oil got on the aperture blades. This gummed-up even brand-new lenses and lead to gross overexposure. Nikon claimed to have fixed it back in 2001 as of about serial number 329006, and I've never seen it again. Yes, I've been using and shooting this model of lens for way over 10 years, since before Nikon ever announced the world's first practical DSLR.


Filter Threads




Optional metal HN-3 screw-in.


Barrel Exterior



Focus Ring

Plastic; rubber covered.


Depth-of-Field Scale




Probably mostly metal.


Aperture Ring

Plastic with painted numbers.



Dull-chromed brass.





Identity Ring

Plastic, inside filter threads.


Serial Number

Laser-engraved onto bottom rear of aperture ring.


US Model Signified by

"US" prefix to serial number.


Rain seal at mount



Noises When Shaken

Mild clicking from play in the focus helicoids.

Hold the front of the lens and it won't make any noise as shaken.


Made in



Sharpness      performance      top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

Optically this was the best 35mm lens from Nikon until the 35mm f/1.4 AF-S came out in 2010 and the 35/1.8 G FX came out in 2014.

This f/2 AF lens is much better that the 35mm f/2.0 AI-s manual focus, with very little coma even at f/2.0.

I prefer this f/2 AF lens to the faster 35mm f/1.4 AI-s manual-focus lens because the two perform about as well at f/2. At f/1.4 the 35mm f/1.4 AI-s is not very good, so I would shoot it at f/2 anyway.

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D MTF


As shot at 36MP on a D800E

When driving for optimum sharpness at large apertures, use Live View and the maximum magnification.


At f/2

It's super-sharp throughout 90% of the image.

Contrast is just a little bit lower due to some spherical aberration, but not by much.

The last couple of millimeters of the full-frame corners are a little softer from coma.


At f/2.8

Its super-sharp throughout 99% of the image.

Contrast is back up to its usual high level at smaller apertures; by f/2.8 it's just about perfect.

The last millimeter of full-frame corners are still a little softer at f/2.8.


At f/4 through f/11

At f/4 and as stopped down further, the last millimeter of the corners gets better and better, while the rest of the image having been pretty much perfect since f/2.8.


At f/16 and f/22

Diffraction limits performance, as it does in all good lenses.


Spherochromatism       performance     top

Fast, long lenses often show spherochromatism, which is when out-of-focus highlights take on slight color fringes. Laymen sometimes mistakenly call spherochromatism "color bokeh."

This fast wide angle shows just a little, meaning that at f/2 out-of-focus background highlights may have slight green fringes and out-of-focus foreground highlights may have slight magenta fringes, which if anything goes to improve bokeh against green backgrounds.


Sunstars      performance      top

Nikon 35mm f/2 AFD flare

Nikon 35 2 AFD sunstar at f/8, 29 April 2014. bigger.

With its straight 7-bladed diaphragm, the 35/2 AFD makes classically sharp Nikon 14-pointed sunstars on bright points of light.


Survivability       performance     top

The Nikon 35/2 AF and AF-D are classic all-mechanical Nikon AF lenses. They have no AF or VR motors to break.

Except maybe for the distance encoder, there's nothing to break or be replaced that a competent mechanic can't build in his own shop. The distance encoder for the D feature is no big deal if it breaks.

Therefore, I see no reason that this lens won't still be churning out great photos 30 years from now. It's not a plastic motorized dog plop like so many other lenses today. For instance, the 16-35 VR is sharper and has VR and instant manual-focus override, but it's loaded with specialized parts that if Nikon can't supply them, you could have a dead lens on your hands. This 35/2 will probably outlast a newer and more complex 16-35.


Compared             top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


AF versus AF-D versions

These are the same lens. The AF-D simply adds a distance (D) encoder to help with flash exposure and automatic distortion control.

The D feature makes very little difference in actual shooting. It is not noticeable at all unless you do a lot of flash shooting or need Distortion Correction in the newest cameras.

Therefore, getting a used AF lens instead of an AF-D lens will get you the same exact optics for a bargain price.


Versus 35mm f/1.8 DX

The 35/1.8 DX is only for DX cameras. It's the best lens for DX, while you'll need one of the others for full-frame cameras.


Versus f/1.8 G FX, 24-70 and 16-35 VR

Nikon 35mm lenses compared

Nikon 35/1.8G, 35/2 AF-D, 24-70/2.8G and 16-35mm/4 VR. Bigger.

See Nikon 35mm Lenses Compared for my comparison among these.


Versus 50/1.8D, 45/2.8P and Voigtländer 40/2 II

Compared to the manual-focus Voigtländer 40mm f/2, the Voigtländer is better-made and sharper than any of the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D, 45mm f/2.8 AI-P or 50mm f/1.8 AF-D.

To show this, here are crops from the top right corner of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images:

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D Voigtlander 40mm f/2
Nikon 45mm f/2.8 P Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D

Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors.

You'll never see this much difference in actual photos among these all-excellent lenses; in this case, I shot them in a way that would exaggerate the differences as much as possible.


Versus the 28/1.4 AF-D

The far more expensive 28mm f/1.4D AF isn't that much different in actual photography, and the 35mm f/2D focuses faster and closer, too.


Versus manual focus 35mm f/2 F, AI and AI-s

This AF 35/2 (1989-today) is much better optically than the older 35/2 manual focus lens (1965-2005). Nikon made both of these lenses from 1989 through 2005.

This AF lens is sharper at the sides wide open, has less falloff and has none of the ghost problems of the manual focus lens for night shooting.

Nikon made both the manual focus version up throigh 2005, along with this AF lens.


Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

To switch between auto and manual focus, you have to move the switch on your camera. It only autofocuses on cameras with a built in autofocus motor, which are Nikon's better digital SLRs and most of their 35mm SLRs.

The focus ring spins while the lens autofocuses. Be careful not to touch or turn it while in autofocus mode!


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

This is a jewel of a small, fast sharp lens. It's been a key part of the Nikon System of Professional Photography since 1989 when the F4 dominated, and today it's still a top-performing lens. If you think you want one, you'll love it!

If you don't mind having to move a switch to get between auto and manual focus, this lens is a bargain compared to the newest 35/1.8 G FX.

This 35/2 is optically about as good and feels better-made than the newest 35/1.8 G FX lens that's bigger, heavier and more expensive.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link to them at Adorama, at Amazon and to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.





I'd pitch the flat Nikon cap that came with this lens when new, and get a new "pinch" type cap. I'm not kidding: these new, fatter, caps are much easier to use.

I'd leave either a 52mm Nikon Clear (NC - UV) filter, or a 52mm Hoya Super HMC UV on the lens at all times. I would leave the hood at home.

If I was working in nasty, dirty areas, I'd forget the cap, and use an uncoated 52mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.

For color slides like Velvia 50, I use an old Nikon A2 or new 52mm Hoya HMC 81A outdoors.

For B&W film outdoors, I'd use an old Nikon Y48 or O56, or a new 52mm Hoya HMC K2 Yellow or 52mm Hoya HMC Orange.


More Information         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Nikon's 35/2 AF-D page.


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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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HOTG 26 July 2012