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Thread: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

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    Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    I was just wondering if anyone used this lens. I am going to wait until photokina to see if Nikon gets around to introducing AFS primes...I would love to see a 35/1.4 AFS ED Aspherical Super Nanocoated uber lens, but I am wondering if we will see it. If not, I am curious as to how people like the 35/1.4 AIS if they have used it. It seems like it is not great wide open, but improves a lot stopped down a stop or two. The photos I have seen have variable bokeh...some ok, some bad. The 35/1.4 ASPH is my favorite lens, so I am probably pretty spoiled here.

    I would look into the 28/1.4, but I am not willing to spend 3000+ dollars on a lens that cost half that new. Also, I don't like 28mm as much as 35mm...the angle of view just does not mesh well for me. I like 35 and 24...

    As for the 35/2 AF...well, it does not seem to do very well wide open, and it is only one stop faster than the zooms, so it is not as persuasive to me. Certainly cheap though, which is nice.

    So anyway, if anyone has shot with the 35/1.4 AIS and can share some photos or experiences from it, I would be interested to hear them. I am kind of disappointed that the ZF 35mm is a f/2, not a 1.4...they have had some 35/1.4 distagons in the past.
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Stuart, haven't used the Nikon 35/1.4, but I thought I'd add some bulk to your thread until someone offers up some snaps and a more informed opinion.

    Have owned the 35/2 ZF and used extensively the Leica R 35/2 and a boat load of fast Leica R APO glass. have also had the opp. to shoot with some nice M glass on occasion. Assuming the 35 lux performs as I suspect and have seen, the closest I think you're going to get , currently, in a Nikon mount is the ZF.

    Pros: One of the sharpest in that FL ever produced starting WO, good contrast (stronger than Leica), color (a little cooler than Leica), great mechanics, etc.

    Cons: CA control about average, can PF at wide apertures, very easy to miss-focus between roughly 10M and infinity: takes a miniscule movement of the focus ring to go from a nice landscape to a nice shot 30' in front of your sneakers (don't ask...).

    The 35 Nikon looks ok (bokeh, as you say can be iffy), but just ok say from F1.4-2 or so. The price has also jumped to somewhat silly levels to not that far from a clean 35 ZF with the advent of FX.

    The 28/1.4 looks ok WO, but nothing, IMHO, to write home about - IF you get a good copy. From what I've seen, sample variation is a big issue with the lens. There is also the BIG risk that if Nikon announces plans for, let alone produces, a nano-coated fast AFS 28 or 35 in the fall, that $3000 'investment' will be 1/2 that in a hurry.

    The CZ 35/1.4 wasn't the sharpest wide open, but had a good rep, so you never know.

    Looking fwd to some more considered opinions of the 35/1.4 Nikkor.

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    Senior Member LCT's Avatar
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    ...very easy to miss-focus between roughly 10M and infinity: takes a miniscule movement of the focus ring to go from a nice landscape to a nice shot 30' in front of your sneakers (don't ask...)...
    On which body if i may ask? Does the CZ 35/2 do that with the D700 as well?

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Thanks for the help Rob. I am not as concerned with blistering sharpness at 1.4, as long as it is very sharp at f/2. I would like 1.4 though, as this aperture really helps with depth of field control on a 35mm lens. Making it go dreamy soft at 1.4 is not a huge problem for me, but I would like to be able to make 20x24's out of it at f/4 or f/5.6 (the 35/1.4 ASPH can do this for me...sure, the film gets grainy, but the lens still has the whole edge to edge sharpness.). I never shoot smaller than f/8, so the performance has to be there around f/4-5.6. I am usually at 2.8-4.
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    LCT - on a 1Ds2. The ZF 35/2 seems more designed as a reportage style lens where quick focus in low light at sub-infinity (or I guess infinity) distances is a big criteria. The lens has a focus ring with a very coarse 'pitch' if you will. A couple of degrees of rotation takes it from 10m to infinity (or the converse) vs. say the exemplary Leica 28/2.8 Ver II, etc.

    On many occasions I'd be carefully focused at infinity, delicately reach up (on a tripod) to stop down, (apparently) JUST touch the focus ring by accident when stopping down and end up with beautiful shot of the landscape 10m in front of me.

    Stuart - I hear you. One aspect of the ZF line (F1.4 at 35mm aside) is the fact that most (but not all) of the lenses exhibit field curvature (see the Zeiss 'wiggle' in the MTF between 15-20mm) and then a drop off in performance near the edge of the frame. One argument why this is so is that the newer designs (unlike say the 85/104 which is argued to be heavily based on the older film-era CZ version) were laid down when FX was not in the Nikon lexicon, so 24 x 36mm edge performance was not a criteria.

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    That's interesting (and a bit unfortunate) about the field curvature.
    I guess the performance from f/2 to f/5.6 is so important to me is because I really stress shooting handheld with 35mm. I know a tripod is better, but if I have the luxury of using a tripod, I will probably be putting a medium or large format camera on it. One of the great things about the Leica lenses is that they reach their peaks between f/2.8-f/5.6...almost all of them made in the last 20 years anyway. I can put the lens on f/2.8 or f/2 and be confident in getting a superb technical photo. Even with the high ISO capabilities of the D3, I would rather shoot at f/2.8 and 1/500th than at f/8 and 1/60th...though I may get less depth of field, I will have a sharper image at the focal point due to the fast shutter speed. Luckily, the 24-70 Nikon zoom is great at f/2.8 and f/4, so there is no real issue with that. As for the 50/1.4...well, I have never seen that much vignetting or softness in the edges of a modern lens wide open. At f/2 it is already way better, but wow, wide open it is DARK in the corners.
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    I also like shooting fast and wide open, but finding wide fast lenses that are sharp wide open yet have flat cross frame performance (outside of Leica in 35mm terms) is tough. Worst comes to worse, folks like SKGrimes could always convert a favored Leica to F mount - something I may consider at some point for a Leica 100 APO (assuming I go D700, which appears likely).

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    I really wish it were possible to machine a .5mm adapter, and then all this would not be an issue...I would just put some Leica R lenses on there...
    I don't really relish the idea of taking the mount off of a Leica R lens unless it is reversible, nor do I like the idea of ripping the mount out of a Nikon SLR and putting in a Leica R one!
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Yup, just need another 0.5mm. That said, if someone knew a machine shop (SKG?) and were willing to give up infinity...

    My understanding is that the conversion is permanent. Been chatting w/Lloyd Chambers re: a 90/2 AA R I helped hook him up with and he's pondering converting it for use on Nikon, but has the same reservations. It's a 1-way trip.

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    I'm really hoping (against hope?) that Nikon busts out a 35mm 1.4 AFS prime, reasonably compact, and with killer sharpness, controlled flaring and CA, and at least a moderately special signature. This would be the straw that broke the Canon's back in my book.

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Yes, at this point, I think the only things where Nikon hasn't really taken it to Canon is in the prime lens line up and in the highest end resolution pro-body. So if they come out with AF-S primes and the D3x at Photokina, Canon will really have to step up their game.
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Well, I asked SK Grimes about the conversion, and it seems like if Nikon does not release some primes, it might be a good idea. I have a 35/1.4 Summilux R that is 3 cam and a bit beat up. It will not fetch too much on the used market. SK Grimes said that the conversion would probably cost about 150-200 dollars. Not too bad. Not all lenses can be converted though...it depends on the rear element. The summilux's sticks out a bit, but we'll see. I did figure out, however, that even if you could machine a .5mm adapter, it would not work in this case. The problem is that the Nikon F mount is significantly smaller than the R mount -- when you try to mount an R lens on the F mount, the bayonet parts hit the edges of the F mount, so you couldn't get the lens close enough to achieve infinity focus even if you could make a .5mm adapter.
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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Stuart, many years ago I traded a 35 2.0AIS for a 35 1.4AIS because of the reported legendary performance, and was very disappointed with the 35 1.4 results.

    This was with film of course, however my impressions were that field curvature of the 1.4 lens negated the speed advantage. It is not that the lens is not sharp wide open, but is not sharp across the entire frame. To me, the 1.4 lens would be an even poorer performer on a digital sensor. I get the impression that the 28 1.4 had similar problems.

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    Re: Does anyone use the 35/1.4 AIS?

    Funny - I actually emailed SKG as well and got an estimate of $250-400 - IF the lens's rear element does not extend past the rear flange at any point. Suffice it to say the conversion, while permament, is not a biggie.

    They will also make a Nikon-R adapter for $300-500 that will add about 5-8mm extension causing obvious loss of infinity.

    I have a Leica 60 macro I bought for $100 that while cosmetically looks like hell, is optically and mechanically perfect (former copy-stand lens so always in studio but lots of handling), so that's my 'prime' candidate at the moment. that said, I think the rear element at infinity may pose an issue.

    The F mount is much smaller than the R which is, as you say, part of the issue.

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