Nikon AF-S 58mm f/1.4G £1400, $1695
The costliest lens on test is not the sharpest tool in the box, but it’s built to excel in other areas
Nikon says that this new lens pays homage to the legendary Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 from 1977. Unlike most modern lenses, it’s designed to perform best at its widest aperture, making it ideal for portraiture and night scenes. It’s considerably larger than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G but still reasonably lightweight, at 385g.
Mod cons include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, a nineblade diaphragm and Nano Crystal Coating, plus a lens hood and soft pouch as bundled accessories. To be honest, you’d expect nothing less considering the price tag. This lens is more than five times as expensive as the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G in the UK, and some four times as pricey in the USA.
Perhaps the biggest shock is that sharpness is relatively lacking at wide apertures. At f/1.4, it’s the softest in the group. However, there’s also an up side. Unlike with most competing lenses, defocused lights towards the edges and corners of the frame remain rounded rather than taking on complex shapes. Bokeh is incredibly creamy, and ‘bokeh fringing’ is very well restrained. It really comes down to whether you prefer beautiful bokeh at the expense of reduced sharpness, and whether you feel it’s worth paying the extra.