Gear Appreciation: Nikon 35mm f/2.0D

fuji bw-3381

Some people you like in spite of their flaws; others you enjoy because of their flaws. It’s the same with lenses. I’ve written before that the Nikon 35mm f/2.0D lens gets no respect. It got luke-warm reviews originally, and when people update their reviews based on newer, more capable cameras, the lens fares even worse. Good reviewers often point out that the flaws they perceive in a lens or camera may not be visible to most people, and that’s a super-important caveat. 

I enjoy this small light lens when out walking, and have always liked the Nikon D lenses color.

I enjoy this small, light lens when out walking, and have always liked the Nikon D lenses’ color.

Lens reviews from experienced users are helpful, but they don’t know who you are and how you see. One reviewer, panning this lens, wrote that shooting wide open was like using a “dream filter.” He didn’t mean “ideal.” He meant “fuzzy.” The lens also has some flare and contrast issues, yada yada yada. It’s all true. It’s also true that many of the iconic photographs that attracted you to the art form in the first place were made with similar or worse optics.

Sometimes I WANT a dreamy feel in my photographs. Nikon D200; Nikon 35mm f/2.0D

Sometimes I WANT a dreamy feel in my photographs. I’ve seen landscape images so detailed that you can’t see the forest for the pixels. Nikon D200; Nikon 35mm f/2.0D

When I shoot this lens in monochrome, it always reminds me of my first forays into photography, forty-five years ago...

I shot this for a motorcycle jacket review. When I shoot this lens in monochrome, it always reminds me of my first forays into photography. Nikon D610; Nikon 35mm f/2.0D

I applaud how well Nikon has maintained compatability with older lenses, because there’s a lot more to lens choice than focal length and aperture. I keep this lens in my collection because I like its character, and a lens’ character is why you should look at hundreds of photos in addition to reviews when you are considering a new lens. Google will help. Also, user sites like pbase.com will let you search images by lens.