Monday, February 9, 2009


Nikon announces 35mm f/1.8 DX prime lens

Today Nikon announced the new AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. The lens uses Nikon's Silent Wave Motor (SWM) which ensures auto-focus ability on the Nikon D40, D40x and D60. The suggested price is $199. Head over to DPReview.com for the full press release and more photos.

Mounted on a DX format camera, the new 35mm f/1.8 will have the equivalent 35mm format focal length of 52.5mm, or 50mm for all practical purposes. 50mm is a natural focal length to use as it is very close to how the human eye sees. Couple the wide angle with a large aperture and this lens becomes the perfect low-light and no-flash indoor solution. The lens is an ideal choice for anyone that owns a D40 or D60. Up to this point, the fastest D40/60 AF-compatible lens at this focal length was the 17-55mm f/2.8 DX ($1250).

The only other Nikon AF prime available for these cameras is the new 50mm f/1.4 ($485 at Adorama). Since the same 1.5x crop factor applies, the 50mm lens becomes the 35mm format equivalent of 75mm. While this short telephoto length is excellent for subjects several yards away, it essentially makes shooting people in close proximity impossible. This new 35mm DX lens should provide just enough width to work comfortably in close quarters, i.e. living rooms, bars, and ski gondolas. Considering the 35mm f/1.8 DX is 60% less expensive than the 50mm f/1.4, this should be the first or second lens a D40/60 shooter adds to his bag.

Photographers shooting other Nikon DX cameras (D80, D90, D200, D300) that can auto focus older Nikon glass should consider several other options before picking up this lens. Since this lens is DX, it will only work on DX cameras. If you plan to upgrade to a full-frame FX camera (D3, D3x, D700) in the near future, this lens will not work. Nikon's older 35mm f/2 is only $349 and will work on FX cameras. Also, if you are a D70+ user, you probably already own a 50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4.

The questions a non D40/60 Nikon shooter should ask himself are:
  • Will I get sufficient use from this $199 lens before I upgrade to FX?
  • Is spending another $150 on the older 35mm f/2 a better investment?
  • Do I really need a 35mm prime in addition to the 50mm I carry with me?
The D40/60 photog only need ask himself this:
  • How soon can I buy the new Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX?
It's slated to ship at the beginning of March 2009.

(images from DPReview.com and KenRockwell.com, respectively)

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