Nothing scientific, I’ve just put the camera firmly on the table and focused with Live View, to compare the bokeh on the left, the sharpness of the bush in the middle and the vignetting on the right wall at different apertures. No sharpening, vignetting, CA, or distortion correction in Lightroom, the D700 was set to Auto ISO (ISO between 200 and 1600).
(click images for full resolution view)
That is really not bad for a used nearly 40-year-old lens, that had some fungus scrubbed off an internal lens element 10 years ago, against the new 35mm flagship Nikkor!
It’s a shame Nikon used this old but great optical formula (8 lenses in 6 groups) all the way through the manual 35mm/2 line to the Nikkor 35mm/2 AiS till 2005, but not in the rather disappointing Nikkor AF 35mm/2D (6 lenses in 5 groups) introduced in 1989.
In case you wonder, the AF 35mm/2D is nowhere near as sharp wide open than it’s older cousin and way worst at the borders. I would say the AF 35mm/2D is usable from f/2.8 and good from f/4 if your subject is in the middle of the frame but it lacks critical sharpness across the frame untill you stop down to f/8.
But lets go back to the Nikkor OC Auto 35mm/2 vs. Nikkor AF-S 35mm/1.4G: