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This standard lens from Nikon costs around £1560 and sports a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, silent focusing and nano-crystal coatings to help control ghosting and flare. The 58mm focal length is reminiscent of the old AI 'Noct' Nikkor that was designed specifically for shooting in low light with a maximum aperture of f/1.2. The aspheric lens design minimised coma flare towards the edges of the frame, which is common with fast aperture lenses. Although this lens promises similar control over coma, it doesn't carry the Noct name, and the maximum aperture is slower. Is the quality delivered by this lens still enough to justify the extra money over a standard 50mm lens? We'll take a close look at how it performs in this review.
Amongst the most striking things about this lens is just how large it is for a standard lens with an f/1.4 maximum aperture having a diameter of 85mm. Even so, the weight of this is kept to a reasonable 365g, thanks to the use of lightweight, yet high quality plastics for much of the lens barrel and the lens balances well on the Nikon D600 used for testing as a result.
Auto focus is powered by a silent wave motor, and auto focus speeds are adequate for slow moving or static subjects. Attempting to focus on erratic or fast moving targets can be hit and miss. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the focusing ring, which is smooth and well damped. This helps to make applying fine focus adjustments a pleasure.
Closest focus distance is 58cm, and the large 72mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.
MTF @ 58mm
How to read our chartsThe blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.
Levels of chromatic aberrations are reasonably well controlled, exceeding half a pixel width towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. Fringing is at its strongest at f/1.4, but the level is low enough to cause few issues, even in harsh crops from the edges of the frame.
CA @ 58mm
How to read our chartsChromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.
As you may expect from a fast aperture lens, falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite pronounced. At maximum aperture the corners are 2.13 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until stopped down to f/4 or beyond.
Distortion is quite high for a standard lens. Imatest detected 1.6% barrel distortion, which may be noticeable in some circumstances. If straight lines are paramount, you'll be glad to hear that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying corrections in image editing software relatively straightforward.
Thanks to Nikon's Nano-crystal coating, incidences of flare are very rare indeed. Contrast holds up very well indeed, even when shooting into the light. A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a good job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues. Even so, as the front element is deeply recessed within the lens barrel, the hood can be left at home much of the time.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Sample Photos
Sharpness is very good in the centre of the frame from maximum aperture | 1/200 sec | f/1.4 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
Stopping down the aperture improves performance across the frame | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
Out of focus backgrounds are rendered beautifully by this lens | 1/250 sec | f/1.4 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
This lens retains very good contrast, even when shooting into the light at maximum aperture | 1/800 sec | f/1.4 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
1/500 sec | f/2.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 58.0 mm | ISO 200
1/160 sec | f/6.3 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Other sample images
Bokeh | 1/200 sec | f/1.4 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
Wide-open | 1/160 sec | f/1.4 | 58.0 mm | ISO 400
Lucy | 1/250 sec | f/2.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
Lucy | 1/250 sec | f/2.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 200
Nikon's major claim regarding the performance of this lens relates to how it can control coma flare at maximum aperture, we thought it will be interesting to do a comparison with a 50mm f/1.4D and 50mm f/1.8D lens we have available to see what differences, if any, are apparent.
To conclude, the 58mm does exhibit superior control over coma flare when compared to similarly specified, and less expensive optics. This will matter when taking images with point sources of light at maximum aperture, such as hand-held night scenes, or for some astrophotography applications.
Value For MoneyThere is no denying this is a very specialised lens, that comes with a highly specialised price tag. £1560 does seem a lot to justify, especially when Nikon's 50mm f/1.4G can be picked up for £270, and the 1.8G optic can be had for around £140. Sigma also produce a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which can be picked up for around £320. All of these prices make the 58mm Nikon seem very, very expensive. Even the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 in ZF fitting is only around £600, which makes it seem like a bargain! To put things into perspective Zeiss' new Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens costs around £3175, so the Nikon 58mm still isn't the most expensive standard lens available for their cameras.
Overall, it is a truly excellent lens, which does what it is designed to do. Unfortunately, the price will also make this a very exclusive lens, especially as it may be outperformed in some areas by less expensive alternatives.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G ProsVery good sharpness in the centre at f/1.4
Excellent sharpness when stopped down
Beautifully rendered out of focus backgrounds
Good control of coma flare
Very good contrast
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G ConsLarge for a standard lens
Not the fastest focusing lens
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G Specifications
|Angle of View||40.5°|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||HB-68 Hood supplied|