Nikon 1.8g's vs Sigma 1.4 Art Series

Started Aug 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP pgeorges Regular Member • Posts: 255
Re: Nikon 1.8g's vs Sigma 1.4 Art Series, the 3D-look and real photos

Matsu wrote:

Nikon has four current 1.8G lenses and they're all good to excellent. Two are among the very best in any mount at any aperture. Those being the 28mm and the 85mm. The 50 is cheap enough that it's worth owning for a lightweight fast normal. The 35, I have not tried yet, but it tests well and the images look good. For size, weight and price, I wouldn't hesitate to get any of them. On pure quality, some are at least as good or better than faster f/1.4 peers.

Some of the Sigma's are special, but they're large and heavy, and may or may not have some AF problems, though I trust Sigma to be able to cure these with firmware updates, and to stay on top of it. However, at the sizes involved, you're almost certainly better off with a 24-70 f/2.8 AFS

Prime shooters may cringe, and you will no doubt read people posting about the "3D" look and sharpness at maximum aperture, but I offer a cautionary note. A lot of blur and a thin focus plane do not add up to a 3D effect. If anything, they produce the exact opposite - a painterly effect with a thin slice of focus - more 2D than 3D. Photos are in fact 2D representations of a 3D world, and besides stating the obvious, it's worth mentioning and repeating, because obliterating depth cues does nothing to make an image "More 3D". Subtly rounding them can help, but for most subjects this needs apertures at least two stops smaller than f/1.4, maybe f/2.8 or even f/4 or f/5.6.

3D effects come from lighting and shadow (primarily directionality or modelling, but also fall off, transition, specularity, etc) and perspective (depth cues like relative size, environmental haze, and field of view.). Sometimes even the suggestion of motion might enhance the feeling of three dimensionality, well captured motion blur that makes a subject appear more animated.

A sharp focal plane that punctuates the action or artistic intent can heighten the importance of the subject within the scene, of course it has value, but it is so often abused and seems like a tired contemporary trope now, and, it's just technically bad photography in many cases - when only one eye is in focus, for instance, or once face between a couple, etc...

Shallow depth of field ruins more photos than it helps.

Great post. I think as far as prime lenses go, trading in 2/3rds of a stop for a lot less weight is a fair trade. It's still a significant step up from an f2.8 zoom.

The 3D effect is more due to micro-contrast rather than extremely shallow DOF. The Sigma 35 certainly can produce a lovely 3D effect due to having great micro-contrast but from my flickr adventures the 28mm 1.8g can also. The Sigma lenses have a much colder feel out of camera (closer to Zeiss) whereas the Nikon lenses seem to render a warmer image with smoother bokeh from what I've seen. I'll know for sure when my lens comes in

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