AF Nikkor 35mm f2 D - DUD or STUD?
LAST EDITED ON Feb-06-01 AT 03:48 AM (GMT)
Dear fellow Nikonians,
I'm interested in any info on the Nikkor AF 35mm f2.
The MTF rating sites give the lens high marks...yet
photographyreview.com reviewers pretty much pan the
lens as a lemon. Several reviewers point out their AF 35
f2's exhibit "sticky" aperture blades and oil build-up that prevent the user from stopping down.
Is it worth picking up this focal length with such mixed reviews?
What do Nikonians who own and use this lens have to say?
I own a 24mm and a 50 mm...and like the 35mm perspective...maybe
the 35 1.4 AIS is the answer?
#1. "mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 0Mon 05-Feb-01 11:28 AM
I am a big fan of the 35mm focal length, and have owned every model ever produced by Nikon, as well as for the Leica rangefinder.
I believe that the 35mm f/2.0 AF was absolutely the best f/2.0 lens ever made by Nikon, I couldn't believe how sharp it was, plus it focused twice as close as the manual focus model that for years was my standard lens. I used it on my autofocus cameras as well as my FM2, and enjoyed it for about a year or so.
I went to Bike Week in Daytona Beach and shot about eight rolls of film with it on an FM2 set for grab shots, f/8 @ 1/500th and focused to six feet. My second camera had a telephoto, which I focused for each shot, but the 35mm lens camera was simply raised and fired blind... to get candids of people in the crowd, (OK girls in Bikinis). After those eight rolls, I saw a shot that called for the 35mm lens, and also required some thought to the composition. I viewed, and set the f-stop to f/11, set the lens for hyperfocual distance and hit the depth of field preview to check that all was sharp. Horror! The view finder stayed f/2.0 bright while I was holding the DOF preview. The aperture would not budge off of its maximum opening. I took the lens off of the camera and cycled the aperture ring over and over and after about twenty times. the diaphragm oozed to about f/8 when the dial was set to f/22... after about 10 seconds. Bottom line, all of my shots were ruined by severe over exposure, instead of f/8, it was shooting at f/2, also I was counting on the f/8 for enough DOF to cover the blind shooting, so most of the shots had the focus off if the subject was not exactly 6 feet away. I though I had some bad luck, but found a site on the net that had a whole thread dedicated to this exact problem, with this exact lens. Several of the people had sent their lens back to Nikon for repair, and the same problem occurred again. I am loyal, but I need reliability, so I gave up on this lens.
I used this experience to justify my long desired lens, the 35mm f/1.4 AIS, and feel that I now have the best lens for my type of photography. The AF model might be a little sharper at f2.0, but from f/2.8 it is a tie through the rest of the f-stop range. At f/1.4, the contest is very one sided... and I do use the lens at f/1.4 quite often. Sometimes sharpness is not the whole thing... the effect of certain lighting can make some softness, (and it is not much softness), tolerable.
This is simply my experience with the lens that you asked about. I'd like to say it is anecdotal, but as you have mentioned, you have seen the fact that others have had the same problem. You pay your money and take your chances. The lens was great while it worked, but for the money, it didn't work nearly long enough. In my mind I can still see the shots I lost that day, Damn!
#2. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 1
Thanks for sharing. When did you purchase your AF 35 f2?
Do you think - due to the repairs and complaints that
Nikon might have tightened the QC on this lens...and that
its A-OK now? Its a $300 gamble...and I don't really want
to go the 1.4 AIS route (ie. more moolah - similar performance)if I can help it. I see in your profile that you still list the AF 35 f2 in your kit. Is it reliable enough to keep it around?
- or is it something your not willing to pass on to a prospective buyer because it's such a dud?
#4. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 2Mon 05-Feb-01 07:23 PM
I have simply placed in my profile, all of the lenses that I have, functioning or not, so it would allow any viewer to see my arsenal in total. If I were to say for example, "Lens X is not sharp", it would be useful to see what I am comparing it to. If someone says that Ford cars are not good, and then it comes to light that that person never used a Ford... how much stock could you put into the opinion? I will never speak about any lens or camera, in positive or negative terms, unless I actually own and use it, (or did). I have not used the lens since the problem.
I purchased my lens brand new in the box in early 1997. It failed in October of 1998, during "Biketoborfest". It was not dropped or abused in anyway, the aperture simply stopped moving freely through all of the stops. I don't want to start a flame war for old vs. new, but at the same time my 50mm f1.4 AF also developed problems, loose elements shifting within the lens causing erratic results. Both of these problems, happening so close together, caused me to have problems in my mind about the state of the newer gear. In 30 years, I never wore out a manual focus Nikkor, and I did abuse many of these, so I went back to my AIS lenses. Maybe a little slower in opertation, but a lot more peace of mind... a good trade for me.
It would be a personal choice for you, the AF lens was worth every penny... simply stunning. But I travel the world taking photos and I would always be wondering... "what's next, and when will it happen?" My 35mm AIS f/1.4 was truly expensive, about 600 Dollars, but if I divide that total over the life, it is many times cheaper than the 300 Dollar AF. When I do the math, the AIS is a good deal.
#5. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 4
LAST EDITED ON Feb-06-01 AT 03:52 AM (GMT)
I called Nikon USA today - to affirm the sentiments of
those photogs who complain about the poor build quality
of the AF 35mm f2. The technical support specialist I
spoke with said he has been with Nikon USA for several years
and is made aware of all repair data...he emphatically stated he
"NEVER heard of aperture blade or stop down problems with the AF35f2."
When I told him I read numerous reviews by Nikon pros -
who cite the same problem over and over ... he poo-poo'd
the complaints as subjective twitterings. He told me that
most likely....those people who experienced problems didn't
buy a Nikon USA lens. He blamed it on probable Grey market purchases - lenses that are "imported by 3rd parties that don't regulate the handling and temperature of a lens"...and thus the problems arise.
He told me to buy a AF 35mm f2 with a USA rating...and that
everything would be fine...
I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS GUY...HE DENIED ANY CHANCE OF A
SHORTCOMING...COULD NIKON BE CONSOLIDATING TECH SUPPORT AND
SALES IN THE SAME DIVISION????
What would I do without my brothers and sisters in arms at
#6. "I never read about the problem until AFTER I had it happen to me." | In response to Reply # 5Mon 05-Feb-01 08:29 PM
I really though that I simply had bad luck with my lens. I only saw the corroborating information on the net several months after my lens failed. I was both surprised and also sad when I saw the thread where many people reported the problems, but I guess in the eyes of the Nikon rep, we must all be lying. I guess I must be imagining that useless lens laying in my photo gear cabinet too.
My lens was 100% USA import, not gray. The mechanics shouldn't matter, but it was a real USA lens bought in the USA at a Nikon professional service store. Since it is not my way to keep unsubstantiated stories flying, I won't tell you what the Nikon person in the store told me about the number of lenses returned to him for warrantee repairs, but it helped my decision process in returning to manual AIS lens.
#7. "My decision might come down to economics" | In response to Reply # 6
I wrote Nikon last night via e-mail...they responded by saying
complaints on the 35mm f2 AF-Nikkor were "not usual." They assured me that any diaphragm problems would be covered in the
USA warranty for 5 years...and for me to purchase "with confidence" in Nikon quality.
If I choose to buy the 35 f2 - would I be making a big mistake - assuming the diaphragm problem doesn't rear its ugly head?
I read in an earlier review, you mentioned a "flatness of field issue" with the 35 f2. You stated the AIS f1.4 was better for
capturing people etc. due to its field curvature...
If you would please elaborate on this - for I need a lot of
convincing before I throw down nearly 8-hundy for a fixed lens - especially with that lil devil on my shoulder shouting ... "go
for the AF...everything will be all right" and "for a few hundred more...you could get the 17-35mm AF-S zoom!"
#8. "Get the AF model... fill out the warrantee card." | In response to Reply # 7Tue 06-Feb-01 05:48 PM
If you feel good about the 5 year warrantee, then I would say go for the f/2.0 AF. In 90% of the shots side by side with the f/1.4 AIS model, you can't tell them apart from one another. The f/2.0 AF beats the f/1.4 AIS at f2.0 (slightly). What you lose is f/1.4, so if that is something you don't feel you need, you can get by quite well with the AF lens.
I am more anal than most as far as lens performance, probably rejecting lenses that most people would love... that's my problem. I like that the f/1.4 model has field curvature, but it is an acquired taste. At first, I just thought the lens was soft, but after more tests I discovered that it was simply a function of the field of sharpness falling a bit ahead of a flat subject. The lens needs to be focused on the ground glass for off center subjects, rather than using the center focusing aid and then panning the camera for composition. I like it because it gives the illusion of less depth of field, allowing better separation of the subject from the background at the same aperture. After about f/2.8 or so, everything balances out.
As I stated, the 35mm f2.0 AF was an outstanding lens for me. If it was still working, I wouldn't have the f/1.4 model... and I would not miss it I guess. The zoom route would give you the focal length, but you would lose a stop of light, the tiny size and weight, and the depth of field marks for hyperfocal settings. Additionally the 35mm AF focuses to 6 inches, for a unique view of small things in their environment... instead of a flower floating in space, you get it with all of the other parts of the background, but with a looming perspective. In your situation, I'd get the AF lens.
#3. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 1
#9. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 3Ed Basic MemberThu 15-Feb-01 03:35 AM
If f8bthere bought his 35/2 lens in 1997, then it must be the 35/2.0 AF-D, not the older 35/2 AF.
The user reports on the Internet about oily, sticky diaphragm problems with the 35/2 were about the AFD version. I have a 35/2 AF that is 10 years old. Never had a problem with it.
If you're still concerned despite the 5-year warranty, then get either the AIS lens or the older AF lens (used only). My 35/2 is very sharp indeed especially at close range, around 5 ft or so. Of course, there is no D-chip in it which may be another consideration for you.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#10. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 9geo Basic MemberThu 15-Feb-01 08:48 AM
I bought my AI-s 35/1.4 just a short time ago, last December; and had few occasions yet to look at its results. But, as familiarity with that lens develop, I have noticed a few nice things. First of all, it's sharp. Very sharp at the central f/ settings. More, the image in the finder is so bright you don't believe it; it focuses with a snap, even in the corners, thus helping in the technique Al indicates to avoid field curvature problems. Last but not least, sharpness isn't everything... that lens seems to have a peculiar rendering. It is able to reveal particulars in the shades, things that I am not used to see with other lenses. Maybe this is due to lower contrast, but contrast seems to be O. K. anyhow, so I can not tell. Like for the 105/2.5, you have to see it to understand. I love that lens. It is bulky, heavy and expensive, but I am glad I bought it.
I do not own an AF 35/2, anyhow, and never used one.
#11. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 10karlmarx Basic MemberThu 15-Feb-01 04:03 PM
I'm sad to hear thoses news about the 35 f2 D... I was even more sad to hear that you had problem with the 50 mm 1.4 D. I have so much fun with this lens! I hope I won't have any problem! I choosed Nikon for its reputation of quality... I wouldn't tolerate it if one of my lens would broke... considering I am spending all (and more) of my money on nikon gear, I don't want them to let me down! But I'm sure they won't... Gotta stay positive!
Have a good time!
#12. "RE: mine was great... until it failed!" | In response to Reply # 11
I bought the 35mm f2 AF-D and its fast becoming
my mainstay walk-around lens - for street shooting.
Its bright, fast and produces vibrant prints...not
to mention the contrast it gives my Tri-X shots.
I'm happy with it now. Fingers crossed - hope
I never need the warranty.
Good light to you all,