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35mm 20 Sharpness Issue



I have noticed that my MF 35 2.0 just isn't as sharp as some of my other lenses, like the 50 1.4, or the 24 2.8. I understand that not all lenses are equally sharp but I can't find any quantitative info out there that will tell me in layman's terms how unsharp this lens really is. I recently bought the AF version of the same lens which I now use on my FM2 body. Am I right in noticing that the AF is sharper than the MF? If so, how can it be that such a standard lens as the 35 2.0 ais manual from Nikor is a mediocre lens.
Anyone care to enlighten me?
Much appreciated.


I had a 35mm f2.8 Nikkor, it's quality was not good by Nikon standards. The 35 f2 that you asked about was supposed to be pretty sharp. It first came out in 1965 and was a "hit for it's sharpness and contrast" (Moose Peterson). My understanding is that the sharpest 35 is the 1.4 but I have never used it. I find the 35-70 f3.3~4.5 to be very sharp and since I shoot mostly stopped down, the speed is not an issue. I do not know what the 35 f2s performance is supposed to be at various apertures but that may also be an issue. The other possibility is that it's your particular lens.

According to Moose Peterson's book the 35 f2 Auto Focus which came out in 1988 is much sharper than the manual focus 35 F2 and according to him rivals the sharpness of the 35 f1.4.

Tom Wilson


Well-Known Member
It is entirely possible that the new lens is sharper. Newer production line, newer technology, newer coatings, even a revised design. These all may contribute to a better lens.

However, you may have got one that slipped by quality assurance. No company hits 100%. An inspector may be secretly nursing an hangover, planning the weekend or about to move to a new job. Same as in any company. People screw up and the company takes the blame.

If it is any consolation, I hear from Leica owners that the highly vaunted quality of the Leitz lenses may have sliped, letting quite a few really nasty lenses through as well. There has been speculation that since Leitz sells a high percentage of their cameras to collectors who *NEVER* shoot, the lenses can slip along on their old reputations.

I have never found a camera store that did not allow me to put a lens on my camera body, and shoot some tests in the store and out the door. I have never had to put up a deposit to hold the lens either, but one may reasonably be asked to. Process and print the film immediately and check it. If the lens is sharp, buy it right away. Nothing beats a good relationship with a camera store.

Make sure you note down the serial number, since lenses do vary from one to the next. Buying a different serial number certainly invalidates the test.

Realize also that you have a manufacturer's warrantee and good camera stores have a return or exchange policy. If you get a dud, you are not necessarily stuck with it.



Active Member
I have owned and used the 35mm f/2 for years and am very pleased with it. I recently purchased the 35mm f/1.4 and expected it to not be as sharp as the f/2. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find no appreciable difference between the performance of the two lenses.