Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G review
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?
- 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)|
| 35mm equivalent focal length (DX)
|Diagonal Angle of view|| • 49.9º (FX)
• 27.4º (DX)
|Lens Construction|| • 9 elements / 6 groups
• 2 aspherical elements
|Number of diaphragm blades||9, rounded|
|AF motor type|| • Ring-type ultrasonic 'Silent Wave' motor
• Full-time manual focus (M/A mode)
|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.