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Compared to AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

The big question facing potential buyers of the 58mm f/1.4G is how it compares to the much-cheaper 50mm f/1.4G, which on the face of it has a very similar specification, but is much smaller and cheaper. This decision isn't helped by the fact that, if you compare the studio test data of the lenses side-by-side, the 50mm appears to be ahead in some respects - most notably edge sharpness.

Here we're looking at images shot side-by-side on the two lenses under controlled conditions. We've made three comparisons - for sharpness in good light, for coma in night-time shooting, and for the rendition of out-of-focus backgrounds.

Sharpness compared

The rollover below shows how the two lenses compare on the D800. These images were shot on a tripod from the same position, with the lenses focused manually using magnified live view. The Raw files were processed in Adobe Camera Raw, with lens corrections disabled and standardised sharpening applied. Note that the comparison is slightly complicated by the difference in focal lengths - the crops from the 50mm are lower in magnification and come from closer to the centre of the frame - but that's unavoidable in this case.

Roll your mouse over the aperture labels to see the corresponding images, with 100% crops taken from the centre, edge and corner of the frame. Click on any image to download the full-resolution file.

AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G
F1.4
F2
F2.8
F4
F5.6
F8
F11
F16
AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
F1.4
F2
F2.8
F4
F5.6
F8
F11
F16

The differences here are quite subtle, but some clear conclusions can be drawn. Both lenses give somewhat imperfect images wide open, but the 50mm is distinctly soft and hazy. The 58mm, in contrast, offers higher contrast, but at the cost of some visible magenta fringing from longitudinal chromatic aberration.

Both lenses improve dramatically on stopping down to F2, but the 58mm is visibly sharper all round. Stop down to F4 and it's clear that the soft corners predicted for the 58mm in chart testing aren't relevant for this three dimensional, distant subject - if anything the 58mm is outperforming the 50mm, rather than the other way round. Neither lens has any serious problem with lateral chromatic aberration, but there's a hint of colour fringing in the corner crops from the 50mm that's just not present with the 58mm.

Probably the most interesting information, though, comes from the fine detail in the foliage towards the edge of the frame (centre of the three 100% crops). Here the 58mm shows a dramatic advantage over the 50mm, even when taking the difference in magnification into account. The 50mm needs to be stopped down to F5.6 to pick out all the detail here; the 58mm matches it at about F2.8.

The take-home message here is that, with sufficiently dedicated pixel-peeping, we can see a real advantage for the 58mm over the 50mm in terms of sharpness. But we really do have to look closely.

Night-time comparison: Coma

In our second comparison we've taken the same set of shots a few hours later. The aim here is to look at coma and astigmatism - aberrations which cause point light sources towards the edge of the frame to flare out. Nikon says that the 58mm has been specifically designed to minimise this - let's see what this means in practice. Here we're taking crops from bright light sources towards the edge of frame - again with the 50mm these come from closer to the centre, which places it an advantage here.

Scene overview (AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G, F1.4)
AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G
AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
F1.4, 100% crop F1.4, 100% crop
F2, 100% crop F2, 100% crop
F2.8, 100% crop F2.8, 100% crop
F8, 100% crop F8, 100% crop

This is one area where the 58mm surpasses the 50mm comfortably. Instead of flaring out dramatically at large apertures, point light sources are rendered much closer to circular. This means that the 58mm can be used wide open with much more confidence in these situations, and should also make it well-suited to demanding applications such as astrophotography.

For both lenses, stopping down beyond F2.8 does little to reduce coma any further, but instead results in 18-ray star patterns from the 9-bladed aperture diaphragm.

Portrait comparison - bokeh

The third comparison we're going to make regards the two lenses' rendition of out-of-focus areas of a scene, or 'bokeh'. This is an important consideration with fast primes, which are frequently used to give subject isolation against a blurred background. In the example below we've shot the two lenses from the same position at a series of apertures. But this time, rather then taking 100% crops, we've simply take crops from the corresponding area of the background for both lenses.

Scene overview (AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G, F1.4)
AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G
AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
F1.4, background crop F1.4, background crop
F2.8, background crop F2.8, background crop
F5.6, background crop F5.6, background crop

Again the differences here are rather subtle, but the 58mm does a better job of smoothly blurring-away this particular area of the background. This is most noticeable with the F1.4 shots - the 50mm version looks noticeably 'busier' - but it persists to some extent as you stop down, too. This is easiest to appreciate by downloading and comparing the full-size images; there's nothing obviously wrong with those taken using the 50mm, but those from the 58mm just look nicer.

We noted the 50mm F1.4G's relatively attractive bokeh for its class in our review of that lens, and the 58mm takes this desirable characteristic just that bit further.

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Comments

Total comments: 414
1234
RusYus
By RusYus (3 weeks ago)

if interested in a similar lens for this price, just get Fuji 56 1.2 ($1000) + x-a1 camera ($450, but that includes 16-50 lens as well). will turn out to be cheaper, and WILL NOT DISAPPOINT :) but since its crop sensor - it will act as 85... but then there is 35 1.4 - another top notch prime...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Stormhalvorsen
By Stormhalvorsen (4 weeks ago)

Man what a disappointment! Bought this without reading anything but praise except for the price. My intent was to use it fully open or almost so at least. My Nikon 85/1.4G is wonderful wide open in addition to the lovely bokeh but this is completely unusable. even stopped down two stops it's pretty bad. Had I tried it before buying (which isn't possible here) I would have thought something was wrong with it.

I simply cannot use it for my intended purpose and so it goes in the attic. Unfortunately I cannot return it since we don't have those rights where I live (unless something is physically broken). I get really annoyed with such waste.

0 upvotes
thejohnnerparty
By thejohnnerparty (3 weeks ago)

That is a very disappointing outcome. Why did you want the "58" mm? Was there something specific you were looking to do with it? Why not the 50 mm?

0 upvotes
Phollo
By Phollo (1 month ago)

Hi Andy,

You mentioned there are a few lenses you would pick over the 58mm for bokeh, could you reveal what they are?

Thanks.

0 upvotes
Bo Photo
By Bo Photo (1 month ago)

Do you have both lenses? Can you comment on the overall bokeh from the two, which one has the most artistic look. Thanks, Bo

0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (1 month ago)

I have shot portraits with this and Sigma ART 50mm, and while NIkkor is unique in its own way, I still choose the Sigma for out-of-this-world sharpness even full open.

It is also 60% cheaper...

Which shows that it is possible without Zeiss Otus price, with AF.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
1 upvote
iluxa007
By iluxa007 (2 months ago)

Well, mine’s coming in tomorrow! Can’t wait to use it :)

0 upvotes
harvestmedia1
By harvestmedia1 (2 months ago)

Can anyone help me to find a suitable lens for my Nikon camera? I use the camera mainly for video and looking for a wide angle lens which is good in low light with VR option and also which can cover wide area in focus. I already have a 18-105 lens.
Thanks in advance.

0 upvotes
Charrick
By Charrick (2 months ago)

I don't own a Nikon DSLR, and I've only done a bit of research. But this might be one idea. It is the "AF-S DX NIKKOR
16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR". That will get you wider than the 18mm you currently have, while still being able to zoom in quite a bit. Its aperture is nothing special, but I wasn't able to find anything better from Nikon. Tamron might have something, though.

A lens that I will probably get is the yet-to-be-released Tamron 16-300mm lens, which will get you wider and more telephoto. It should also have vibration reduction.

If you don't mind starting at 18mm (like your current lens) and have a short zoom range and no VR, but instead have a wide constant aperture, then the Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 ART lens might be good.

1 upvote
Deutsch
By Deutsch (4 months ago)

I'm sure Nikon doesn't expect to sell a lot of these, compared to the 50mm 1.4 out there at 1/4 the price, but someone has to pay for the engineering and development.

1 upvote
Albert
By Albert (4 months ago)

I have to say; from the specs, and as the article puts it, the eyewatering price, I thought that Nikon was putting the screws to us. BUT, from the images, they seem to tell another story; I found almost every image I've seen across the internet from this lens to be quite pleasant. Sharp? Not the sharpest but sharp enough. But that bokeh seems to be insanely good. I own the Nikkor 105mm F2, arguably the best bokeh out of any Nikkor; but I have to say; I think the bokeh from this beats my 105mm. One trick pony? Sure. But that pony seems to be pretty good at its single trick. Not a general lens; and won't sell a lot, I don't think it's a screwjob on Nikon's part.

0 upvotes
Leonard Shepherd
By Leonard Shepherd (4 months ago)

As far as I am concerned the jury is out as to the testing of this lens.
If auto focus was used in the brick wall test any half competent photographer should know a brick like the one used in the test is likely to produce poor AF accuracy - the reason why has been explained in every Nikon AF SLR and DSLR instruction book since at least 1999.
The test seems to confirm curvature of field common to this type of lens.
What intrigues me is the 4 corner 100% crops have different exposure, different lighting and different sharpness. Either the lens is a dud and you did not say so, and/or you selected from several different exposures, and/or you did not have the sensor parallel to the wall and/or maybe the wall is not built flat.

0 upvotes
top quark
By top quark (4 months ago)

If it can trace its lineage back to the Noct Nikkor, does that make it a pedigree dog?

0 upvotes
tophtml
By tophtml (2 months ago)

And does it come with papers???

0 upvotes
SynLyn
By SynLyn (4 months ago)

Please Compare this with the upcoming SIGMA 50 1.4 too ! That would be really useful.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (4 months ago)

We'll try to make that comparison when we get our hands on the new Sigma, but it seems that won't happen for a month or two.

1 upvote
JhvaElohimMeth
By JhvaElohimMeth (3 months ago)

well Andy, it happened now :)

0 upvotes
Greg Gebhardt
By Greg Gebhardt (5 months ago)

Not going to pay that much for a 58mm prime lens. No one should unless they do alot of 58mm work! My 85 was worth it but a 58mm?

2 upvotes
Zoron
By Zoron (5 months ago)

nikon screwing us..

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
mstinso
By mstinso (6 months ago)

That's a huge price for a prime lens. I'm not a stranger to paying this price range on lenses, but a 58mm prime? Is their any photo comparisons between the 50mm 1.4 and the 58mm 1.4? I'm having a hard time swallowing the price difference here or why one needs to be in my bag. Now I know the 50mm shot at 1.4 has poor color. But the 58mm at $1700 I would expect to be perfect. Is it?

1 upvote
MPA1
By MPA1 (6 months ago)

I don't know why they even test these things on DX. It was not really designed for DX. Indeed, I think in 5 years time DX will be a memory.
No dealer in NZ yet lists this lens. I dread to think how much it will be here.

0 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (3 months ago)

Yeah but as things improve, DX should still be better sized and priced. Therefore probably the standard. At least about APS-C, and those sized lenses. Even if less flange-back mirror-less smaller designs.

0 upvotes
Paul Szilard
By Paul Szilard (6 months ago)

Will be very interesting to compare this to the new up-coming Sigma 50/1.4

Meanwhile in my world, I'll stick to my "old" 85mm 1.4 Nikkor for portraits and 50mm 1.8 Nikkor for low light, but that's just me.

2 upvotes
lorenzo de medici
By lorenzo de medici (6 months ago)

The photos accompanying this review are not convincing.
DSC_0555 and DSC_0564 look very nice. There are other lenses that have nice bokeh. DSC_1097 (camera D800) looks pretty bad. The out of focus trees in the upper left are just ugly. Nothing lovely about those trees.

0 upvotes
lorenzo de medici
By lorenzo de medici (6 months ago)

I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary (online). Bokeh is a real word, derived from Japanese. The definition is "the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens."
And I thought we were all using a special secret word only for dedicated photographers. Here it is, right out in the open, for just anybody to use. Darn.
OK, here's the point. Bokeh is one of those things, unlike many attributes of an excellent photograph, that you can somewhat appreciate viewed over the internet on a typical computer monitor. I'm not saying FULLY appreciate, of course not. But to some degree, yes. Certainly comparisons to other lenses can be appreciated.
So let's see some posts of photographs with this wonderful creamy bokeh.

2 upvotes
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (6 months ago)

Hehe... I totally agree. I have recently come back to photography after a 20+ years hiatus. I was reading about bokeh and I was like what the hell is this? (I studied photography in college and shot professionally for years)
Oh, it's Japanese for confusion... as in circles of confusion.

Fancy.

0 upvotes
MichaelK81
By MichaelK81 (6 months ago)

Being amongst the first few to own this beautiful lens, it's become an instant favorite in my camera bag. Its bokeh is matched only by the 105 f/2 DC. Nikon doesn't release speciality lenses designed specifically for creamy bokeh often, but when they do, it's like fireworks :-)

Cheers,
-----------------------
Michael Kormos
Fresh & Modern Family Photography
MICHAEL KORMOS PHOTOGRAPHY
New York | San Diego
http://www.michaelkormos.com

1 upvote
sghound
By sghound (6 months ago)

a plastic build lens? i would think the cost would fetch better build. creamy bokeh though!

1 upvote
lorenzo de medici
By lorenzo de medici (6 months ago)

$1700 for a prime lens with dramatic focus problems? No, thank you.

1 upvote
Mistur
By Mistur (6 months ago)

It doesn't have focus problems. It focuses as intended. My 50 1.8 is sharper but the bokeh isn't even in the same league. Tons of sharp lenses out there but the 58 is dreamy and creamy. Still I don't feel that the build quality equals the price. If I was a wedding photographer this would be in the bag.

3 upvotes
lorenzo de medici
By lorenzo de medici (6 months ago)

From the review: "our test sample tended to back-focus, and quite considerably so on the D800. We also found that there was no way of persuading the lens to focus accurately at all subject distances on the D7100 test body we used - when set for most accurate focus at short range, it still front focused consistently on more-distant subjects."

2 upvotes
utpalsaha
By utpalsaha (6 months ago)

Very expensive !

2 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (6 months ago)

The comparison of the 50 mm 1.4G with this 58 mm is interesting, but to put things in perspective, blowing a full frame image file up 100 times would create a print 3.6 meters wide. My carpenter's tape measure doesn't even go that far.

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (6 months ago)

Have you looked at the COST of this item. It costs the same as a new D610 body, or a D800 body grey market.

My Leica screw 50mm f1.4 Canon lens cost me £50 thirty years ago and certainly would be as sharp as this machine which N.B. is an F1.7 lens. It does not act as an f1.4 lens. And I have an Olympus f1.4 that you yourselves can still buy for £50 that will be as good as this thing.

Given the fact that it is very unlikely that you would be able to tell the difference between their results, AND the unlikelihood of ever getting perfect focus at speed with an SLR in poor light (unlike a Leica in this respect) what a complete waste of money.

4 upvotes
nawknai
By nawknai (6 months ago)

Thanks for the anecdotal evidence.

The comment section needed it.

6 upvotes
David G72
By David G72 (6 months ago)

Nasim just posted his 58mm f/1.4G review with some delicious photos:

http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-58mm-f1-4g

This lens is not about sharp optics, but the result is stunning.

5 upvotes
Five Piece
By Five Piece (6 months ago)

Those results speak for themselves. Thanks!

1 upvote
Stanchung
By Stanchung (6 months ago)

Stunning, thanks for the link.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (6 months ago)

I used to hear people say a lens is soft but has a solid core of resolution, which means high quality lens. 58/1.4G is such a lens, probably the best one (like in the night scene test shots).

I'm passing it though.

2 upvotes
WildSammy
By WildSammy (6 months ago)

This lens has very similiar bokeh and sharpness characteristics compared to Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited

1 upvote
BarnET
By BarnET (6 months ago)

Since that lens is highly regarded that's a good thing.
But why is it twice as big and $700 more.

And i have trouble defending the price point of the 77mm F1.8 against 85mm F1.8s or 85mm F1.8 usm.

0 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (6 months ago)

From the samples I've seen the out of focus areas look messy and gritty. Like the camera was shaken during capture. Certainly quite distracting. The out of focus highlights also have some distortion to them and turn into ovals around the edges. Takes me away from appreciating the photo and makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with the lens?? Anyone who thinks this is at all pleasing deserves to be ripped off with this lens.

0 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (6 months ago)

Oval highlight is normal for a wide open shot.

2 upvotes
fmian
By fmian (6 months ago)

There are plenty of examples here:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bokeh%2050mm
where they don't turn oval, and if they do it's much much less noticeable than this 58mm lens.
I wouldn't class this characteristic on this 58mm lens as normal. More like abnormal.

0 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (6 months ago)

There is definitely a vignetting effect the edge, some comparisons in the article quoted, the canon 1.2 does no better and I see the same ovals in samples from the $4000 55mm Zeiss Otus, I think it has to do with the geometry of the lens,

http://www.samhurdphotography.com/2013/gear-reviews/nikon-58mm-f1-4-lens-review-and-comparison-with-detailed-sample-images

but it is way better than the Nikon 1.8 and 1.4 classic lenses, see the examples in this review,

the price Nikon has put on this is pretty staggering though, However If you compare it to the new Zeiss ($4000)
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2426546,00.asp
It doesn't seem quite so bad.

0 upvotes
Maji
By Maji (6 months ago)

I was reading a posting by Nikon on Nikkor history, when I read an article on the Noct lens. The Noct (58/1.2) was compared with the 50/1.2S in the article. Here is something that should explain why the Noct is more expensive. I am sure something similar is applicable to the 58/1/4G, which has its roots in the famed Noct.

"Moreover, it is essential for a high precision lens to be inspected with high precision. In the case of the Noct NIKKOR, it is needless to say that an aspherical lens element was measured its surface shape. In order to control amount of flare of each product, the assembled lens was measured aberration by a special inspection instrument in addition to a routine inspection of resolving power test. Although you cannot tell the difference from the Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.2S at a first glance, you may have understood why the price was triple. From manufacturing to inspection, they spent so much time and effort on this lens." http://imaging.nikon.com/history/nikkor/16/

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (6 months ago)

I'm a long time Nikon user, long enough to know that neither 58/1.2 nor 50/1.2 was good lens. the reason Nikon didn't use Noct for the new 58/1.4G was because it's a much better lens than Noct.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
BarnET
By BarnET (6 months ago)

So that's why pro photogs buy the 58mm F1.2 at huge prices second hand. The 58mm noct was an special lens. Made to render highlights in the night very well wide open.

An special edge the 58mm F1.4 does not have.

1 upvote
MikeF4Black
By MikeF4Black (6 months ago)

Lots of people here offering firm opinions on gear they never actually used. Pretty funny.

13 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (6 months ago)

they do have some ground, more than UFO lovers.

1 upvote
MikeF4Black
By MikeF4Black (6 months ago)

Barely

0 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (6 months ago)

Buyers opinion is not totally unbias either.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-purchase_rationalization

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (6 months ago)

and why some people don't buy is because they know better.

1 upvote
Tom 13
By Tom 13 (6 months ago)

I have it on good authority that the older 50mm 1.4 suffered poor out of focus highlights because it was secretely manufactured in Bokeh Rott-on, Florida... that's why the new 58 is so expensive... actually made in Japan.

This will be my last post .... ever

0 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (6 months ago)

The greatest advantage of this lens is no need lens hood.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (6 months ago)

Looking at the lens and its weight, there is no nearly as much glass in it as its body to justify the size (look how deep the front element is, and how small compared to the filter thread). Looks like the size was made artificially large to try and justify the price tag. Oversizing together with overpricing?

0 upvotes
PerL
By PerL (6 months ago)

"the size was made artficially large to justify the price tag"...
Right, lets go from ignorance to conspiracy theory... Or is comedy? Wonder what comes next.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
MikeF4Black
By MikeF4Black (6 months ago)

Peevee1???'s post made me chuckle!

Of all the off the wall posts here, this one beats all. Up to now.

2 upvotes
candleJack
By candleJack (6 months ago)

Have a glance at the block diagram and allow yourself a smile.

0 upvotes
atelier O
By atelier O (6 months ago)

Peevee or peewee, you must be just an adolescent posting here. You're giving the adults a reprieve from all the seriousness and bickerings from your innocent post. Carry on boy!

0 upvotes
DVT80111
By DVT80111 (6 months ago)

The price difference can buy you a Photoshop license plus all the training courses.

0 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (6 months ago)

Since probably less than 5% of these lenses go to professional users - in any sense of the word "professional" - they are primarily a luxury purchase to make the buyer feel special. It happens in all sectors of the consumer durables market. Yer pays yer money (or not) and yer takes yer choice. Personally I feel that knowing how to use the camera and what it's pointed at are about 95% of what's required to get decent results. But we all fall for this marketing nonsense to some degree.

4 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (6 months ago)

Sanity, at last. If a person has a use for what this lens does and doesn't mind the price, great. But rationalizations like "it's for professionals, only" or "it's not designed to be sharp" only fool the user. It's not like this lens is a Thambar.

0 upvotes
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (6 months ago)

I think real pros are buying the 50mm 1.8 G and banging out amazing shots with that lens at a fraction of the price.

0 upvotes
PerL
By PerL (6 months ago)

Real pros earns the price for this lens with a couple of days work. If they do weddings, portraits etc a 50-58 with creamy smooth bakground may be their most used lens. If they get a competitive advantage it is well spent money. Canon has one in the 50 1.2, now Nikon has one to, similary priced.

0 upvotes
kadardr
By kadardr (6 months ago)

Price is the product

1 upvote
ruicarv79
By ruicarv79 (6 months ago)

Thanks for making me feel smart to buy the inexpensive 50mm f/1.8. :)

8 upvotes
atelier O
By atelier O (6 months ago)

Read the review and tried to look at sample photos that illustrates what was written. . .sadly I have to go to Mansurov's preview for that:(

0 upvotes
lenseye
By lenseye (6 months ago)

Yeah right... here is all my money Mr. Nikon!
At this price bracket I want to be able to set it at F1.4 and shoot all day without having to worry about anything and I don't care that you usually don't shoot that wide often...

Don't buy a lens just because Nikon said so... 50mm F1.8D is still one of the best options...

2 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (6 months ago)

True, I have one (with no Nikon body to put on, hahaha).

0 upvotes
dopsgp
By dopsgp (6 months ago)

Bokeh from the 50/1.4G is harsh and annoyingly busy. That extra $1000 for the 58/1.4G buys you real smooth bokeh.

5 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (6 months ago)

If bokeh is your thing. On the other hand, you could just shoot your portraits against a background that does not have lights in it.

Landscape photographers would probably do just as well with the 1.4G above f 2.8. In spite of what the review says concerning the shrubbery being better at 100% crop with the 58/1.4G, I'm not seeing enough of a difference to justify the price. I'd want to see individual leaves! Besides, how often do you blow something up 100%?

0 upvotes
Joed700
By Joed700 (6 months ago)

Just for the sake of price, you can also get the 105mm/135mm f/2 DC/85mm f1.4 ais or f1.4g. They, too, deliver creamy bokeh. Besides, these are good portrait focus length...

0 upvotes
Robert Soderlund
By Robert Soderlund (6 months ago)

I just do not understand it, on full frame if one wants close ups with background visible to some extent, it just needs F22 at least, diffraction or not, F16 is low considering its a 58mm lens. Just compare to 35mm 1.8dx, that stops down to f22 which of course is rarely used especially on DX format but nonetheless i think F16 on this and the Zeiss Otus is worth mentioning as a bit limited for some special occasions.

0 upvotes
dash2k8
By dash2k8 (6 months ago)

I just don't see the $1,000 difference. The real-world tests say that this 58mm lens does indeed do some things very well, but $1,000+ well? I guess users will have to respond with their wallets and purses.

2 upvotes
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

I agree the samples provided does not show the differences very well. But they do point out many of the differences in the text.

One difference with this lens is subject isolation, how the in-focus areas stand out from the out-of-focus areas - what is often referred to as making the subject 'pop' or 'pop out'. Another general difference is how well corrected the lens is for some annoying optical problems - like CA and coma.

Now, these differences might not be worth $1000 to you (and many others), but for some they really are. Particularly for a professional photographers shooting lots of portraits or similar, it can be easily worth the $1000.

Look at power tools: I myself mostly potter around at home every now and then, meaning a simple $80 Ryobi drill is just fine. But if I work professionally with it every day, then a $500 Hilti is easily worth the extra money.

The AF-S 58/1.4 is a speciality tool, easily worth every cent for some people, a waste of money for many others.

12 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (6 months ago)

Grevture: You've gotten it.

In a competitive world, pro photographers will not allow themselves to be put at a disadvantage -- especially one that can be cured by (borrowing, probably) more money.

AFAICT (As Far As I Can Tell) smooth bokeh is a result of the absence of spherical aberrations. This takes a lot of skilled time to achieve, being a result of the polishing process. It is doubtful workers can be trained to do this quickly -- my guess it takes years or even decades to perfect. Nikon most likely pays these workers lots of bucks per hour and the work is time-consuming to an extreme.

Is the extra expense worth it? Not to me. But Rollieflex's f:2.8 Xenotars' creamy out-of-focus made more than one fashion photographer's career easier in the fifties and sixties.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Jim
By Jim (6 months ago)

Why are there dozens of cries of how much a ripoff this lens is but oure silence on Canon's 50mm 1.2 at a similar price? Unlike all the nay-sayers, I'll admit I've never shot either lens. But I can base my opinions on numbers just like they do and I can look at sample images on a computer monitor just like they do and from what I've seen, the Nikon has superior technical numbers overall and superior image quality, taking into account all factors like edge sharpness, astigmatism, coma, aberration and bokeh. Because DPR says it's not "sharper" than the Nikon 50 1.4, all the armchair quarterbacks say it's a ripoff. Well guess what, Canon's 1.2 isn't sharper than their 1.4, less so in fact, but no one's howling about it's $1500++ price. And I challenge anyone to show me any difference in DOF of a portrait shot at 1.2 and 1.4 without serious pixel peeping. Nikon has needed to go after the EF 1.2 for a long time and they've succeeded. If you think it's a rip, then please don't buy it!

4 upvotes
beholder3
By beholder3 (6 months ago)

The Canon 50/1.2 is a sad underperformer as well. Only the diehard fooslish will buy it because it has got "Canon" on the label and "L" and *because* they feel better with a high price lens. It's still a piece of crap compared to the Sigma 50/1.4 AND overpriced. That every morning a dumb person gets up is not any justification for poor products.

2 upvotes
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

Beholder: Have you any practical photography experience at all? I mean besides reading spec sheets?

Canons 50/1.2 is a odd lens in many ways, and notoriously difficult to use with focusing issues stopped down etc. But it is also a pretty great lens when it is used as intended. As is Nikons AF-S 58/1.4.

These are speciality lenses, designed for specific purposes, they are not meant to be "good bang for the buck" options. Much like a 400/2.8 or a T/S lens to mention more obvious examples - their special uses are easier to see which is probably why they are less controversial.

Just because you and some other people fail to understand the purpose of a specialized lens, it does not necessarily mean it is a failed lens :-)

4 upvotes
beholder3
By beholder3 (6 months ago)

Well, when all other made up "arguments" fail, you have to resort to insults ad hominem, don't you?
You may call a lens a "specialty" lens if the maker writes this on the box and advertises it on the box as "not good, if you want sharp pictures or want acceptable autofocus". Then everybody is fine.
Feel free to show me the product warning on the Nikon website. Show me where they state in the product description the lens is *not* meant to be used wide open for sharp pictures but only for soft "specialty" pictures
Else this "specialty" thing is a made up lame excuse.
And no, I have not met any serious photographer calling an old fashioned simplistic 50-58mm F1.4 prime a "specialty" lens.
There are "soft focus" lenses out there, which are "specialty lenses" - because they say so on the box.

2 upvotes
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

Beholder:

Now you are just getting obnoxious and silly. You have just made up that this lens is not sharp, and cannot focus, opinions which are not supported by the review, and not by practical experience of people actually using this lens.

It is a sharp lens. Not the sharpest, but sharp enough for what it is intended for. It can focus very well, not as fast as some other lenses, but a lot faster then the AF-S 50/1.4 to mention one example ...

You seem completely hung up on some minor details which you blow up out to be grievous problems.

As for the 'speciality' marking its right there in plain view - the price tag :-)

6 upvotes
beholder3
By beholder3 (6 months ago)

Yawn. You should read the stuff you want to do PR for:
Even the biased authors say (quote):
" no way of persuading the lens to focus accurately"
"anything but sharp wide open, giving rather soft, low-contrast images"
Sharpness, contrast and autofocusing without issues are *minor details* in your world? Silly me.
I am happy your kind of skill is not chosen to write technical reviews outside forum comments.

A lens lacking quality of sharpness and quality of reliability is perfectly acceptable if it is only expensive ("specialty") enough? Oh, yes.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
NinpouKobanashi
By NinpouKobanashi (6 months ago)

I'm sorry, I was under the impression that super duper sharpness in portraiture is not all that. Do we really need to see a gazillion MP worth of pores?

I don't think anyone is saying it's not sharp enough, except for the folks that are just looking at the price tag. I just don't think it was designed to place sharpness as the first priority. I can't understand why folks can't seem to comprehend that a product [any product] is not just a sheet of specifications.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Joed700
By Joed700 (6 months ago)

You forgot to mention that the Canon 5D Mrk III over $3300 is also a ripoff...The 5D II should have been the 5D III, but now they fixed most of the bugs on the 5D II, not to mention putting black tapes to fix the light leak on the 5D III, Canon decided that it's ok to charge a ridiculous price....

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Stanchung
By Stanchung (6 months ago)

I really don't want to see defined pores on most portraits.

I've spent hours retouching those so yeah, because not everyone has perfect skin. A little dreaminess is appreciated.

I actually like 58/60mm better than 50mm as a focal length. The bokeh highlights are a little bigger and less busy.

0 upvotes
Lassoni
By Lassoni (2 months ago)

@Joed700 800-1100 dollar difference between D800 and Canon 5D Mk III in Europe. Go figure.

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (6 months ago)

Sorry for this sort of money for the lens to be poor wide open is just not acceptable, especially in the easiest lens of all to design, a 50-60mm prime. When one can buy a Sigma 50 f/1.4 that is sharp wide open, has beautiful bokeh, low vignetting and only costs $500 and I'll bet the Art series version is going to be even better, then why waste money on the Nikon? The world is awash with excellent 50-55mm primes and ev en if in every other regard the Nikon is excellent, it still doesn't grab me as a sensible buy.

1 upvote
PerL
By PerL (6 months ago)

Is it poor wide open? Have you seen any of the many real world samples floating around the net. Looks extremly attractive IMO.
Sigma makes some very good lenses, but resale value is lower and because of reverse engineering you may run into issues with AF or other stuff. Quality control is another issue. I had to exchange a 150 2.8 right in the shop because the AF jammed.
All in all, considering the high resale price, ownership of a N or C lens is less costly than one might think.

0 upvotes
beholder3
By beholder3 (6 months ago)

"resale value" doesnt make a poor lens a tolerable lens.

Poor quality control on Nikon's side is what actually happened during the design and publishing of this lens if not regular production.

2 upvotes
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

You represent the very simplistic view of lens performance which seem common among many commentators: More money = more sharpness.

This lens has the sharpness it needs, and have other advantages which matter more.

This is not built to be a MTF pleaser, it is a lens designed to be good where it actually counts.

I agree the Sigma 50/1.4 is a excellent lens for its price, but it is a different lens, excelling at different things then the AF-S 58/1.4.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

Grevture - if someone spends 1000$ more on a lens - I see no reason why it shouldn't be sharper. Yet this one isn't. By some miracle.

Suddenly it seems like Zeiss Otus is a better deal.

2 upvotes
WhiteBeard
By WhiteBeard (6 months ago)

I tend to agree. While both the Otus and the Nikkor are in the "eye-watering" price category in which, after a while, price is no longer an object and even if the Nikkor has autofocus - albeit somewhat flawed - I think the Otus' test scores (http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/11/22/lens-reviews-update-test-data-for-the-zeiss-otus-1-4-55) are simply so mind-boggling compared to the Nikkor that for that kind of money, I'd take the Otus any time. Now if DPreview could only make a "real-world" Otus x Nikkor comparison...

PS. I would also wish for a real test of the Pana-Leica 25mm F1,4 Summilux DG along with "real-world" comparison on a GH3 or E-M1 body...

0 upvotes
A-Frame
By A-Frame (6 months ago)

This lens is a portrait photographer's dream. $1,700 for a lens is not absurd to a professional or amateur photographer who knows the purpose and value of this lens. The so called experts here will always have something to complain about.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
Tee1up
By Tee1up (6 months ago)

If you saw a pic with this lens and one side by side from any standard Nikon 50mm - would you be able to tell the difference? Just curious.

5 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (6 months ago)

@ Tee1up
Spot on ! A-Frame is regurgitating lens makers marketing speak. A common occurrence when people like him are fooled into paying some good money for inferior product and they have to find something, most of the time intangible like "character" or "rendering" to defend their purchase. Thing is these people will actually let their mind trick them into seeing all sorts of great things that less expensive lenses "don't have". But just like you pointed out if one took exactly the same pic from a tripod with 2 times cheaper lens none of them would see the difference.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (6 months ago)

Just because you guys can't see any value or qualitiesin the lens over the 50mm f1.4, it doesn't mean there is no difference, it just means YOU can't see it.

The phrase 'ad homini' come to mind!

4 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (6 months ago)

Look at the bottom of section 5 of the review, It (the 58) is significantly better at "rendering" bokeh whatever you want to call it, which may not be $1400 better, thats up to you. for what its worth not for me either, but in the circumstances for which this lens was designed its massive and edge definition, which is far from bad anyhow, is not.

1 upvote
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

Tee1up: It of course varies with the subject and the settings, but contrary to what ignorant people like Steppenwolf believes, yes, you can quite easily see differences.

What the AF-S 58/1.4 does exceptionally well, is the same thing for example the AF-S 35/1.4 and AF-S 85/1.4 also does well - make the in focus area stand out in relation to foreground and background.

Also, as the review points out, the AF-S 58/1.4 is much better corrected for several of the more common optical problems: CA etc.

Some people value this, others are for unknown reasons very upset about it ... ;-)

2 upvotes
A-Frame
By A-Frame (6 months ago)

@Der Steppenwolf
Depending on the way the image was shot of course I can tell. Moreover an art director will show me a picture they want to emulate and often times they want a certain look to the out of focus areas. This is a fairly common situation in portrait and product commercial photography and something the amateur photographer may not encounter.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

"This lens is a portrait photographer's dream." - No, it's not. Zeiss Otus is.

0 upvotes
Lassoni
By Lassoni (3 weeks ago)

What's up with the price? Wouldn't there be something with close to similiar bokeh quality, but for fraction of the price? What about the older nikon lenses?

0 upvotes
Smeggypants
By Smeggypants (6 months ago)

"failed to show any clear sharpness advantage either"

there's a lot more to photography than sharpness

4 upvotes
electrophoto
By electrophoto (6 months ago)

Yes indeed, there is...
Amongst those other aspects seems to be an uncanny ability to show off your financial wealth by buying gear that doesn't perform any better but says: "I can easily spend 1700$ on a lens, look at me... now I'm a pro-photographer".

4 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (6 months ago)

@ electrophoto, so the issue is with the people who buy this lens not the performance of the lens itself, given that its a pretty ordinary looking piece of kit, Im not sure its going to do that much for ones ego, those big white Canon zooms would be far better for showing off and more expensive. Plus if you're rich why shouldn't you buy whatever you want?

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (6 months ago)

@attomole - these "big white Canon zooms" are roughly in the same prices as "small black Nikon zooms", so they hardly work for showing off or being expensive (plenty of white canons that are cheaper than this Nikkor).

I think that the point electrophoto tried to make is that for this price difference Nikkor is suppose to deliver an advantage in sharpness too - sadly it does not which is very underwhelming making this lens more of a show-off than anything else. It still can't complete in Bokeh with Sony 135mm STF or Zeiss Otus, so there's nothing exciting about this lens.

0 upvotes
MichaelK81
By MichaelK81 (6 months ago)

As a portrait photographer, the quality of the bokeh was immediately apparent to me, moving-up from the 50mm f/1.4G. This lens has become an instant classic in my camera bag.

http://www.michaelkormos.com

7 upvotes
dash2k8
By dash2k8 (6 months ago)

But is the bokeh worth the money? Just curious.

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (6 months ago)

I'd just grab the 85 1.4 if I wanted bokeh, and lots of creamy boekh backing a *sharp* subject that is. Especially when this "50" is going long by several mm

1 upvote
Tom 13
By Tom 13 (6 months ago)

I thought I'd check on what Nikon says about the lens... after all they designed it. It was, according to them, designed to excel in low light and night photography. They also state that it delivers edge to edge sharpness wide open. Interestingly, there is no adjective associated with "sharpness"... such as superb, excellent, fair, adequate, average, etc.

The DPR review was helpful to me ... for my needs this would not be a good choice. For a dedicated wedding or portrait photographer it may be great. The price may not be so intimidating for someone who makes a living with his or her camera and who can additionally write off the lens as a business expense.

1 upvote
Paul Ennis
By Paul Ennis (6 months ago)

This review makes it clear to me how important Sigma have become in offering an alternative to Nikon / Canon's latest products. I've just bought a Sigma 35mm f1.4, and I think it's fantastic, and it's reasonably priced. Thank god I'm not stuck with Canon's offerings.

Sigma really appear to be trying hard to give the best quality they can, while Canon and Nikon for looking in disbelief at what's happening to the changes in the camera market, and not dealing with it.

Sigma appears to me to be a lot hungrier, and are showing more direction. They have addressed their weakness head on and are producing some great lenses.

21 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (6 months ago)

That Sigma 35mm f1.4 is the best 35mm out there for DSLR bar none. Thank you Sigma for showing fanboys what can be done for so much less money.

5 upvotes
Michel F
By Michel F (6 months ago)

Indeed. Nikon should be worried. If they are not they should be. If Sigma is seriously addressing the quality control issues that has harmed them in the past and I think they are with their ART series, they might eventually take the lens market by storm. Nikon and Canon will have to lower their prices or produce better lenses. Changing their camera firmware so it blocks certain third party lenses from working on their camera bodies is NOT the way to go !

2 upvotes
camerosity
By camerosity (6 months ago)

I'll take the 50mm. It had sharper results in this test. I think dpreview got it wrong...

0 upvotes
attomole
By attomole (6 months ago)

The out of focus areas are ugly on the classic 1.4 and 1.8 lenses the 58 is way ahead

1 upvote
new boyz
By new boyz (6 months ago)

"The out of focus areas are ugly on the classic 1.4 and 1.8 lenses the 58 is way ahead"

So in order to get nice out of focus rendering, they compromise the sharpness of the focused area? Is it too hard to keep it sharp, while still getting the nice out of focus look..like the Otus? I know it's cheaper than Otus, but also more expensive than other normal lens.

Same sharpness, better bokeh = justified price increase. Worse sharpness, better bokeh = should be same price. Bokeh improvement is neutralized by worsen sharpness. Why pay more? A little increase is okay since it's a specialty lens. But that's it.

3 upvotes
NTNphoto
By NTNphoto (6 months ago)

The Otus is almost the size of the 24-70 2.8 lenses and costs $2300 more than this lens. Why would you even bother comparing the two really.

I got rid of my 50mm 1.4G as soon as I went FF. It was ok on DF, but I hated it on FF. Just a run of the mill boring 50mm lens that anyone could make.

I have the 50mm 1.2 ais and the 58mm 1.4G they both have different but special rendering and both are plenty sharp.

This lens is a specialty lens in that it is superb for photographing people and those who do so will love it. Everything I do is people photography basically. Sure I do travel and other stuff for fun, but by and large I'm photographing people when I have my camera in my hands and this lens is an absolute knock out in that area.

Would I use it for landscape and such? Probably not.

2 upvotes
Grevture
By Grevture (6 months ago)

New boyz:

I think you misunderstood this a bit: The AF-S 58/1.4 is actually not less sharp then the 50/1.4 or 50/1.8 - just pretty similar fully open according to Dpreview, slightly better in my opinion. And stopped down noticeably better. And yes, the OOF rendition of the AF-S 58/1.4 really is very noticeably better.

So no, they have not given up on sharpness to get better OOF, less CA, less coma, less (and better looking) flair and all the other improvements. They have just maintained it a reasonable level while improving on a lot of other things.

2 upvotes
Smeggypants
By Smeggypants (6 months ago)

There's lot more to photography than sharpness.

.

3 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (6 months ago)

Ok, I think the sharpness is about the same. Maybe a bit better. The glass element were nano coated after all. The problem is... it has some kind of field curvature problem. When the center area is in focus, the corners are slightly out of focus. This condition is not good for a test chart.. but non-issue for portrait session(especially if the subject is in the center). Could the two aspherical elements causing this phenomenon?

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (6 months ago)

In portrait photography, I'd argue that bad bokeh is more distracting than a little compromised sharpness, so the bokeh improvement is not "neutralized" IMHO.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 414
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