#bokeholic

Fuji's 50mm Equivalent Options

A very happy new year 2019 to y’all! In my last post I explained how the main benefit of getting re-united with my X100F was fewer lost photographic opportunities, coz its small size allows me to always have her with me. Perfectly happy? Well, not quite I’m afraid. While the X100F´s moderate wide-angle lens is great for documentary / street / travel imagery (including part of the subject’s environment), I still often prefer the slightly narrower field of view of the “normal” lens for a more selective & focused field of view … Please read on to discover what options Fuji offers & what was the best solution for me!

Staircase to heaven, with Fuji X-E3 and XF 35 f/1.4R @f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 1600

No problem on full frame: I got my absolute favorite 58mm “boutique” lens kinda permanently glued to my D850 right there, please see my earlier posts here and here! But wait a minute, you gotta be aware the amazing image quality comes at the cost of 1.5 kilograms pulling on your neck (and you’ll need to carry quite a substantial photo bag to boot). Ya ain’t gonna lug that kinda kit around just for fun (i.e. when not on a planned photoshoot). If you only want to have a compact camera always with you “just in case”, I found 3 options from Fuji which can solve the “I want a normal field of view in an always with you compact format” dilemma:

  1. Take an X100F and activate its digital zoom (select the 1st step = 50mm equivalent field of view)

  2. Take an X100F and attach the TCL-X100ii Teleconverter (also a 50mm equivalent field of view)

  3. Take an X-E3 (or another exchange-able lens body) with one of Fuji´s 35mm (53mm equivalent field of view) offerings: Either the XF 35mm f/1.4R or the XF 35mm f/2 R WR

To save y’all the trouble of reading until the end of this post to find out what option I chose, here the result: After much deliberation I got m’self a black X-E3 with an XF 35mm f/1.4R, please see my reasoning & details of these options below (incl. some images you can check out to help you come to your own conclusions)!

Winterdorf in Bayreuth, at max. aperture with Fuji X-E3 and XF 35mm f/1.4R @f/1.4, 1/340 sec, ISO 2000

1. X100F, using the built in digital zoom (at the 50mm setting):

A digital zoom on the X100F? Size-wize the best option, coz this feature don’t add no cost nor bulk to the X100F. But nope, it wasn’t for me. Works OK in a pinch if you got no alternative with you, but for me the quality of the digital zoom’s image don’t cut it (albeit still being better than cropping a 50mm field of view outta a regular X100F image). Apart from this the X100F’s digital zoom works in JPEG mode only (i.e. you don’t get no RAW files). See below comparison between the X100F’s digital zoom at the 50mm setting @f/2 and an image shot at a comparable field of view with the XF 35mm f/1.4 also @f/2 - compare the rendering of the twigs in the centre of the image:

Crop of X100F 50mm digital zoom @f/2, 1/4000 sec

Crop of X-E3 with 53mm (e.f.o.v.) @f/2, 1/3200 sec

2. X100F with the TCL-X100ii Teleconverter:

Had this somewhat ungainly accessory way back when I still had an X100T (2015-2016). OK the teleconverter don't deteriorate the quality of the camera's native lens but images at closer focussing distances (below 1.5m) remain soft at apertures larger than f/4 (just like with the native lens). Kinda defeats the purpose of a lens which you’d often wanna use for portraits. Although the converter otherwize has absolutely useable image quality (albeit lagging slightly behind Fuji’s prime lenses) the main issue I have with this option is its size & weight (around 600g). You do need to think about taking this set with you when not specifically on a photo mission! And the teleconverter (filter diameter 67mm!) does make the combo look more obvious to your subjects. I’m sorry I ain’t got no images here taken with the TCL-X100, but if interested please head over to Fuji vs. Fuji for a more detailed reviews!

Lanterns on the street, captured by Fuji X-E3, with XF 35mm f/1.4R @f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO 400

Lanterns on the street, captured by Fuji X-E3, with XF 35mm f/1.4R @f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO 400

3. X-E3 with a Fuji 35mm prime, the XF 35mm f/1.4R for me:

I never liked the XF 35mm f/2R WR - out of some reason all the copies I had were either de-centred or got dusty inside after a short time (bad QC?). For me THE 35mm Fuji prime is the original XF 35 f/1.4R - I’ve had a couple of these during my Fuji time, with some variations in image quality. So I was a bit apprehensive as to whether this one would be OK. As a veritable “Bokeholic” I just love those larger aperture lenses, so at least I had to try ;-) … This time I gotta say I wasn’t disappointed - my images are tack sharp, even at f/1.4 (at least in the centre)! See below comparison of my X100F with its 23mm f/2 lens to my X-E3 with the XF 35 f/1.4R at roughly the same magnification, both @f/2.8 (to at least partly equalize the X100F’s “softness” disadvantage at close focus distances):

Centre of X100F image @f/2.8, 1/60 sec

Centre of X-E3 & XF 35mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, 1/60 sec

As y’all can see, the contrast and sharpness of the 35mm is just so much better. So, I was happy I’d made the right choice! The X-E3 with the 35 f/1.4 is also quite a bit more compact and lighter than the X100F with the teleconverter, so easy to have always with me in a small bag (actually the same small bag I use for the X100F). I got only 2 niggles: The autofocus of the XF 35mm f/1.4R is quite loud (albeit being sufficiently fast with the updated firmware & processor of the X-E3) and the combo ain’t weather sealed (but then again neither is the X100F). I do also like the X-E3’s rangefinder style housing (with eyepiece located on the left side of the camera, very similar to the X100F) and its touch screen feature, allowing swipe gestures to control various settings

The gate, seen with Fuji X-E3 and XF 35mm f/1.4R @f/2.8, 1/240 sec, ISO 200


I hope you enjoyed my first post in the new year, with advice for a small hi-quality kit you can always have with you, so go out and have fun & wish you wonderful photographic opportunities this year! Please do share your experiences in the comment section below. As a last word I’d like to thank all of you who’ve spent time here for your continued support & for your valuable comments & feedback in the last year. I hope I can deliver more interesting content to you this year!

Many thanks & best wishes for 2019,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

So, Your Pic’s Suck? Go Micro!

Every Photographer’s had it. The Block. Writers call it “Writer’s Block”, that dreaded moment where your creativity hits a brick wall. You want, but nothing works no more. The creative flow stops & your pic’s just suck. Big. Time. So, y’all up against a dead-end? OK, so go for a walk, they say. Eliminate distractions, they suggest. You gotta get yo’self outta that rut, they tell you. Nice. But not very helpful, such generic advice. If you’re experiencing writer’s (or better photographer’s) block, or if you’re dreading getting it, I got an idea for youse right here. It works (at least for me ;-) … helps you break thru your creative constipation & lights a fire under your photography: Go Micro! Please read on to find out what that means!

“Micro” in action: Nikon’s Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 180

“Micro” is Nikon speak for “Macro”, the photography of small things below the usual minimum focusing distance of lenses around 1/focal length in cm, with reproduction ratios above 1:10 up to and including 1:1 (go further and you’re in real “micro”, larger-than-life territory). If you don’t know what to photograph anymore, or you’re stuck inside with a Siberian blizzard howling outside, taking images of things close by is a great way to get your creative juices flowing again!

Closer view, framed by Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 64

I often ponder if this or that image is worth sharing on my blog - will my readers appreciate them or are they just mediocre snapshots which don’t elicit any meaningful emotion and therefore just waste my visitors’ valuable time? With Macro photography the results can often be quite interesting right off the bat, coz you showing stuff people normally aren’t aware of. And your subjects are usually quite static, patiently “enduring” while you try out all kinda framing, composition, lighting, exposure, or angles. You actually got time to “work” your subject, see example image below, balancing sharpness and blur between fore- and background, the unsharp flowers mirroring the sharp ones:

More of the same, seen with Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 64

Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t advocating that taking Macro images is a cure for crummy photography, but it’s a great training & learning field which will also benefit your normal photography. I like the above image because it has a rich tonal range from dark blacks to pure whites, overall creating an impression of lightness thru the bright tones of the flowers’ petals

Macro flower composition, Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 64

Macro means that your depth of field is extremely limited. Even with f/5.6 as in above image you get a completely blurred background which accentuates and compliments the sharp part of the image. Also in the below image I love how this narrow depth of field and the contrast between the blurred, darker outer areas and the sharp, bright center of the image gives it a 3 dimensional quality & pop:

More Bokeh, using Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 110

More Bokeh, using Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 110

Actually I started experimenting with macro photography more by coincidence than intent: I was planning to get hold of a prime portrait lens. 85mm was a too close angle of view to my beloved 58mm, so I was flirting on the web with Nikon’s amazing AF-S 105mm f/1.4E. On closer scrutiny I found out that that one had some disadvantages: An eye-watering RRP of over 2k$ (which currently is just quite a wayz over my budget) and a minimum focusing distance of only 1m … Just a tick too long IMO (would’ve preferred 0.85 or 0.9m to get really close frame filling head portraits). Also not having VR meant it limited free-hand shutter speeds to 1/250sec

Spiked petals, captured by Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/350sec, ISO 64

So, I started to look for alternatives and found Nikon’s Nicro-Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR, with which all the images on this post are shot. This lens turned out to be a very versatile offer at an attractive price of nearly a third of the f/1.4E, with macro up to 1:1 (life-size, w/o needing extension tubes) & VR included, at a max. aperture of f/2.8! WTF f/2.8? What about bokeh? Would it be good enough for portraits? Well, please judge for y’self in below image of my pretty wife:

Bokeh portrait, with Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 1000

Concluding I can recommend Nikon’s Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR. It is a macro lens, with very good sharpness & minimal curvature of field. It’s not a specialized portrait lens with an extreme thin depth of field. So, if youse looking for a lens delivering organic, dreamy portraits at wide open apertures of f/1.4 to f2 (like wedding photographers love), it’s precise, somewhat clinical character maybe ain’t for you. However, if you looking for a fun, versatile, high quality lens for documentary, journalistic portraits all the way up to life-size macros at a very attractive price, with vibration reduction to boot, you’ll be impressed! What do you think? If you got any questions, or would like to leave me comments please do so in the comments section below or on my about page. Thanks for your interest and for looking by, I appreciate it!

Many thanks & wish y’all a relaxing, successful photo weekend, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Finding Beauty in Banality: The Magic of Boutique Lenses!

Merriam-Webster defines “banality“ as something lacking originality, freshness, or novelty - not having any new or interesting qualities. Aha … OK, right. So, what´s all this gotta do with photography? And what, pray, is a “boutique lens”? … and anyways, how on earth d’you want to find beauty in banality? Questions, questions, questions … Please read on if you want to find out the answers & settle in for a relaxing weekend read ;-)

The beauty of banality, seen thru Nikon‘s AF-S 58mm f/1.4 on D850

Oh boy, now he´s getting philosophical you may say … even metaphysical maybe? Whatever. Please hear me out, I will elaborate: For me photography is the art of conveying your impressions and feelings on the world around you to your audience via the images you make. Your ability to see and perceive photographically is a key enabler! And with this post I hope to animate y’all to continuously train and develop this ability. Of course, alternatively you can always book a safari trip to the Serengeti (if you have the time and the necessary small change to pay for it on hand, that is ;-) … Your experiences and the images you´ll bring back with you will for sure be amazing (alone due to the extraordinary location). However, believe me: Enhancing your photographic seeing skills by bringing mundane topics into a new light can be immensely rewarding (apart from also greatly benefitting those Serengeti images)!

Pipe Dream, Nikon’s AF-S 58mm f/1.4 on D850

It does require persistence, effort, and some courage though. To look where you have never looked before. To overcome your initial reluctance to take a photo of … well, nothing interesting, really. To discover things everybody else has overseen, for example see above image of a drainpipe or below photo of a bridge railing:

Off the fence, Nikon‘s AF-S 58mm f/1.4 on D850

Ok, so where does this “boutique lens” thing come from now? All right, I gotta admit I dreamt this one up m’self! Nowadays the word “boutique” is often used to indicate a specialized, highly attractive offering for discerning niche customers, eg. as in fashion boutique, boutique hotel or boutique winery. Following this logic, I´d now like to coin the term “boutique lens” for lenses which combine the following for me important characteristics (usually these aren’t found on mainstream and/or zoom lenses):

  1. Ultra-fast aperture resulting in a razor thin focal plane (pre-requisite to the following items)

  2. Attractive bokeh, with a smooth transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas

  3. Good sharpness in the focal plane already at largest / larger apertures (> f/2)

  4. Acceptable lens aberrations (distortion, vignette, coma, lateral & longitudinal CA, …)

But don’t an ultra-fast aperture guarantee attractive bokeh? Unfortunately not. When looking for a fast full frame “normal“ lens I first bought the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art. Phenomenal sharpness but terrible “onion ring“ bokeh. Just didn’t cut it. So, for me criteria 1 and 2 both need to be fulfilled. Then the plane of focus needs to be tack sharp and the lens aberrations not too obvious. Combining these four criteria in the right balance lays a magic touch on your images, below image of a driveway is a nice example:

Thru the gate, Nikon‘s AF-S 58mm f/1.4 on D850

In my view Nikon‘s AF-S 58mm f/1.4G used for all images in this post is a fine example for a boutique lens. Next to fulfilling all the above criteria’s it’s slightly longer than normal focal length gives images taken with it a special focussed perspective! Many thanks for visiting, should you have any questions please drop me a note in the comments section below or on my about page. Best regards,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

A Wider Window to the World - Nikon’s 28mm f/1.4E

Got a 24-120mm f/4 zoom with my D850. It did initially help me to survive the weight & size shock of going full frame after enjoying 3 years of mirrorless lightness. And it’s a really good lens, having 98% of my most used focal lengths built in. But then I’d got bitten by the Bokeh bug & fell for the 58mm f/1.4 (I “outed” myself on that one here). So then I was out & about looking for a bokehlicious wide angle. Crazy, huh? Really? Yep, I admit that’s how bad I got bitten - maybe a good idea to get some professional help after all ... Sometime. Anyways, please read on if y’all wanna join me on this new adventure & fancy some advice as to which direction to go Bokeh!

Rooster house in Bayreuth, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/8, 1/180sec, ISO 64

One thing you can’t complain about Nikon is missing options. They got it all. Every lens you’d ever wished for. Wide angle with Bokeh potential? 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm, all with f/1.4 max. aperture. Right there, they got it. You just need to be some kinda millionaire ;-) and you need to have the patience of a saint to find what fits best to your needs! Well I gotta tell ya, ain’t no millionaire & for sure ain’t no saint either. And my trusted photo dealer wasn’t gonna appreciate me trying out all kinda different lenses (coz large aperture wide angle primes definitely aren’t mainstream. They gotta be ordered & payed for in advance, each single one :-) So, after many hours of research, burning the midnight oil on the net I got the Nikkor AF-S 28mm f1.4E in my sights. Why? it’s positioned as a wide angle with Bokeh and it got many great reviews.

So you want a “Storytellin’ lens” (which includes the subject’s environment)? Look no further, IMO this is the one. See the “Rooster house” image above and the airport snapshot of my wife below: After many years of using a 35mm equivalent on mirrorless I knew that the 35mm’s rendering is just a little wee bit too “normal” (narrow) for me, albeit great for everyday documentary use. I needed something with a bit steeper perspective (by requiring you to come closer to your subject), without hitting “distortion territory” in people photography. And, of course with Bokeh! The wider the angle, the less Bokeh and the more distortion potential. The 24mm distorts too much if your subject reasonably fills the frame and includes too much of the image if you maintain sufficient distance to prevent distortion. For me the sweet spot between perspective & Bokeh lies around 28mm! Definitely. Look at the image below - Amazing Bokeh on a 28mm wide angle! Hard to believe, right?

Flowers on the Fence, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2, 1/500sec, ISO 64

So there you got it. A wide angle with Bokeh! Now Nikon’s AF-S 28mm f/1.4E’s been quite a recent development (it came out last year if I remember right). 14 lens elements, of which 2 are ED lenses and 3 asphericals, which do cause a touch of nervousness in background Bokeh, as you can see (but not critical in my opinion). Overall Nikon made quite an effort on this one, resulting in an eye-watering price (hey, they forced me to trade in the complete rest of my Fuji kit to get this beast ...). But when you see the images and the Bokeh this monster creates you forget the pain. Garanteed! Even at f/1.4 the clarity & sharpness of this lens’s rendering just jumps off your monitor! You’re even forced to close the aperture to f/2, just to get sufficient depth-of-field. So depth-of -field’s the only reason for stopping down on this one. See below image of an antique Spanish wooden door:

Antique Spanish wooden door, D850 with 28mm f /1.4 @f/2, 1/60sec, ISO 180

The Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.4E’s superb image quality, nearly independent of the used aperture is quite unlike most other large aperture lenses which are soft fully open and need to be stopped down to achieve acceptable sharpness. This gives you more creative freedom and allows you to enjoy narrow depth-of-field even on a wide angle lens! The below snapshot of my pretty wife as we were enjoying a break in the airport lounge shows what I meant with staying out of “distortion territory”. With 28mm you can still get away with peoples’ heads close to the image frame edges, distortion staying within reasonable limits. Don’t try this with a 24mm, your subjects will not be amused by the egg-shaped distortion of their heads in case they’re located in the image corner!

With my pretty wife at the airport, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, 1/60sec, ISO 450

The not too large 75˚angle of view of the 28mm thereby limits the inclusion of distracting background elements, allowing environmental portraits to not be overwhelmed by the secondary image elements. In this image stopping down to f/2.8 allowed me to also get the stuff on the table more or less into focus but still got enough blurring of the background to not distract from the main subject. I had a similar idea for the image below: Seperate the wrought iron gate from its shadow on the wall behind it by focussing the selective plane of sharpness on the foreground. This creates a better separation between fore- and background elements and gives it a more 3 dimensional rendering, what do you think?

On the fence, D850 with 28mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, 1/2000sec, ISO 64

So, does having this 28mm cover all your wide-angle needs? To be honest not completely. IMO 28mm’s a bit to short for street photography, because the 1-1.5m you need to come closer to your subjects to fill the frame sometimes already infringes on their private space and they notice their image is being captured. This still creates interesting images for sure but they will not strictly be of documentary nature anymore because you are now interacting with your subjects. So I will want to try out Nikon’s AF-S 35mm f/1.4G for my street photography at some time in the future ... anyways I’m sure looking forward to seeing y’all back here for that review ;-)

You may ask why I don’t use my zoom for all this. Simple, I mainly use my 24-120mm zoom when traveling or for casual photography (especially when I don’t need too much Bokeh ;-). For more serious photography I prefer to limit myself to one focal length for a specific topic. This allows me to focus more on the image rather than fiddling with the zoom ring (hell, even when using the zoom I try to stick to one focal length for a series of images). I can only advise you to try that for yo’self - I promise your photography will improve dramatically - less is more!

If you have any questions or anything’s unclear please leave me a message below or on my about page! Thanks for looking by & wish y’all a relaxing Sunday!

Yours, 

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Five Reasons I Love Nikon´s 58mm f/1.4 - Is This Normal ?

I've bought and traded in so many 50mm lenses that I thought I gotta go see a shrink. Nuts some may say and nuts I may well be, but up to now it just didn't ever "click" (pun intended). Until Nikon´s 58mm f/1.4 found me! Please read on if you want to know the 5 reasons why this "normal" lens ain't so normal at all and has achieved for me what no other lens has been able to do!

My lovely wife, seen thru Nikon´s 58mm f/1.4 on D850 @f/1.7, 1/125 sec, ISO 500

I've always loved "normal" lenses (focal length approx. equal to length of image frame diagonal) coz of the authentic way they render the world around us, without perspective effects distracting from the image content. It ain´t for nothing these type of lenses have been a continued favorite of famous reportage photographers, their natural field of view ideal for unbiased documenting of our environment

For my people photos the 58mm's focal length enables me to be at just the right distance from my subjects, allowing sufficient intimacy without being too intrusive. The frame covers the subjects' head & upper body and I'm just far enough away to prevent distortion. All this delivers more informal & natural looking portraits, better able to depict a person's character & posture than more tightly cropped headshots (which sometimes do tend to look a bit like passport photos ;-)

Normal lenses normally also have large apertures, which allow for a bright viewfinder image and dissolve out-of-focus areas with a pleasing bokeh, which helps to focus the viewer on the intended core image content, as you can see in the following image:

Shallow depth of field: Stacked chairs, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 on D850 @f/2, 1/8000 sec, ISO 450

So, over the years whatever camera system I had, I tried all them normal lenses, but searched in vain, from Minolta´s 50 f/1.2, Nikon´s 50 f/1.2, Hasselblad´s 80 f/2.8, Leica´s 50 f/1.4 Summilux, Canon´s 50 f/1.2L, to Fuji´s 35 f/1.4 (53mm full frame equivalent) ... Somehow always something was missing. Then around 6 months ago I went from APS-C back to full frame for its shallower depth of field, desperately on the look out for a fast normal prime ...

First I tried Sigma´s 50mm f/1.4 ART, after reading its rave reviews on the net. However, even though it was phenomenally sharp, I just couldn't come to terms with its IMO terrible 'onion ring' shaped bokeh. And what a monster it was too (as big as my 24-120 f/4 Zoom Nikkor and even 100g heavier!). Images were rendered too "clinical" for my taste ... My next attempt was Nikon´s 50mm f/1.8 but that one was decentered and quite soft until f/2.8, so it was a case of "return to sender".

What to do now? Can't live without no normal lens, and the only remaining option of Nikon´s 58mm f/1.4 was not exactly looking like a bargain at around 1,700 US$ ... (apart from it getting many mediocre reviews on the net). Anyways, after a significant amount of contemplation I finally decided to take the plunge and order one (trading in several bits of my Fuji kit in the process), dreading to realize I´d made a mistake. So it was with sweaty, shakin' fingers that I pressed the image review button on my D850 after taking the first shots, and ...

Damn. It was soft. Everywhere. OMG, so did I now need to start the roulette game of trying out various samples until I´d find one acceptable copy (btw this was the reason I ditched Leica in the end ...)? In my despair I did some test shots and found there was sharpness to be found, just not where I was expecting it! So after some fiddling with the AF fine-tuning (+6 if I remember correctly), I hit the jackpot - whammo! Tack sharp on a razor thin plane, exactly where I wanted it and dissolving into butter soft unsharpness immediately before and behind it, see the image below ;-)

Focused on the rim of my pretty wife's sunglasses, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, 1/500 sec, 64 ISO

So I've identified five, let's say features of Nikon's 58mm f/1.4 lens, which in their combination differentiate it from all the other 'nifty-fifties' out there and have made me fall absolutely in love with the character of the images it produces (especially at larger apertures):

  1. Slightly longer focal length than normal "normal" lenses:
    Finally I found out why I never liked the other 50mm focal lengths on 24x36 full frame. IMO 50mm's a touch too wide for upper body portraits, requiring me to come a bit closer to the subject. This already makes distortion visible and slightly reduces background separation
     
  2. '3D' look of the images it produces, especially with portraits:
    It seems the inherent curvature of field of the 58mm kinda 'bends' the sharpness plane around the 3 dimensional shape of the subject's head (if the head is not too far out of the image centre). This combined with the smooth out-of-focus rendering gives images a subtle '3D' effect, which I never seen before with other lenses
     
  3. Tack sharpness in a razor thin focal plane at larger apertures (f/1.4 - f/2):
    The only other lens which was tack sharp wide open was the Summilux, the others I mentioned above all were too soft for my taste until around f/2 - f/2.8. After all, what's the point of having a large aperture prime if you can't use the large aperture?
     
  4. Transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas, with just enough bokeh smoothness:
    The Sigma had a clinical, razor sharp transition from sharp to unsharp, giving the image a kinda artificial look. The 58mm has a hardly perceptible change over from a tack sharp focus plane to a 'swirly' out-of-focus area which gives the image a dreamy overlay. The slight structure of the bokeh, combined with the not too long focal length is what gives the 58mm's bokeh a special look, still allowing you to imagine your subject's environment  (not so on an 85mm or a 105mm)!
     
  5. Last, but not least a slight vignette at largest apertures:
    Similar to other fast primes the 58mm has a slight vignette at larger apertures up to f/2, but in the combination with the curvature of field and the 'swirly' bokeh it just looks that much better, see image below (look also at the detail in the tablecloth!):

Summer eve, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 on D850 @f/2, 1/3000 sec, ISO 64

As I mentioned earlier, several of the aforementioned 50mm primes demonstrate some of the 5 features, but only Nikon's 58mm f/1.4 magically combines all of them in one lens to deliver a unique & gorgeous rendering. These 5 reasons are why I love this lens so much, and it for sure ain't normal ;-)

One more feature, kinda like a bonus: Like its ancestor, the famous NOCT Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 AI-S the 58mm f/1.4 AF-S is optimized to minimize sagittal coma flare. This means that point light sources are actually rendered as point light sources in the image, rather than looking like bats the more you move toward the edges of the frame. Results in especially clear night images, I'll post some examples in a future post!

Mr. Haruo Sato, the designer of this lens once said: "I hope people will think of this 58mm as a ‘three dimensional hi-fi lens’. I’ll be very happy if people understand this. It allows the point of focus to have as much sharpness as possible while still having a gentle, continuous bokeh"

I found the diagram on the left at The Imaging Resource's Nikon 58mm f/1.4 review (chart reproduced here with their kind permission), showing the distribution of the sharpness over the Nikon 58mm f1.4's image plane (the darker the blue, the sharper). I think the shape of this distribution is the main reason for this lens' 3D character! Mr. Sato, I think I can say I have only just started to understand ... I sure got a long way to go & so much to learn until my imagery will truly do this special lens' capabilities justice! I can only recommend the Nikon 58mm if you're looking for a fast, (not so ;-) normal prime to capture unforgettable documentary style images!

Hope y'all liked the read. if you got any questions or comments, please leave me a note below or on my about page ...

Thanks so much for visiting & looking forward to seeing you here again soon!

Many thanks & best rgds

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Confession of a Bokeh Junkie

My name is Hendrik and I am a Bokeholic. Yes, after going full-frame (again ;-) I've become addicted to "Bokeh". That's Japanese for "blur". So Bokeh is the quality of out-of-focus areas of an image, the more smooth the better. Now why would someone be interested in smooth out-of-focus areas, isn't the image itself more important? Sure, Bokeh will not make an interesting image out of nothing but it is a means to an end: Bokeh emphasizes depth & dimension and frames your subject, giving your image a 3-dimensional look! Interested? Then please read on!

The Fence - a new perspective! 58mm f/1.4 @f/2

In the above image I focussed on the closer foreground to maximize foreground - background separation and used quite a large aperture to have only 2 bars of the fence and a leaf in focus. The resulting blur in the closest foreground and the receding background, coupled with the beautiful Bokeh this lens generates helped to create an amazing 3-dimensional impression! 

Stairs leading to old townhouse entrance, 58mm f/1.4 @f/2

Also here focussing on the foreground & using a large aperture helped to separate the planes in the image, thereby enhancing its 3-dimensional impression. The repetitive shapes in the metal handrails and their shadows make for an interesting composition - note that I took care to separate the elements in the frame as much as possible to create a cleaner image

Flower in glass, 58mm f/1.4 @f/1.4

Like a painting this one ... At f/1.4 depth of field is paper thin and progressively blurs on increasing distance from the focus plane. Amazing also the smoothness of the Bokeh, just watch out y´all don't get addicted too ;-)

Hope you liked this post, if you've got any questions or comments please leave me a note below or on my about page. Thanks for visiting, looking forward to seeing you soon!

Many thanks & best rgds

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!