Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G Review

4.0
January 28, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G from Nikon is a standard prime lens in the full-frame FX format, or a short telephoto when mounted on a DX body. The 58mm f/1.4 features 9 optical elements in 6 groups with two aspherical lens elements and a Silent Wave Motor which provides smooth and fast autofocus with full-time manual focus override. Retailing for £1,599.99 / $1,699.95, read our Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G review to find out if it's worth the substantial investment.

The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G is an ultra-fast standard prime lens for Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras. The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G features 9 optical elements in 6 groups, including two aspherical lens elements. A Silent Wave Motor provides smooth and quiet auto-focus with full-time manual focus override, while Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat provides anti-reflection effects throughout the visible light range. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G lens is available now priced at £1,599.99 / $1,699.95 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Tipping the scales at 385 grams and measuring 7cms in length (without the lens hood fitted), the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G is quite a big standard prime lens, especially compared to Nikon's much more compact 50mm f/1.4 lens. Coupled to the Nikon Df, as seen in the photos below, the lens does feel very at home, although it doesn't match the Df's retro styling very well.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G mounted on the Nikon Df

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G mounted on the Nikon Df

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G mounted on the Nikon Df

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G mounted on the Nikon Df

As you would expect from a lens that costs this much, build quality is very good. The lens feels solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the 72mm filter thread appear to be plastic. The focusing ring is wide, ridged and rubberised. As this is a G series lens, it has no aperture ring - no big deal unless you wanted to use it on a very old film body.

The lens features a useful distance scale in meters and feet, although there's no accompanying DOF scale.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

Since the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4 does not have Vibration Reduction or a focus limiter, the only control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual M/A and M settings.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Front of the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Rear of the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4G is sealed against dust and moisture, so it's a great companion for similarly sealed bodies even when they are used in dusty locales or less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Side of the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Side of the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G in-hand

The lens ships with the dedicated HB-68 hood and a cloth lens bag.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED The AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G with the supplied lens hood fitted

Auto-focus

The Nikon AF-S 58mm f1.4 lens features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that allows near-silent auto-focusing on all Nikon DSLR cameras. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the M/A position. Focusing is fully internal, meaning the length of the lens always remains constant, and the front of the lens does not rotate on focus. This is good news for those who use polarisers or ND grads on a regular basis.

In use, we found the focusing to be indeed very quiet, and pretty fast - but not instantaneous - with the lens mounted to a Nikon Df body.

A note of warning: back- or front-focusing may occur with any SLR lens-body configuration, and an f/1.4 lens will show this mercilessly when used wide open. If your camera has AF fine tuning, it is well worth shooting a test target to determine how much - if any - micro adjustment is needed to compensate for any such issues.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, are very well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED
   
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open at f/1.4, you can only see some minor light fall-off in the corners and along the frame edges. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/4 or smaller.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Macro

The Nikon 58mm f1.4 is not a macro lens. The closest focusing distance is 58cm, and Nikon quotes a maximum magnification of 0.13x for the lens. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background. Nikon was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED
   
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, photos, samples, lens, test, jpeg, sample images, jpg, full frame, f1.4, fx, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f1.4G Review, 58mm, nikkor 58mm, nikon 58mm

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