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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G review

December 2013 | By Andy Westlake

The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G was announced in October 2013, and designed primarily as a premium 'normal' prime for FX format SLRs. By 'premium' we mean, of course, expensive - the most immediately striking feature about the lens is its $1700 / £1600 price tag, which means it costs more than most of the company's SLR bodies. With the very decent $440 / £290 AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens also in the lineup, the 58mm needs to be pretty special to justify this kind of money.

The 58mm focal length may look like an odd choice, but it's deliberately evocative of a legendary Nikon lens - the manual focus Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 from the late 1970s. Indeed Nikon's marketing material draws a parallel between them, saying the new 58mm's 'design concept' pays homage to the old 'Noct'. Stripped of its marketing-speak, this translates to a lens design which goes to extremes to minimize peripheral aberrations such as coma at large apertures, while also paying specific attention to the rendition of out-of-focus regions of the frame, or 'bokeh'.

To this end, the 58mm employs an optical formula that's more complex than typical 50mm F1.4 primes, with 9 elements in 6 groups including two aspherical elements. The diaphragm is made up of 9 rounded blades to give a circular aperture. The optical unit is located deep in the lens barrel, giving natural shading against peripheral light, and Nikon's Nano Crystal Coat is used to minimize flare and ghosting. Autofocus is driven by a 'Silent Wave' ultrasonic motor which allows manual adjustment at any time.

Intriguingly, Nikon is at some pains to suggest that the lens' imaging qualities can't be fully measured by conventional methods such as MTF measurements. In this review we will, as usual, be looking closely at real-world images alongside lab test measurements, to try to work out what this is supposed to mean. In short, does the 58mm produce pictures which justify that price tag?

Headline features

  • 58mm focal length, F1.4 maximum aperture
  • 'Silent Wave' focus motor with full-time manual override
  • 0.58m closest focus, offering 0.13x magnification
  • Nikon F-mount for DX and FX SLRs (or 1 system mirrorless cameras using FT-1 adapter)

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angle of view on FX and DX SLRs (taken from our usual position). On full frame the 58mm is a somewhat long 'normal' lens; on DX cameras it behaves like a classic 85mm short telephoto 'portrait' prime.

Full frame (FX) 1.5x DX (87mm equivalent)

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G specifications

 Approx Price  • $1700 (US)
 • £1600 (UK)
 Date introduced  October 2013
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame (FX)
 Focal length  58mm
 35mm equivalent focal length (DX)
 87mm
 Diagonal Angle of view  • 49.9º (FX)
 • 27.4º (DX)
 Maximum aperture  F1.4
 Minimum aperture  F16
 Lens Construction  • 9 elements / 6 groups
 • 2 aspherical elements
 Number of diaphragm blades  9, rounded
 Minimum focus  0.58m
 Maximum magnification  0.13x
 AF motor type  • Ring-type ultrasonic 'Silent Wave' motor
 • Full-time manual focus (M/A mode)
 Focus method  Unit
 Image stabilization  No
 Filter thread  • 72mm
 • Does not rotate on focus
 Supplied accessories*  • Front and rear caps
 • HB-68 hood
 • Soft pouch
 Weight  385 g (13.6 oz)
 Dimensions  85 mm diameter x 70 mm length (3.4 x 2.8 in)
 Lens Mount  Nikon F

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


This lens review uses DxOMark data thanks to a partnership between dpreview.com and DxO Labs (read more about DxOMark and our partnership with DxO Labs). DxOMark is the trusted industry standard for independent image quality measurements and ratings. DxOMark has established this reputation with its rigorous hardware testing, industry-grade laboratory tools, and database of thousands of camera, lens and mobile test results. Full test results for this lens can be found at www.dxomark.com.



If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 413
1234
RusYus

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

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

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
Cliffwms

That's odd, I really like this lens (I've had it for a few months), it's not super sharp at 1.4, but it has a look that I like at that aperture, and it sharpens up (for me) around f/2; I tend to shoot it around 1.6 or so. No need to put it in the attic! I'm sure you can sell it for more than you'll make with it sitting on the shelf!

0 upvotes
Stormhalvorsen

OK the attic comment was a little bit too dramatic. I was disappointed and upset. :)

After using the zoom in function on the LCD and focusing I have been able to confirm that the lens does focus where it should wide open. The shallowness and all over softness wide open however seems too much to use for any real world work. It's absurd the shallowness. More dof all over than the 85mm (logically) yet a lot shallower for what is completely in focus.

Of course it's also a matter of getting used to it. Probably it is more weird than plain bad. I've gotten usable results as wide as 2.0 on a few test occations now. That is with zoom focusing manually. I won't use it wider than 2.8 for anything importent however. Or anything using autofocus, which doesn't nail it for some reason. Calibrated.

So in actual use it doesn't seem like a functioning f1.4. It's like an f2.8 lens that has shallower dof than what you would expect from using other lenses. But for me it isn't actually usable at f1.4.

0 upvotes
Phollo

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
harvestmedia1

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

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

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.

2 upvotes
Albert

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

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

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

0 upvotes
tophtml

And does it come with papers???

0 upvotes
SynLyn

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

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

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

well Andy, it happened now :)

0 upvotes
Greg Gebhardt

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

nikon screwing us..

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
mstinso

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 upvote
lorenzo de medici

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

1 upvote
Mistur

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

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

Very expensive !

2 upvotes
Rbrt

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

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

Thanks for the anecdotal evidence.

The comment section needed it.

6 upvotes
David G72

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

Those results speak for themselves. Thanks!

1 upvote
Stanchung

Stunning, thanks for the link.

0 upvotes
yabokkie

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

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

1 upvote
BarnET

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

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

Oval highlight is normal for a wide open shot.

2 upvotes
fmian

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 upvotes
yabokkie

they do have some ground, more than UFO lovers.

1 upvote
MikeF4Black
0 upvotes
new boyz

Buyers opinion is not totally unbias either.

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

0 upvotes
yabokkie

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

1 upvote
Tom 13

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

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

0 upvotes
peevee1

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

"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

Peevee1???'s post made me chuckle!

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

2 upvotes
candleJack

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

0 upvotes
atelier O

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

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

0 upvotes
SeeRoy

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

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

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

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

Price is the product

1 upvote
ruicarv79

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

8 upvotes
atelier O

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

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

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

0 upvotes
dopsgp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
Shutterlouse

It so happens that I was precisely searching for something with similar qualities to my MF Xenotar 105 f2.8, and this is the closest I've found for the D800.

0 upvotes
Jim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
thx1138

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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

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

@ 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

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

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

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

@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

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

0 upvotes
Lassoni

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

"failed to show any clear sharpness advantage either"

there's a lot more to photography than sharpness

4 upvotes
electrophoto

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

@ 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

@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

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

But is the bokeh worth the money? Just curious.

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
attomole

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

"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

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

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

There's lot more to photography than sharpness.

.

3 upvotes
new boyz

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

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: 413
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