Nikon recently came out with the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f1.4G lens. It was released around the same time as the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4. That was pretty smart, since not everyone can afford the expensive Zeiss glass. If you are a Nikon shooter, you have an option to choose a lens that won’t destroy your bank account. Now, I’m not going to compare the two lenses past this point even though I’ve used them both. Nikon has come out with something new, so let’s see if it’s worth it.
Pros and Cons
- Simple ergonomics.
- Low weight and easy to carry around.
- Fantastic perspective for portraits.
- Fat and really big on cameras like the D5100 and the Nikon Df.
- Hunts for focus in low light at smaller apertures.
This lens was tested with the Nikon Df, D5100 and D90. I used a Nikon SB600 flash for a portrait test. To do some long exposure photography I used a Brian tripod from 3LeggedThing. As usual, I carried everything in my ThinkTank Urban Disguise 60.
These are taken from the B&H product listing.
- Nikon F Mount
- Aperture Range: f1.4-16
- Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
- Two Aspherical Elements
- Nano Crystal Coating
- Super Integrated Coating
- Silent Wave Motor
- Minimum Focus Distance of 1.9′
- 72mm Filter Thread
The lens is huge, but simple and clean in design. It has a 72mm filter thread and an 85mm maximum barrel diameter.
The depth of field scale is small and goes mostly unused.
There is one single switch on the body of the Nikon 58mm f1.4G, which switches the lens’ focusing mode. The M/A setting allows you to manually focus even though the lens is set to autofocus, and the M setting switches to full manual focus. The focusing mode switch is easy to reach and simple to use. The focusing ring is large and comfortable. It’s great for those moments when you want to take control.
The Nikon 58mm f1.4G is light but sturdy. It is mostly plastic, but the mount is brass and feels strong. This lens basically matches the same quality of Nikon’s other G lenses, so there is nothing to complain about. It focuses internally, so it always retains the same size.
Overall the autofocus was quick. In normal light there was never an issue with quickly focusing on your subject, whether wide open or stopped all the way down to f16. In low light the autofocus was fast for the most part. Once the aperture is stopped down past f8 in low light, however, the lens would occasionally hunt for focus. This slowed down the shooting process a little.
Ease of Use
The Nikon 58mm f1.4 G is an extremely easy to use lens. There is nothing to figure out. The lens didn’t need calibration at all out of the box, which is very nice.
Taking the Nikon 58mm f1.4G out for a walk was fun, especially with the Nikon Df. Though it might seem a bit unusual, 58mm is a great focal length for street photography. The lens is huge though, especially with the hood on, which is why I took it off most of the time. That made it more manageable.
The overall image quality of the Nikon 58mm f1.4G can be described in two words: pretty good. For portraits, the lens did very well. I retouched some photos when I realized I got the lighting wrong. I did not have to do much beyond adjusting exposure and white balance. When shooting street photography the lens was a pleasure to work with. As you would say of a good wine, it feels well rounded.
The bokeh on the Nikon 58mm f1.4G is superb. The out-of-focus areas are smooth and clean. The 9-blade aperture keeps specular highlights nice and round.
The sharpness of this lens is fantastic. With the aperture wide open, the focus pane was extremely clear. You can easily make out very fine details with this lens.
The Nikon 58mm f1.4G is a good lens for portraits. Due to its slightly longer-than-normal focal length, it provides a natural perspective. Also, due to the slightly longer reach, you can get within a comfortable distance of your subject without being too close. This comes in handy when you have create images in small spaces. The Nikon 58mm 1.4G will not make you a great portrait photographer, but it is a great tool to work with.
Yes, purpe finging does occur from time to time. But you have to pixel peep to really notice it. It does come out a little more when the subject is backlit by a strong light source, but it’s not bad at all and can easily be corrected during post processing.
The color rendering of this lens is very natural and reliable, that is you can use the images right away without processing if needed. Skin colors are rendered very nicely.
Using the 58mm f1.4G on a DX Camera
On a DX camera, the Nikon 58mm f1.4 is equivalent to an 87mm lens, which makes it an even better portrait lens. I used it on both a Nikon D5100 and a Nikon D90, and I honestly enjoyed the lens more on those cameras as compared to my FX cameras due to the more restricted field-of-view
Additional Sample Images
Nikon has made some truly innovative lenses in the past, but this is not one of them. It seems to be an alternative to a much more expensive lens, and it’s a smart move. It does make a decent lower cost alternative to the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4. The Nikon 58mm f1.4G is a great low light portrait lens that is more than capable of doing a great job. Working with the lens was a positive experience for me.
The Nikon 58mm f1.4G is probably best for those who want a fast normal lens that can be used for portraiture. If it is till too costly for you and you want a similar range, you have two options. If you want an f1.4G aperture, you can get a Nikon 50mm f1.4G. It is over $1,000 cheaper and does a fantastic job. If you want to be closer to 58mm, the Micro Nikkor 60mm 2.8G is available, and with this lens you can do both portraits and macro photography. If you have the cash, though, the Nikon 58mm 1.4G is a very decent lens.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
- If you are using camera like the Nikon Df or Nikon D610, you will need a neutral density filter. This will help when shooting with the lens wide open during the day.
- The Nikon 58mm 1.4G is better suited for the Nikon D800 and a crop sensor camera like the Nikon D7100 as these cameras can shoot at 1/8000 a sec.
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