Nikon's 58 1.4G Lens Review
This one's for the photographers!
It took a little lifetime, but finally I found my favorite lens just a few years ago. Enter, the Nikkor 58 1.4g. Somehow, I stumbled across the work of a couple very talented photographers, and discovered that the shots I was attracted to were created using this little gem with a heavy price tag for a "50". The internet is abuzz with very mixed reviews on this lens, but I took a chance on it. From somewhere across the interwebs it was calling to me. I couldn't unsee the magic I had seen and couldn't get it out of my head. So I bought one.
When I first got this lens, I admit, my photography skills were lightyears behind where they are now. Even still, it seemed that this lens was made for me and it pushed me to understand a few key concepts better: lighting, hyperfocal distance, focus modes, *AND AF fine tuning (more on this later)*. Now, it's on my camera almost always. I shoot it wide open at least half the time.
So here's the thing. I love this lens so much, that I find myself telling people what I'm about to say here about once a week. Wouldn't it be easier to just say "here's my blog about this" and send them the link?
So here we go:
Shooting this lens wide open is totally doable. If you do it though, you just have to understand that the closer you are to your subject, the thinner your depth of field (DOF) will be. I'm talking about at arm's distance from whatever the subject is, your DOF is so thin that your in focus area is about half a centimeter deep. Is that enough to get an eyeball and eyelashes in focus? ALMOST. Will you have a totally sharp entire head? No. What are you trying to show people in your image? Here's a shot at 1.4, and I wanted this shot of sweet Elizabeth's awesome lashes. I didn't want the whole face sharp. Here is why I LOVE this lens. The out of focus (OOF) areas are beautifully rendered. Other 50's OOF areas look messy to me. Take me back to my antique film lenses, they do this same, beautiful thing, but my beloved 58 has autofocus.
Let's take a step back, now and get a little different framing. Still shooting at 1.4, because wide open = life. Scenario: I'm doing an in home lifestyle session, and my clients didn't realize that my favorite light would be smack in the middle of their messiest room. Have no fear, mama dear, I'm going to watercolor that mess into something beautiful and no one else will know. (This shot was actually in a magazine worthy room, but hopefully you get the picture...you can blow that background to smithereens). At about headshot framing, I'm still not getting the whole depth of a human being in focus, but what matters to me in this shot is in focus, and the rest, again, is beautifully rendered. Baby toes, a mama's soft sweet love. That's all I wanted to draw your eye to. Not the furniture in the background.
And back up another step from your subject. Oooohhhhh, pretty. DOF got a little thicker again, we have an entire face in focus now at f/1.4. Do you care that her entire hat isn't sharp? If yes, you may be discovering that you're not really a shoot wide open kinda 'tog.
Show you a full body shot? Ok, now we're getting the whole body in focus shooting wide open, IF you focus on the correct thing. I choose the eyes. They're almost always in the middle of the body, or at least the part that matters.
Want to stop it down a little bit, just to see how things work? Let's do! Here we are at 1.6 Lola wants to know where her paws went. DOF still extreme.
Let's go nuts and shoot at f 3.5 up close. We're almost getting a whole head in focus.
Backing up another step for you at f 3.5
And now I'm done, because if you came here to see that this lens is sharp wide open, we are both done. You may have been done halfway up the page, so thanks for making it this far!
I hope you enjoy your new 58.
Nikon, you can message me for where to send the commissions checks ;o) LOL...kidding, sort of...
Now, photographer friends, share your thoughts!!! Who else is in the 58 club?