In pictures - Nikon's large and pricey AF-S 58mm F1.4G
Oct 17, 2013 at 04:00:00 GMT
The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G: a distinctly premium lens
The 58mm F1.4 is not designed as a mass market product. It's aimed at professionals and discerning amateurs, quite likely shooting with a full frame SLR like the 36MP D800 or the new 24MP D610. Users of DX format SLRs should find it works well as short telephoto 'portrait' lens.
[Note that these images were taken at a press event, where we didn't have control over the lighting - hence the magenta and green cast you'll see in some of these shots]
It's a sizeable beast indeed
As you can see here the 58mm F1.4 is a big lens - the D610 isn't a huge camera, but neither is it especially small, and the lens looks distinctly large on it. At 85mm / 3.3" in diameter and 70mm / 2.8" in length it's almost exactly the same size as the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, although it's actually rather lighter.
Deeply recessed front element to minimize flare
The 58mm F1.4's front element is deeply recessed into the barrel, in effect giving a built-in hood to minimize flare. It comes with a bayonet-on hood too, and features Nikon's Nanocrystal coating as well. The large optical unit is designed to minimize vignetting.
Designed for wide-open image quality...
The 58mm has an unusually complex optical design, with 9 elements in 6 groups and 2 aspherical elements; in comparison the AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G uses 8 elements in 7 groups but no aspherics. Nikon says that this should give, amongst other things, excellent correction for coma, i.e. the smearing of point light sources towards the corner of the frame that's usually seen at large apertures.
We can't show you images taken with the lens, but snaps we shot at F1.4 looked remarkably sharp into the corners when viewed on the back of the camera.
...and designed with bokeh in mind
Nikon's says the 58mm's optical design was modeled specifically taking the into account the rendition of out-of-focus areas of the picture, or 'bokeh'. It's designed to give attractively-blurred backgrounds, and smooth transitions from in-focus to out-of-focus regions. Here you can see the 9-bladed diaphragm which has curved blades to give a circular aperture. Again, our quick snaps at the launch event looked pretty promising in this regard.
AF-S motor for silent AF
The 58mm F1.8 uses a 'Silent Wave' autofocus motor, which pretty much lives up to its name. Fast primes are rarely super-quick at focusing, but the 58mm seems fast enough, aided perhaps by its rear focus design. The M/A position of the focus mode switch allows manual adjustment after autofocus.
But oh, the price!
The thing is though, you just can't ignore the price. At $1699.95 / £1599.99, its price isn't radically different from the D610 body, meaning this lens is only for those who really know why they want it. In context, the AF-S 50mm F1.4 G sells for around $440 / £290 right now, and when we reviewed it a few years ago we found it to be very good indeed. We've no doubt the 58mm F1.4 will be better, but even so...