Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm

Started Apr 19, 2014 | Discussions
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Dibyendu Majumdar
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Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
Apr 19, 2014

Hi,

What do you guys think of below? Note that these are taken from lenstip.com and are actually meant to show longitudinal chromatic aberration.

I think that the Nikkor's rendition of background is particularly interesting.

Nikkor 58mm f1.4

Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4

Sigma 50mm f1.4

Dibyendu Majumdar
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Similar Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Zeiss and Nikkor 35mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Coincidence?

Nikkor 35mm f1.4

Zeiss 35mm f1.4

Sigma 35mm f1.4

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ImageAmateur
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

Hi,

What do you guys think of below? Note that these are taken from lenstip.com and are actually meant to show longitudinal chromatic aberration.

I think that the Nikkor's rendition of background is particularly interesting.

Hmm, pity the Nikkor does not seem to be focused on anything in the chart, as the other two are. That would make for a better comparison.

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Stacey_K
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Thanks for posting this, confirms what I thought (and why I ordered the 58). The zeiss and sigma are sharper at the focus plane at the expense of OOF rendering. Pick your poison

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Stacey

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Edward Teller
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Well, that's interesting. Thanks for posting this. What may be even more interesting is the responses you will get, which will be more of a Rorschach test about what the posters find attractive than anything else. I've been considering all three of these lenses, and have now easily made up my mind, understanding that not one of them lets you "have it all".

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ImageAmateur
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Edward Teller, Apr 19, 2014

Edward Teller wrote:

Well, that's interesting. Thanks for posting this. What may be even more interesting is the responses you will get, which will be more of a Rorschach test about what the posters find attractive than anything else. I've been considering all three of these lenses, and have now easily made up my mind, understanding that not one of them lets you "have it all".

This true, dat.  

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ImageAmateur
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Stacey_K, Apr 19, 2014

Stacey_K wrote:

Thanks for posting this, confirms what I thought (and why I ordered the 58). The zeiss and sigma are sharper at the focus plane at the expense of OOF rendering. Pick your poison

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Stacey

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Nyarlathotep
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to ImageAmateur, Apr 19, 2014

ImageAmateur wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

Hi,

What do you guys think of below? Note that these are taken from lenstip.com and are actually meant to show longitudinal chromatic aberration.

I think that the Nikkor's rendition of background is particularly interesting.

Hmm, pity the Nikkor does not seem to be focused on anything in the chart, as the other two are. That would make for a better comparison.

-- hide signature --

Wishing You Good Light.

I think the 58 is really focused on about the "1" on the lens align chart, but the lens has low contrast at f/1.4 and near MFD, so it looks hazy at that f/stop. To be fair, I believe the 58 shows better acuity at longer focus distances than this. Near MFD is not the 58's strong suit.

Which certain makes this another interesting piece of the puzzle showing what each of these lenses can do. In this case, tough high contrast targets at close focus. It will be nice to also see how each of these compare in slightly more distant focal distances in an apples to apples comparison. Most of the stuff I have seen floating out there doesn't have all three in the same real world shots, e.g. the same lighting, time, composition, etc.

Each seem to have their appeal to different types of photography styles. It is also quite interesting that each of the 50ish mm manufactured lens has very similar OOF rendering characteristics to each of their shorter focal length brothers. They have a bit of a signature style for each pair the designers seemed to select for.

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Aaron Killen

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benjaminblack
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Yeah and keep in mind the 58 is pretty sharp at f2, decent at 1.8, and you get all the creamy bokeh. A few of the lucky photographers who own the original Noct told me they mostly shoot at f2.

Also keep in mind the 58 renders much better on the D700/D3/s, D4/s/Df. If you shoot it on the D800 results can seem a bit fuzzy until after downsampling. I think half the folks who are dissatisfied with the 58 should take the time to downsample their shots. It make a world of difference.

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Dibyendu Majumdar
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

I think Nikon has prioritized bokeh rendition in 35mm f1.4, 58mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4. This may explain why Nikon has chosen to:

1) Avoid close range correction

2) Retain spherical aberration (hence haziness) at close focus distances

3) Not correct longitudinal chromatic aberration

4) Not go for a completely flat field

I think a combination of all these factors gives you nice bokeh, but the price is that at close or medium distances the lens will not be as sharp as others that have prioritized sharpness

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David Whysong
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to benjaminblack, Apr 19, 2014

benjaminblack wrote:

Also keep in mind the 58 renders much better on the D700/D3/s, D4/s/Df. If you shoot it on the D800 results can seem a bit fuzzy until after downsampling.

Which is just another indication that the lens is not sharp.

Frankly, in these particular images I don't see any reason to prefer the 58 over the Zeiss or Sigma, which unsurprisingly look very similar to each other.

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ImageAmateur
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Re: Bokeh -fair thoughts
In reply to Nyarlathotep, Apr 19, 2014

Nyarlathotep wrote:

ImageAmateur wrote:

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

Hi,

What do you guys think of below? Note that these are taken from lenstip.com and are actually meant to show longitudinal chromatic aberration.

I think that the Nikkor's rendition of background is particularly interesting.

Hmm, pity the Nikkor does not seem to be focused on anything in the chart, as the other two are. That would make for a better comparison.

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Wishing You Good Light.

I think the 58 is really focused on about the "1" on the lens align chart, but the lens has low contrast at f/1.4 and near MFD, so it looks hazy at that f/stop. To be fair, I believe the 58 shows better acuity at longer focus distances than this. Near MFD is not the 58's strong suit.

Which certain makes this another interesting piece of the puzzle showing what each of these lenses can do. In this case, tough high contrast targets at close focus. It will be nice to also see how each of these compare in slightly more distant focal distances in an apples to apples comparison. Most of the stuff I have seen floating out there doesn't have all three in the same real world shots, e.g. the same lighting, time, composition, etc.

Each seem to have their appeal to different types of photography styles. It is also quite interesting that each of the 50ish mm manufactured lens has very similar OOF rendering characteristics to each of their shorter focal length brothers. They have a bit of a signature style for each pair the designers seemed to select for.

+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+
Aaron Killen

Well considered discussion and worthwhile.

Thanks.

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Nyarlathotep
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Dibyendu Majumdar, Apr 19, 2014

Dibyendu Majumdar wrote:

I think Nikon has prioritized bokeh rendition in 35mm f1.4, 58mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4. This may explain why Nikon has chosen to:

1) Avoid close range correction

2) Retain spherical aberration (hence haziness) at close focus distances

3) Not correct longitudinal chromatic aberration

4) Not go for a completely flat field

I think a combination of all these factors gives you nice bokeh, but the price is that at close or medium distances the lens will not be as sharp as others that have prioritized sharpness

That certainly makes a lot of sense. Particularly with the 58. Getting smooth OOF rendering and high acuity seems to be a tough nut to crack in the 50ish mm focal range and Nikon seems to have tackled bokeh and coma in leiu of the above outlined aberration corrections. It certainly is an interesting lens, and a bold choice given the tendency these days for lenses to undergo heavy scrutiny for absolute resolution first and foremost.

Given the price and target audience though, I think those individuals that purchase the 58 know what look they are going for and are less concerned with the resolution. I just think a lot of people expected an Otus competitor due to the timing of the announcements of the two lenses, but the two target very different shooting styles and intentions.

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Stacey_K
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to Edward Teller, Apr 19, 2014

Edward Teller wrote:

Well, that's interesting. Thanks for posting this. What may be even more interesting is the responses you will get, which will be more of a Rorschach test about what the posters find attractive than anything else. I've been considering all three of these lenses, and have now easily made up my mind, understanding that not one of them lets you "have it all".

Correct. Honestly I had hoped sigma was going to go for more along the lines of the 58, give up some sharpness for really great Bokeh. But it seems they are going for the test chart sharpness as this is what wins reviews. From a marketing standpoint, that's probably smart. But there goes my dream of getting the look of the nikon 58 for 1/2 the price.

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Stacey

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Stacey_K
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to David Whysong, Apr 19, 2014

David Whysong wrote:


Frankly, in these particular images I don't see any reason to prefer the 58 over the Zeiss or Sigma, which unsurprisingly look very similar to each other.

If you don't see any difference, you shouldn't buy it

It's really not a lens for most people and it definitely isn't for people whom sharpness = everything

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Stacey

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TQGroup
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to David Whysong, Apr 19, 2014

David Whysong wrote:

benjaminblack wrote:

Also keep in mind the 58 renders much better on the D700/D3/s, D4/s/Df. If you shoot it on the D800 results can seem a bit fuzzy until after downsampling.

Which is just another indication that the lens is not sharp.

Frankly, in these particular images I don't see any reason to prefer the 58 over the Zeiss or Sigma, which unsurprisingly look very similar to each other.

David, your gear list shows you own some incredibly fine glass... surely you can see more in an image than just "sharpness"?

Perhaps you could help me understand your opinion better by precisely explaining what you mean when you say "the lens is not sharp"?

Thank you

Andrew

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David Whysong
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to TQGroup, Apr 19, 2014

TQGroup wrote:

David, your gear list shows you own some incredibly fine glass... surely you can see more in an image than just "sharpness"?

Perhaps you could help me understand your opinion better by precisely explaining what you mean when you say "the lens is not sharp"?

Thank you

Andrew

You were looking at my gear *wishlist*. I have a Nikon 180 AF, 85 1.4D, 85 1.8G, and a Sigma 35 Art. Those also qualify as nice glass, but it's not what you saw in the gear list.

Sharpness isn't everything one might want from a lens, but a sufficiently sharp focal plane is the most fundamental requirement of a lens.

Down-sampling is nothing more than throwing away resolution that the lens failed to deliver.

I love some of the pictures I've seen posted here from the 58, but I don't think its image quality is any better than the old Sigma 50 which costs about 4x less, achieves better sharpness, and provides similarly excellent bokeh.

I see a lot of people making claims related to bokeh quality of the Sigma vs. Otus vs. 58mm, but it's almost impossible to properly judge without a side-by-side comparison. Here we have one, and while there is a visible difference in bokeh, none appear perfect in this example. (On further inspection, I do see differences between the Zeiss and Sigma; I'd say the Sigma looks a bit better but it's a close call.) However the 58mm is noticeably unsharp even in this very low-resolution image!

David

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inasir1971
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to David Whysong, Apr 20, 2014

David Whysong wrote:

Sharpness isn't everything one might want from a lens, but a sufficiently sharp focal plane is the most fundamental requirement of a lens.

The problem that a lot of people seem to have with the 58 is that they are looking at sharpness at test chart distances and extrapolating that to all distances. The sharpness of the 58 varies greatly with focus distance - at distance it is every bit as sharp as the 85 1.4G even at f/1.4. The field curvature also flattens.

It is meaningless to talk about sharpness of the 58 without the context of the shooting distance.

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TQGroup
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to David Whysong, Apr 20, 2014

David Whysong wrote:

TQGroup wrote:

David, your gear list shows you own some incredibly fine glass... surely you can see more in an image than just "sharpness"?

Perhaps you could help me understand your opinion better by precisely explaining what you mean when you say "the lens is not sharp"?

Thank you

Andrew

You were looking at my gear *wishlist*. I have a Nikon 180 AF, 85 1.4D, 85 1.8G, and a Sigma 35 Art. Those also qualify as nice glass, but it's not what you saw in the gear list.

Sharpness isn't everything one might want from a lens, but a sufficiently sharp focal plane is the most fundamental requirement of a lens.

Down-sampling is nothing more than throwing away resolution that the lens failed to deliver.

I love some of the pictures I've seen posted here from the 58, but I don't think its image quality is any better than the old Sigma 50 which costs about 4x less, achieves better sharpness, and provides similarly excellent bokeh.

I see a lot of people making claims related to bokeh quality of the Sigma vs. Otus vs. 58mm, but it's almost impossible to properly judge without a side-by-side comparison. Here we have one, and while there is a visible difference in bokeh, none appear perfect in this example. (On further inspection, I do see differences between the Zeiss and Sigma; I'd say the Sigma looks a bit better but it's a close call.) However the 58mm is noticeably unsharp even in this very low-resolution image!

David

Thanks for the comprehensive response, David... and I wish that your "wishlist" becomes your "gearlist" very soon.

I agree with a lot of what you write but I do see a dichotomy.

You very rightly say; "Sharpness isn't everything one might want from a lens, but a sufficiently sharp focal plane is the most fundamental requirement of a lens".

Then, your last sentence says; "However the 58mm is noticeably unsharp even in this very low-resolution image!"

In my prior post I wrote: "Perhaps you could help me understand your opinion better by precisely explaining what you mean when you say "the lens is not sharp"?"

Can you see my challenge? It is how to accurately interpret your concept of "sufficiently* sharp focal plane"! (* my underscoring and italicization)

To me, the concept of "lens sharpness" is totally subjective and totally dependent on the situation being shot and the desired result. It is quite different to a lens "potential sharpness".

The concept of "potential lens sharpness" in a laboratory setting under controlled conditions and at a distance of 40 X the focal length, etc, etc is of academic interest for the most part as virtually all good quality modern lenses are sharp enough for all but the most demanding assignments. And those who get those assignments know what they need and why they need it.

In fact, I am starting to believe that MTF, as in MTF Chart, is really an abbreviation of Meaningless, Titillating and FUDing

Meaningless: MTF charts are shot of a flat subject, usually black & white over distances of 40 X focal length or so from heavy tripods with remote releases, mirror-up for 4 seconds under controlled and even lighting conditions, etc, etc. Honestly, now who actually takes pictures like that in real life! Further, the results of these "tests" may or may not translate over longer distances...

Titillating: Oh, but these MTF-type sharpness scores are a "tease", aren't they. Professional testing sites, they know who they are, proudly proclaim that lens X is the sharpest that they have ever tested, etc, etc. Unfortunately, photographers with less experience can actually fall for this "dance of the seven veils" that can cloak a lens true performance in "real life" shooting situations. After all, why does each annual "Guinness Book of Records" sell so well. We all want to know what is "best".

FUDing: I first can across the term FUD at IBM. It stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and it was used, and still is used very effectively to "cloud and pervade" people's thinking away from an alternative option. Less experienced photographers use "chart scores" to justify their decisions and to attack others different decisions. The less experienced "fear" about going against a prevailing opinion of a lens, even though they know it might not actually suit what they want.

In fact, it can take real courage to overcome this uncertainty caused and go against the trend and, for example, buy a Nikon 58 F1.4G when many are screaming that their much cheaper 50 F1.8G is actually "sharper". And, of course, they get this "data" from "lens reviews, scores and charts"! Believe me, FUD does work!

For the record, I own the 58 F1.4 and 50 F1.8G Nikons. They are two totally different lenses for two totally different applications.

The 58 renders hauntingly beautiful and whimsical "three dimensional-like" images that people absolutely adore.This is achieved by a very deft and brilliantly executed series of deliberate lens imperfections together conspiring to produce stunning image rendering that changes with each F-stop. IMHO, this lens is a masterpiece for its intended function as described by Nikon in its pre-release blurb.

The 50 F1.8 is a classic "nifty-fifty" that records quite faithfully everyday scenes and life, particularly street. It is small, light, fast and cheap... a winning combination for everyday use.

Both these lenses are more than sharp enough for my intended display purposes, viz; 4K UHD TV (8mpx) and 36 x 24 inch prints. Sadly, as I don't shoot billboards anymore, I don't need any more "sharpness!"

David, I believe you may have a predisposition towards apparent "ultimate sharpness" and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. May I also say I can understand your position but I do not share it for most of my photography.

Perhaps I can pose you a challenge: what is more important to your photography; image "recording" or image "rendering"?

Vive la difference!

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inasir1971
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Re: Bokeh comparison between Sigma, Otus and Nikkor 58mm
In reply to TQGroup, Apr 20, 2014
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