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Thursday, 17 October 2013


For portraits, I would use a vintage 5.8cm f/1.4 or 55mm f/1.2 over this thing any day.

Oh wait, I already do! Yay!

Why isn't Nikon showing us astrophotography samples? That's what the original Noct was for.

I'm getting old - I have a couple of questions about the car...

I believe the Canon 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens was introduced in 1973, a bit earlier than than the "first" of the Noct-Nikkor mentioned in your article. I remember lusting after that lens a young struggling photographer, knowing that I would probably never own one. Later, I did acquire a number of aspherical lensed optics, but none had the "hand ground" element of that early optic.

"I hope our customers regard the AF-S Nikkor 58mm ƒ/1.4G as a...'must-have' lens."

Lensmakers probably have the same hope for every lens they make.

While I wish that this was a 1.2 to truly match the NOCT, trying to focus on anything with the 50 1.2 leads me to believe that anything less than calibrating the lens to camera and never, ever touching it again would lead to lots of almost in focus shots with no flare. I loved the Nikkor 35 1.4, but ended up with the Sigma 35 instead - which quickly became my favorite lens. (You should try it! Heck, I'll loan you mine to play with!) I don;t think I'm tempted to get the new 58, but it's nice to see Nikkon building neat primes instead of more zooms...

One thing that surprises me is the recent release of lenses with very off focal length. Take the new Panasonic-leica 15mm for m4/3 rds giving a 30mm odd FOV.. and I agree with you that same could be said for FOV around 60mm.. too long for a standard and too short for small tele..
I do think however that this lens makes more sense for Nikon users with APS sensors.. and no not every portrait needs to be soft .. I think If I was a Nikon User that probably would be my first choice for portrait lens

It's a funny thing about how people see. You've always said that you have an affinity for 35mm, while I agree with Ctein -- I tend to see better with a slightly longer lens, and really love the 75-90 range. I used to use the Nikkor 60mm macro as a walk-around with a film camera, which it really wasn't designed for -- I liked it because it was just a bit longer than 50mm, which, if I were to pick up your word "useless," I would be more likely to apply to 50. In fact, I think you could make a pretty useful set of lenses about 20mm apart -- 20mm, 40mm, 60mm and 80mm. I've always thought 35mm was just a titch too wide for one thing, and not quite wide another for other things...that you were better off with a 28/40 or even a 21/40. But the disagreements in this area is one of the things that makes photography so interesting...people who shoot close-up street with 35mm and wider often create photos that remind me of neue sachlichkeit paintings. And that's a good thing, though I don't do it myself.

There are going to be a lot of comparisons between this lens and the recently announced manual focus fifty-something that's twice the length, two and a half times the weight, almost two and a half times the price.

I've never been a fan of the nifty fifties, but recently I've become really enamored of my Nikon 50/1.8G and the results I've been getting with the D800e. At a little over $200, optically and aesthetically it's the best bargain I've seen in 40 years of using Nikon glass. The Zeiss lens doesn't interest me at all, but I'm anxious to see how the new Nikon compares to the 50/1.8G. If it's consistent with their 35/1.4G (my current favorite), then it's going to be a great lens, and I'll be looking to trade in some other equipment to finance it.

This is the third new fast 55-58mm premium full-frame lens announced in the last couple of weeks, isn't it? I'm not complaining (unlike you, i think those are delightful focal lengths), but I am a little confused, since the world of 135-format photography seemed to have more or less abandoned those focal lengths a long time ago.

"there's no questioning the resonance of the number "58" to Nikon lens fans."
Very true but the 58 it first made me think of was the 5.8cm F mount 1.4 from 1959.
No problem with this one being too sharp for portraits, at least not wide open.
What is amazing is that these lenses are on Ebay for over four hundred bucks.
Still seeing Nikon make a 58 made me smile. Not worth a house payment but it's nice anytime one of the big players introduces a new fast prime.

I had a friend who used Hasselblads back in the film days because you could always make the images less sharp. It is much harder to make a soft image sharper. However I agree with you, sharpness is way over rated. Almost as much as HDR...

Having spent many years worrying about whether my lenses were sharp enough, the idea of a lens being too sharp is mind boggling, especially when its so easy to soften focus in an enlarger or Photoshop.

Here is a post that provides an explanation (I can't vouch for its accuracy since it's far outside my realm of expertise !) for "why 58mm":

I suppose the interesting question is whether the new 58 uses the same optics, or whether it was just done for nostalgia.

[Thanks for that. I can't say if it's accurate either, but it's a good story! --Mike]

There's something about recent Nikon lenses that make them boring for me, a bit like station wagons: they are useful, but hardly an exciting experience. In the case of the 58/1.4, it starts with the mechanics: a large package, with the glass obviously only taking up part of the volume. I don't like extraneous size. Then there's the 58 mm focal length...58 is not 50. Not a dealbreaker, but annoying. And finally, there's the price, which is harsh unless we're talking Otus-level quality.

Despite my negativity, it will be interesting for me to see the pictorial qualities of the lens. Coma at maximum aperture isn't my biggest problem, but I do tend to get annoyed when fast lenses lack contrast and produce heavy longitudinal chromatic aberration. Each subjective qualities, so it will be interesting to see what balance Nikon went for.

Already have a full-frame F-mount 58mm f/1.4. I really like it, though to date have only used on an APS-C sensor camera. Lovely wee thing... if you're okay with manual focus. It's one of four Voigtlander lenses I've acquired - 20mm; 28mm; 40mm; and 58mm. The wider two were bought new. The others, secondhand. Total cost for all four? A fair bit less than the new Nikkor (in the UK)...

Nikon says there's no coma at maximum aperture, but their sample photos on Flickr show it clear as day, particularly the night cityscape.

Coma is, without a doubt, the my second-most-hated lens aberration*. It's the reason I haven't bought any "high end" fast glass...because where coma is concerned, the expensive lenses are rarely better (and often much worse) than the cheap ones.

The $1300 Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro-Planar and the $1600 Canon 50mm f1.2 are shaow marginal--if any--improvement over the 30 year old $300 Canon 50mm f1.4.

*Most hated: "sunstars." Particularly umpteen-zillion-pointed stars of the Zeiss/Nikon/Sigma variety. They're the ugliest, nastiest, most shot-destroyingest aberration known to man.

Regarding LJ Slater's comment "Why isn't Nikon showing us astrophotography samples? That's what the original Noct was for."

The NOCT-Nikkor was very well-corrected for coma and chromatic abberations, but it suffered from very apparent field curvature. Not really a problem with most three-dimensioinal subjects (like the woman and the car, above). But for subjects that were all in the same plane (as the stars appear to us), you had to choose whether to focus on the ones in the center of the image, or the ones nearer the edges of the frame. The old NOCT was definitely not designed for astrophotography.

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Mike I still suggest you try the Sigma 35 1.4 art series lens. My expectation is it will change the way you feel about the Nikon 35 1.4.



I so agree that the 60mm range is highly useful and desirable. I have a 58mm Helios 44M-2, which I haven't used in some time and is nowhere near the performance of modern lenses, but I love the perspective of that focal length. In fact, I think something in the range of 65-70 for 35mm frame/sensor size would be great for portraiture that requires a closer distance between photographer and subject than the typical 85-100 lens. The slight increase in focal length might mean you could get away with f1.4 or even f1.8.

Is everyone here well-off enough not to cringe at the asking price of US$1700?

[Hey, I even said in the post that I balked at the price of the earlier 35mm, which is the same price more or less. I can't afford this. --Mike]

I read in November 2012 in nikonrumors.com that Nikon filed a patent for the Noct-Nikkor. I was wondering if Nikon would release a modern version of the Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2. I shoot occasionally with the original Noct. I love it.

Oh well, I still have not acquired the 85mm for the D800E. It would be interesting to see how it compares to the old 58s.

I was like Mike - I never regarded the 60mm-ish focal length as being anything I'd have use for. But then I picked up a Pentax K-01 and the DA Limited 40mm f/2.8 (60mm effective on APS-C). The lens almost never comes off the camera. It's like everything else: We adapt.

Aspherical lens elements are common in many lenses today since small diameter elements can be molded in large quantities at low cost.

My understanding is that large diameter aspherical elements are still much costlier to manufacture than their spherical counterparts.

This, in part, could explain the astronomical cost of the Noct-Nikkor (I have no experience using this for astrophotography so no comment).

Nikon's newest offering has two aspherical elements combined with excellent lens coatings for less than $2,000.

Not to be outdone the 55mm Otus from Zeiss which is their newest ne plus ultra offering.

I can't wait for the Nikon versus Zeiss shootout to begin. I'll be there recording the whole event with my 45mm GN Nikkor, a 4 element single coated Tessar style design.

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