A prime lens is an important piece of equipment for most photographers. These lenses are preferred over zoom lenses for a number of reasons.
A 35mm lens on a full-frame DSLR camera body represents almost the same view as what you see with your own eyes. Another thing that makes these lenses popular is their extreme versatility. As for a Nikon 35mm lens, it can be used in many different scenarios, from street photography to portraits.
Over the years, different manufacturers have been working to improve the quality of their 35mm lenses. These lenses each come with different features and functionalities, with enormously varying price tags. Therefore, it can be difficult to choose the most compatible 35mm lens for your Nikon camera.
In this roundup, we have attempted to make your decision as easy as possible and have reviewed some of our favorite Nikon 35mm lenses, with each offering great value for your money.
1. Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S (Overall Winner)
Despite having a modest aperture of f/1.8, the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S is quite expensive for a 35mm prime lens. However, there are a lot of high-tech features included, such as three aspherical elements and some additional ED glass elements. The lens comes coated with a Super Integrated Coating and Nano Crystal Coat, which effectively reduces the ghosting and flare effects.
The autofocus on this lens is fast and quiet, driven by a stepping motor, while the lens’ electronically coupled control ring ensures smooth and precise manual focusing. This lens also allows you to customize the functionality of the control ring while using the lens in autofocus mode.
A focus distance scale is not provided, as you may expect from a stepping motor-driven lens. However, both the Nikon Z6 and Z7 camera bodies that this lens was made for include focus peaking and focus assist lamps.
Image quality is exceptional, and the sharpness you get at the center of the frame is stunning. Like the other Z-series lenses, the large-diameter mounting plate ensures that image sharpness remains clear across the whole frame. For further sharpness, the lens features a built-in stabilization system.
The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is small and lightweight, weighing only 480g. The lens offers optical image stabilization with a correction factor of up to three stops. This helps a lot in low-light scenarios and can be considered as a bonus for this price.
Extensive weather-sealing, together with the fluorine coating on the front element, allows you to shoot in the rain. The minimum focusing distance of 0.2m is better than average, giving a magnification factor of 0.4x.
Although the Tamron isn’t world-class for its sharpness, it delivers good image quality overall. Color fringing or dispersion is a bit more visible than most of its rivals, and it lacks depth of field markings on the barrel.
The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art offers superb build quality, but it adds a good amount of weight to the lens body. Like other Art primes from Sigma, it comes equipped with the ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, which is whisper-silent and super-quick.
As for manual focusing, the physical focus control ring allows you smooth and precise focus adjustments. Depth of field markings are only provided for the f/16 aperture reading, making scale focusing impractical.
The optical design is state-of-the-art, featuring two aspherical elements with one fluorite-grade low dispersion element and four special low dispersion elements. These ensure you get stunning image quality.
The lens retains extreme image sharpness across the whole frame when shooting wide open. Moreover, when it comes to color fringing and barrel distortion, the Sigma 35mm is a solid performer. With all these things included, you get great value for the money, however, it’s not weather-sealed.
4. Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC AE (Budget Winner)
The manual-focus Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC AE offers several mount options in addition to the Nikon FX-version. Most of them lack built-in electronics, so you won’t be able to control the aperture settings in-camera. Therefore, you will have to rely on the lens’ own physical aperture ring.
The focus ring of the lens works smoothly and precisely. The lens barrel features a focus distance scale and depth of field markings. This comes in handy for street shooting, as well as other photography needs.
Compared to most f/1.4 lenses, the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC AE is big and heavy. Contrast and sharpness aren’t well presented at apertures wider than f/2. However, at f/2.8 the lens delivers excellent results. Lateral chromatic aberration is negligible while slight spherical aberration can be found at wide apertures.
Compared to the Nikon 35mm lens of the Z-series, this F-mount lens is compact, lightweight, and very less expensive. Both offer the same f/1.8 aperture.
The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED is not only fast and silent, but it also allows for full manual override. A focus distance scale is available but offers limited benefits when manually focusing. This is because it lacks markings between 0.7m and infinity, depth of field markings are only included at f/16. The optical design features one aspherical element and one ED element, as well as a super integrated coating.
It is notable that while the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED weighs less than half compared to the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 above on the list, it still packs quite a punch. Sharpness and contrast are great overall, and it performs exceptionally well against ghosting and flaring effects.
Final Thoughts on Nikon 35mm Lenses
Choosing the best 35mm lens for your Nikon camera depends on the type of photography you are interested in and the features you think are most important for your needs. For us, the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S is the best Nikon 35mm lens overall, but others on the list won’t disappoint you either. Before you make up your mind, read through our reviews carefully, and choose the lens that suits you best.