35mm AI-S F1.4 Nikon Lens Review – Manual Focus Nikkor

Nikon’s 35mm F1.4 AI-S Nikkor Manual Focus Lens.

Sweet Lens, great pricing.

Nikon 35mm AI-S F1.4, Manual Focus, Lens

Nikon 35mm AI-S F1.4

Just recently out of production, this lens is still available in new condition from Amazon for $1,549.oo … somewhat less than half that in great used conditions.

Japanese made with excellent build quality, just like the shiny glass and metal precision machine that it is, operations are as smooth and fine as fresh butter.

My copy came to me by way of trade on another item.

Nikon 35mm AI-S F1.4

9 Bladed Diaphram

Shooting as I do, a crop sensor ( APS-C ) Nikon D7000, focusing this pretty lens at F1.4 and close portrait like distances is darn nearly impossible.

Sure, this is a fine piece of well build glass, capable of taking some pretty cool shots, and acting as kind of a “Normal Lens” on APS-C format Nikons.

The use for which I would intend such a lens was:

  • Shooting at F1.4
  • Often in dim light
  • At close distances
  • Of people, since I shoot glamour …

This intended use is not a practical choice for the 35mm AI-S F1.4 on a D7000.

My understanding is, the market for this lens is very hot for those folks shooting video.

Makes sense there.  Manual focus is all the rage for video.

Nikon 35mm AI-S F1.4, Manual Focus, Lens, View of Bottom, View of Base, Base, Bayonet, Mount

View of Mount, F1.4-F16.0

For video, this is a great lens at a great price.

For static shots of moving targets with narrow focus depths, I think I need to stay with Auto Focus (AF) lenses.

At F1.4 at under two meters or two yards, small matter, the depth of field is less than a few millimeters, a mere hair or two of in focus depth ….

Slight movement of subject or photographer throws off any properly focused shots…

And, the little in focus lighty dot indicators inside the D7000 view finder do not really help so much.

At F1.4, along with substantial bokeh, one gets quite a bit of soft focus of highlights in particular.  This can be quite pleasing for a flattering classical focus look on glamour … if you could focus the eyes with an old school split prism, or perhaps using live view mode to focus …


35mm, AI-S, F1.4, Dodge, Head Light, Bokeh
F1.4 35mm 1/2ooo Sec, No Editing

One can see how the bokeh and narrow focus worked great on this unedited hand held shot of a Dodge headlight at F1.4.

Cool shot, not my standard subject.

Stopping down a bit, long before F5.6, you get some pretty crystal sharpness, not that I would by an F1.4 to get sharpness at F5.6 … I buy it for taking shots, in focus, with sweet bokeh, at F1.4 …

As you keep stopping down, somewhere past F8.0 and increasing towards F16.0, diffraction increasingly softens the image even as depth of focus increases to place more of your subject in focus …  That’s optical physics.

Still all in all, a great lens for some film guy or perhaps an old school full frame guy or some guy shooting video who will appreciate the excellent build quality on a nice used AI-S at a fraction of the $1,699.00 price for the Auto Focus 35mm Nikon F1.4 AF-S models.

To peruse new and used current availabilities at Amazon for:



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