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Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX Review

Nikon 35mm DX Review

The Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX, or Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm F1.8G, is an affordable 35mm prime lens and one of the best lenses for Nikon DX DSLRs such as the Nikon D3500, D5600, and D7500.

With its versatile 44-degree angle-of-view, razor-sharp image quality, and large, bright, background-melting F1.8 aperture, the compact Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX is a compelling lens. In this review, we take a look at 35mm’s performance and image quality and how it compares with similar lenses. Jump to Conclusion

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Table of Contents

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1. What is the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX?

The Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX is a fixed-focal-length prime lens meaning it does not Zoom. As a DX lens, the Nikon 35mm is designed for use on Nikon’s DX range of Digital SLRs such as the Nikon D3500, D5600, and D7500.

1.1. Focal Length

The Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX features a 35mm focal length delivering a 44-degree angle-of-view on Nikon’s DX DLSRs.

As a result, the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX is an ideal lens to use for everyday-photography and portraiture. However, the Nikon 35mm’s slightly narrow angle-of-view is not so good for landscape photography. Read: What is Focal Length.

1.2. Aperture

The Nikon Nikkor 35mm F1.8 features a large, bright, F1.8 aperture enabling it to capture up to 8 times more light than the average kit lens. For this reason, the Nikon 35mm DX a good lens for taking photos in low light. Read: What is Aperture.

And because large apertures reduce depth-of-field, you can use the 35mm DX’s large aperture to melt your subject’s backgrounds. This is a seriously cool effect that will transform your photography. Read: What is Depth-of-field

1.3. Image Stabilization

Sadly, the Nikon 35mm DX is does not feature Image Stabilization. Read: How to avoid camera shake

1.4. Build

At 200 grams, the Nikon Nikkor 35mm 1.8 DX will not weigh you down. And thanks to its compact dimension, the Nikon 35mm can be squeezed into a jacket pocket.

Overall, the Nikon 35mm DX’s build quality is good. Unlike other cheap Nikon lenses, the Nikon 35mm features a metal mounting ring preventing light-leakage and improving durability.

However, unlike Nikon’s vastly more expensive ‘premium’ lenses, the 35mm DX is not rated for all-weather use.

1.5. Nikon 35mm F1.8 DX Specifications

  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Angle-of-View: 44 degrees
  • Aperture: F1.8 to F22
  • Aperture Blades: 7 Rounded Blades
  • Mount: Nikon F DX
  • Autofocus: In-built with Manual Override
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 30cm
  • Maximum Magnification: .016x
  • Screw-on filter size: 52mm
  • Size: 70 x 53mm
  • Weight: 200 Grams

2. Compatability

The Nikon 35mm F1.8 DX is designed specifically for DX DSLRs such as the Nikon D3500, D5600, and D7500. However, it will also work with full-frame Nikon cameras via two methods.

2.1. Enable auto-crop mode

With auto-crop mode switched on, your full-frame camera will only use a DX-sized portion of its sensor. As a result, your sensor’s resolution will drop by more than a half.

For instance, using my Nikon D750 in crop mode will reduce my resolution 24 to 10 megapixels.

2.2. Disable auto-crop mode

With auto-crop mode disabled, your full-frame camera will use the whole of its sensor. So long as the Nikon 35mm DX is left on its largest F1.8 aperture, it projects an image large enough to cover your full-frame sensor, albeit with some dramatic but correctable vignetting.

Reducing your aperture from F1.8 makes the vignetting more severe. If you are using a full-frame camera, you would be much better off with something like the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G or Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART

3. Nikon 35mm DX Lens Review

Here we review the Nikon 35mm DX’s image quality, autofocus, ergonomics and build quality.

3.1. Image Quality

The Nikon 35mm DX’s image quality is excellent. Not only is it sharp at all apertures, but it also produces nice contrast and warm colors.

Bokeh at F1.8

In fact, the Nikon 35mm DX is so good that not only does the 35mm Nikon significantly outperform the 18-55mm kit lens, it can soundly beat more expensive lenses.

However, bokeh (background blur) on the 35mm DX is a little busy for my tastes. Of course, such things are subjective, and it’s hardly bad in any case.

Overall, the Nikon 35mm DX’s image quality is impressive. To get better, you will have to spend much, much more.

3.2. Autofocus

Although the Nikon 35mm DX’s autofocus is good enough for everyday photography, it sometimes struggles to keep up with fast subjects. The Nikon takes just under a second to shift focus from minimum distance to infinity.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm 1.8 is accurate. Expect sharp, in-focus images even at its largest, brightest, and blurriest F1.8 aperture.

At this point, I should mention the Nikon 35mm features an inbuilt motor. As a result, the Nikon 35mm DX will autofocus on every Nikon DX DSLR camera ever made – including the Nikon D3500, D5600, and D7500.

3.3. Ergonomics

The Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX feels good in hand and could hardly be more simple to use.

Control-wise, the Nikon 35mm DX features a single control ring to adjust focus and a switch to enable/disable autofocus. Yet, you may not use the switch all that often since you can override autofocus at any time.

For instance, you can use autofocus to quickly acquire your subject then adjust focus using the manual focus ring without ever having to switch autofocus off.

The AF-S 35mm DX is an excellent portrait lens. Extremely sharp and the razor-thin depth-of-field helps you blur out your subject surroundings.

3.4. Build Quality

Despite weighing just 200 grams, the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX is well-built and feels solid in-hand. And unlike many affordable Nikon DX lenses, the Nikon DX 35mm 1.8 features a metal mount ring.

On the other hand, the manual focus ring lacks the glide of more expensive models. And whilst the 35mm DX feels well built, it lacks the weather sealing found on considerably more expensive lenses such as the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.4G.

Nevertheless, the Nikon 35mm DX’s build quality exceeds its modest price.

4. Alternative Lenses

4.1. Nikon AF-D 35mm F2

I do not recommend the old F2 as it produces poor-looking images at its maximum F2 aperture. Furthermore, its lack of an in-built motor means it will only focus manually on many Nikon’s DX SLRs.

In terms of cost and quality, there’s little reason to choose the more expensive F2 over the cheaper, sharper, brighter, and auto-focusing Nikon 35mm F1.8 DX.

4.2. Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G

On a full-frame camera, the AF-S 50mm F1.8 is a no-brainer. Yet, for DX users, its 75mm equivalent focal length makes it a specialized lens and an entirely different proposition to the Nikon 35mm F 1.8 DX.

4.3. Nikon AF-S 35MM F1.8G (FX)

Whereas the Nikon 35mm F 1.8 DX is designed to work exclusively on Nikon’s DX DSLRs, the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G will work on your DX and the full-frame (FX) Nikon DSLR you may buy in the future.

Unfortunately, the full-frame 35mm costs three times as much as its DX equivalent and performs worse than the cheaper lens when mounted to your DX DSLR. Are Full-frame cameras better?


Having owned the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX for years, I can recommend it without hesitation. It’s compact, well built, and performs well as an everyday lens whilst delivering excellent image quality.

Its large F1.8 aperture is bright enough to keep you shooting as light falls, and its ability to blur your subject’s background will transform your photography.

In fact, it’s very difficult to be critical about a lens that offers so much for so little money. Therefore, if you think this lens might be for you, it almost certainly is. Return to Introduction

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX fit full frame DSLRS?

Sort of. With auto-crop mode switched on, your full-frame camera will recognize the AF-S 35mm DX as a DX lens. As a result, it will only use a central, dx-sized portion of your full-frame sensor reducing your resolution by 60%.

However, if you disable your camera’s auto-crop mode, the Nikon AF-S DX 35mm will provide an image large enough for a full-frame sensor so long as you leave your aperture set to F1.8. Decreasing your aperture will result in extreme vignetting as the image circle becomes too small for your FX sensor.

Can the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX blur backgrounds?

Yes. Very well in fact. The Nikon’s F1.8 aperture makes for great portraits.

Is the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX optically stabilized?

This Nikon 35mm does not feature Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) or any other kind of stabilization.

Is 35mm a good focal length?

On a DX camera, 35mm provides a similar field of view to 50mm on a full-frame and is ideal for everyday shooting and short-range portraiture. 35mm is not so good for landscapes, sports, and astrophotography.

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