For reference, here are a few photos with the Nikon Df, the 35mm f2, the 50mm f1.8 and the Fuji X100T.
You can literally drop the lens into a coat pocket and forget where you put it, it’s tiny and light. Shooting with it is nice because it’s small, light, and discreet. Shooting predominantly street photography, I find the lens to be less intimidating than shooting even with the slightly larger 50mm lens I normally use.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to you but I don’t hate my money. Not hating my money forces me to do a ton of research before I buy things… If I don’t think the gear I purchased would make me back the money I spent on it I would never purchase it… I’m thrifty like that. Keep that in mind as you build out your camera bag.
The lens is a huge bargain for the price Nikon is asking. Knowing what I know now, I would have paid twice what I did for the unique look this lens has. The size is absolutely perfect, any smaller and I’d have nowhere to wrap my left hand and stabilize the camera. The build quality is perfectly acceptable, the only change I would make if I was nit-picky would be to have the plastic on the lens come all the way to the camera body and eliminate the tiny exposed metal area (I only think about this because of the lack of weather resistance but lots of lenses do that).
When I review gear the ultimate test is whether I return, sell, give it away or if I keep it. If I keep the gear it’s a pretty big stamp of approval on my part. Not only will I keep the 35mm f/2 but it’s been affixed to my camera since the day I received it and I have no plans on removing it anytime soon.
The lens is inexpensive (relatively), very small, sharp, and handles harsh lighting incredibly well. I think this lens will make the perfect travel/street photography lens and plan on using it until Nikon comes out with a replacement that is the same size or smaller.
My recommendation is to skip the larger, more expensive, Nikon 35mm f1.4G and use the extra money you saved to buy yourself another lens or backup body.
A little about my review…
Q. Why isn’t it more technical?
A. Look, I could sit here and impress you with my graph making skills (there’s an app for that) and knowledge of the inner workings of Spherochromatism (the color fringes of bright out of focus areas) but at the end of the day all most readers want to know is how the lens works in the real world. You can shoot holes in just about any gear in the laboratory, nothing handles all situations perfectly. Often it’s up to the photographer to learn the nuances of a lens or camera body and exploit those in his or her creative process.
Q. Why does it look like you processed the images?
A. Two reasons… First, I hate reading reviews of photography gear where the images suck. It tells me that either the photographer doesn’t care about what he or she is doing or that they simply aren’t good photographers. Will you take advice from a crappy photographer on what gear they recommend? You shouldn’t. The second reason is that I think it’s important to remember that it isn’t solely the gear that makes the photograph, you are 99% of the equation to a great photograph.
Thanks for reading, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.