Comparing flare with 50/1.4G, 50/1.8G, 58/1.4G or Zeiss Planar 50/1.4

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by noah, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. I'm not sure if anyone here has had experience with all four of the above mentioned lenses, but I'm wondering how they compare when it comes to flare and ghosting.
    I currently shoot with the 50/1.4G. I actually think it's something of an underrated copy at least is quite sharp. I shoot documentary work but with a heavy focus on the landscape--so I occasionally shoot handheld but I also work on a tripod with my D800E bodies. I'm just mentioning this because resolution and corner sharpness are important to me, but the overall look is really more important.
    I've noticed that the 50/1.4G does have quite a bit of flare and ghosting. I've been shooting a project on natural gas drilling and when shooting the rigs at night, the lights flare out quite a bit. Sometimes they flare the gas wells which produces a large flame shooting into the sky, and shooting those at night is impossible with the 50/1.4G. I don't mind some flare in some situations, but with this lens it's just ugly.
    Has anyone tested these lenses for night shooting with bright lights within the frame? I've found that the 50/1.4G produces ghost spots when small light sources are in the frame and if a large, very bright light source is in the frame it basically washes out completely and produces large, aperture-shaped flare spots. These effects don't change much with aperture. And yes, I've tried shooting both with and without a B+W brand MRC multicoated UV filter.
    I'd prefer to stick with Nikkors but my Zeiss 35/2 doesn't flare much at all. Unfortunately I really want a 50mm.
  2. Looks like the new 58mm has been made to help on this:
    "Subjects are sharply rendered when shooting at the widest aperture of f/1.4, and high-contrast images of even distant subjects and low-light scenes can be obtained without needing to stop down the aperture. Sagittal coma flare is effectively minimised across the entire frame with the result that point light sources such as city lights are reproduced as fine rounded points, even at the periphery of the image, enabling unparalleled nightscapes... ... Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat provides outstandingly high anti-reflection effects throughout the visible light range, effectively reducing ghost and flare, and increasing the clarity and contrast of images. A three-element cemented lens technique ensures both optical clarity and reflection reduction, and the front lens element is located deep in the lens barrel to ensure that flare and ghost are effectively reduced even in backlit situations". (Zurab Kiknadze, product manager at Nikon Europe).
  3. He also mentions (now in the Nikon Pro Magazine) about the even illumination across the frame (minimizing light loss towards the corners), thinking on f1.4 as the optimal aperture.
    He remarks that they designed this lens for the best available bokeh, light evenness and highlight spot reproduction, trying to keep the optical aberrations to a minimum, simply because it was impossible to completely eliminate them. So I understand he wants to say it`s a "global performance" kind of lens, instead of a winner on the usual "uncoupled features" tests or reviews.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have posted this link to DPReview's Nikon 58mm/f1.4 AF-S review a couple of days ago:
    Check out their night shot comparison between the 58mm vs. 50mm Nikon f1.4 AF-S lenses. Flare and ghosting of lights at night seems to be much better controlled with the 58mm. Whether that difference justifies the huge price difference is up to you to decide, and you probably would want to seek additional comparisons.
  5. From the many reviews I've read, you might want to add the Sigma 50mm 1.4 to your list. It seems to handle flair far better than the Nikon 50mm 1.4 AFS.
  6. Noah, I'd recommend hiring the lens you're intested in before spending big money on it. That way you can check it out under your own shooting conditions and processing procedures. For example: I was quite amazed at how good I could make RAW files from an old Ai-S 50mm f/1.4 lens look wide open with just a touch more sharpening than I normally apply. You can't play around like that with rubbishy downloaded JPEGS that someone else has already processed to death.
    Renting also gives you another sample of lens to compare to those that have been reviewed. I'm a bit suspicious of that "butterfly" coma seen in the DP review night shots. Such aberration is usually associated with astigmatism, and should therefore vary in direction across the frame. The coma smear seen in those DP review shots appears to have a constant direction, which makes me wonder if its actually due to a decentring fault in the review sample, and therefore not typical of that lens.
    PS. It's also impossible to compare the bokeh in those DPReview shots when the exposure between lenses obviously differs by about two stops!
    Edit: OK. After looking at the full-sized file from DP Review, it does appear that the coma is symmetrical about the lens axis and therefore typical of astigmatism. The small 100% crops have obviously been taken from areas too close together in the frame to be useful.
  7. Thanks. I've read all of the info online and a few different reviews. Unfortunately I can't post the image I'm talking about, the one ruined by my 50/1.4G. It's embargoed and frankly I don't wish to post an example of my equipment failure that a client could see! Of course I shot the same photo with my zeiss 35 and it looked great, but it would have been a better photo at 50mm.
    I'll definitely rent first, especially if I decided to go for a 58/1.4 since it's a pricey lens. I was just looking for some real-world experience to decide if it's even worth the hassle of renting one.
    The night test on dpreview isn't quite as tough of a situation as I'm talking about. It's a good review and a fine photograph. But even the 50/1.4G looks better in that situation than in the situation I'm talking about.
  8. I've found the 58mm AF-S Nikkor to retain bright colours and high contrast in situations where the image area includes light sources very well. The 50mm f/1.4G is a good lens but it was possible to get it to flare in similar situations. I don't have any direct comparison images but can say that I've been extremely happy with the contrast and colours from the new 58mm.
    I have not used the 55mm Zeiss Otus, or the 50mm f/1.8G Nikkor.
    I'll post an example with some light sources from the 58/1.4 though as there is still a bit of skylight visible, it's not a really high contrast lighting scenario. I do like the colours from this lens, as well as its rendering of lights and sparkly fabrics.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It is a good idea to rent the 58mm/f1.4 AF-S and check it out under your shooting conditions and compare that against the 50mm. I have checked a few weeks ago; the new lens is available for rent at the major rental companies via mail order.
  10. The only site I know of that tests for flare is here:*_50_mm_f_1.4_ZF_ZK_ZE_Odblaski.html
    Couldn't find a test for the 58, but of the three the 50 f1.8 is the best.
  11. Mike E, indeed, that was my latest source too. The Sigma 50 1.4 wins/equal first in that race....and you can get one for ~£240 or there-aboutes.
    How much does hiring a 58mm for the weekend cost?
  12. $75/5 days here:
    As for the Sigma, you're right, it does have a very low flare:
  13. If renting, do remember to focus fine tune the lens to the camera. My 58mm requires +4 on my D800.

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