What makes the Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Wide-Angle Lens lens be considered wide-angle as compared to the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens which isn't advertised as wide-angle?


The term DX on the 35mm AF-S f/1.8 indicates the lens is designed for a crop sensor format. On crop sensor cameras, 35mm is not considered wide angle. They (DX lenses) don't produce an image circle large enough to cover a full frame camera. When used on some full frame cameras - they will crop the center out and you effectively still get the same view as a crop sensor camera.

The 35mm AF is not a crop sensor lens and will work on both crop sensor cameras and full frame cameras - although on a full frame camera it will have wider field of view than on a crop sensor camera. Because of this wider field of view, it is considered somewhat wide on a full frame camera.

On your D7000, they will both have the same field of view (not wide, more of the 'normal' range, around the same field of view as a 50mm lens when mounted on a full frame camera). Imagine two circles (two image cirlces projected by their respective lenses), one bigger than the other (the DX being the small circle), but the same size rectangle (your sensor) in the middle of each - just large enough to fit fully in the small circle. They're not magnifying the image more than each other (since they're the same focal length), so the rectangle in the middle is still representing the same portion of the image.

(Rough sketches)

enter image description here

On a full frame camera, leave the two circles the same, but now the rectangle (sensor) is bigger than the DX circle.

enter image description here

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  • Its not relevant to the field of view issue, but AF and AF-S designate the different types of autofocus. AF-S being faster and quieter (and generally the newer type). – rfusca Aug 15 '11 at 17:20

The answer lies right in the naming of the lenses. The Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Wide-Angle Lens is designed for full frame cameras(but it can be used on any Nikon DSLR). The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens is designed for crop sensor or smaller then full frame cameras. What this means is that the second lens is not going to work on a full frame camera, rather it only works on a crop sensor camera.

The important piece to note is that your D7000 is a crop sensor camera, so both the DX and non DX lenses will have the field of view of a 52.5mm lens on a full frame camera due to the 1.5x crop factor. So you will not be able to use either as a wide angle lens!

To sum it up, the Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Wide-Angle Lens can be used on a full frame camera, as a wide angle, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens cannot - thus it is not a wide angle lens.

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  • So to be clear about me specifically, my D7000 will NOT be able to take advantage of the Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Wide-Angle Lens since it is a crop sensor camera? – Thanh Aug 15 '11 at 17:04
  • AF may only exist in full frame variants - but it doesn't mean that its a full frame designation. The term DX is Nikon's crop sensor designation and a lack of it indicates a full frame lens. AF simply means its an autofocus lens by means of a screw driven motor body, not in lens ultra-sonic (AF-S). – rfusca Aug 15 '11 at 17:05
  • @djnotepad - nope, all crop sensor cameras can also use full frame lenses. But full frame cameras either can't, or crop the middle out of, a crop sensor lens. – rfusca Aug 15 '11 at 17:06
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    I'm voting you up, but it is misleading/wrong to say that the lens "is actually" a different focal length. It is not — it is actually still a 35mm lens (nothing can change that!). However, the characteristics of an image from a 35mm lens on a 24mm×16mm sensor (as in the Nikon APS-C cameras) are similar in many ways to those of an image from a 52.5mm lens on a 36mm×24mm sensor. – mattdm Aug 15 '11 at 17:06
  • @rfusca But with respect to the wide-angle aspect of the lens, you would have to use a full frame camera correct? In other words if I took the exact same photo with a full frame camera and a crop sensor camera, the full frame camera picture will have a wider angle. – Thanh Aug 15 '11 at 17:15

Probably the simplest way to compare lenses across different sensor sizes is to normalize everything as if they all worked with full-frame sensors. In a normalized context, its a lot easier to compare lens behavior. In the case of full-frame sensors, the following rough scale for angle of view exists:

  • 8-24mm: ultra-wide angle
  • 28-35mm: wide-angle
  • 40-60mm: normal-angle
  • 70+: long/telephoto

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens is designed to work with APS-C, or cropped, sensors. As such, it's image circle is smaller than a Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Wide-Angle Lens which was designed for a full-frame sensor. The difference in image circle sizes is realized as a difference in angle of view. Nikon APS-C sensors have a 1.5x "crop factor" in relation to their Full Frame sensors. To easily compare the angle of view for a cropped sensor lens with that of a full-frame lens, simply multiply the focal length of the cropped sensor lens by 1.5:

35mm * 1.5 = 52.5mm

The 35mm DX lens "behaves like" a 52.5mm full-frame lens from an angle-of-view perspective. Since 50mm lenses fall within that "normal angle" range rather than "wide-angle" range, it wouldn't really be appropriate to call it a wide angle lens. On the flip side...if you attached the 35mm full frame lens to a DX body, it would also behave like a 52.5mm lens, and also no longer be wide angle.

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