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

December 2013 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on Amazon.com From $1,696.95

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.

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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
philflashes

I think this is a very nice lens no matter what the comments here suggest. It could make a lot people very happy with the results.
Looking past the MTF charts, this lens does a lot of things very well IMHO. The usual aberrations are almost completely absent even wide open! That's quite amazing and so is the dreamy bokeh. Ok, it's a little soft at wide apertures, but not unacceptable if you don't mind some post production. And the AF issue could be due to sample variation or early batch.
Of course it can't quite match the OTUS, that one is in a league of its owm, especiallly pricewise!
So, if you're on a budget like me, get the Sigma 50mm 1.4. That makes me happy every time!
Happy newyear everyone and kudos to Dpr for posting these reviews so quickly. Thx!
Phil

1 upvote
Marcin 3M

To decide, If I have to buy 50/1.4G (I owned 50/1.8D) i took a couple of images, and watched them carefully - the difference was small (on d700).
I see, that difference between 50/1.4 and 58/1.4 is even smaller... But I still think, that 58 is not in the same league like 24/35, not to mention 85...

0 upvotes
MikeF4Black

I've had quite a lot of 50's on the D700 and the D800. In chronological order: 50/1.4 Planar: interesting but too many aberrations. 50/1.4G: reasonably well corrected, boring rendering. 50/2.0 Makro-Planar: very good lens, interesting rendering, sharp, reasonably well corrected. 58/1.4G: beautiful rendering, well corrected, as sharp as the rest, AF issues.

I've skipped the 50/1.8, 1.4 and 1.2 Ai's and AiS's here... ;-)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie

to me, 50/1.4 AIS is the best optically, and AFD practically.
but 50/1.8G maybe the best option for a new comer.

0 upvotes
Dibyendu Majumdar

Thanks for trying to do justice to this lens - as Nikon has said it is not designed for doing well on MTF charts.

Pricing is designed to match Canon's 50mm f1.2L. We can argue about this but I guess Nikon sees the Canon as the primary competition.

Performance wise clearly better than Nikon 50mm f1.4, but I suspect also better than Canon's 50mm f1.2L, Sigma 50mm f1.4 and Zeiss 50mm f1.4. But not in the same league as the Otus.

Would be interesting to compare with Sigma 35mm f1.4 - which seems equally well corrected for coma and is very sharp at F1.4. But being 35mm focal length bokeh will not be comparable.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Of course you've used all of those 50mm examples?

0 upvotes
Dibyendu Majumdar

I said I suspected.

I have owned the Zeiss 50mm and currently own the Nikon 50mm.
cameralabs have comparisons of the Sigma, the Nikon 50mm, the 58mm and the Zeiss Otus.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Dibyendu:

That's clearer, just wanted to confirm that you've used some of the 50mm lenses you cited. I too owned the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4.

0 upvotes
Grevture

I have to say I am amazed by much of the comments here. So much anger and ignorance ... But this seem to be the pattern every time expensive pro gear is launched or reviewed.

Look, the AF-S 58/1.4 is a speciality lens, built for a small but very demanding audience. It is built with a different set of priorities then your typical consumer lens.

It is a short portrait lens, a lens which renders background smoothly. It is a lens which make a subject stand out from its background and foreground. It is a lens which fill a whole in Nikons lineup of pro grade f1.4 lenses. It renders subjects in a similar way to its shorter siblings the AF-S 24/1.4 and the AF-S 35/1.4 and its longer cousin, the AF-S 85/1.4.

All these lenses are expensive, and their theoretical performance might look disappointing for the casual (or ignorant) observer. But they are all great performers in practical use.

The 58/1.4 will be loved among wedding photographers, fashion or reportage shooters. And many others.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

"It is a lens which fill a whole in Nikons lineup of pro grade f1.4 lenses"
Funny many thought that 50mm F1.4 was just that?
And what "demanding audience" is that ? The ones that pay this much for a lens that can't be used wide open ? You are correct in that that "audience" is fortunately very small..They are also known as "people with more money then brains"

2 upvotes
Grevture

Steppenwolf:

Have you actually used the 50/1.4 side by side with say a 35/1.4 and/or a 85/1.4? It is not in the same league, not even close.

The audience? Ever heard of wedding photographers? Portrait photographers? Fashion photographers? Yes, I am talking about people who actually make their living with lenses like these.

What makes you believe this lens cannot be used wide open? It renders wonderful portraits up close wide open. And yes, I really have tried that. It works quite nicely.

8 upvotes
MikeF4Black

Having all these lenses for the D700 and now my D800 (whilst not being a professional photographer) I wholeheartedly agree with your views Grevture.

1 upvote
ButterflySkies

Steppenwolf, You need to stop trolling and go to sleep.
Nikons current 50/1.4G is just as much of a pro lens as the 16-85/3.5-5.6 is.
I had the 50/1.4G, but I sold it because I never used it. its not even close to the standard of nikons other f1.4 lenses.
Its also perfectly useable wide open, to the same degree or better than all other 50mm lens, with the exception of the 55/1.4 otus.

2 upvotes
new boyz

"So much anger and ignorance.. this seem to be the pattern every time expensive pro gear is launched or reviewed."

If you're referring to the attitude towards the Df and 58mm then you're right. However, I did't see such reaction to the Otus announcement. It is even more expensive. Sure some complained about the price and the lack of AF(which both are legit complains) but not at this magnitude.

I believe people were expecting too much and Nikon has failed to meet the expectation. When Zeiss claims the Otus will be the sharpest lens, it becomes the sharpest lens. When Nikon announced "retro" DSLR, many think it isn't retro enough(no classic focusing screen for starters). Many hoped that this 58mm will rival the Otus, but in the end, its sharpness is worse than ordinary 50mm lens.

Not saying those products(Df & 50mm) are bad. They just didn't meet the expectation. As taken from Lensrentals blog - "Expectations, of course, are simply a down payment on future disappointment.".

1 upvote
Grevture

To new boyz:

I was actually referring to the reactions I noted to the AF-S 800/5.6, to the AF-S 35/1.4, to the new versions of the AF-S 200/2 and the AF-S 200-400/4. And of course now the AF-S 58/1.4.

The Otus is a Zeiss which seem to make other rules apply. Almopst like anything with 'Leica' printed on it. Everybody just expect it to be outrageously priced, its part of the allure ;)

But the Otus is interesting, it shows how expensive (and big and heavy) it gets when pushing the envelope even further.

I agree with your analysis of the Df though, there Nikon made a campaign which seemed to promise a lot more then the actual camera delivered.

But with the 58 (as with the other lenses I mentioned) it seem to a large degree that some people are offended by expensive pro gear. And others seem to expect performance increases which are linear in relation to the price, like 'if its twice as expensive, it better be twice as sharp' ...

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Grevture:

Quote:

“But the Otus is interesting, it shows how expensive (and big and heavy) it gets when pushing the envelope even further.”

I think the lighter smaller, albeit more expensive, new Leica M 50mm f/2.0 pushes the envelop a bit further than the Otus, though clearly lighter for a good reason. Yes I’ve shot test shots with both.

There’s plenty of not outrageously expensive crap with the names Leica and Zeiss appended–that PanaLeica LF1 doesn’t have a great lens.

Then bought an used f/1.0 Noctilux in 2002 for about $2000, in very good condition. Didn’t seem incredibly expensive, not cheap either I guess.

And I think the Df delivers the goods in a small quiet box.

0 upvotes
Michel F

If it's a lens that is built for a small niche market, how can it stir so much passion ? I think this lens garners much more interest than you think.

0 upvotes
beholder3

I'll memorize this trick: Bad lenses are now called "specialty lenses".
*Any* lens is good for some specialty. Lomography is specialty.

This one has the specialty of being an *underperformer* and it's good for handing over to your kids when they start shooting DSLR and you don't want to give them your good lenses, because they might damage it.
Also a good specialty lens for testing how much rain it can take before water ingress happens.

The price issue is really only secondary. It would still be a poor lens even if it sold for $300. Who wants to spend $300 on a soft lens with autofocus issues which you need to stop down 2-3 stops to get decent results?

1 upvote
Grevture

And you have of course used this lens? Worked with it? Shot portraits wit it?

Since you make such a bold and strong argument against this lens I assume you make them based on extensive use and comparisons with other lenses?

I have used this lens, albeit only for about two weeks and a couple of thousands of shots, but oddly I actually like it. A lot. And even stranger is that a collegue of mine which shoot a lot of weddings, studio portraits, and fashion actually do love this lens.

But ... What do we know compared to all the airmchair specialists at Dpreview :-D

2 upvotes
Revenant

Your argument would be valid if this was a general purpose lens, that failed at being just that. But it isn't a general purpose lens, and it is only an underperformer if you use it for other purposes than it's meant for. I agree that AF should work properly, but regarding the optical qualities, I think your argument misses the mark.

1 upvote
waxwaine

Some says "what it's called eccentric(premiun in this case) on top class, it's really known as ridiculous on the base"

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jim

Look at photography in general these days- perfectly focused, clear photographs with accurate color are called boring. An image run through 5 different post-processing techniques to distort color and clarity is called "art".

2 upvotes
Plastek

"But it isn't a general purpose lens" - since when 50s are not general purpose lenses?! These are as general purpose primes as it possibly gets.

0 upvotes
waxwaine

I can't(well, yes I can) believe DPR show up the review of this failed lens, instead of the longtimeago launched Pentax K-3.

3 upvotes
Revenant

What makes you think they chose to review this lens instead of the K-3? I'm pretty sure they're working on that review too, and it will be published when it's ready.

1 upvote
ljmac

Such a limited lens at such an inflated price - with AF problems and at an odd focal length to boot - and it gets a silver award? I understand that it has some specialist appeal (particularly as a portrait lens, but arguably at the wrong focal length), but shouldn't it be a whole lot more of an all-round good performer to get an award?

6 upvotes
NTNphoto

This is not the wrong focal length for full length fashion. I'd say it's almost perfect. Slightly longer than a 50, but not quite so tight as an 85mm. So yeah it may be a little short for waist up portraits, but 3/4th or full length it's bang on.

0 upvotes
Jim

Having never shot the Canon 1.2, I can't make a statement about the qualities of that lens, but I'm guessing the 58 was introduced by Nikon to directly compete with that lens. Going purely by sharpness comparison numbers online, the 58 edge sharpness wins handily, plus corrects coma and astigmatism without sacrificing the beautiful bokeh. I assert this lens isn't for comparison to the 1.4's but their competitor's 1.2. Is this $1600 paintbrush better than it's $400 sibling? That's for the artist to decide. As for it being a limited lens.... 85 1.4 AF-S at $1700... portraits and maybe basketball... but it does it spectacularly, does it not?

0 upvotes
Poweruser

I dont see whats so special about how this lens renders? "Bokeh"? Would have been nice to see some samples pictures that actually demonstrate "Bokeh".

3 upvotes
seventhdr

Such a shame that DPR did not include a comparison with this lens' closest competitor, the SMC Pentax-DA* 55 mm f1.4 SDM.

Both these lenses are designed for portraits on APS-C cameras and a comparison was in order.

Is DPR up to the challenge?

2 upvotes
Heie2

Is the Nikkor up to the challenge?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
new boyz

Pentax doesn't have FF DSLR for the challenge.

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (11 months ago)

Pentax hasn't really updated its optical formulas in a decade or so. This may be the correct decision for their price point, however.

0 upvotes
Plastek

seventhdr - Sony Zeiss 50 f/1.4 SSM is currently the closest competitor.

They can test Pentax only on APS-C body, which ruins any comparison with Nikkor.

1 upvote
thinkfat

Pretty good. But from a price/performance point of view I'd probably get the Sigma. Moving some CA control sliders is not that bothersome after all.

2 upvotes
Heie2

My biggest criticism is not the lens itself - I've never used it so I can't judge nor add my take on whether the review is accurate or not.

But DPR - please don't allow whoever took the sample photos for this review to ever photograph on your behalf again.

7 upvotes
NTNphoto

Yeah I agree...DPR is great for technical tests, but the real world samples for the last few reviews I've read have been pretty rough. Kind of does the site a disservice really.

1 upvote
alabaster

A superb review. You have got to the essence of this lens.

1 upvote
MikeF4Black

Exactly. As I've posted before, I have actually used the lens since two months and quite intensively as well.most criticism here seems to come from posters that like to foam at the mouth on the net but haven't actually used the thing. this lens renders like no other. The 50 Makro-Planar I traded in on it comes reasonably close, the 50/1.2 AiS I still have even closer, though in a different way. Neither of those two offer the same combination of colour rendering, smooth transition from in focus to out of focus, bokeh, very good sharpness and absence of aberrations. AF still is a bit of a bother though. It is my favourite portrait lens, even more so than my 85/1.4G.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Grevture

Agree, nice to read a review where they seem to understand what and whom this lens actually is intended for.

Lot's of silly comments from ignorant people though. It seem reviews about professional gear always attract a certain crowd of angry people who either can't or won't understand that different people need different gear.

I used this lens for a couple of weeks earlier this autumn and immedieately liked it - it is in character essentially a shorter version of the equally likeable 85/1.4. Finally Nikon has completed their pro grade f1.4 lineup - 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 58/1.4 and 85/1.4 where there is a reasonably consistent character throughout.

5 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (11 months ago)

What's amazing to me is that people don't seem to understand what the tests test for. For example, the MTF chart is great for measuring a particular aspect of lens performance: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understanding-mtf.shtml

Ie shooting a picture of a black and white two dimensional target may tell you a lot about the line resolution but not how it holds saturation and contrast for out of focus portions of the image. Or how flare is handled. Or its vignetting. Or its close in correction versus performance at infinity.

But just as there are people who foam at the mouth when the subject of ambiguity is brought up in politics, there are people who think of lens performance in terms of primitive absolutes that are best represented by shooting two dimensional images of black and white targets.

4 upvotes
MikeF4Black

And they buy the stuff that comes out best in these tests (in value for money terms), and then are convinced they are king of the photographers hill. Good for them I say.

I've had a 50 that I expected to be good (and it was in technical terms) but was boring as h*ll in its rendering: the 50/1.4G. So I gave it back to get the 50/2.0 Makro-Planar, of which the rendering certainly is not boring.

I glance at charts, I look at images.

0 upvotes
Robert Markus

After analysing and reading a lot of lens reviews I realized that "perfect sharpness" in not all you need to create something special. Definitively not what makes an image to work. I agree that the price is too high for many of us. Just to get that special atmosphere you need to find that lens which suits your style. Here it looks that the 58/1,4 creates something I see with my vintage lens. Something difficult to measure, but it hides somewhere in the bokeh quality and how the objects are "drawn" by the lens. I think if you are a pro and your customers will like your work with this lens and they see something special than it worth it.

5 upvotes
Plastek

"After analysing and reading a lot of lens reviews I realized that "perfect sharpness" in not all you need to create something special. " - LOMOPHOTOGRAPHY agrees.

0 upvotes
Thomas Kachadurian

Just as FF didn't matter when nikon didn't have it, and 12 megapixels was enough when that was the best Nikon could do, DPR is shilling for Nikon.

How about comparing it to the $500 sigma 50?

Silver award? I think I've got to go out to my recycle bin, I might have some silver award winners in there. Never mind. They say Coke, not Nikon.

9 upvotes
Michel F

I would have liked the test to include direct comparisons to the much cheaper Sigma 50mm f/1.4 HSM as well especially when it comes to bokeh. I had the Sigma and loved it on my DX camera. Unfortunately I sold it to finance another lens that I needed more. I'm hoping Sigma has a 50mm ART lens in development. If it's as good as their 35mm for a few hundred dollars less than Nikon's offering, I'll get it. After reading through this review, I'm not interested in the 58mm at this price point. I'm not sure how you can give a silver award to a lens after writing that its wide open softness is genuinely troubling.

2 upvotes
luxor2

There is something about this lens that is not explained fully using the usual test methods.

If performance in formal testing disagrees significantly with use in real life photography, test methods should be expanded .

If field curvature is strong, it could explain the low mtf at corners, refocus of corner imagery might give better mtf behavior. Also, targets at longer distance could be investigated... A "puzzlement"

2 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

None of that should be needed for a lens that costs 1700$ period!

5 upvotes
alabaster

A fixation on cost won't help here. You can buy cheaper lenses, or you can pay for some extra magic if you want it; it's your choice. A wedding photgrapher will pay.

1 upvote
Plastek

That "magic" is what some call "placebo effect".

0 upvotes
Tom 13

Suppose a lens had exactly the same specs and exactly the same test results but cost $700... I'll bet it would have garnered the same criticisms but a much lower score and no silver award. I'ts hard to accept that a great company with some superlative lenses could charge $1700 for a prime lens that has major flaws. Just an example of cognative dissonance, I guess.

1 upvote
Grevture

I find it much harder to understand why so many people spend so much energy criticizing things they have not bothered to figure out what they are for.

This actually _is_ a superlative lens. It is however a lens built with a different set of compromises and priorities then the typical consumer lens. That does not mean it is flawed, just that it fulfills a different set of priorities.

3 upvotes
sharkcookie

I'm sure they must have gotten a bad copy because my 58 focuses very reliable and consistent on my D800 and D3. No hunting, no hesitation and overall it has the highest 'hit rate' of all my lenses. That was one of my initial concerns and an annoyance I had with my Sigma 50/1.4 and also with the Nikon 50/1.4G. I was positively surprised that the 58's AF is one of the most reliable I have had.

In terms of sharpness, I have shot the 58 and my 85/1.4G side by side and wide open the sharpness is identical. The 85 got a much higher score so again, I assume they had a bad copy of the 58 for their review.

I'm glad I bought mine before this review came out. I might have been mislead as well. Yes it's expensive yet I don't regret buying it as it has become a great tool for my work and get a lot of use.

2 upvotes
Cameracist

Bad copies should not be common with such an expensive lens...

1 upvote
Bo Photo

I don't comment on too many things hear on dpreview, but I do want to put my two cents in, since I own and use the lens. First off is I love the light weight of the lens, I carry two d4's for weddings and anything lighter to help is great. I haven't had any focus issues after fine tuning focus adj. and find it locks in better than my other f1.4 lenses I have, I also love the 58mm FL it just seems to be just right for weddings. I have an older 50mm 1.4D, and its a lot better by far than it. I do think you need to use this lens before you say things like (This lens is a failure.Period), it has become my favorite lens to use. Here is a link from a wedding using the 58mm, http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/2502271026

8 upvotes
Five Piece

Thank you for sharing your relevant insight on this lens, your photographs with it are lovely. It obviously suits your needs well at this FL, keep up the good work!

2 upvotes
Robert Markus

Yes, right, it looks this lens creates a special atmosphere. I am experimenting with a vintage lens, having similar background bokeh than the 58/1,4. My old lens would not pass many tests, however is one of my favourites when it comes to portraits.
So good luck, and enjoy your lens I am happy that you like it.

2 upvotes
Grevture

Nice to read a comment from someone who actually understand what he is talking about ;)

I have only used this lens for two weeks, but immediately came to like it - a lot. To me it feels like a wider and faster focusing sibling to my much loved 85/1.4.

I is a speciality lens for sure, and as such has a different set of strengths and weaknesses compared to average consumer lenses. Many people seem unable or unwilling to understand this.

2 upvotes
Bo Photo

Thanks Grevture, that is why I started off by saying I don't comment often on here, you can not win against all of the ones that haven't used a piece of equipment and just want it at the right price, and don't believe some of the professionals that use it for a living.

0 upvotes
nathantw

It wasn't pointed out in the review that the 50mm f/1.4G was dramatically sharper at f/2.8 on down than the 58mm f/1.4G. Just look in the window.

0 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

You don't buy an 1700$ F1.4 lens and shoot it at F2.8. If you do then you need to get help.

3 upvotes
Karl Summers

I already have a 50mm so getting the 85 1.4 seems much more logical.

0 upvotes
Stanchung

Frankly i'm disappointed. $1700 for this and they can't get it to shine at F1.4.

Go back to the drawing board Nikon. Fix the sharpness at full open and maintain the good stuff!

Will be waiting for the 58 F1.4 II.

9 upvotes
citizenlouie

Quote from the review:

"This means that you can't both get the corners and centre of the frame at the same time, and in turn explains the striking drop-off in sharpness of the test data towards the corners - in effect they're slightly out of focus."

This is a classical design philosophy for "film" camera lenses. Since photographic film is not flat like sensor, so by designing it this way, the corner would be sharp. DPR's test photos also back this assumption up. Corners are soft because they're out of focus. This is why a "brick wall" type of test shots are important (and make sure focal plane is parallel to the subject plane) for testing big aperture lens.

That's why "all digital" design philosophy of Olympus's 4/3 DSLR lenses (not m4/3) uses expensive telecentric design. Alternative strategy is, change the layout of the the sensor, so it's "bend" like a film, which what Fuji uses.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

What you're talking about is the inability of sensors to properly record light hitting the edges & corners due to the shallow angle at which the light reaches the sensor. That's true, in particular for wide angles, and for a lens to be good for digital use, the design has to take this intro account. Just one reason why the ability to use old lenses is not necessarily a blessing. But no, film wasn't curved, except in a Widelux or other cameras that lacked a pressure plate.

0 upvotes
Josh152

You know considering the amount of focus adjust DPR needed and the AF issue plus how soft the lens was I would test another copy at some point if I was them.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
sharkcookie

Agreed, because my copy is exactly as sharp as my AF-S 85/1.4G which scores much higher. I also have absolutely no AF issues. In fact my 58 has one of the most reliable AF of all my lenses.

To me it just shows that a review isn't a scientific fact as many like to believe. I looked at sample photos from experienced photographers which made me decide to buy this lens. It's one of my best lenses in the bag

1 upvote
Der Steppenwolf

@sharkcookie
http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1660/cat/12

There seem to be a lot of "bad copies" around then.

2 upvotes
tkbslc

I think most people (including me at times) are forgetting this is a specialty lens for night shooting. It's still a great lens for all around use, too, but those not doing night shooting may not appreciate it's design as much.

0 upvotes
PerL

Some get it, some dont. For those there are still the usual 50 1.4 and 1.8 to choose from.

1 upvote
ProfHankD

In other words, this is how to spend $1,700 for a plastic-bodied AF lens (which has trouble with AF) to make images that look like they were taken with an old metal-bodied manual lens of the same focal length and aperture... and that you can buy used for under $100 on eBay.

Then again, you can't mount most of those old lenses on a Nikon body because of the F-mount's large flange-to-sensor distance. This is a key reason mirrorless cameras like the Sony NEX-7 and A7/A7R are so cool.... ;-)

4 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

You have to pay around $300 to get a clean 50/1.2. I bought a new one because it's such a beautiful piece of manufacturing. It works wonderfully on my D700. The lens gives beautiful, out of focus circles at 1.2 and 2.0 (great for holiday lights), it's very sharp at f/8, and it gives "stars" with double points at f/11.

1 upvote
ProfHankD

The lens in this article isn't an f/1.2. The most obvious IQ comparable is the Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.4, which KEH has in EX condition right now for $56. Incidentally, my Canon FL 55mm f/1.2 cost me around $200.

I'm not saying you should be unhappy USING this or any other modern Nikkor lens... just PAYING for them. ;-)

1 upvote
Plastek

Jesus, mirrorless BS propaganda on every corner!

1 upvote
Dimit

This lens is a failure.Period.

13 upvotes
attomole
0 upvotes
NTNphoto

very insightful...

0 upvotes
PerL

This is the Nikon eqv of Canons 85 1.2 IMO. Not in DOF of course, but the special rendering that stands out.

0 upvotes
XeroJay

Yeah... No.

5 upvotes
PerL

XeroJay
Have you checked the samples from Sam Hurd for instance?
Btw I have used Canon 85 1.2 and I understand that are more things to a lens than what you cant read from lab tests.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jim

AGREED!!! And can one truly tell the difference between 1.2 and 1.4 anyway without pixel peeping DOF? Seriously doubt it. For Nikon to have made this a 1.2, with these technical and artistic qualities, I'd say add $700-$1000. Zeiss showed it could be done (at 1.4) if price is no object and you believe you have no competition. Nikon doesn't have this luxury. Yes this is certainly Nikon's answer to Canon's 1.2 offering, just like the AF-S 85 1.4 was with their 85 1.2, and I'm betting you can draw the same conclusions on image quality between the two mfr.'s comparable products, i:e, Canon's steep loss of edge sharpness (see Nikon 85 1.4D). So it doesn't say 1.2? Big deal. I want to see 58 1.4 vs. EF 50 1.2 because that's the real comparison, not 58 1.4 vs 50 1.4.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JacquesBalthazar

It is a specialty lens. While 58mm is close to the 50mm "standard", the small reduction in angle of view and additional compression make it a very suitable indoor "action" portrait focal length. I see uses for this for low light photography in bars, at parties, weddings, etc. Sure the 50mm can do it as well but it is not exactly the same. The 60mm macro can do it from f2.8. The 85mm requires more distance, more room to back off. The 85mm makes it harder to get 2 people together in focus.

It is also a seductive specialty lens in its design, prioritising for a set of goals beyond "sharpness". The obsession for ultimate sharpness, outside of scientific applications and some landscape styles, is mainly self gratifying pixel peeping fun. Some of us prefer "mood" or "atmosphere" to "lines per millimetre".

I'd understand the hate if this lens replaced the standard 50mm f1.4, but it does not. As a specialty lens, the price might be right for the target users.

7 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

It's a seductive specialty and those are always more expensive.

0 upvotes
Plastek

"It is a specialty lens" - we used to use that term for lenses that were garbage for anything but one specific kinds of photographs that 99,9% of people never did back in a day.

1 upvote
attomole

Wow ! big improvement in the quality of the out of focus background on those comparison shots, I am not sure if there is anything else in the Nikon arsenal that can do that, based on what i see here not the 1.4 and certainly not the 1.8 from experience.

Given this is a big deal in certain circumstances, cheaper than buying a Leica.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Jim

See 85 1.4 G, 100 2.0 DC, and 200mm 2.0 G. :)

0 upvotes
RichRMA

Coma, noticeable CA and not peaking in sharpness until f/8.0 and yet that price...IMO, Nikon is desperate for cash and is trying to hammer current enthusiast owners ("captives," for want of a better term) to get as much as possible because new customers are simply not coming online in sufficient numbers. This is why most new revisions of their lenses (for the last five years) have come with (in most cases) crazy price increases. It has an odd focal length so it's not directly comparable to the existing 50mm f/1.4, but most will likely opt to lose the extra 8mm.

4 upvotes
Josh152

Yeah I don't get the 58mm either. 50mm is the standard and what most are looking for and Nikon doesn't even have a very good 50mm 1.4 as it is. Even the 50mm 1.8G has one asperhical element while the 1.4 has no fancy elements at all and most reviews say the 1.8G is sharper than the 1.4G at all apertures. Nikon should have just made an updated 50mm 1.4G with the nano coating, aspherical elements ,ED elements ect. At least then Nikon would have a 50mm 1.4 worthy of the gold ring even if it was expensive.

0 upvotes
thelenspainter

Reading comprehension fail... the review specifically mentions low coma and CA.

0 upvotes
paqman

nothing 'vexing' about this - another ludirously biased high score for nikon, for a ludicrously expensive mediocre lens

10 upvotes
new boyz

If I have to post a conspiracy theory just for the sake of fun, this is my theory - the score is for the sponsors, as a proof they have done enough to promote the product. Their real sentiments are in the review - that explains product with a lot of cons but given relatively high score.

Remember, this is just a conspiracy theory.

Happy New Year!

3 upvotes
Barney Britton

@ new boyz - it's also nonsense, sorry.

1 upvote
new boyz

Take it easy Barney, it's just for fun. I like this site a lot.

You're welcome.

0 upvotes
GearGuru

"There's a sucker born every minute". P.T. Barnum

I think applies here. Yes, a value compared to the 55 Otus, but I would argue that lens is also way overpriced. I'm pretty sure if I went head to head with another photographer using a Nikkor 58 1.4 using my 50 1.4 Nikkor af-s that for all practical purposes the images would look just as good and most people would not be able to tell them apart, even pixel peeping.

Nikon seems to be way overpricing their products for what they are, especially for those in Europe.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
13 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Dec 31, 2013)

Thanks for the review. In particular, thanks for pointing out that taking photos of two dimensional targets is one test type and probably the easiest to do but renders the simplest "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" results. Most of us are taking photos of three dimensional objects at varying distances and lighting situations and more thought needs to be given to the trade offs of each lens design.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
beholder3

The Sigma 50/1.4 is sharper and has at least the same quality of bokeh if not better.
--- for a 1/3 of the price. Did it get a "platinum award" and a 250% score?

20 upvotes
PerL

Well, Sam Hurd wrote in his review, if you are on a budget, get the Sigma 50 1.4, if you have the cash, get the Nikon 58 1.4.

3 upvotes
Plastek

If you have a cash - get Zeiss Otus and forget about this Nikkor.

1 upvote
SunnyFlorida

This review proves 2 things #1 the Nikon 50mm F/1.4 is a weak lens, #2 the 58mm F/1.4 is a mediocre lens which looks great next to a weak lens

14 upvotes
Josh152

Exactly. It is the 50mm 1.4G that Nikon should have updated instead of making this thing.

1 upvote
Richard Schumer

The more I think of this and the Df -- and certain Sony and Hasselblad models -- the more it seems to me there must be lots of people with the belief that "you get what you pay for."

Even the focal length is retro: Contax, when they designed their first SLR, which had a fixed pentaprism, chose 58mm for their fast standard lens for it (Biotar, a Sonnar design, I believe) because it gave a 100 per cent lifesize view at most distances. Their groundglass had a narrow bevel which gave a "bright line" finder effect. The idea was that, like a good rangefinder camera, one could keep both eyes open while also being aware of the edges of the frame. I doubt this is true for this lens on any Nikon DSLR. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.

I know about that, using one (actually three "Hexacons," but that's another story) when it was current.

For what it's worth....

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

And how is the Nikon Df like a reboxed Sony mirrorless?

Which other DSLR body has the sensor from the Nikon Df again? How much does that retail for new?

2 upvotes
Richard Schumer

Since you asked, I don't believe this lens is meant for pro photographers at all, but to the newly-enrichened who see old, patinaed Leicas, Canons, Leotaxes, and Topcons selling for outrageous sums on eBay auctions and elsewhere and have decided to buy a new camera, available without much bother from their local store or from Amazon, that looks and seems just like one of the old, valuable gems.

That's why I opened with a discussion of value(s).

And, as I see it, the Df has an ancient but formerly-expensive sensor.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Richard:

But I wasn’t commenting on this lens, I think there are those who’d seek it out for the look of the photos it can produce.

As for the Df, clearly you don’t have a clue about that sensor–at anything but base ISO its dynamic range is better than that in the D800. Drop the claims of “ancient”; the D4 released at the same time as the D800.

Then irony, many would prefer that the Df have the older sensor from the D3s instead of the D4.

For fun look up how much a refurbished Nikon D2Hs sells for today in early 2014.

Even in digital photography newest is not always better in every respect. Though usually yes newer signal processing is an improvement.

0 upvotes
Richard Schumer

HowaboutRAW--

Go to the Df DPR Review's test image page. Set one of the results panels for Pentax K3. Compare at base ISO.

Now tell me the FF Df's imaging is up to the current standards.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Richard:

I've tried out the K3 (though not a base ISO), it's a plenty good ASPC sensor. Perhaps a better lens would improve the performance of the K3, I've only used the kit zoom. But I don't find it great at ISO 800 unlike the D4/Df.

As a rule, though I won't claim it's absolute, APSC sensors don't have the dynamic range of full frame sensors. It's certainly true of the sensor in the Nikon D7100 versus the sensor in the Df/D4.

I mostly try to avoid the DPReview test scene.

The sensor in the D4 remains the best high ISO lowlight sensor available, and at many ISOs it beats almost every other full framed sensor for dynamic range.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Richard:

A few hours ago: Shot some raws with the K3 using the 18mm-135 kit zoom and the colour aint real good at base ISO. It’s a lighting environment that I’ve tested many a sensor and lens in.

Now, perhaps with the best Pentax lenses colour and dynamic range would improve, but with this kit zoom the K3 is nothing compared to the Df with the kit 50 f/1.8 lens. The D800, D610, and D600 all best the K3 for colour with pretty basic Nikon lenses. And I like the K3 and think it a good APSC SLR.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Richard:

FYI, a couple of days ago: Tried out the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 on a K3 body in the same lighting environment as the K3 and kit zoom testing.

Used ISO 640.

Wide open the lens was not particularly sharp, I’d expected as much.

Yes the colour was better than the kit zoom’s colour, but it was no where near as good as the colour from a current full framed sensor DSLR with a decent lens at the same ISO in the same lighting. With decent lenses Fuji and Samsung APSC sensored bodies also surpass this Pentax K3 for colour at the same ISO. (Sony probably too, but finding a decent lens is harder.)

So the point remains that there’s a huge colour advantage in picking the sensor from the D4/Df over the sensor from the Pentax K3.

Then within full framed systems: It’s well established that above base ISO the D4 has better colour than the D800.

0 upvotes
nikonuserinfo

It's clear that the 58m F1.4 is extremely overpriced...

14 upvotes
HBowman

EPIC FAIL IS EPIC !

14 upvotes
waxwaine

Well Nikonias, been expensive it's not enough to be a Zeiss. You have to be good too.

5 upvotes
beholder3

So you get "silver" awards and 84% for:
- unreliable autofocus (" no way of persuading the lens to focus accurately at all")
- poor sharpness at the aperture it is mainly selling for("anything but sharp wide open, giving rather soft, low-contrast images")
- overpriced / poor value for the money ("Very expensive")
?

The three key factors suck. Not even mediocre.

Makes me think the "silver" is the silver dollars offered by Nikon / the Amazon gear shop to smoothen these review results for allowing good sales figures.

37 upvotes
Revenant

There's always manual focus, and ultimate sharpness is arguably not a key factor for portraits, one of the main use cases for this lens. Colour and bokeh are more important to many portrait photographers. And since this is not a consumer lens, price is not a key factor. If you want the special qualities this lens offers, then you probably can live with the price.

6 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

@Revenant
Seriously ??? So one buys AF lens which AF works poorly yet you recommend manual AF??? Then why pay for AF to begin with ? Also this is Nikkor and most new Nikons don't have swapable focusing screens which makes it REALLY hard to focus F1.4 lens correctly. And portraits are NOT "one of the main use of this lens". Portraits are shot either with 85 or 135mm. This lens has only one thing going for it, that's bokeh everything else sucks majorly.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
29 upvotes
Revenant

It's an excellent focal length for full body portraits, and you can go even wider for situational portraits. Restricting portrait photography to just two focal lengths is rather unimaginative, imho.

8 upvotes
DaveCS

Hmmm.. .
The review leads me to suspect a couple things (as I own a copy of this lens and have since mid-late October):
1) They have a bad copy
2) Their test cameras must be a bit "off"

I have never had a problem with the AF on this lens and the copy I have, on my D600, functions perfectly and is far more sharp wide open (at the focus point) than my previous 50mm f1.4 G ever was.

My suggestion to the lot of you who want to pass judgment on the lens without trying it out first... go and try it out on your own camera and see for yourself. It's worth it imho.

2 upvotes
calking

@ der...
Stop stereotyping portrait lenses as 85 or longer. There are plenty of recognized pros who shoot 50 and 35mm for portrait and weddings. Photography isn't limited to a certain focal length, especially environmental portraiture.

0 upvotes
bossa

The most likely reason it can't focus reliably is because it's so soft @f/1.4. How an AF system is meant to determine what's actually in focus in that situation I am at a loss to explain.

0 upvotes
bossa

I've had two Sigma 50/1.4's for my D800E's but foolishly sold #1 for the Nikon 50/1.4G. I couldn't get rid of the Nikon fast enough after realizing what I'd done.

I owned a Sigma 50/1.4 for my K-5 & still own a Pentax DA*55/1.4. From my experience the Pentax lens clearly beats the others wide open - DX0 Mark has it being very poor in their tests results - Lenstip has the DA*55 almost equal to the Otus in resoltution tests from F2.8 - @ f/4 & f/5.6 it's razor sharp.

Bokeh of the Sigma is wonderful wide-open whereas the Pentax is a tad nervous. The DA*55 gets real smooth after a couple of stops though and is sharper at f/1.4 than the Nikon is at f/2. At almost 50 lp/mm by f/4 it's one of the sharpest 50mm lenses I've used.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
bossa

The 50/1.4G was a piece of junk that I couldn't get rid of fast enough.. low contrast all through the f-stops. I don't know how Nikon can live with themselves peddling junk like that and the new 58mm.

The point I'm trying to make is that these lens testing sites get way to much variance in their results and conclusions (possibly influenced by financial arrangements) and so, IMO, you're better off trying the lenses for yourself.

If you can't afford an Otus then buy a Sigma (which is really a 47mm lens anyway so you can be excused for having both)

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Hugo600si

Interesting choice from Nikon stepping away from sharpness at all (photographic) costs. Still an awful lot of money for a specialty lens though and they will need some solid marketing to reach all potential buyers (Sony bokey beast 135/f2.8-T4.5 STF comes in at 1400 for example). It does leave some room for a nice Sigma ART upgrade in this section of the market... (one can always hope :) ) With both Sony and Nikon having 1500$+ lenses around the 50-60 mark.

2 upvotes
gabriel foto

Amazing lens in some respects.
Heavenly bokeh.
For portraits in dim light - look at that centre sharpness wide open!
For 3D objects - where field curvature is of no consequence whatsoever
For subject isolation - one of the best I've seen
For brick walls at the back of the pub, not so impressive.
Try to get the whole picture!

10 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

Yes, look at that center sharpness wide open AGAIN this time with glasses on and tell us with a strait face that this junk is worth 1700$.

14 upvotes
Mirrorless Crusader

A $1700 prime lens and it's not even sharp? What a ripoff. But what else would you expect from Canikon

7 upvotes
fad

This is a wonderful character lens, and we should be glad it exists. It specializes in smoothness/bokeh and capturing light sources at night.

Personally, I'm using the 50/1.8 as a walkaround lens and a pretty good night lens.

When my Otus finally comes, it should be a superior night/portrait/still life lens to the 58/1.4. But if AF or budget are considerations, the 58/1.4 looks pretty cool.

3 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

"wonderful character lens" is marketing speak when lens lacks in sharpness but company still wants to charge fools good money for it.

16 upvotes
Joe Pineapples

Why not get a good photographer to take some decent samples for you?Obviously if you just want to take snapshots there isn't much point buying this lens; but there are some great examples out there on the web from people who know what this lens is...

2 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

A good photographer can make Holga with plastic lens look good.

7 upvotes
Joe Pineapples

No one with half a clue is going to buy this lens to take snapshots of their friends when they go for a walk, so why show us samples like that? A good photographer chooses their equipment, Holga or Noctilux, for a valid reason, and this is a specialist, not a general purpose, lens. Do you think the dpreview sample images are generally of a high standard? I myself do not...

2 upvotes
Biological_Viewfinder

Well, this is a great reason to be selling my gear.
There's absolutely no reason to be spending that kind of money on a piece of glass. ABSURD!!

I mean, that thing better make me breakfast when I wake up for that kind of money! Plus, primes just mean more lens swapping over your dusty sensor; and really more weight. And yeah, that's a lot of fun; walking around with a backpack on because technology is so bad that we still need 20 pounds of gear to have the best quality. PATHETIC!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
technotic

That's a lot of angst against a 58mm lens.

8 upvotes
Matei H

Sounds like a 18-300 lens would be ideal for the kind of photography you are interested in. Then why bother reading a review for a specialized lens that is entirely out of your interest zone? Did you shoot with the lens? Did you hold it? Let me guess: you read a review, and looked at some charts…the famous 58mm noct was also crappy on paper and yet one of the most amazing lenses I have ever used. And yeah, I live on the 'wild side' changing primes all the time.

9 upvotes
Revenant

A lens is not just a piece of glass, but of course you know that. Optical engineering and manufacture are very complex and costly.
And you don't put on a prime lens, if you expect to be shooting at a variety of focal lengths. And in a studio, you might not need more than one focal length, depending on what you shoot.

4 upvotes
HarrieD7000

I'm very interested in prime lenses, but this one will not be on my wish list.

2 upvotes
Steve oliphant

Well at least it's not a Pentax lol.....

1 upvote
fakuryu

Yeah, luckily Pentax primes are better.

20 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf

Actually Pentax Limited primes are WAAAY better. And I shoot Nikon.

4 upvotes
Sir Corey of Deane

I never listen to sales people especially when they lol.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 413
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