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Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens Review

There’s a good reason Nikon introduced the 35mm f/1.8 S Lens as one of the first Nikon Z lenses.

Due to its documentary-style look, it’s a very popular focal length for street photography.

As for wedding photographers, they can sometimes shoot an entire wedding day with 35mm and 85mm lenses wide open to achieve that beautiful 3D look.

I took this full-frame prime lens out for two weeks, shooting documentary images around Chicago and an event I was hired to capture.

Did Nikon hit it out of the park with one of its first Z-mount lenses?

Highly Recommended

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

Lightweight, sharp and weather-sealed lens that performs superbly in low light.

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Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens Specs



  • Lightweight and reasonably sized
  • Good optical quality
  • Weather sealed
  • Reasonably fast and accurate autofocus performance
  • Excellent sharpness

  • Plastic construction
  • Slightly overpriced
  • A bit oversized
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Lens Mount: Nikon Z mount
  • Format Compatibility: Nikon FX (full-frame) and DX (APS-C)
  • Angle of View: 63° (FX format), 44° (DX format)
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.25 m (0.82 ft)
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.19x
  • Optical Design: 11 elements in 9 groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9, rounded
  • Focus Type: Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization: No (reliant on in-body stabilization if available in the camera)
  • Filter Size: 62mm
  • Dimensions (Diameter x Length): Approximately 73 x 86.5 mm (2.87 x 3.41 in)
  • Weight: Approximately 370 g (13.1 oz)
  • Special Features: Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings for reduced flare and ghosting, stepping motor for fast and quiet autofocus, customizable control ring

Build & Ergonomics

A nikkor camera lens placed on a surface with its lens cap off to the side.

My first impression was that the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens felt and looked very plasticity.

At the same time, I was impressed at how lightweight it was, making it easy to wield around in documentary shooting situations.

Person holding a nikon dslr camera with a long lens.

Street photographers who love this focal length will welcome the weather-resistant design.

For those shooting video who prefer manual focus, the focusing ring tends to exaggerate, for lack of a better term, when trying to nail down critical focus. I suspect most photographers will shoot autofocus on their Z camera.

You will find only one switch on the lens to quickly move from autofocus to manual focus.

Focus Performance

Automatic gear shift lever with drive modes showing through a car's steering wheel.

Nikon Z8 + Nikon 35mm f/1.8 | 1/200 / f/1.8 ISO 400

I found the autofocus performance of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S on two Nikon Z cameras, the Nikon Z 8 and Z 9, to be fast but not the quickest of the Z series lenses that I have tried.

It did not hunt in low light, but as a Nikon Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 user, it’s a tad slower than that masterpiece zoom lens.

Of course, we can shoot wide open here with much more light gathering.

If you’re a user of the f-mount version, this Z 35mm f/1.8 is a dramatic improvement.

Image Quality

An olympus film camera with a strap resting on a wooden surface.

Nikon Z8 + Nikon 35mm f/1.8 | 1/320 / f/1.8 ISO 640

The lens is plenty sharp when shooting wide open at f/1.8 and when stopped down to an f/5.6 aperture. I did not notice any chromatic aberrations when using the lens.

I find the bokeh and out-of-focus transitions pleasing and not jarring. Getting closer to your subject will result in a more attractive background blur, and this lens has a good close-focusing distance ability.

The nanocrystal coat results in minimal flaring, while the extra-low dispersion aspherical elements keep chromatic aberration to a minimum.

The beauty of the 35mm focal length is the minimum distortion, especially when photographing people on the frame’s sides, making it perfect for covering events.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens Sample Images

Some sample images were taken with the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens, using Nikon Z 8 and Z 9 cameras.

How I Tested the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

Man with a camera leaning on a ford truck, looking to the side with a thoughtful expression.

While larger than I expected, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S is light enough for any of the Nikon Z system cameras.

I used it on the Z 8 while walking in the city and got some detailed shots of my car. I mounted it on the Z 9 during a three-hour event in low-light conditions.

I used the camera and lens secured by a hand strap in both situations. The relatively light weight of this Z series lens with lens hood attached made it a pleasant experience without fatigue.

Person holding a nikon camera with a flip-out screen.


The closest competitor of the same focal length is the Viltrox 35mm f/1.8 AF Lens for Nikon Z. The company will be releasing a Nikon 35mm f/1.2 S Lens that will be substantially heavier and bulkier.

For a documentary lens by Nikon itself, I highly suggest the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E ED Lens with the Nikon FTZ-2 adapter.

While this combo may be slightly heavier, you will gain more light gathering, and it will provide higher image quality, albeit at a higher price point. It will also depend on whether or not you would like the broader field of view.

Another option for photographers and video shooters is the manual focus Voigtlander Z D35mm f/1.2 Nokton.

Value for Money

At around US$850, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S is priced a bit on the high side. However, if you value the lighter weight and the native mount to a Z camera, it is most certainly worth it.

The Viltrox 35mm f/1.8 AF lens and manual-focus Voigtlander Z D35mm f/1.2 are half the price.


Does this Nikon Z lens have a control ring like their other lenses?

No, there is no way to control camera functions on this lens.

Can I attach filters to this lens?

Yes, the 62mm filter thread will accept many screw-on accessories.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens Review | Conclusion

I need a 35mm lens for my Nikon Z 9 camera, as it would be nice to have a larger aperture on a wider lens.

I enjoy how light this lens is and could see using it at engagement sessions, low-light events, and general documentary photography.

If you’re a fan of this classic focal length, appreciate good weather sealing, need smaller apertures for low light, and want cream bokeh, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens will hit the sweet spot for you.

Those who shot the DSLR Nikon F mount will find this 35mm a better lens than all the F mount variations.

Highly Recommended

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

Lightweight, sharp and weather-sealed lens that performs superbly in low light.

Check Current Price

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

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