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.
NEWER: 35mm f/1.8 G FX (2014-)
OLDER: 35mm f/2 manual focus (1965-2005)
Sample Image File
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.
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.
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
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 AF-D.
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.
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.
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.
0.8 feet (0.25 meters), marked.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio
Nikon 35 2 AF at f/5.6.
7 conventional blades.
Stops down to f/22.
Focal Length top
Angle of View top
44° on small-format DX.
This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.
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.
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.
March, 1989 (AF version).
March, 1995 (AF-D version).
$360, Christmas 2010.
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.
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 is always right-on.
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 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.
The color rendition of this lens matches my other AF NIKKORs.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
If you set Vignette Correction ON in newer cameras, falloff goes away at large apertures, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Optional metal HN-3 screw-in.
Plastic; rubber covered.
Probably mostly metal.
Plastic with painted numbers.
Plastic, inside filter threads.
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.
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.
As shot at 36MP on a D800E
When driving for optimum sharpness at large apertures, use Live View and the maximum magnification.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Versus f/1.8 G FX, 24-70 and 16-35 VR
See Nikon 35mm Lenses Compared for my comparison among these.
Versus 50/1.8D, 45/2.8P and Voigtländer 40/2 II
To show this, here are crops from the top right corner of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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HOTG 26 July 2012