Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 72mm filters, 13.5 oz./382g, 2'/0.6m close focus, about $1,700). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to this lens at Adorama and at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these lenses when you get yours through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take your chances and buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.
NEW: Premium 50mm Lenses Compared 04 September 2014
Nikon 58mm f/1.2 NOCT (470g, 1977-1997)
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G (278g, 2008-today)
Nikon 55mm f/1.2 (410g, 1965-1978)
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 (354g, 1978-today)
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 F (350g, 1959-1962)
Canon 50mm f/1.2 L (592g, 2006-)
Canon 50mm f/1.0 L (1,018g, 1989-2000)
Sample Image Files
This new 58mm f/1.4 G is one of Nikon's best 50mm-range lenses, but no better than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G for one-quarter the price. This 58mm is a poser lens, intended to fill a vacant price point at the top of Nikon's lens line. Unlike Canon and LEICA who have had expensive 50mm lens options for many decades and decades for those with cash to burn, Nikon hasn't had an expensive 50mm lens option since they discontinued the 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NIKKOR in 1997.
A huge performance problem with this new 58mm lens is that its closest focus distance is two feet (0.6 meters), which significantly restricts the range over which you can photograph. Most other 50mm and 58mm lenses focus to about 1.5 feet (0.5 meters). Nikon has to be kidding; this defect significantly reduces this lens' performance envelope. All the other expensive 50mm lenses focus closer, and even the 1989 Canon 50mm f/1.0 L focuses as close. The real 58mm f/1.2 NOCT focuses to 0.5 meters, for instance. Nikon got lazy with this new 58mm lens; it's expecting people to buy it simply because when someone "wants the best," they'll just get this lens based on price. Yawn.
The saddest part about this 58mm f/1.4 is that it's expensive, but I don't see it offering anything luxurious for the price. It's barrel and filter threads are all plastic, and its performance is 99% the same as the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G (2008-) that costs only one-quarter as much. The only reason I can see for the thinking photographer to pay four times as much for this 58mm lens is because it's the only AF Nikon lens made in Japan; the other AF Nikkors are all made in China today. This consumer (plastic filter thread) 58mm lens has nothing in common with the faster professional Nikon 58mm f/1.2 NOCT or original Nikon 58mm f/1.4 F.
It's amusing seeing how this new 58mm is put in an oversize plastic barrel to imitate the look of the Canon 50mm f/1.2 L at an even higher price. I have to laugh; this Nikon is only an f/1.4 lens so it doesn't have much glass so its plastic barrel is mostly plastic and air, not glass as with the real f/1.2 and f/1.0 lenses. This Nikon 58mm needs some lead weights inside for a luxury feel, it's so light weight that any perceived magic goes away as soon as you hold it.
Like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G, you may grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override.
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G on a gold Nikon Df (from a private collection).
Notice how the small amount of glass in this lens is way down at the bottom of a mostly air and plastic lens barrel.
Everything works perfectly on every digital Nikon ever made, both FX and DX, from the best Df, D4, D800, D800E, D610 and D600 to Nikon's cheapest digitals like the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100 and D5200 and D5300.
The incompatibilities for older or cheaper 35mm cameras are that:
1.) It won't autofocus with the cheapest new AF 35mm cameras like the N55, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. Even if you lose autofocus, these cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.
2.) Late 1980s ~ early 1990s AF cameras like the N90s, N70 and F4 will focus just fine, but you'll lose VR. You'll have Program and Shutter-priority modes, but lose Manual and Aperture-priority since you have no way to set the aperture on the camera or on the lens.
3.) You're really pushing it with the oldest AF cameras like the N2020, N6006 and N8008. You'll have no AF, confused exposure modes, and no VR. Manual focus is fine, along with electronic focus indications.
4.) Since it has no aperture ring, it's just about useless with manual focus film cameras. It will shoot every shot at its minimum aperture.
See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera. Read down the "AF-S, AF-I," "G" and "VR" columns for this lens. You'll get the least of all the features displayed in all columns, since "G" (gelding) is a deliberate handicap which removes features
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.
Nikon calls this the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G N.
AF-S: Silent Wave Autofocus Motor (SWM).
NIKKOR: Nikon's brand name for all their lenses.
Nano Crystal Coat (N): Magic anti-reflection coating that has a variable index of refraction that's far more effective than multicoating.
Aspherical: Specially curved glass to give even sharper pictures.
D: Couples distance information to the Matrix Meter.
Nikon 58mm/1.4G diagram. Aspherical.
9 elements in 6 groups.
Two aspherical elements.
Multicoated mostly in green and magenta, which Nikon calls Nikon Integrated Coating, and one "Nano" coated element for marketing.
No ED glass. The gold ring is a lie, added purely for marketing purposes.
No floating element system or "CRC" for close-range correction. This means this lens cannot optimize its design for perfect performance as you focus closer as Canon's and LEICA's premium lenses do, and probably why this lens can't focus closer than two feet.
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G at f/16.
9 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/16.
Focal Length top
Angle of View top
27.3° on small-format DX.
Close Focus top
2 feet (0.58 meters) from the image plane, marked.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
No. It does have two tiny tits only for f/16, but that doesn't count.
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Aperture Ring top
Filter Thread top
72 mm, plastic.
Does not move.
Nikon specifies 3.3" (85 mm) diameter by 2.8" (70 mm) extension from flange.
13.480 oz. (382.2g) actual measured.
Nikon specifies 13.6 oz. (385 g).
Hooded Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.
Chinese plastic bayonet HB-68 hood, included.
CL- 1015 sack included.
CL- 1015 sack.
Lens made in Japan.
Hood made in China.
5 years, USA.
Box, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G.
Inside of which the lens and hood is nestled in frozen smoke:
58mm lens and hood inside frozen smoke.
The paperwork is slid in-between this and the side of the box, and the pouch sits on top.
16 October 2013.
Available since top
Nikon Product Number top
Price, USA top
$1,700, October-December 2013.
The Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G is a great performer, about the same optically as the quarter-price 50mm f/1.4 G, except that this 58mm lens can't focus as close as other lenses!
AF is fast, but my sample was a little off and required AF Fine Tuning for the best results.
No news here, it's just as fast as Nikon's other 50mm lenses.
AF was consistent, but my sample tended to focus a little in front of the subject, requiring AF Fine Tuning.
Manual focus is swell, just grab the ring at any time.
Snowman at f/1.4. Camera-original © file.
See also Nikon 50mm and 58mm Bokeh Comparisons.
The color rendition is the same as my other Nikkor AF lenses.
Coma (saggital coma flare) often causes weird smeared blobs to appear around bright points of light in the corners of fast or wide lenses at large apertures. In lenses that have it, coma goes away as stopped down.
As an aspherical lens, I didn't see any coma. Bravo!
The Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G has moderately strong barrel distortion, worse than most of Nikon's 58mm and 50mm lenses.
The good news is that recent digital cameras like the D90, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D5200, D7000, D7100, D4, D600, D800, D800E and Df can be set to correct the distortion automatically in-camera — so long as you have the latest camera firmware installed in your camera!
In any case, it's easy to correct fully with Photoshop's lens distortion filter using these correction factors. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.
Ergonomics are easy, just grab the lens to mount, and just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.
This is a large, lightweight lens. I presume it's mostly air inside, and feels that way.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.
The big barrel is just for show to look like Canon's 50/1.2L, so the big 72mm filters are more than big enough to let you use combinations of thick filters with no fear of vignetting.
The filter ring never moves.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G gets bigger as focused more closely. It's an ordinary unit-focus lens.
Flare and ghosts aren't a problem.
Here's the very worst I could do, pointing the camera directly at the sun, putting a black palm tree where a ghost might be, and then adding +2 stops exposure compensation to show it:
Ghost at f/8, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G. bigger.
This is the very worst I could do; all my other shots under the same conditions were ghost-free.
There's also no need to use a hood; the big poser plastic barrel has the small glass elements deeply recessed.
There are no lateral color fringes when shot on the D800E, which corrects any automatically.
This lens doesn't get as close as most 58mm and 50mm lenses, but it is sharp stopped down.
Full-frame image at closest focus distance at f/8.
Crop from 16 MP FX Nikon Df image at f/8 at 100%. If this is 6" wide on your screen, the complete image printed at this same magnification would be 50 x 33." (4 x 3 feet, or 1.3 x 0.9 meters!)
At f/2, spherochromatism causes the magenta and green fringes you will see on out-of-focus areas. If you can get it in focus, it's reasonably sharp wide open at macro distances.
Crop from similar 16 MP image at f/2 at 100%. If this is 6" wide on your screen, the complete image printed at this same magnification would be 50 x 33." (4 x 3 feet, or 1.3 x 0.9 meters!)
Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G. enlarge.
The Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G is built to decent consumer standards with a metal mount and glass glass, but otherwise it's all plastic.
Plastic; rubber covered.
Mounting Index Dot
White plastic ball.
Debossed metal, 18k gold filled.
Sticker glued into a recess on the bottom of the lens.
US Model Signified by
Unknown, mine has no "US" prefix in front of its serial number.
Moisture seal at mount
Noises When Shaken
Mild clunking from the focus system.
Lens made in Japan, hood made in China.
While amateurs waste time worrying about lens sharpness, pros know that lens sharpness has little to do with making sharp pictures. This said, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G is among Nikon's sharpest normal lenses, just as is the 50mm f/1.4 G. The 55mm f/2.8 AF and 60mm f/2.8 G are probably a little sharper.
This 58mm f/1.4 G is just about perfect. It's super sharp and contrasty on a 36 MP FX D800E at every aperture. Only the far corners are a tiny bit softer at f/1.4, but they are still sharp. The corners get a little better as stopped down, but no matter what you do, this 58mm is almost as sharp as a macro lens. Your biggest impediments to sharpness will be a lack of perfect focus, diffraction if you stop down too much, or camera or subject motion.
Nikon's claimed MTF curve.
The claimed MTF is very good, but not as good as a macro lens like the 60mm f/2.8 G.
Spherochromatism: green and magenta fringes at f/1.4.
There is significant spherochromatism.
Spherochromatism, sometimes mistakenly called "color bokeh" by laymen, is a minor aberration which can add color fringes to out-of focus highlights.
With the Nikon 58mm, you may see green fringes on background highlights or magenta fringes on foreground highlights.
Crop from above 16MP FX image at 100%.
Note that the region of best focus (look for the texture) is inside the green-fringed area. It's not encouraging that the region of best focus has green fringes.
Stars on The Star at f/7.1, 06 December 2013. bigger.
The optics move forward and back inside the barrel, so so long as you have a filter on the front, this lens becomes a very solid package relatively immune to being hit and to dirt in the air.
The Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G is the usual plastic G lens: if your AFS motor dies, your lens won't autofocus unless you can get the part from Nikon.
Otherwise, there isn't anything else to worry about.
M/A - M Switch
Nikon goofed. This switch is supposed to be labeled "A - M."
The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because you also can focus manually simply by grabbing the focus ring in this position.
The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because back in the old days, when Nikon had almost caught up to Canon who had been doing this for ten years before, Nikon was trying to show off that you could focus manually while in the AF position.
Paint over the extra M if you're easily confused.
NEW: Premium 50mm Lenses Compared 04 September 2014
I compared it directly to the
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G (2008-today, $440)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D (2002-today, $125)
Nikon 58mm f/1.2 NOCT (1977-1997, $3,000)
on the range at infinity on a 36 MP FX D800E for sharpness.
In the center, there is little difference, but if you split hairs, this 58mm f/1.4 is the best wide-open. The other lenses are almost as good and I'd never notice any difference in actual photography, but in the lab, this new 58/1.4 wins wide-open by a small margin.
The corners are a different story. The NOCT has very soft corners wide-open; it's designed for high contrast and no coma, not resolution. The NOCT is very contrasty in the corners at f/1.2, but its resolution is low.
Among the non-NOCT lenses, this 58/1.4G is as good as the 50/1.4G, with the 50/1.8D being softer — but nowhere near near as soft as the NOCT in the corners.
50mm lenses are the sharpest in any brand's line, and all these are spectacular. If you really want sharp, forget these fast lenses and use the 55mm f/2.8 AF or 60mm f/2.8 G instead, since they are at least as sharp and have no distortion. Using a digital camera's distortion correction to fix this 58mm's distortion will soften the sides of the image slightly as the pixels are resampled.
If you live in a laboratory, then this 58/1.4G is slightly sharper than other 50mm lenses, but it can't focus as close as the others. If you need the greatest sharpness, the 55mm f/2.8 AF or 60mm f/2.8 G are even better ideas for much less money.
There isn't any visible performance difference in actual photography, but not being able to focus as close as other lenses significantly limits the pictures you can take with this 58mm lens. The sample I purchased of this 58mm lens didn't focus as accurately as my 50/1.4G, so my 50/1.4G actually gives better real-world results. I presumed that AF Fine Tuning would fix what I saw, but after seeing at spherochromatism how the point of optimum definition doesn't correlate to the point of least color fringing, I suspect that AF Fine Tuning might not fix what I thought was a slight focus error. No worries, these effects are only visible at large apertures, and once you stop down, all 50mm lenses are the same.
This 58mm lens is essentially the 50/1.4G put in a big plastic barrel with the price jacked up to pretend it's a Canon 50/1.2L. I wouldn't buy one of these; I prefer the smaller 50/1.4G that focuses closer and sells for a fraction of the price, with the same sharpness and bokeh performance for all practical intents and purposes. This 58mm lens isn't exotic; it's just priced like it.
Therefore, I see that this 58/1.4G will become wildly popular with weekend shooters who make too much money at other jobs during the week. For serious shooting, I prefer the 50/1.4G; I see no benefit to this lens other than improving Nikon's profits for shareholders. Profits are good, without them Nikon would be forced to exit the imaging market entirely, and without which we wouldn't see the really good low-production stuff, like S3 Year 2000 commemorative cameras, that solid profits allow large companies to go build.
I would leave the hood at home.
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