Nikon Announces Faster 35mm

Today Nikon announced a 35mm f/1.4 lens.

The 35mm f/1.4 is quite a bit of a surprise. First, there's that f/1.4 surprise, as it implies yet another lens line (f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8). I'm on record as saying I'm not a big fan of the two-thirds of a stop difference (f/1.4 versus f/1.8) and prefer the one-and-a-third stop difference (f/1.2 versus f/1.8). But here we are. 

Second, in terms of physical attributes, the 35mm f/1.4  is very much like the f/1.8 S: 11 element design, ~10" close focus, only a half millimeter different in length and 1.5mm larger in diameter, and a scant 1.6 ounces (45g) heavier. However the third surprise is the price and the fact that it is not an S lens: US$599.95 (the f/1.8 S came out at US$850, and even with its current discount is US$700). The published MTF charts on this lens show it to be not at S-level, as well.

To me what Nikon has done is reimagine the original 35mm prime for the Z System for the more casual photographer, and in doing so, made it slightly brighter. The 35mm f/1.8 S was one of the original three lenses Nikon introduced with the Z System, and will by summer's end be an ancient (by tech standards) six years old. Both Sigma and Sony dropped 35mm f/1.4 lenses in 2021, with Canon announcing theirs in the last month. Looking back on all the Nikkors that have dropped, that original 35mm f/1.8 S looks to me to be one of the weaker primes so far. Still really good optically, and far better than what Nikon did in the F-mount, but on a comparative basis to the other f/1.8 or faster Z System primes Nikon has launched, sort of at the bottom of the heap now. Thus, some renewal in the focal length is well warranted at this point. It's nice to see embracing that renewal, but an f/1.4 non-S isn't what was expected from the Road Map.

How that works out in testing is still to be seen, but Nikon hasn't really dropped a Nikkor Z dud yet. It is interesting to note that the lens-on-camera product image Nikon supplied is on the Z6 III. 

The new lens will be available in mid July. 

Update: after posting via press release, I've had a chance to talk a bit more with Nikon about plans. Thus, I've edited this article and added another.

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