Nikon Releases Lens Wake-Up Call for Canon

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

Now this is interesting!

Yesterday Nikon released their first prime lens designed specifically for their APS-C crop sensor camera bodies like the D300. They also priced the new lens to sell at only $200 (USD). The new AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G offers a field of view similar to that of a 50mm in FX and 35mm formats. According to the specifications listed in the press release, this lens offers Nikon’s silent wave motor (SWM) auto focus system as well as full-time manual focus capabilities. Add to this a fast f/1.8,  7-blade rounded aperture and you should have a very nice lens at an incredible price. To complete the package, Nikon includes front and rear lens caps, a lens hood and a soft pouch.

Compare this to Canon’s $240 (USD) EF 35mm f/2.0 lens which does NOT include full time manual focus, nor an ultrasonic motor (USM) auto focus system, nor a rounded aperture, nor a lens hood, nor a soft pouch and you start to understand how really interesting this new lens is. I’m not even going to compare this to Canon’s $1200 (USD) EF 35mm f/1.4L USM given the vast price difference.

So what does this mean for Canon enthusiasts? Will Canon match Nikon’s commitment to the APS-C crop body market sometime in the future? Or will Canon continue to be “beat up” in the marketplace by a much more innovative Nikon? Only time will tell!

7 thoughts on “Nikon Releases Lens Wake-Up Call for Canon

  1. PS – I dont care about FTM or USM. I am 45 y/o & just returning to photography after a 20 year my first time having a decent AF system.. I hate the sloppy feel of the focus ring on modern lenses………. Even the old budget nikon E series lenses had far better handling (but not so good optically). If my lens sounded like a combine harvester on AF I wouldnt mind, as long as it AF’s within a reasonable timeframe (say 0.5 sec, or 0.2 for telephoto). Lens hoods I dont care about either – can pick one up for $5 on ebay…The only nice thing here is the 7-blade diaphragm – but highlight bokeh only an issue for me about 5% of the time. I’d drop my canon gear in the morning for a system that will give me

    24 mm efl f1.8 – $150 ( same cost as canon 50mm f1.8)
    35 mm efl f1.8 – $150
    85 mm efl f1.8 – $150
    150mm efl 1.8 macro – $200, well, ok, $250 but it had better be good!
    24-70efl zoom f2.8 – $400 (No VR/IS, thanks)
    100-400 efl zoom f2.8 – $400 (No VR/IS, thanks)

    This might look daft – but why are 50mm lenses so cheap? I am convinced its a marketing issue & not a tech. issue. Maybe I’m wrong….otoh maybe its a tacit admisssion that a 50mm efl is good for nothing. Or, maybe I am just a bad photographer?

    • John,

      I can’t speak to the Nikon 50mm lenses but Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.8 II is “so cheap” because of the build quality. Its an all plastic, thin wall lens with the least expensive lens elements available today. Its only saving grace is that Canon has designed and developed so many 50mm lenses over the years they know exactly what to do to achieve good image quality with inexpensive materials. The focus ring is so small as to be almost unusable and the auto focus speed is pitiful. But for less than $100 its a great deal for a throw away wedding lens.


  2. I am a canon user & very pleased with my 40D – but I dont regard myself as ‘loyal’ to canon – I’d have preferred the D300 but it was too expensive. Anyway…
    Every photo book I’ve read has praised the 50mm efl lens – but to be honest I think it is the most boring lens on the planet. In my starving student days ( when I used a nikon, & I was pleased with that too) I had an slr with a 50mm & 50% of the time I wanted a wider lens & the other 50% I wanted a longer one. So, to me it looks like nikon has produced a lens I’d never want, at a lower price than the canon equivalent ( which I will never want either). Big deal.

    Why can’t anybody come up with a 24mm efl f1.8 at reasonable money? (That’d be about a 17mm f1.8 for the 40D) Can’t be that hard, surely?

    • John,

      Thanks for reading. You should take a good look at the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. Its as close to what you’re asking for as I’ve seen. This lens is very sharp, light-weight and relatively fast for a ultra-wide zoom less than $1000. The interesting thing about Nikon’s new crop body prime is the image quality (which we will have to wait to find out about) and the price, not to mention the fact that this move may encourage Canon to develop EF-S series prime lenses.


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  4. Its a nice lens and as you say Nikon has a leg up on Canon on this particular segment, but it’s hardly the conclusion I would draw that Canon is “beat up” and less innovative. For many years Canon were almost alone with their full frame line-up.
    Canon IS committed to it’s EF-S lineup of lenses.

    • Thanks for reading and for your comments.

      Please don’t take my comments wrong. I’ve been shooting with Canon gear for over 30 years now but in the past five years I’ve seen Nikon beat Canon to the marketplace with one innovation after another. I agree that Canon is committed to the APS-C sensor but at current they have no plans for EF-S based prime lenses and I hope that Nikon foray into this will spur Canon to follow suit.


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