Nikon Bucks Expectations and Launches Z 35mm f/1.4 Lens for $600

A black Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 camera lens is shown against a white background. The lens features a ribbed focus ring and the engraved text "Nikkor 35 1:1.4" near the front element.

Hot on the heels of debuting its new Nikon Z6 III camera, which is slated to start shipping any day now, Nikon has announced a new, highly requested lens: the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.4.

And no, that name is not a typo. Unlike the slower Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S, Nikon’s new fast prime lens is not part of the company’s S-Line series of professional lenses. For those unfamiliar, Nikkor S lenses are the Z System’s answer to Nikon’s old gold-ring DSLR lenses, meaning that a lens must reach very high optical and build quality standards to be included.

A side view of a Nikon camera lens with a black body. The lens has ridged focus rings and "Nikon" is printed in white text on the side. The overall design is sleek and modern.
Nikon Z 35mm f/1.4

That doesn’t mean that the new Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.4 won’t be great — there is no reason to believe that — but does mean that Nikon prioritized affordability over using its best and most expensive technologies in the new 35mm prime. By opting for a cheaper lens, there are some tradeoffs. While S-Line lenses promise impeccable sharpness, even when shot wide open, Nikon says of the new 35mm f/1.4 that it realizes “incredible sharpness” when the aperture is stopped down.

A black Nikon Z mirrorless camera with a large NIKKOR Z lens attached, featuring various buttons and dials on its body and a textured grip for handling. The screen and viewfinder are visible on the back, with the brand's logo clearly displayed on the front and top.

It is not often a company’s “best” lens at a specific focal length is not its fastest. Nikon photographers have been clamoring for speedier glass, but presumably, many of them expected professional S-Line lenses with f/1.4 apertures.

There was good reason to anticipate the new 35mm prime to be part of the S-Line, too. In Nikon’s final Nikkor Z lens roadmap released last fall, there was a 35mm S-Line lens included.

The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.4 includes 11 lens elements across nine groups, but the company provided no details concerning specialized optics. The lens can focus as close as 0.27 meters (10.6 inches), resulting in a max magnification of 0.18x. Nikon also promises suppressed focus breathing, ensuring the lens works well for video applications. The lens has a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm and promises “smooth, creamy out-of-focus backgrounds.”

A person with vibrant red curly hair, wearing a white sweater, holds a camera and looks through the viewfinder. They are standing near a body of water with a city skyline in the background, featuring various tall buildings lit by the setting sun.

The lens weighs just 415 grams (14.6 ounces) and is 86.5 millimeters (3.4 inches) long. It has a 62mm front filter thread. It also has a dust and drip-resistant construction.

The most obvious lens to compare the Z 35mm f/1.4 S against is its slower S-Line sibling, the Z 35mm f/1.8 S. That lens is almost the same length and has a 62mm filter thread. However, the f/1.8 prime weighs 370 grams (13.1 ounces), a fair bit lighter than the f/1.4 prime. It has 11 elements in nine groups, roughly the same minimum focusing distance, and nine aperture blades.

A person with braided hair holds a camera mounted on a gimbal, looking at the camera's screen. They are outdoors near a chain-link fence and wearing a plaid shirt over a white T-shirt. The background shows trees and buildings, suggesting an urban environment.

However, the S-Line badge comes with some advantages, including a more robust build quality and Nikon’s Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings. While these promise superior image quality, it will be fascinating to see precisely how Nikon’s two 35mm prime lenses compare during real-world testing. As for Nikon’s sample images, they look good, per usual.

Sample Images

A row of brownstone buildings in warm evening light, with ivy climbing up one of the facades on the left. Leafless tree branches stretch from the right edge of the image towards the sky, contrasting with the clear blue backdrop.

A woman with long, wavy hair stands against a dark-colored wall, slightly smiling. She is wearing a sleeveless black top. In the background, there are arched brick structures, adding an urban feel to the scene.

Nighttime view of Washington Square Arch in New York City, illuminated against the dark sky. Silhouetted people walk around the plaza; the Empire State Building is visible in the distance. Trees and surrounding buildings are also dimly lit, adding to the urban atmosphere.

A wicker basket filled with numerous bright orange mandarins is placed on a black surface. A light blue cloth is partially tucked in the basket, draping over the brim and contrasting with the vibrant fruit.

A young person with vibrant, curly pink hair smiles slightly while standing outdoors. They wear a white cardigan over a black top. The background is blurred but shows a bridge structure and blue sky, with sunlight casting shadows on their face.

A close-up of vibrant red and pink snapdragon flowers in full bloom against a blurred background of greenery and a distant landscape. The sunlight softly highlights the petals, creating a warm and serene atmosphere.

A person holds a lit sparkler against a dark, blurry, outdoor background. The sparkler emits bright, sparkling light, contrasting with the dim surroundings. The image creates a festive, celebratory atmosphere.

Street scene in a bustling Chinatown at dusk with colorful lanterns hanging overhead. The narrow street is lined with brick buildings, shops, and a variety of parked cars. People are walking on the sidewalks, and lights from the stores add a warm glow to the scene.

Pricing and Availability

There is also another difference, and it could be a big one for many photographers: price. The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.4 will hit store shelves in mid-July for $599.95, about $250 less than the Z 35mm f/1.8 S. That said, the 35mm f/1.8 S is currently available for $696.95 after a limited-time $150 instant savings. Fast f/1.4 aperture versus S-Line badge? It might be a challenging choice for Nikon Z shooters.

It will also be interesting to see how the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.4 compares to lenses like the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM ($1,398) and Canon RF 35mm f/1.4 L VCM ($1,499). While Sony and Canon have positioned their 35mm f/1.4 prime lenses as elite, flagship-level lenses, Nikon has gone in a different, more affordable direction.

Image credits: Nikon