Nikon 28mm f/1.4 vs. Nikon 35mm f/1.4: Lens Showdown for the Modern Photographer

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Are you on the quest for a lens that will bring your vision to life? Whether you’re venturing into the captivating world of landscape photography or you’re striving to perfect your street photos, you’ve landed on the right page. In the realm of photography, choosing the right lens is as vital as selecting your subjects – it can truly make or break your shots. Enter the powerful contenders, the 28mm lens and the 35mm lens.

As a photographer, you’re a visual storyteller, and these two lenses have their unique tales to tell. The Nikon 28mm f/1.4, with its wider perspective, is like a grand storybook, opening up to sweeping vistas, bustling streets, and larger-than-life narratives. On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, a tad narrower, brings forth the magic in intimate scenes, drawing out the subtleties and honing in on the delicate details that often hide in plain sight.

Navigating through this article, you’ll discover how these lenses fare in various terrains – from mastering autofocus performance to managing distortion and chromatic aberrations, from embracing the bokeh to dancing with light and shadows. More importantly, we’ll help you unravel which lens could be your perfect photographic partner based on your preferred genre and your experience level. Are you a beginner, curious and excited, or a seasoned professional seeking the pinnacle of precision? There’s a lens here with your name on it.

In this riveting exploration, you’re not just comparing two lenses; you’re exploring pathways to amplify your creative voice. After all, photography isn’t just about capturing moments; it’s about making them echo with emotions, insights, and stories.

So, let’s embark on this journey of discovery, where every click brings a new perspective, every lens reveals a new story, and every choice gets you one step closer to your perfect shot. Let the adventure unfold.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm F1.4E EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F1.4G
Max ApertureF1.4F1.4
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)2835
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 falls into the category of wide-angle lenses, which are typically used for landscape, architectural, or astrophotography. The f/1.4 maximum aperture will allow the camera to gather a substantial amount of light, enhancing its performance in low-light conditions. It also provides a shallow depth of field for highlighting subjects and creating a pleasing blur in the background. However, with a wide-angle lens like this, the depth of field may be less critical if the aim is to keep a whole scene in focus. This lens, having a fixed aperture, retains its maximum aperture regardless of the focal length, leading to consistency in exposure and image quality.

Moving to the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, this lens also has a maximum aperture of f/1.4. With a slightly longer focal length, the 35mm lens is a more moderate wide-angle lens, offering a perspective closer to the human eye’s natural field of view. Like the 28mm lens, the f/1.4 maximum aperture of this lens would ensure excellent low-light performance and a shallow depth of field. The fixed aperture indicates consistent exposure and image quality across the range. A 35mm lens is versatile, often used in various photography genres including street photography, landscapes, environmental portraits, and even some close-up photography.

Both lenses are prime lenses with a fixed focal length, promising optimized image quality and large apertures for better low-light performance and depth of field control. They are typically lighter and more compact than zoom lenses due to their simpler design.

In terms of differences, the main distinction lies in their focal lengths. The 28mm lens will give a wider field of view than the 35mm lens, making it more suitable for capturing broader scenes, such as landscapes or large group photos. On the other hand, the 35mm lens provides a narrower field of view, making it better for capturing more detailed or close-up shots while still providing some context of the surroundings.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm F1.4E EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F1.4G
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀83×100.5mm⌀83×89.5mm
Weight (gr)645600
Filter Thread (mm)7767
Weather SealingYesYes
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleYesYes
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-83HB-59

Starting with the Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4, this lens has a diameter and length of 83mm and 100.5mm respectively, and it weighs 645 grams. Its dimensions and weight play a significant role in how it operates in practical photography situations. The relatively compact size of the 28mm lens will contribute to its portability, making it easier to carry around, particularly for those who engage in outdoor, travel, or street photography. However, it’s worth noting that at 645 grams, it’s a relatively hefty piece of kit. The weight may impact the overall balance of your camera setup, potentially making the camera feel front-heavy, which could cause discomfort during prolonged periods of shooting.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 measures 83mm in diameter and 89.5mm in length and weighs 600 grams. Similar to the 28mm lens, its compact size increases its portability, making it more suitable for photographers constantly on the move. It’s lighter than the 28mm lens, which means it will put less strain on the photographer during long shoots, improving overall comfort. Additionally, a lighter lens can be easier to handle when needing to swap lenses quickly, a critical factor in dynamic shooting environments.

Comparing the two lenses, both have the same diameter, so they will take up a similar amount of space in a camera bag, but the 35mm lens is slightly shorter and lighter than the 28mm lens. This could make it slightly easier to handle and carry around, and potentially provide a better balance when mounted on a camera. The difference in weight, although not substantial, might be noticeable during long shooting sessions where every gram can count.

In conclusion, while both lenses are relatively compact and portable, the 35mm lens, being shorter and lighter, has a slight edge in terms of portability and ease of use. These factors could make a difference in certain situations, especially during extended periods of shooting or when you need to be quick on your feet. Therefore, taking into consideration the dimensions and weight, the 35mm lens could be considered superior.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 lens’s mount is crafted from sturdy metal, a design choice that enhances the strength and durability of the attachment to the camera body. Noteworthy is the rubber seal encircling the mount, a protective mechanism against potential intrusion by dust and moisture. This seal significantly bolsters the lens’s resistance to adverse weather, facilitating its usage in challenging climatic conditions.

Moving on to the barrel, it’s largely constituted of plastic, albeit incorporating elements such as glass optics, a metal mount, screws, and electrical contacts. This amalgamation of materials endows the lens with a good balance of durability and lightness. The intriguing scalloped design of the barrel enhances the grip, mitigating the strain of handling the fairly weighty 28mm prime lens. A hint of opulence is added by a 14-karat gold-filled plate encircling the focus distance window, complementing the lens’s professional, polished aesthetic. While the plastic components may bring into question the lens’s durability, it’s designed to stand the test of time, like its all-metal counterparts.

For the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, its mount is built with dull-chromed brass, a type of metal known for its durability and resilience against regular usage. Akin to the 28mm lens, it also sports a rubber seal, known colloquially as an “ass-gasket” or rain seal, boosting its weather-resistance by offering protection against dust and moisture.

The barrel, predominantly plastic, has a quality feel, thanks to its weight and finish. The exterior design imitates the appearance of Nikon’s pricier metal lenses, creating an impression of a high-end product. Despite its plastic constitution, the lens exudes a sense of high quality due to the substantial weight and professional finishing.

Contrasting the two, both lenses incorporate a metal lens mount for increased durability and secure attachment to the camera body. Both mounts have a rubber gasket, enhancing their resistance to harsh weather conditions. However, the 28mm lens uses a hardy alloy, while the 35mm lens opts for dull-chromed brass.

In terms of lens barrel, the 28mm lens brings a blend of materials into play, while the 35mm lens predominantly uses plastic. The 28mm lens’s barrel design considers comfort and aesthetics with its scalloped shape and gold-filled plate, whereas the 35mm lens focuses more on emulating a high-end feel with its design and finish.

In sum, both lenses bring unique aspects to the table with their choice of materials and designs. While the 28mm lens takes an eclectic approach in material usage and focuses on comfort and luxury, the 35mm lens leans towards creating a high-end impression with less variety in its construction materials.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 is constructed with comprehensive weather sealing, specifically designed to endure rigorous environmental conditions. It is internally safeguarded against dust and moisture, thereby empowering photographers to operate in a diverse range of climates, including sandy, rainy, and freezing conditions. The lens mount incorporates a rubber gasket, an element that supplements the lens’s overall resilience by restricting dust ingress into the camera chamber. Further, the lens’s front element is fortified with a fluorine coating, enhancing its resistance to dust, moisture, and simplifying the cleaning process by repelling water and grease. Thus, this thorough weather sealing makes the 28mm lens a reliable asset for outdoor photography across a variety of conditions.

Meanwhile, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, too, boasts weather sealing built to withstand challenging climates. Its internal structure is well protected against dust and moisture, making it a dependable tool in harsh weather conditions. An essential component of this protection system is the lens mount gasket, also known as the “ass-gasket” or “rain seal,” which acts as a barrier to prevent moisture and dust from penetrating the camera body via the lens mount. As such, the 35mm lens, much like its 28mm counterpart, functions effectively even in dusty, sandy, and humid conditions, thanks to its robust internal sealing.

Comparatively, both lenses exhibit robust weather sealing intended to cope with harsh environmental conditions. While both lenses feature internal sealing against dust and moisture and rubber gaskets on the mounts, the 28mm lens takes an extra step with a fluorine coating on the front element, enhancing its resistance to dust and moisture and providing easier cleaning.


The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 features a single, primary ring – the focus ring, conveniently positioned at the front of the lens barrel for easy adjustments. The ring, coated in rubber, ensures a comfortable, firm grip and spans about an inch, or approximately 30 centimeters, facilitating easy handling during manual focusing. The focus ring delivers a seamless and accurate rotation with a throw of 135 degrees, apt for wide open manual focus. The ring turns with adequate resistance, enabling precise focus modifications.

A unique feature of this ‘fly by wire’ system is that rotating the focus ring signals the camera to adjust the focus motor rather than mechanically moving an element within the lens, which imparts a distinct tactile experience. Although the ring continues to rotate past the focus range, there is noticeable feedback indicating the end of the focus range. This lens does not present any slack between the ring’s movement and the focus operation. A distance scale is provided, albeit with limited utility due to its small size and closely marked depth of field scale, only denoted for f/11 and f/16.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 also comprises a single focus ring. This ring is strategically located at the front of the barrel, enabling easy manual focusing while shooting images or videos. Despite its plastic exterior, the ring is rubber-coated for a comfortable grip and pleasurable tactile experience.

The rotation of the focus ring is notably smooth, and it incorporates a focus scale indicating the focusing distance. Its depth of field markers, however, are rather limited, only marked at f/16. Interestingly, the focus ring features a soft stop at both ends, allowing continued rotation past the range. Despite the plastic construction, the focus ring seems robust and well-constructed, providing smooth operation and accurate manual focus control.

When contrasting both lenses, both feature conveniently placed, single focus rings on the barrel front, ensuring easy manual focusing. Both rings offer a comfortable grip with their rubberized coating. However, the 28mm lens has a ‘fly by wire’ system, and its ring provides tactile feedback at the end of the focus range. The 35mm lens, in contrast, has a soft stop but continues to allow rotation past the range.

In conclusion, both rings are well-designed and serve their purpose effectively. However, the 28mm lens, with its ‘fly by wire’ system, wider ring, and distinct tactile feedback at the end of the focus range, offers an edge in precision and control, making it a slightly superior choice for photographers requiring meticulous focus adjustments.


The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 adopts a simple design, incorporating only a single switch on the barrel. This switch serves as an AF/MF toggle, enabling users to transition effortlessly between auto-focus and manual focus modes. The strategic location of the switch falls naturally under the thumb, offering straightforward accessibility and swift operation.

A key advantage is its provision for instant manual override, even when the focus mode switch is set to the M/A position, signifying auto-focus with manual override. This feature is especially advantageous for photographers requiring quick focus adjustments without needing to switch fully to manual mode. However, a minor drawback is the size and color of the mounting index dot. The dot, being small and white, may be challenging to discern for some users, potentially complicating the lens alignment during mounting to the camera body, particularly in low-light conditions.

Conversely, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 features a singular focus mode switch on its barrel, facilitating easy transitioning between M/A (auto-focus with manual override) and M (manual focus) modes. The M/A mode, a unique Nikon feature, allows auto-focus to function until a manual adjustment is made, enabling a smooth switch between auto-focus and manual focus modes. The M mode grants the photographer full control over the focus mechanism, enabling precision focus adjustments per their preference.

Like the 28mm lens, the switch on the 35mm lens is strategically placed where the thumb naturally rests, allowing easy mode switching without adjusting the grip or losing focus from the viewfinder. The design of the 35mm lens’s switches prioritizes simplicity and ease-of-use, enabling the photographer to focus more on framing the shot rather than manipulating controls.

Comparatively, both lenses prioritize a simple design with only one switch, promoting easy access and swift operation. Both switches are located where the thumb naturally rests, ensuring effortless accessibility.

Filter Thread

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 possesses a standard 77mm screw-on filter thread, designed for user-friendly interaction with various filters. Notably, the lens’s Rear Focus mechanism ensures the front element and filter thread remain stationary during focusing. This attribute proves particularly beneficial when employing polarizing or graduated filters, where adjustments to focus will not alter the filters’ impact. Therefore, this lens provides a highly practical solution for those looking to utilize different filter types.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 is equipped with a 67mm filter thread size. While not a standard size for professional lenses, its non-rotating feature during focus eases its use with filters such as polarizers. Although the 67mm size may inconvenience users with 77mm filters, a step-up ring can conveniently resolve this by adapting the 67mm to 77mm, thereby enabling use of pre-existing filters. However, the thread material is plastic, which although sturdy, may not offer the same durability as metal and could be susceptible to cross-threading if mishandled. Despite potential drawbacks, the lens’s lightweight and stationary front element make it well-suited for photographers intending to use diverse filters.

When compared, both lenses exhibit non-rotating filter threads during focus, enhancing ease of use with various filters. However, the 28mm lens, with its standard 77mm thread size and Rear Focus mechanism, is more suited for professional use and potentially offers a better user experience. Conversely, the 35mm lens, with its smaller 67mm thread size and plastic construction, is better suited for non-professional use or photographers who value lighter equipment, provided they don’t mind potentially needing a step-up ring for larger filters.

Lens Hood

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 arrives with a packaged HB-83 bayonet lens hood. It is crafted from sturdy yet lightweight plastic, maintaining a minimalist setup. The hood features a matte finish, designed to diminish reflections that could potentially instigate lens flares or ghosting. The hood is thoughtfully tailored to the lens’s field of view, preventing it from interfering with the frame and, thus, the resulting image. The bayonet style of this hood enables swift attachment and detachment through a simple twisting motion. Additionally, the hood’s rotation on the lens is smooth, simplifying its application and removal. A particularly convenient feature of the hood is its ability to be reversed and stored on the lens when not in operation, saving space during transportation. However, to enhance image quality by reducing light artifacts and protect the front lens element, it’s recommended to keep the hood mounted at all times.

In contrast, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 comes with an included HB-59 lens hood, matching the plastic material of the lens barrel. Its design, while slightly bulkier compared to the HB-51 that pairs with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G lens, securely attaches to the lens’s front without any wobble. The hood’s ergonomic bevel promotes ease of use, proving crucial during shooting sessions. Despite being made of plastic, the hood effectively wards off lens flares and shields the lens from potential harm.

Both lens hoods, crafted from lightweight plastic, contribute towards reducing lens flare and provide an additional layer of protection to the front lens element. They both attach smoothly and securely to the lenses, ensuring steady performance during shoots.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm F1.4E EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F1.4G
AF MotorRing-type ultrasonicSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.28m0.3m
Max Magnification (X)0.170.2
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 demonstrates solid autofocus performance, characterized by generally quiet operation marked only by a slight hiss and faint clicks during use. Its focusing speed is competent but not necessarily the fastest in its class. The lens takes approximately 0.6 seconds to focus from infinity to 0.4m, which is fairly quick. Additionally, this lens performs admirably in low-light situations, showing high EV sensitivity when used with a modern camera body. The autofocus accuracy of this lens is one of its strengths, providing sharp focus even at a wide aperture of f/1.4, a remarkable feat as a slight misfocus at this aperture can result in soft images. However, fine-tuning may be required for exact focus at around 1m distance where the depth of field is minimal.

The lens offers instant manual focus override for seamless adjustment, with a smooth focus ring designed for easy grip and rotation. It follows an internally focusing design, keeping the lens length constant regardless of the focus setting. This lens does display focus breathing, but the 4% magnification increase from infinity to 0.4m is fairly low and unlikely to disrupt most shooting scenarios.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, equipped with Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), ensures virtually silent autofocus operation. Its focusing speed, although not as rapid as certain counterparts, remains reasonably quick, especially under low-light conditions. The lens’s initial autofocus acquisition speed, however, might seem a bit slow for a professional-grade lens. Regardless, it often proves to be reliable and precise.

Like the 28mm lens, it also features a manual focus override and employs an internal focusing design. Focus breathing is observed with this lens as well, and it performs effectively in continuous autofocus mode (AF-C), accurately tracking moving subjects. It might require fine-tuning to rectify a minor front focus issue, but with proper adjustments, the lens promises consistently accurate focusing across diverse shooting scenarios.

In comparison, while both lenses show strong autofocus performance, the 28mm lens excels with its quiet operation, faster focusing speed, and high accuracy, especially at a wide aperture of f/1.4. Meanwhile, the 35mm lens impresses with its virtually silent operation and its commendable low-light performance. However, given the slightly slower initial autofocus acquisition speed and the potential need for fine-tuning, the 28mm lens appears to have a superior focusing performance overall, given its reliable and efficient autofocus acquisition and superb accuracy, even at wider apertures.

Optical Stabilization

Both the Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 and 35mm lenses share a common attribute: the lack of optical stabilization.

For the 28mm lens, the wider field of view and its f/1.4 large maximum aperture work in tandem to diminish the effects of camera shake. Faster shutter speeds, facilitated by the larger aperture, enable effective shooting in lower light conditions. However, for those working frequently in challenging lighting or high-motion environments, opting for a lens with integrated image stabilization, or a camera with in-body image stabilization, could be a beneficial choice.

Similarly, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, lacking optical stabilization, demands reliance on certain tactics while shooting handheld or in dim conditions. This could be using the camera’s inherent image stabilization, if present, boosting shutter speeds, heightening ISO, or employing a tripod to combat the potential for camera shake.

While optical stabilization isn’t an absolute necessity for wide-angle photography, it can be a valuable asset in certain situations like handheld shooting in low-light conditions, using slower shutter speeds, or capturing video. Many modern cameras come with in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which can be paired effectively with wide-angle lenses for reducing camera shake, making the absence of lens-based stabilization less critical.

Additionally, using a tripod often achieves better stability and sharpness, rendering optical stabilization less vital. However, for certain handheld shooting scenarios, a fast lens with a large aperture might provide a more economical solution for obtaining sharp images than solely relying on optical stabilization.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm F1.4E EDNikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F1.4G
Special Elements3 aspherical + 2 ED element, Nano Crystal and fluorine coatings1 aspherical element Nano-Crystal Coat
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


Starting with the Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4, it manifests both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberrations. Lateral chromatic aberration, identifiable as a purple glow around darker objects or a green/magenta tint on out-of-focus objects, is modest and evident in a small portion of test shots, especially at full aperture. It can be easily remedied using post-processing software. Longitudinal chromatic aberration, represented by magenta coloration in the foreground and greenish hues in the background, is more perceptible when shooting at f1.4, but it’s less noticeable compared to other f1.4 lenses. This type of chromatic aberration is harder to correct post-shoot.

Regrettably, this lens doesn’t fare well concerning coma. This flaw, which can make point light sources like stars seem tailed, is perceptible even at f/2.8, rendering this lens less suited for astrophotography. Additionally, the lens displays some spherochromatism, especially seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds when shot wide open. This aberration decreases as the lens is stopped down.

Conversely, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 shows primarily longitudinal chromatic aberration. This type of chromatic aberration, visible as color fringing along high-contrast edges, decreases significantly when the aperture is narrowed. This aberration is tricky to correct during post-processing. In contrast to the 28mm lens, the 35mm lens showcases excellent coma performance.

This superior performance results from the aspherical element in its optical design, which reduces coma and other aberrations, particularly when shooting wide open. The lens does exhibit spherochromatism, most noticeable with specular highlights, but it’s generally a minor issue unless specifically searched for.

In comparison, while both lenses show various types of chromatic aberrations, they manage them differently. The 28mm lens demonstrates better control of lateral chromatic aberration but has more pronounced spherochromatism and struggles with coma, making it less ideal for astrophotography. The 35mm lens, on the other hand, excels in handling coma due to its aspherical design element and demonstrates better spherochromatism. It does, however, struggle more with longitudinal chromatic aberration, especially at wide apertures. Given the superior coma handling and less noticeable spherochromatism, the 35mm lens would appear to offer superior aberration control overall, especially for applications like astrophotography.


The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 and 35mm lenses display distinctive sharpness traits across their aperture ranges, reflecting the different ways photographers use them.

The 28mm lens stands out for its exceptional sharpness performance throughout its aperture range. At its widest aperture of f/1.4, the center sharpness is particularly noteworthy, with excellence extending up to f/16. Edge sharpness remains impressive through f/1.4 to f/11, with a slight dip at f/16 but still within the ‘very good’ range. This wide-angle lens, which is often employed for landscape and architectural photography, demonstrates its ability to capture minute details across the frame. When it comes to real-world applications, shooting at f/2.8 delivers great sharpness, capable of capturing tack-sharp images. However, for maximum sharpness, the lens performs optimally at f/8 or larger.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 demonstrates strong sharpness, especially when stopped down. The center sharpness starts impressively at the maximum aperture of f/1.4, reaching a peak around f/4 to f/5.6. The lens exhibits excellent sharpness across the entire frame, particularly at f/5.6, with consistent performance from f/2 through f/11. While there might be some softness at wider apertures, particularly at f/1.4, the lens demonstrates exceptional performance by f/5.6, with images returning to their expected crispness.

Taken together, both lenses offer compelling sharpness characteristics. The 28mm lens excels in delivering sharp images across its aperture range, with exceptional performance around f/2.8, making it ideal for applications demanding detail-rich imagery. Meanwhile, the 35mm lens stands out for its stellar performance when stopped down, particularly around f/4 to f/5.6, resulting in excellent sharpness across the entire frame. Hence, in terms of superior sharpness, if shooting primarily in wider apertures, the 28mm lens may have an edge. Conversely, for those who shoot more frequently at narrower apertures, the 35mm lens is likely the better choice.

Bokeh Quality

The bokeh quality pertains to the visual appeal of the blur rendered in the areas of an image that are out of focus. It represents a significant characteristic of a lens, particularly in specialized genres like portraiture and macro photography.

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 is recognized for its commendable bokeh quality, producing a smooth and pleasing graduation in the out-of-focus areas of an image. This characteristic is lauded as it effectively maintains subject focus while offering a smooth transition to blurred areas, enhancing image depth. In astrophotography and nature photography, this feature successfully creates a stunning separation between the subject and the background. However, the use of aspherical lens elements may result in onion-shaped bokeh in some situations. Despite minor color fringes on out-of-focus areas at f/1.4, the lens’s performance remains strong, producing round, creamy, and soft bokeh free of common undesirable effects.

In contrast, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 presents an attractive bokeh quality. The iris diaphragm’s 9 rounded blades contribute to a creamy and smooth bokeh, isolating the subject from the background effectively. Nevertheless, it is important to note that at wider apertures, the bokeh can appear a bit harsh with a somewhat inconsistent look in the out-of-focus areas. However, stopping down to f/2.0 or further can significantly enhance the quality of bokeh, providing smoother and more pleasing background highlights. Some minor longitudinal chromatic aberration issues at wider apertures might affect bokeh quality slightly but these are generally resolved when the lens is stopped down to f/2.8 or further.

Overall, both lenses offer decent bokeh qualities but each has its own strength. If the priority is to have soft and pleasing bokeh straight from wider apertures, the 28mm lens might be the better choice. However, if the emphasis is more on subject isolation and the ability to create smoother bokeh by stopping down the lens, then the 35mm lens would be the preferred choice.


Flare and ghosting are optical phenomena that occur when bright light shines into the lens, potentially impacting the image quality. Ghosting refers to unwanted bright spots, often circular or semi-circular, that appear in a photo, while flare refers to the scattering of light, resulting in a haze or a decrease in contrast and saturation. Both can be detrimental to an image, but can also be used creatively in some circumstances.

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 demonstrates excellent control over both flare and ghosting due to its advanced lens design and the application of Nikon’s nano-crystal coating technology. This lens maintains clarity and largely avoids artifacts, even in situations where a strong light source is directly shining into it, such as a solar eclipse. While a minor ghosting might occur when the light source is centrally positioned, it’s rarely significant and usually well-managed. The lens’s efficiency at combating flare and ghosting also shines through at smaller apertures, producing attractive sun stars with minimal associated flare or ghosting.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 also showcases strong capabilities in mitigating flare and ghosting, thanks largely to the use of Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat. When facing a direct light source like the sun, the lens does exhibit some flare and ghosting, especially when the light source is central. However, pleasing starburst effects at smaller apertures can add an artistic touch to your images. The 35mm lens has been found to perform better when the light source is in the front or central parts of the frame, with flare and ghosting potentially increasing towards the edges. The use of a lens hood can help reduce these effects, showing that a photographer’s technical understanding and use of lens accessories can further improve the lens’s performance.

Both lenses display robust flare and ghosting control, but in a head-to-head comparison, the 28mm lens edges out slightly due to its exceptional performance even in challenging lighting conditions. It’s important to remember that understanding and manipulating light positioning is key to maximizing the potential of either lens in minimizing flare and ghosting.


Vignetting, which is a reduction in image brightness from the center to the edges, is a common trait seen in camera lenses, especially at wide apertures. It can be an artistic tool to emphasize the center of the image or a disadvantage depending on the shooting scenario and photographer’s preference. Let’s explore how it manifests in the 28mm and 35mm lenses.

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 shows prominent vignetting when wide open at f/1.4, with a light falloff of over two stops towards the corners. While this effect is considerable, it can be harnessed to enhance the central focus of an image. This vignetting diminishes as the aperture narrows down; by f/2.8 in RAW or f/2 in JPEG, it becomes significantly less noticeable, and by f/4, it’s almost negligible. Vignetting also varies with focusing distance, becoming most pronounced at infinity. However, correcting vignetting via post-processing software like Lightroom may not always provide satisfactory results. Therefore, while the vignetting in this lens could be viewed as a potential drawback, some photographers might appreciate it as an artistic aspect.

Similarly, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 also demonstrates evident vignetting, particularly at its maximum aperture of f/1.4. So significant that it might seem like underexposure with a difference of 2/3 stops between camera and dedicated light meter readings. As the aperture narrows down, the vignetting lessens and by f/4, it’s virtually absent. However, even at smaller apertures, slight vignetting could still be detected, particularly in the corners of the frame. The degree of vignetting might call for considerations during exposure planning or post-processing corrections. Yet again, this vignetting can provide a creative means to centralize attention in the frame.

On comparing, the 35mm lens appears to struggle more with vignetting, especially at f/1.4, behaving more like a t/1.8 in terms of light transmission. Thus, if you prioritize lower vignetting, the 28mm lens might be the better choice. Nonetheless, remember that the degree of vignetting can be controlled through aperture adjustments and can be employed creatively depending on your photographic needs.


Distortion in lenses, often manifesting as barrel or pincushion effects, can warp images, particularly those with straight lines. This can be more prevalent in wide-angle lenses or when shooting at close distances. Both the 28mm and 35mm lenses exhibit some degree of barrel distortion, though how noticeable this is and how it can be managed differs between the two.

The Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4 shows a minor degree of barrel distortion, which is a common trait for wide-angle lenses. Various reports indicate this distortion ranges from 0.4% to 1.2%. This level of distortion is typically not conspicuous in most photographic scenarios, unless images have distinct straight lines. Post-processing software, such as Lightroom or Photoshop, can be used to correct this distortion efficiently. Additionally, some Nikon cameras and Adobe lens profiles offer automatic correction for this distortion in JPEG and RAW images, which enhances the lens’s capability to manage distortion and provide superior image quality.

On the other hand, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 displays a more noticeable level of distortion, particularly when shooting at closer distances less than 10-15 meters. In such scenarios, the distortion is asymmetrical across the frame, which might pose issues for architectural photography or other types where maintaining straight lines is crucial. The lens exhibits around 1.2% barrel distortion when photographing straight objects. This consistent, minor curve can be corrected using photo editing software. According to Imatest, the barrel distortion measures at about 1.16%—not too severe but certainly visible. Using Lightroom, a setting of +7 under Lens Corrections can help rectify this distortion.

Comparatively, the 28mm lens handles distortion a bit more effectively than the 35mm lens. While both lenses showcase some degree of barrel distortion, the effects are generally minor and manageable. If you’re shooting architecture or other subjects with numerous straight lines, the 28mm might be a slightly better choice. However, the 35mm lens still performs relatively well in comparison to other lenses in its category. Remember, photo editing software can help correct these distortions in post-production, further enhancing the versatility of both lenses.

Final Verdict

Conclusively, both the Nikon 28mm f/1.4 and Nikon 35mm f/1.4 have distinct strengths and are more suitable for certain genres of photography and varying levels of photographer expertise.

The 28mm lens with its wider field of view is ideally suited for landscape photography, where capturing a broader scene is necessary. Its better handling of distortion and vignetting, as well as its strong autofocus performance, could be especially beneficial for photographers who might need these automated features to help perfect their shots. This lens also stands out for delivering sharp images across its aperture range, offering pleasing bokeh straight from wider apertures, and controlling flare and ghosting effectively, which can enhance creative options for photographers at all levels.

In contrast, the 35mm lens is great for more focused or intimate scenes, like environmental portraiture, documentary photography, or street photography. The superior handling of chromatic aberration, especially coma, can make it attractive for astrophotographers, while its sharpness performance at narrower apertures might benefit landscape and architectural photographers who typically work with smaller apertures for better depth of field. The noticeable vignetting can be a creative advantage in these genres, guiding attention towards the center of the frame. Its portability and robust design make it a viable choice for professionals who might appreciate the premium materials and might frequently shoot in challenging weather conditions.

So, whether you should opt for the 28mm lens or the 35mm lens will largely depend on the genre of photography you are interested in and the specific attributes you value in a lens. Both lenses are high-quality options that offer diverse possibilities for creative photographic expression.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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