Side-by-side Comparison of: Zeiss Otus 55, Sigma 50 Art, Nikkor 58G, Nikkor 50/1.4G, Nikkor 50/1.8G

FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
edited August 2014 in Nikon Lenses
Hey everyone,

To anyone who's interested, I did a not-so-unextensive comparison of the
Zeiss Otus 55mm/1.4,
Sigma 50mm/1.4 Art,
Nikkor 58mm/1.4G,
Nikkor 50mm/1.4G
Nikkor 50mm/1.8G

You can really check out the results for every lens side by side. Check it out: Go to review

Flow
Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
«134567

Comments

  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Thanks for an excellent review covering the Nikon lenses and not only Canon 50s like lots of other reviews are comparing. Great work!
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    @FlowtographyBerlin

    Thank you so much. An exceptional presentation not only technically, but very easy to interpret in a meaningful way.

    The Sigma is in my wish list at B & H.
    Msmoto, mod
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,027Moderator
    +1 for an unbiassed review.
    Always learning.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    Great review. Thanks.
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @FlowtographyBerlin

    Thank you for doing this, I have some appreciation of the work that went into it.

    Identifying and reporting focus shift as an important parameter (particularly foe fast lenses ) is very helpful, and most reviews do not.

    People like you make this forum useful.

    Regards ... Harold
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    Nice work! I enjoyed the summary.
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Can't the focus shift on the Sigma be more of less ameliorated using the usb dock?
    No. There's no aperture parameter, only 4 different distances. One needs to keep it in mind.

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,027Moderator
    I can't get over how sad the 58 is.
    Always learning.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,144Member
    edited August 2014
    Yes, and I have a friend who says he loves his! I think we should remember it replaces the noct and was not designed to be a portrait lens. The strength of the noct was not smearing points of light in the dark. Likewise, the 58mm. Maybe we are judging it on the wrong criteria (sharpness) first.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    Thanks @donaldejose for that good point.
    First let me say your test would have been appreciated 1 week ago.
    Buying the 55 AIS I knew that I wanted a new 50 as my Nikon 50 1.8g I felt was weak.

    Now I narrowed it down to three lens Nikon 58 1.4G Sigma 50 1.4 Art and the VoightLander 58 1.4.
    The Nikon beat the Voight over AF and The Nikon beat the Sigma in bokeh

    For several months and weeks randomly I would look for reviews and go on flickr for comparison photos.

    To me I just felt that the 58mm delivered very well.

    I agree with your findings @flowtographyBerlin the is CA and the onion bokeh was only apparent after I took some of the photos myself.

    If I nail the Focus I believe that I get good results. Now human error comes to play. I move, breathe, heavy bag shifts my posture but as long as I stay still I nail the focus with the D800 and DF.

    So one question to ask and it seems Donald already mentioned it

    at 1.4 do we want bokeh or do want sharpness?

    I am now loving the 50mm end for street photography ever since I picked up the 55 AIS I felt my photos were more rewarding but the AF was really needed.

    I have had the lens for only 1 week and so far I'm pleased and yes by 2-2.8 it is sharp but you bring one good point that It would have been a deal breaker for me 1 week ago that by 2.8 it looks like the other nikons and if that is so than I may just return it and go with the Sigma for the benefit of the sharpness but that is to be decided later.

    Here are some snapshots with the D800 and DF feel free to critique comment as feedback is appreciated.
    Mostly all photos are at 1.4 with the exception of few stopped down.

    Nikon 58mm 1.4 G album

  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    @Everyone: THANK YOU for all your nice comments! That's very rewarding! Thanks a lot!

    @Vipmediastar_JZ: Your linked 58G pictures are beautiful! At the same time, they're the best example for the claim that a good image is not made by the equipment. I stick to my verdict on the horrible 58G: I don't see any point in this item, the minimal difference with the bokeh isn't worth a) the money and b) the major, major weaknesses that the lens has otherwise. There's cheaper options for the same results, or there's simply better options for the money, or actually: for less money, to be precise.

    This is also true for the "bokeh-vs-sharpness" statement that @donaldejose raised, and for the "Noct" character (coma absence).
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    Sigh.......must I wait for Nikon to gets its act together? Though, Donaldjose's remark is a good point and softens my feeling on this.

    If they really wanted to, I am sure that they could produce a 50 in the same league as the 85 1.4G for the same price. For another thousand they should be able to equal Zeiss with auto-focus to boot. And if I had to pay the Zeiss price, I would.

    Nikon needs to respond to Sigma's challenge. It used to be that the big perceived negative against Nikon was price. They will have a huge marketing problem if that perception shifts to "quality and price". I wonder if there is an historical precedent for this (involving Nikon) - does anybody know?

    FlowtographyBerlin, this is a great piece of work that you did. The only thing that I feel is missing is sharpness comparisons across the frame and at different apertures. For example, the centre, corner, edge and somewhere in the middle and also at f/2.0, f/4.0 and f/8.0. I think that this would add a tremendous amount of value to your review as these situations are shot in the real world (in addition to 1.4). I probably shot 200 landscape photos with my 85 at f/8.0 on my vacation last week. I do, however, concede that I probably shot twice as many at f/1.4 to f/2.0 because I love shooting portraits wide open.

    My landscape shots were probably 50% with my 28mm 2.8, 25% with my 50mm 1.2, 10% with my 20mm 2.8 (this surprised me, I expected to use it more, but I have a renewed appreciation of the 28mm focal length for landscapes) with the remaining 15% evenly divided between my 85 and 200.

    My point is that the 50mm focal length is very useful for landscapes and the most critical attributes for this use is sharpness across the frame between f/5.6 and f/8.0. I would love to see some comparisons for this purpose.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    @WestEndBoy: Thanks for your feedback! Yes, indeed the in-depth comparison of sharpness across different frame positions would have been useful, but in a big review like that I just had to make a cut somewhere.

    The first thing is, the sharpness comparison isn't in the center, on purpose. Secondly, I can tell you that the two sharpness monsters (Zeiss and Sigma) never disappointed me no matter where the focus point was – within reason, i.e. I never had anything out in the far corners. That's not very useful to know, I know, but then again, if you want all the detailed measurements like those, and at different apertures, you can easily check out something like DxO Mark and their field maps. Your reference, i.e. starting point, can be the example image in my review, which is at f/1.4, and you see the position in the image frame.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    And BTW: I don't doubt that Nikon (or anyone else) COULD actually make something like the Zeiss. But the fact is: They don't. God knows why, it surely would be a good product that would have a substantial market. The missing AF is just a too big turndown for an otherwise excellent product.
  • haroldpharoldp Posts: 984Member
    @westendboy

    For sharpness across the frame between f/5.6 and f/8.0, the plain nikon 50/1.4's G or D and the 50/1.8 are hard to beat, and are within the margins any but the best possible technique (tripod/mirror lock/focus etc.

    I often use the Nikon 50/1.4D at f5.6 or 6.3 for panorama landscapes.

    My 'hot' 50's are leica lenses (on an M9), and I will use the summilux (asph) at f1.4. If I will not need f1.4, I take a Summicron 50/2.0 it is half the weight, just as sharp, and being a symmetrical double gauss it has flawless bokeh.

    Regards ... H
    D810, D3x, 14-24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 24-70/2.8, 24-120/4 VR, 70-200/2.8 VR1, 80-400 G, 200-400/4 VR1, 400/2.8 ED VR G, 105/2 DC, 17-55/2.8.
    Nikon N90s, F100, F, lots of Leica M digital and film stuff.

  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    @FlowtographyBerlin - Great job! You will have to share how you do the split screen sliders :)

    ------------------------------------------------

    To echo and expand on donaldejose & Vipmediastar_JZ what many keep excluding from the conversations is what each lens was designed to do. Just because they are all in the 50mm range, doesn't mean the designer's focus was for the same type of use. Unfortunately too many get sucked into critiquing them (and other lenses) based on their personal biases for what they want a lens to do, and not considering that what a lens was designed to do may not line up with what they want. That is not any manufacture's fault, that is just life - sometimes you don't get what you want. ;)

    The Nikkor 50mm 1.8G is for "all around" use, small and cheap.
    Nikkor 50mm 1.4G for all around use but with more bokeh - somewhat of a classic use/look.
    Sigma 50mm - sharpness, sharpness, sharpness. For pixel peepers.
    Nikkor 58mm - bokeh and a classical smooth look - holding down highlight blowouts. Bokeh Hunters.
    Zeiss (I'll include haroldp's Leica glass here) no compromise on anything & to hell with the pricing.

    My camera took a big tumble with my 50 1.4G on and now the lens's focus is out of whack. (This has been a bad year for me and gear - Kid sat on my beauty dish that day as well.) Prior to that I had just decided to stick with the 50mm 1.4g and stopped looking. Now I have been looking again just in case it can't be fixed. Honestly none of the 50's fit everything in what I want (AF, Bokeh, Size, quick focusing, sharpness - in that order and heavy on the first three.) Zeiss, no AF - gone. Sigma's is a great lens, but way, way too large for what I want (that is a huge deal breaker for me) and the bokeh is much more "hard or defined" (harsh lines) than what I like. The 50mm 1.4g, chroma bugs me, 1.8g Bokeh is "hard" but is sharper than the 1.4g. I really like the 58 and is what I really want out of a 50, but it is about $1,000 more than what I want to spend. I just find the images more pleasing from it.

    To me ,all of this "sharpness" focus on a 50 just doesn't make much since. Get any of the 60mm macros if you think you need sharpness. They are all much better than any of the 50's (well maybe not the Zeiss) - and they are cheaper and remove bumping the "close focus" edge. Besides the Nikon 60, Tamron has a great 60mm f/2.
    •Formerly TTJ•
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited August 2014
    @FlowtographyBerlin: Your review covered everything; specially for those that have been considering getting one of the more modern 50mm prime lenses. So in that respect: well done and thank you for sharing it with us here on NRF. Send Admin a message so that he can post it on the main blog.

    I find myself in full agreement with a great majority of your analysis. Moreover, I'm also guilty of: "this review is for anyone who is interested in seeing facts, instead of....images of lamps on bedroom ceilings." Hence, my feeble attempt here.

    Over the past few days, while on the job, I'v had the pleasure of crossing paths with many photographs with DSLR's; let me just say: their is a huge gap between us and them. By "us" and "them," I'm referring to those novice users that would even consider spending over $700 USD on a 50mm prime. Despite their passion for photography, 85% of them lack the understanding of how to truly capitalize on their DSLR; much less their understanding of what lens they own and how to utilize it to begin with. They fully understand that they can get different lenses, yet during my conversation with them in regards to having a nice 50mm prime, once I mention what lens they should consider and the price...they are taken back and say: "isn't their something less expensive." Many of the esthetics we hunger for, they don't. Thus, I hope you hard work goes in aiding them better understand what is what.

    As to the conversation of the Sigma bokeh in relation to the others....well you be the judge:

    ARN_5869.jpg

    As they say: "I likeeeee!!"
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    edited August 2014
    I think the most amazing thing is how the different 50mm lenses are effected by modern cameras. When the 50mm F1.8G and 1.4G were released the 24MP D3x was the highest resolution DSLR out there, and even that was showing signs of weakness in the Nikkors. On the other hand, most Nikon users at the time were using 12MP cameras, on which both looked reasonably good at 100%. For example, on the D700 I thought the 50mm F1.8G was sharp wide open. Boy was I wrong, because on the D800 it is rubbish at F1.8, and becomes usable at around F2.5-F2.8.

    Samples shot with LV AF on a target 1m from the camera, at F1.8. Liveview AF really does bring the most out of the sharpness. The D800 file is from a 1MP crop. The D700, file is a 0.4MP crop to get the same framing. Can you tell which is which, without looking at EXIF data? :D

    image

    image

    VF AF is softer, even with fine tuning. I have fine tune set to +15 on the D800, none required on the D700. The 50mm f1.8G is the only lens I own that shows that much discrepancy, which is kind of odd.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    @westendboy
    For sharpness across the frame between f/5.6 and f/8.0, the plain nikon 50/1.4's G or D and the 50/1.8 are hard to beat, and are within the margins any but the best possible technique (tripod/mirror lock/focus etc.
    Exactly. And very good point. I guess I should add this to the review somewhere.
    @FlowtographyBerlin - Great job! You will have to share how you do the split screen sliders :)

    To echo and expand on donaldejose & Vipmediastar_JZ what many keep excluding from the conversations is what each lens was designed to do. Just because they are all in the 50mm range, doesn't mean the designer's focus was for the same type of use. Unfortunately too many get sucked into critiquing them (and other lenses) based on their personal biases for what they want a lens to do, and not considering that what a lens was designed to do may not line up with what they want.

    To me ,all of this "sharpness" focus on a 50 just doesn't make much since. Get any of the 60mm macros if you think you need sharpness. They are all much better than any of the 50's (well maybe not the Zeiss) - and they are cheaper and remove bumping the "close focus" edge. Besides the Nikon 60, Tamron has a great 60mm f/2.
    Thanks for your nice words! :-)

    Concerning the slider: It's surely not my own JavaScript skills, you can buy these (and many other things) on the net. I don't remember where I got this, but I can look.

    I do agree in general with the statement on a lens purpose. But I don't at all for the lenses we're discussing here. There simply is no "type of use" for blurriness. The tad of bokeh smoothness that the 58G adds is *marginal*, and there is simply nothing else that this horribly expensive lens has on offer. Plus:
    Nah... the Sigma 50/1.4A has great bokeh, it's not just about sharpness. Don't kid yourself into a false dichotomy of choosing between bokeh & sharpness.
    Exactly. This dichotomy is as wrong as "blurriness = beautiful imagery". (Just as wrong as its cousin "sharpness = beautiful imagery".)

    The comparison shows the beautiful bokeh of the lenses, too, so there's no need to speculate about it. You can see how well the lenses (including the Sigma) perform.

    The macros don't offer f/1.4, which excludes them from this group of lenses.
    Moreover, I'm also guilty of: "this review is for anyone who is interested in seeing facts, instead of....images of lamps on bedroom ceilings." Hence, my feeble attempt here.
    Woops. Well, QED. Sorry that you're one of the demonstrators, but not to be taken personally :-) At least it's not the bedroom.

    As to the conversation of the Sigma bokeh in relation to the others....
    Yes, good example, and nice shot, too! Concerning the discussion: I fiind it fascinating how there's direct comparison images and one can still speculate. And good point, if one is (righteously) not satisfied with only two examples (but multiple apertures and standardized), go on flickr and look for other examples.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    I think the most amazing thing is how the different 50mm lenses are effected by modern cameras.

    For example, on the D700 I thought the 50mm F1.8G was sharp wide open. Boy was I wrong, because on the D800 it is rubbish at F1.8, and becomes usable at around F2.5-F2.8.
    I wouldn't say it's "rubbish", though. It's perfectly usable wide open, it's just that it's not perfectly usable if you want to print this image at 2 x 3 m.

  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    edited August 2014
    I have a friend that has both the Sigma 35 and 50 and he says he prefers the bokeh of the 35.. can some one comment on that please? I am considering the nikon 28 1.8 and the 35 1.4 art sigma or one of the 50mm lenses.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    I have a friend that has both the Sigma 35 and 50 and he says he prefers the bokeh of the 35.. can some one comment on that please? I am considering the nikon 28 1.8 and the 35 1.4 art sigma or one of the 50mm lenses.
    The two different focal lengths will give you completely different pictures. Not that a 50 is a portrait lens, but take a portrait with a 35 and see how that looks. They're not an alternative to each other.

    Comment on someone liking the bokeh of this more than that? Yes: Too much fuss made about it in many cases (of course not all). Compare the bokeh of the testes lenses using the slider.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited August 2014
    at 1.4 do we want bokeh or do want sharpness?
    Both, of course. Bokeh has a better effect, when there's a certain sharpness in the picture. Also, at the price of the Nikkor 58, I'm only shaking my head about people saying "super-bokeh and from f/2.8 or f/4 on it's also sharp, now, how cool's that?" Sorry, I don't pay such a massive load of money for a pretty ordinary focal length without using it wide open. I'm grateful, Sigma doesn't force me to decide wether bokeh or sharpness.

    I'm also not that optimistic about "nikon could do the same like Zeiss, if they only want to". High price 50s are a niche and Nikon would be years in delay - until they release the yet to be designed Zeiss-killer, nearly all the people with a use for such a monster-lens will bite the sour apple and buy a Zeiss. You really think, they would abandon their expensive glass, just because granny Nikon wobbles around the corner and presents an even bigger 50/1.4 because of AF? I don't think so, even the ones claiming to pay for it.

    If Nikon could have done what Zeiss did, then why did they release a comparatively expensive 58 with so much weaknesses? Why is even their 50/1.4G worse than the cheapo 50/1.8? So far I can't see much indices about "Nikon can do the same 50..." What I do see, they can do some outstanding Super-tele, some amazing zooms, some great wide-angle and the show-off effect is higher on that side. And they making great cams. For the Sigmas :D

    @heartyfisher it's not that the bokeh of the 35 is better than the one of the 50. It's just more surprising, how much background goes into a nicely bokeh. And subjects with more bokeh around them appear better isolated and still have some food for imagination in it. I like both of them and actually enjoy the 50 a bit more, because the amount of details in focus zone is just great. So much to discover after the shot has been done! But for light travel (if it has to be a FX DSLR) I'd decide for the 35mm anytime. More versatile. Less weight.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    @FlowtographyBerlin

    Thanks for your compliments.
    I can honestly say that I have enjoyed this lens.
    It focuses fast and is sharper than my 50 1.8g.
    The 50 1.8g was also slow to focus on the D810 when I tested it.

    Now having the sigma 35 that lens to me is perfect for when I need that FL. Having that lens mounted on my DF and think thank belt it is a bit heavy and wobbly and thats why I
    Mounted the 50mm 1.8g on it instead for event shooting to have a handy camera ready to shoot.
    Idealy the 85 1.8g would be perfect but its too long.

    Thats part of the reason that I went with the 58mm Due to weight.

    All of the articles that I reviewed prior to my lens decision didnt mentioned much of what is beign mentioned in your review or here.

    I work in IT but when it comes to photography specs and laws of physics I get lost easily so all of this info is greatly appreciated.

    I did finish my 1 week of photos with quick editing if course and updated the flickr album only to decide if the photos are worth the price tag.

    I will decide that in a few days. Im only keeping the 50 1.8g as an emergency backup.

    If all the lens in your review had the price tag of 500.00 I'm sure you would still consider the 58mm as a failure and that is fine as you have identified great info on your tests.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member

    @heartyfisher it's not that the bokeh of the 35 is better than the one of the 50. It's just more surprising, how much background goes into a nicely bokeh. And subjects with more bokeh around them appear better isolated and still have some food for imagination in it.
    That's an interesting way to look at it. The thing is, though, in order to get the same DOF, you have to have the same framing of the subject, meaning with a 35mm you have to be a lot closer to the subject, implying you will distort the appearance. It's just a horrible choice for (other than for Platon look) portrait.

    Plus, on the other hand, if you choose to stay at the same distance and get "more background" in, the bokeh will not be the same because the DOF will be higher. There is really no point in getting a 35mm over a 50mm just because the bokeh is "better" (which I doubt) – because your pictures will be entirely different. To make it extreme: Let's say your photographing architecture and now someone tells you about the NIkkor 200mm/4 Macro being ultra-sharp. Sharper than the 14-24/2.8 you have. Are you gonna get the 200 instead?

Sign In or Register to comment.