The Nikon 58mm 1.4G is a lens that I had my eye on for some time. I already own the Nikon 35mm 1.4G and the 85mm 1.4G, and I love them both. Primarily I use them on separate bodies for weddings, the 85 as a general portrait lens - perfect for classic portraits, flattering to the subject, and perfect for subject isolation. The 35mm I see as more of a environmental portrait lens. Great for documentary style photography, and excellent for something like bride/groom prep in limited space or for the odd large group shot. But for a while I have been looking for something with a focal length between the two, of a similar quality, something I could use in place of the 85mm in tighter spaces, or to be used as a single lens for travel/street photography without needing to carry around multiple lenses - the 58mm sounded like a great candidate!

When searching for a 50-ish mm lens I considered the Sigma/Tamron lenses as options, but I love the look of my other Nikon lenses and ideally wanted something with a similar look to make the editing work-flow quicker and more consistent. Cost of the lens was a concern as new it is several times more expensive than the Sigma or Tamron options, but I came across a mint copy on Ebay selling for around half price, so decided to give it a try.

When considering the 58mm, I read a lot of online reviews, and this is a lens that seems to split opinion. Some rate it very poorly while others consider it their top lens. If the MTF graphs I've seen online were to be believed then the lens is unusably soft at anything wider than f/2.8 and the corners never really get sharp at any aperture. I've own the lens for a few months at the time of writing, I will go through my experience during this time. This is a non-technical review, just focusing on my experience in real-world scenarios.

Nikon 58mm 1.4G, 1/640th sec, f/6.3, ISO 100

Nikon 58mm 1.4G, 1/1000 sec, f/4.5, ISO 64

Nikon 58mm 1.4G, 1/250th sec, f/3.2, ISO 160

Build Quality

As I already mentioned, I use my equipment primarily for weddings, and want something that is reliable in all conditions, can be banged around, rained on, and shrug it off without any problems. I also much prefer it to have a little weight to my lenses, rather than a lightweight plasticky feel.

When the The 58mm 1.4G arrived and I held it for the first time I was pleasantly surprised. When compared to my other 1.4 primes, the 58mm is certainly slightly smaller and lighter, but definitely still with a reassuring solidity to it. The construction is more modern and therefore uses more plastic and less metal in the build, but it still has the feel of a quality professional lens to me. Like the other 1.4G lenses, this lens is marketed as weather-sealed, which gives me some confidence that getting caught in a shower should not be an issue.

Nikon 58 1.4G, 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 160

Image Quality

Overall I'm really pleased with the image quality. I may have slightly different expectations to others in this regard, but firstly I'll say that sharpness is not a massive concern for me. From what I gather, Nikon were not going for ultimate sharpness when they designed this lens, but more with the intent of capturing artistic beauty. When focusing on a near subject At f/1.4 the point of focus is sharp, but the area in focus tends to be extremely small which could be confused for softness. Stopped down to f/2 and beyond the depth of field increases to give sharpness over a greater area. When shooting a subject from over 10 feet away the sharpness fall off is much more subtle, so it feels far easier to nail focus at greater distances when wide open.

The one negative I've noticed is the chromatic aberations. When shooting in high contrast scenes the lens seems quite prone to purple and green fringing particularly when shot wide open. This isn't a massive concern as using lightroom they can be removed very easily, but I suppose it would be better without it.

Nikon 58 1.4G, 1/1250th sec, f/2.2, ISO 400


In reading others reviews another thing that often came up is how the lens often heavily front or back focused out of the box, and needed a significant AF-adjustment in order to focus correctly. I was pleased to see when using my Spyder Lenscal that with my copy of the lens the focus was spot on out of the box, and needed no adjustment. This may be linked to the Nikon D850 that I've been using it with. It seems to be the case that autofocus for all my lenses is massively improved on this camera body - barely any of them have needed any adjustment, while on my previous D800 they all needed quite significant AF adjustments.

I'm really happy with the auto-focus. I would class it as similar to the 35 or 85, but definitely not as lightning fast as a 70-200 for instance. One of my first times shooting the lens I took photos of runners during a half marathon. The lens had no trouble tracking the runners using the dynamic autofocus modes with 25 focus points, and 99% of shots were acceptably sharp, and those that weren't were more down to user error. Just for testing purposes I even took some shots of the runners at f/1.4 not really expecting good results. But to my surprise the lens did a great job.

Nikon 58 1.4G, 1/5000th sec, f/1.4, ISO 640


Having owned the lens for around 5 months now, I couldn't be happier with this purchase. I almost gave the lens a miss as lots of reviews passed it off as a dud, but my previous experiences of Nikon lenses have always been good, so I tried to have some faith and ignore the bad things other reviewers had said about this lens and experience it for myself. I think a large part of the negative press this lens gets is down to its price when it was released, Because there are cheaper lenses, which when put through the usual lab bench tests, come out on top on paper! But the fact is photography is done in the real world on three-dimensional subjects, and this lens seems to have been designed more with the artistic elements of photography in mind rather than absolute sharpness. This lens does appear to involve a bit of a learning curve to get the best out of it.

What the 58mm 1.4G does do well is produce beautiful images, that are flattering for the subject, in which the out of focus elements are incredibly smooth and non-distracting. The look it produces has something of a film-like quality to it. If I could only take one prime lens for a job, this would have to be it!