For years, I have had more manual focus Nikon lenses I can remember, but never really kept them. Why?!? I have had the 58mm f1.4, 85mm f2, 35mm f1.4, 180mm f2.8 ED, 300mm f2.8, etc, etc. I have heard so much about Nikon lenses great quality and sharpness. With the exception of the 180/2.8ED and the 300mm f2.8 Ai-S, I can't see them any better than the Canon equivalent, or lenses from other major makes, for that matter. They are very well made, for sure, but I find them to be soft wide open. I also had high hopes for the 35mm f1.4, but this is no exception. Wide open it's just very low contrast and sharpness was only so so. It's usable to shoot people wide open, but to be really usable, it needs to be at f2.
Although not fair comparing it to the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L, since the Nikkor 35/1.4 was designed decades ago, and the Canon 35/1.4 is relatively new, but looking at pictures taken at f1.4 from both lenses, the sharpness and contrast on the Canon is remarkable. Even the cheaper Minolta MC 35mm f1.8 at f2 is about the same as the Nikon, and I actually prefer to shoot the Minolta than the Nikon.
And the bokeh, not sure why, Nikon lenses don't seem to have very good bokeh.
I really, really wanted to do a comparo between the Nikkor 35/1.4, Canon 35/1.4, Leica-R 35/2, and the Pentax SMC 35/2, but man, it just takes so much time that I don't have.
I know. I have only used the old stuff, and the new designs from Nikon are probably like day and night compared to the old, but I like old stuff. I really want to like this 35/1.4 Nikkor, and other Nikon lenses, but, somehow, me and the Nikkors just don't jive.
I guess I will never be a Nikon man :)
William -- 5D & Nikkor 35mm f1.4 @ f1.4. Larger Picture.
Eco-Cab -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.
Chained Table and Chairs -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.
The Immaculate Conception -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.