Concerning the Nikkor 58G/1.4… (an invitation)

PS-Nikkor-58-14Since there’s so much debate about my verdict on the 58G:

Other than my up-front language suggests, I’m open to revise my assessment. I’m not only open, I WANT you to make me revise my statement. So, this is an invitation.

What I don’t want is another image that shows how beautiful the rendering of XYZ is. That doesn’t help. My whole review is based on the idea of exactly NOT speculating and raving about single images, but about actual comparisons. Everyone can look at the results, compare them and see if what I say is agreeable or not. I don’t force anyone to take my opinion, I just like to write more bluntly rather than use boring language.

Why? Because I’ve worked in marketing long enough to know how it goes. An to know how bullshit is sold to you and me with the right story. One thing is for sure: If there wasn’t a Nikon badge on that lens and not a 1600-Euro price tag on it, but if it was Samyang and 300 Euros, the passion of others about my verdict would be vastly different.

So: I don’t need any beautiful imagery of any lens to see how great that lens is. I’ve seen many beautiful images shot with the 58G. And many beautiful images shot with other lenses that are crappy and cheap. Good imagery isn’t about sharpness, nor is it about high-end equipment, it just helps you getting there.

What I need is an actual comparison that illustrates what you mean, a direct A/B comparison. If you’re interested, take a shot of a motive that illustrates what you think you want illustrated, once with the 58G AND take the same shot with a 50/1.4G, a Zeiss Otus, a Sigma 50 old or Art, and share the result. I’m excluding the 50/1.8G from the selection for obvious reasons, the bokeh can’t compete wide open, as also illustrated in the review. Be sure to compensate for the focal length (go closer to the subject with the 50*) and use the same aperture, ideally wide open. Send me a link to your website, or your post, either here in the comments (for everyone to see) or via email and tell me if I’m allowed to link it here.


* Here’s a simple trick how to achieve correct framing adjustment:

In order to get the same DOF with both lenses, you’ll have to compensate for the focal length difference and adjust the distance. This is very easily done though, it simply means that the size of the object in focus needs to be the same in both images.

So, say you take a portrait shot of someone:

Give your model (=focal plane) an object like a rod or a folding yardstick or something like that that they can hold up (horizontally). Frame in a way that the left and right image borders in your viewfinder exactly touch the ends of that object, i.e. that it exactly fills the frame. Now when you switch lenses, you simply back up or move towards your subject so that the yardstick again fills the frame (i.e. ends touch the image borders). This object can be anything, as long as it has marks that you can use to position the image borders. This is all even easier if you take a still life shot.

Of course, that object is just for adjusting the camera, the model can take it down for the shot. Make sure the model really stays exactly in the position and doesn’t move in between your shots, and that they can position the reference object/yardstick/whatever the same as in the first shot. I.e. not “somewhere” in front of them, but e.g. on their chest, forehead whatever. You get the idea.

In order to not have to deal with to much variation from the adjustment of camera position, it’s best if you level your camera on a tripod (i.e. parallel to the ground). Otherwise, moving the camera back and forth implies you will need to adjust height etc., which makes things rather complicated.
So the best thing is finding a good framing before, then set up your tripod correspondingly and level the camera. When you have moved the camera after the lens switch, just level it again, and you’re set.

4 thoughts on “Concerning the Nikkor 58G/1.4… (an invitation)

  1. Andrew

    I am an Australian of European heritage who understands a little about Germans… I consulted to them very regularly in corporate strategy, marketing and product planning and development, etc during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. My personal clients included (I am now retired) some of the the largest and best known firms in Germany, and Europe.

    The issue I have with your challenge is that it is pointless… there is no one “best” or “ideal” or “best all-round” lens. There never was and most likely never will be.

    A lens is a photographic tool to achieve a desired outcome. For some outcomes, lens “A” is best, for others, lens “B” and yet others, lens “C”. If this were not the case, all “rational” photographers would buy that “best” lens and that lens only. Yet this does not happen!

    After all, if a lens is an essential tool to make money in a very competitive industry with very low barriers to entry, not to do so would be disastrous from a business perspective.

    To further support this point, why do photographers have multiple different lenses of very similar focal length? For example, currently I own 3 lenses between 50-60mm… and I am just an amateur these days!

    My reason is simple, each is very different from the others and each is best suited to achieving a different photographic outcome.

    Now, as I understand it, what you are trying to do in effect is to compare a “rose” to an “orchid” to a “hibiscus”, etc, etc.

    After all, they are all “flowers” and they can be cut, put into a vase and admired, etc, etc. Now to me, this comparison is pointless. They are all beautiful in the their own right and in an appropriate setting and context and they all have their own particular “charms”.

    Just like different lenses!

    May I commend the following post from the DP Review Nikon SLR Lens Talk forum (where you originally posted):

    Here “anotherMike” compares at length the Sigma 50 ART and the Nikon 58 f1.4G. This is very informative and, “Mike” describes why he prefers the Sigma over other lenses for “his particular outcomes”.

    Perhaps you might notice that he does not exaggerate, is respectful, logical and never uses “over the top” language.

    There are other posters on this forum who also make a very sound case for their particular preference(s).

    Which all brings me back to my original point… a “best of…” comparison is pointless. Far better to understand, in depth, how a particular lens has been “designed” to perform and then adapt its particular characteristics to “best fit” the task at hand.

    Using the “flowers” example; if I am cooking an Asian-style meal for friends, I would decorate with orchids, if we are having a “Hawaiian Night” it must be Hibiscus, but if I an cooking a romantic “candlelight” dinner then deep red roses with a lovely perfume would be the only choice.

    I think the French have an expression; “vive la difference” and my German is too poor to know if there is a German equivalent.

    Finally, do you not realise that by calling the Nikon 58 f1.4G “a joke” you have effectively questioned the judgment and insulted the many thousands of photographers who have bought this lens, understand it and love using it?

    Perhaps they are entitled to ask “who the hell is this guy and what does he know anyway?”

    Now, that would be a pertinent question to have answered…



    PS In your :Help to fight Spam:
    Are you human? What
    s this famous lens brand that starts with a Z?

    I answered “Zenit”.

    This is of course, a perfectly correct answer to your question.

    Yet, you have told me I have answered the question incorrectly… you are in effect forcing me to provide an answer you want.

    Just what are you trying to achieve here?

  2. Flow Post author

    Andrew, thanks for your long “reply”, in which, however, you do not follow the invitation but refer to my lens comparison, so there’s no real point in replying here. The link you provided points to a copy-text post without any actual images (in case I’m mistaken, please point me to the right post). Images, that’s the point of this “invitation”, and of photography in general, at least as my clients and I have so far understood it. A long text post with no images is the opposite of what I was trying to provide with the review.

    Anyway, I think everything has been said on the topic and it’s kind of tiring to repeat over and over and over and over the same things. If you think an A/B comparison of different lenses is a “pointless” idea, that’s fine. I don’t. Not to find “the” lens, but just to see where a lens excels and where not. In fact, it may help you make exactly the choice that you’re talking about. Which one to pick for what.

    You asked:

    Finally, do you not realise that by calling the Nikon 58 f1.4G “a joke” you have effectively questioned the judgment and insulted the many thousands of photographers who have bought this lens, understand it and love using it?

    No. I don’t realize that. Because if you get insulted because someone is calling a product that you bought a “joke”, you should really reconsider your life. Because it means you’re judging people by what they’re consuming. You may do so, I don’t, and that should be cool. Thanks for your understanding.

    Lastly, concerning your missing knowledge about what an anti-spam Q&A is “trying to achieve”, others can do a much better job at explaining you, in case you seriously don’t know. Just use Google to find some articles on the topic.

    All the best for your photography,

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help to fight Spam: