Reviews |Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S Review

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S review
Review

Price when reviewed

£729

$846
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Our Verdict

Nikon’s full-frame Z-series f/1.8 primes are very impressive as a group and the Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S, which was the first to be introduced, makes a great addition to your kit bag. It’s small and light enough to be mounted and carried on your camera on those days when you might see something of interest to photograph, but also delivers the quality of images that you want when you’ve got a day of ‘serious’ photography. It’s a good choice for street photography and makes a great pairing with the Z 85mm f/1.8 S for wedding photography.

For

  • Compact design
  • Superb image quality
  • Near silent operation in video

Against

  • Expensive, but quality doesn't come cheap
  • Needs the correct embedded profiles to remove vignetting at wide apertures

If you’re looking for a good lens for street photography with a Nikon Z-series camera, the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S could be just the ticket

What is the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S?

The Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S was announced at the same time as the Nikon Z6 and Z7, the company’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, and the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2 S.

It’s a moderately wide prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 and the Nikon Z mount.

A focal length of 35mm is a popular choice for street photography, but it’s also good for environmental portraiture, or even as a general ‘walk-about’ lens.

You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Specification

  • Product type: Wide-angle lens
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: Full-frame (FX)
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 11 elements in 9 groups (including 2 ED elements, 3 aspherical elements, and elements with Nano Crystal Coat)
  • Coatings: Nano Crystal Coat
  • Focusing system: Rear focusing system
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.25 m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.22x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 62mm
  • Weight: 370g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 73 x 86mm
Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S review

Features

The Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S is constructed from 11 elements arranged in 9 groups with 2 extra-low dispersion (ED) elements, 3 aspherical elements and elements with Canon Crystal Coat to reduce flare and ghosting.

This optical arrangement enables a closest focusing distance of 25cm, which means you can capture lots of layers or depth in your image.

Like the full-frame Nikon cameras it’s designed for use with, the Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S has weather-proof seals to keep moisture and dust out.

There’s no stabilisation built into the lens but Nikon’s Z-series cameras have in-body image stabilisation.

Build and handling

As the Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S was the first of Nikon’s f/1.8 prime lenses for its Z-series mirrorless cameras, it laid out the design that others, including the Nikkor Z 50mm f1.8 S, Nikkor Z 20mm f1.8 S, Nikkor Z 24mm f1.8 S and Nikkor Z 85mm f1.8 S, have followed.

Unlike flagship zoom lenses such as the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S and the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f2.8 S, the Nikkor Z 50mm f1.8 S doesn’t have a dedicated control ring, a display screen or any buttons. Instead, it has a simple design with just a manual focus ring and a switch to change between automatic and manual focusing.

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S review

The manual focus ring is broad and falls exactly where you expect it to be when you reach for it with your left forefinger and thumb. It also moves smoothly with an easy action that doesn’t take much effort but doesn’t feel too slack.

As with Nikon’s other lenses, the Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S’s focus ring can be customised via the camera’s menu so that it can be used to adjust the aperture, exposure compensation or sensitivity (ISO) settings. I used it for adjusting the exposure compensation.

At 73mm in diameter, 86mm in length from the camera mount and 370g in weight, the Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S feels nicely balanced on a Z-series camera such as the Nikon Z7 II or Z6 II. With a battery and SD card, it makes a kit that weighs less than 1100g, which I find very comfortable to carry across my body on a strap such as the Peak Design Slide Lite shown in these images.

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S review

Performance

Like Nikon’s other f/1.8 Z-series lenses, the Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S delivers impressively sharp results. Even when the aperture is wide open there’s plenty of sharp detail visible at the centre of the frame.

As usual, there’s some drop in the level of sharpness towards the corners of the frame, but it’s unlikely to be called into question in real world shooting situations. Closing down to f/2.8 sharpens the corners significantly and by f/5.6 they look very good.

Even with the in-camera vignette control set to ‘Normal’, there’s some corner shading visible in images shot at f/1.8, but it’s almost gone by f/2.2. It can look quite dramatic in thumbnails without the correction applied, but opening the images in Adobe Camera Raw and selecting to use the correction profile makes it disappear.

Curvilinear distortion is also negligible. However, if you compare images with and without the in-camera Auto distortion controls turned on or turn on and off the correction profile for raw files in Adobe Camera Raw, you see a slight adjustment to compensate for minimal barrel distortion.

Focusing is swift and near silent.

Thanks to the rounded 9-blade iris, out of focus highlights captured by the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S captures are round. There’s also no sign of ‘onion ring’ or other aberrations.

Flare is controlled very well. Naturally, you can force the issue to introduce some, but it’s not excessive or in any way unusual.

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S review

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S sample images

Follow the link to browse and download sample images from the Nikon Z7 II with the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S

Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm F1.8 S image gallery

You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Verdict

As well as street photography, a 35mm lens make a great lens for everyday shooting, while an f/1.8 aperture gives plenty of scope for shooting in low light without needing to push the sensitivity (ISO) value up.

The Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S is an excellent 35mm optic that delivers crisp images without any major flaws, but it’s worth switching on the in-camera corrections or using the embedded raw image profiles to get the very best from it – especially if like bright corners.

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J Cortes
J Cortes
1 year ago

So far, it has been my favorite lens for the Z system. It’s a great lens which is my go-to for environmental portraits and family sessions. However, I also excited about the 40 F2 which is supposed to be released soon.