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AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G

Outstanding reproduction capability of point light sources located at infinity even at the maximum aperture. Exquisitely created bokeh characteristics that depict people and still objects attractively with natural depth. These two contradictory advantages are achieved by the superior rendering capability of the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G, resulting in more creative photographic expression. We talked with the person in charge of its design about the attractive points of this lens that enhance the user's enjoyment of an interchangeable lens, the basic concept behind its development, as well as his profound empathy for the lens.

Haruo Sato
Executive Staff, Design 2, 2nd Design Department
Development Headquarters, Imaging Company

While providing performance superior to that of the Noct Nikkor lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G enables fine reproduction of point light sources even at the peripheries with the aperture set at the maximum.

What were the basic design concepts behind the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G?

Sato: "There were two important elements. The first was to develop the basic design concept of the Noct Nikkor, achieving superior reproduction of point light sources as point images without distortion or fringes while retaining higher resolution than that of the Noct Nikkor.
To be exact, sharpness, contrast and resolution have been greatly enhanced even for shooting distant scenes. Especially, the lens' sharpness is overwhelmingly superior to that of the Noct Nikkor. Besides this, because sagittal coma flare is effectively reduced, the degree of point-light-source reproduction in the form of points has been further evolved to extend the range to the outer areas of the frame. Also, subjects located even at the peripheries can be depicted without edge distortion. Branches of a tree or parts of a car, for example, can be reproduced in a way that Noct Nikkor could not do as well. All of these factors make your shooting more comfortable. And unlike Noct Nikkor, you can attain these without stopping down the aperture to f/2.8, f/4 or f/5.6 but at the maximum f/1.4.

"Three-dimensionally high-fidelity image reproduction" – one of the unique design concepts of NIKKOR

What is the other design concept?

It is the concept of how to reproduce three-dimensional subjects as natural images with depth in two-dimensional photography.
Nikon calls a photographic lens that is superior for natural depth reproduction of three-dimensional subjects "a threedimensionally high-fidelity lens". To realize this, we are making every effort not only to improve resolution and contrast at the focused plane, but also to enhance depth reproduction utilizing natural transition of bokeh from a sharply focused point, to a slightly blurred point, then a fully blurred point.
Conventionally, photographic lenses, that confine subjects with depth into two-dimensional images, have been evaluated mainly with MTF, resolution or contrast. It is very easy to compare these factors at the focused points. We admit that the performance of lenses has greatly evolved by improving these factors. However, Nikon has long doubted whether that is enough. Should we evaluate the reproduction of three-dimensional subjects as they are, even in the form of two-dimensional images?

Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G
Camera: D800
Image quality: 14-bit RAW (NEF)
Exposure: [M] mode, 1/15 second, f/2.8
White balance: Auto 1
Sensitivity: ISO 100
Picture Control: Standard

To reproduce the depth of subjects more naturally in images, rather than evaluating resolution and degree of bokeh for the individual plane of the foreground, focused plane and background, it is necessary to evaluate the consecutive transition from blurred, focused to blurred plane. Although it is impossible to achieve extremely intensive evaluation, we thought we could improve lenses by minutely investigating consecutive transition. In consideration of this idea, we suppress resolution at a short distance within an appropriate level, and adjust the balance among lens aberrations moderately to prevent a drastic change of bokeh. As a result, we realize original lens characteristics that provide natural depth reproduction in which the degree of bokeh moderately changes as the distance from the sharply focused point increases.
Moderate transition of bokeh around the minimum focus distance makes the lens ideal for capturing still objects with depth as well as portraits. Considering the 0.58 m/1.90 ft minimum focus distance, it is also recommended for food photography. Other suitable subjects include candlelit subjects, subjects in low-light venues or at theaters, where fine reproduction of details is demanded while retaining dark ambience. I think this lens highlights main subjects naturally with a comfortable and well-balanced depiction of ambience.