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When the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens arrived, I decided to take it for a test drive at Walt Disney World. These shots are more about testing the lens than making a decent shot, so let’s dig into how it worked.

What I Want from the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

In my view, getting a fast prime is shooting it at a large aperture. I already own the excellent Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I didn’t need to spend more money on a prime to shoot at f/2.8 or smaller apertures. This is about the bokeh, isolation, low light, and sharpness.

All of these shots, except the last one, are straight out of the camera. They were rendered from the RAW by Aperture, which may affect colors differently than Lightroom or other RAW processing engines. However, I didn’t enhance them further.

1: Bokeh

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

The bokeh (quality of defocused areas) in this shot does an excellent job of making the subject jump out. The field depth varies depending on the distance from your lens to your subject.

Unlike the Nikon 85mm lens I used a couple of weeks ago, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G has a short minimum focusing distance. You can get close to your subject and create a razor-thin depth of field.

2: Depth of Field or Isolation

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

I pressed right up to this little Dumbo Christmas ornament. The minimum focusing distance is just a matter of inches, not feet. That’s good and bad, though.  You can fill the frame with your subject, but any slight dimension in your subject will put part of it out of focus. Looking at Dumbo’s eyes, you can see how quickly the sharpness fades into a blur at f/1.4.

This is great for isolating your subject, but you must be very careful when focusing on understanding precisely what will and won’t be in focus – unless you stop down.

3: Low Light Performance

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

I shot this at f/1.4, 1/80th shutter speed and ISO 25,600 in Pirates of the Caribbean. If you need your camera to see in the dark, then I’d say the D800 & 35mm f/1.4 combo works. The noise isn’t bad and that’s before any noise reduction.

Additionally, 35mm seems to be a good focal length for shooting dark rides at Disney. If you’re an iPhone shooter, it’s approximately the same angle of view as the 35mm lens.

4: Environmental Portraits

 Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

Don’t judge me for shooting the Little Mermaid. My friend Kevin wanted to shoot her and I went along with it. Never mind that I already did an HDR portrait in the grotto.

My first thought was that the color was a bit desaturated, but I’m coming around to think that’s not the case. Her hair is pretty red and the other colors are pretty close to what I remember. I’d still bump up the vibrance or do something with the results of a shot like this, but I’m a color fiend.

5: Sharpness

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

This photo had a trip to Photoshop, but the glass is sharp. I like the detail in the gargoyle’s face compared to the soft bokeh in the background. The shape of those lights are fairly round and pleasing.

Final Thoughts

The Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lives up to my expectations. The focal length is pretty comfortable for a walk-about lens, if I were the type of person to walk about. My primary intent for this piece of glass is for isolating subjects. Fill part of the frame with the person or object I want and blur the snot out of everything else.

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G Fixed Focal Length Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G is a fast, classic wide-angle lens perfect for capturing stunning images with edge-to-edge sharpness. This lens is part of the Nikon Holy Trinity of Prime Lenses, and its nano crystal coating ensures optimum image quality. Great for landscapes, travel, and food photography. We find it works well on FX & DX Nikon cameras.

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Will I still want this focal length when my Nikon 24mm f/1.4G arrives?  I don’t know, but I like it so far.

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