Comparison of: Zeiss Otus, Sigma 50 Art, Nikkor 58G, Nikkor 50/1.4G, Nikkor 50/1.8G

Started Aug 10, 2014 | Discussions thread
sgoldswo Veteran Member • Posts: 5,717
Re: Couple questions - nice effort, but the testing may mislead some as it stands

GlobalGuyUSA wrote:

anotherMike wrote:Another logical question: Do you really think a senior Nikon lens designer would, on purpose, design a piece of junk? I mean, if we weigh the odds against him knowing what he was doing versus the possibilities of the testing approach having flaws, can you understand why I would have to first question your side of the two views?

Hi Mike,

I found this part of your question interesting -- I think what people have to realize is that Nikon developed this lens without an intention to compete with others (and more likely to take advantage of the up-price market of Zeiss & historical association with the NOCT that affords such a high price on eBay). Let's be honest, Nikon ONLY wanted to produce a lens that was better than the f/1.2 NOCT. Nikon ONLY wanted to take advantage of the feelings associated with the NOCT & the price advantage in the market based on current prices (as part of their financial issues), especially under a pricing scheme made possible by the Zeiss OTUS & 2nd hand NOCT market. That's why this lens is marked up so much.

However, Nikon failed to create something worthy of the "NOCT" name (and couldn't even bring themselves to attach it to the lens). Nikon failed to find a way to make this f/1.2 without it being even more blurry and having even more defects (as it is, it has sombrero distortions and very poor edge sharpness even stopped down, and all copies seem to show blurriness wide open even in the center at 100%).

So I think the answer to your question is, "yes." Yes. Nikon would do that.

And they've done it before. They've done it several times in bringing lenses out (competing with themselves, but not with any third-party). But we shouldn't say "Junk" -- we should just say what it is, "a Non-competitive offering/Self-competitive offering." Nikon didn't design this lens to be defensive against third-parties. It designed it to take advantage of a pricing range that had opened up in the market. And it didn't foresee the Sigma. They put out a lens that was "better than the old Noct" and simultaneously "better than half as good as the Zeiss" for half the price. That's a reasonable position.

But I think this lens is failing because its not f/1.2 and its not what a modern NOCT should be.

And Nikon knows that.

If the Sigma had never been released, Nikon would not be struggling with it. If it had been a true f/1.2 NOCT no one would even be criticizing it all; it would be lauded as a miracle production. As it is -- the Sigma was released. The best Sigma ever. And the Nikon, as an intentionally released compromise lens in a crowded f/1.4 market (competing even with by Nikon's own newly released excellent f/1.8) will release in very few people finding the slight bokeh advantage over the other f/1.4s to be worth it. The Sigma killed the perceived value of the Nikon in terms of in Coma, which is what Nikon was hoping to use as the marketing of this lens. A "modern NOCT" compromise -- but still better than the old Noct without the OTUS price. Sigma kicked those legs out from under Nikon. So the only thing that Nikon is left with is a tiny bokeh benefit, but weird distortion and very, very poor edge sharpness.

So, as a lens not developed to be competitive (only self-competitive), this Nikon is very special. A bokeh-coma powerhouse for less than an OTUS and with perfect Nikon reliability.

But with Nikon's own mega-pixel war (the D800-series), Nikon should have foreseen how important sharpness would be. And how Nikonians WANTED to be very excited about resolution right now -- as designed by Nikon's own marketing -- yet could not be. Because of Nikon's own design limit.

When Nikon makes 36MP cameras for 2 years; it had release 35-40MP resolving lenses!

Otherwise consumers are scratching their heads asking -- "Why the hell not??"

But even by the standards of the lenses that existed during its life, the Noct was not a lens that would have ever won a test chart based competition. In fact it would be last in just about measure of 50-60mm lenses.

I put my hand up unashamedly and say that I think the 58 G is the better lens than the Sigma (I own both). I measure "better" in a new and innovative way, by looking at the actual pictures I've taken with it . The results are more aesthetically pleasing. No, that isn't something you can measure with a test chart...

That said, the Sigma gets more use for me because its better suited to the key of photography I do more of. Its an excellent lens, with a bit of iffy bokeh here and there (PS for close portraits its fine), but as I said elsewhere the speciality of this lens is its absolute sharpness.

 sgoldswo's gear list:sgoldswo's gear list
Leica Q Leica M Typ 240 Nikon Df Nikon D810 Nikon D750 +1 more
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