Some of our readers, especially those who are just getting into photography, frequently ask me if they should choose the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G or Nikon 50mm f/1.4G to be used for low-light photography. I decided to run a quick comparison between the two, along with some other technical information to hopefully make it easier for our readers to select the right lens in this Nikon 35mm f/1.8 vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4 comparison.
The constant maximum aperture, mid-range Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR zoom lens is a major update to the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR that was released back in 2003. The older, variable-aperture 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 had some optical problems that did not make it a popular lens among photographers, so Nikon decided to address those problems by releasing this highly-anticipated Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0 lens. Why highly-anticipated? Because the 24-120mm focal range is very useful for photographers who use full-frame cameras like Nikon D700/D3s/D3x and who find the 24-70mm f/2.8 either too short on the long focal end, or too heavy for everyday use. In addition, having VR on a mid-range lens like the 24-120mm is crucial for low-light photography, even on the wide end.
Did Nikon address all problems the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G had in this new f/4 update? How does it compare to the legendary Nikon 24-70mm and the new 28-300mm lenses? Is it really on par with the 28-300mm when it comes to performance, making it a worse buy than the 28-300mm like some of the reviewers stated? In this review, I will do my best to provide a detailed analysis of the lens’ performance, including sharpness tests and comparisons against other mid-range lenses and answer the above questions.
The Nikon 55-300mm VR lens is a major update to the existing Nikon 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6G ED VR lens that was released in 2007. Just like the 55-200mm VR, it is designed to be used with the Nikon 18-55mm DX VR kit lens to provide expanded focal range for telephoto shots. Nikon 55-300mm is currently the cheapest way to get to true 300mm focal length in Nikon’s current line of lenses, with a little more shorter range to work with than the Nikon 70-300mm VR lens. It is an ideal lens to be used for family events and vacations to capture distant subjects, and the use of Vibration Reduction (VR) technology makes it easier to get sharp photographs at slower shutter speeds, especially when shooting at 300mm. Similar to the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens, the Nikon 55-300mm VR comes with two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) Elements, which due to less air bubbles and glass deformities within the glass elements help minimize chromatic aberration and deliver sharper images at large apertures. The Nikon 55-300mm VR lens is only designed to work on Nikon DX (cropped) sensors and has an equivalent field of view of approximately 82.5mm-450mm (in 35mm equivalent), which makes the lens particularly good for reaching distant subjects. Autofocus is practically silent, thanks to the Silent Wave Motor (AF-S) within the lens.
In response to the popular demand, this year Nikon released an FX version of the Nikon 18-200mm lens, the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. Nikon retained most of the lens design, but did make some modifications, to reach good performance levels on FX cameras. In this review, I will do my best to provide a detailed analysis of the lens’ performance, including sharpness tests in various conditions and provide comparison tests against the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR II lens and other pro-level FX lenses such as Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II.
The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lens was kindly provided by B&H – the largest photo reseller in the world that I use more than any other to buy my photography gear.
The highly anticipated Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S is a professional-grade lens that is specifically designed for portrait, studio and wedding photographers that need an ultra-fast, high quality lens with a large aperture of f/1.4 for low-light situations and shallow depth of field to isolate subjects from the background, without compromising image quality and sharpness. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is built to work extremely well on both FX and DX sensors, yielding very sharp results in the center frame, as shown in the following pages of this review. Nikon has incorporated the latest technology and optical formulas to this lens, including AF-S silent-wave focus motor and Nano crystal coating. Just like most Nikon professional lenses, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G has a 77mm filter thread and is also sealed against dust and tough weather conditions for outdoors field use.
1) Lens Overview
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens is a truly versatile lens that can be used for many different kinds of photography needs – from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events. With its constant aperture of f/2.8 (meaning the aperture does not change while zooming) and state of the art optics, the lens is targeted towards enthusiasts and professionals, who work in various lighting and weather conditions and need exceptional sharpness, color and contrast in their images – something the Nikon 24-70mm was designed to deliver. It replaced the older Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D lens and its optics were completely redesigned for superior performance and extra coverage on the wide-end. Featuring 15 lens elements in 11 groups, 3 out of which are ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that reduce chromatic aberration and increase sharpness, the lens is a heavyweight monster weighing a whopping 31.7 oz. (900 grams), which is heavier than the Nikon D300 DSLR! In addition to the Silent Wave Motor (SWM/AF-S) that provides fast and quiet auto focus, the Nikon 24-70mm also features the Nano Crystal Coating technology, which reduces ghosting and flare. When it comes to weather sealing, the Nikon 24-70mm is designed to be well-protected against dust, moisture and tough weather conditions (read more under Lens Handling below).
1) Lens Overview
Let me start by saying that the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is a work of art. Marketed as Nikon’s flagship ultra wide-angle lens, the Nikon 14-24mm is a beautiful craftsmanship that one can only appreciate after holding it in hands and trying it out. When Nikon introduced it to the world of photography back in 2007 as a full-frame lens to be used with the back-then newly released, Nikon’s first-ever full-frame DSLR D3, the lens set a new standard in zoom lens performance in terms of sharpness and contrast. It was the world’s first 14mm ultra wide-angle zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture and Nikon was proud to state that it rivals prime lenses when it comes to optical design and performance. As you will see from image samples that I posted in this review, the lens is truly very sharp, easily outperforming any other Nikon ultra wide-angle zoom lenses at all focal lengths, coming very close to the exceptional performance of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G lens.
The Nikon 24mm f/1.4G lens is a professional-grade lens for enthusiasts and professionals that need the highest quality optics of a fixed wide-angle lens with a large aperture of f/1.4 for low-light situations and shallow depth of field to isolate subjects from the background. The lens incorporates the latest optical technology destined for both FX and DX sensors (equivalent of 36mm on DX), yielding amazing clarity and contrast in most challenging lighting conditions. The Nikon 24mm f/1.4G follows the footsteps of the legendary Nikon 28mm f/1.4D lens, which was known for its exceptional quality and sharp optics, even at large apertures. The new Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is no exception – it performs almost flawlessly at all apertures, most notably at f/1.4 with maximum sharpness from center to corner, as seen in the examples of this review. Nikon has incorporated the latest technology and optical formulas to this lens, including AF-S silent-wave focus motor and Nano crystal coating. The lens is also sealed against dust and tough weather conditions. Just like most Nikon professional lenses, the lens has a 77mm filter thread, which is great news for landscape and architectural photographers.
Where the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 shines, is its subject isolation capability with exceptionally good-looking bokeh at a wide perspective of 24mm, which is an extremely useful focal length for both FX and DX sensors. The maximum aperture of f/1.4 makes this lens a superb portrait lens for both images and video, making it a great candidate for low-light photography.
I have been spending all of my available time to test the new Nikon 24mm f/1.4G lens (which is stellar in every way), along with other Nikon ultra wide lenses and have been comparing them all at different focal lengths. The plan is to write an article comparing those lenses head to head at the same focal length, ISO, aperture and shutter speed to see how they stand against each other. Here is the full list of lenses that I am currently testing:
- Nikon 24mm f/1.4G (full review is coming up first)
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G
- Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR
- Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D
This is going to be one heck of a comparison! My first priority right now is to finish the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G review, which I have been putting off because of: a) lack of time and b) horrible weather that we have been getting lately (it has been snowing and has been extremely windy during the last two weeks). This weekend does not look any better, so I am just going to use what I have so far.