New Lens Comparison: Nikon 50mm 1.4D vs. 50mm 1.4G

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by M-M, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. M-M

    M-M Guest

    I had the opportunity to have in my possession both of these lenses- the
    older 50mm 1.4D and the new 50mm 1.4G.

    I took sample photos with both, as carefully controlled as I could. I
    think the results were quite surprising but remarkably consistent.

    I know which one is going back, for sure. The photos tell the story:

    http://home.comcast.net/~mhmyers/1.4dg.html

    --
    m-m
    http://www.mhmyers.com
    M-M, Mar 19, 2009
    #1
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  2. M-M

    Get lost Guest

    On Mar 18, 11:42 pm, M-M <> wrote:
    > I had the opportunity to have in my possession both of these lenses- the
    > older 50mm 1.4D and the new 50mm 1.4G.
    >
    > I took sample photos with both, as carefully controlled as I could. I
    > think the results were quite surprising but remarkably consistent.
    >
    > I know which one is going back, for sure. The photos tell the story:
    >
    > http://home.comcast.net/~mhmyers/1.4dg.html
    >
    > --
    > m-mhttp://www.mhmyers.com


    G seems a little contrast challenged compared to the D, but overall
    it's the better lens.
    Thanks for the comparison.
    Get lost, Mar 19, 2009
    #2
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  3. M-M

    Bruce Guest

    M-M <> wrote:

    >I had the opportunity to have in my possession both of these lenses- the
    >older 50mm 1.4D and the new 50mm 1.4G.
    >
    >I took sample photos with both, as carefully controlled as I could. I
    >think the results were quite surprising but remarkably consistent.
    >
    >I know which one is going back, for sure. The photos tell the story:
    >
    >http://home.comcast.net/~mhmyers/1.4dg.html



    An interesting test, thanks for posting.

    How were the lenses focused? You have to be careful to ensure that you
    focus manually, and extremely accurately, to make any comparison between
    the optics a useful one. Then, you can do a second test, one of the
    differences between the focusing systems.

    The 100% crop images of "kitchen timer on/off" suggest the G lens gives
    a less sharp image. But is it the optics, or is it an autofocus
    problem? Only you can now that, and you either choose not to tell us,
    or you don't know. If both shots were taken with autofocus, we will
    never know.

    Also, in the shots of the white vase, those taken at f/4 appear to show
    an opposite conclusion to the one you have drawn about the G lens's iris
    diaphragm. The differences in saturation appear to be differences in
    exposure. Once again, were these shots manually focused?

    Once again,if both shots were taken with autofocus, we will never know
    whether any differences are down to the different optics, or an error in
    the autofocus system.

    That's the problem with tests that are not properly controlled.

    Interesting all the same, and thanks for posting. I won't be
    downgrading my 50mm f/1.4 AIS Nikkor to a G lens anytime soon, and the
    nasty plastic D lens with its excessive backlash in the focusing
    mechanism never attracted me either. ;-)
    Bruce, Mar 19, 2009
    #3
  4. M-M

    M-M Guest

    In article <>,
    Bruce <> wrote:

    > M-M <> wrote:
    >
    > >I had the opportunity to have in my possession both of these lenses- the
    > >older 50mm 1.4D and the new 50mm 1.4G.
    > >
    > >I took sample photos with both, as carefully controlled as I could. I
    > >think the results were quite surprising but remarkably consistent.
    > >
    > >I know which one is going back, for sure. The photos tell the story:
    > >
    > >http://home.comcast.net/~mhmyers/1.4dg.html

    >
    >
    > An interesting test, thanks for posting.
    >
    > How were the lenses focused? You have to be careful to ensure that you
    > focus manually, and extremely accurately, to make any comparison between
    > the optics a useful one.


    I used aperture priority single area autofocus for all shots, aiming the
    focus point at the same spot for all comparisons- I felt that was the
    best way to ensure uniformity. Sometimes the G made a slight difference
    in shutter speed exposing 1/3 stop longer.

    --
    m-m
    http://www.mhmyers.com
    M-M, Mar 19, 2009
    #4
  5. M-M

    Bruce Guest

    M-M <> wrote:

    >In article <>,
    > Bruce <> wrote:
    >
    >> M-M <> wrote:
    >>
    >> >I had the opportunity to have in my possession both of these lenses- the
    >> >older 50mm 1.4D and the new 50mm 1.4G.
    >> >
    >> >I took sample photos with both, as carefully controlled as I could. I
    >> >think the results were quite surprising but remarkably consistent.
    >> >
    >> >I know which one is going back, for sure. The photos tell the story:
    >> >
    >> >http://home.comcast.net/~mhmyers/1.4dg.html

    >>
    >>
    >> An interesting test, thanks for posting.
    >>
    >> How were the lenses focused? You have to be careful to ensure that you
    >> focus manually, and extremely accurately, to make any comparison between
    >> the optics a useful one.

    >
    >I used aperture priority single area autofocus for all shots, aiming the
    >focus point at the same spot for all comparisons- I felt that was the
    >best way to ensure uniformity. Sometimes the G made a slight difference
    >in shutter speed exposing 1/3 stop longer.



    The only way to ensure uniformity is to use manual focusing and manual
    exposure, applying the same shutter speed and aperture to both lenses.
    Otherwise you are introducing variations in the autofocus and auto
    exposure systems, which isn't what you are testing for.

    Unfortunately, I don't think your tests tell us much, in spite of all
    the effort you put in. Modern lenses such as the G lens are a nightmare
    to bench test - which would otherwise have been a good route to take -
    because of the difficulty of controlling the aperture. That makes it
    all the more important to exercise control when testing on a camera.
    Bruce, Mar 19, 2009
    #5
  6. M-M

    M-M Guest

    In article <>,
    Bruce <> wrote:

    > The only way to ensure uniformity is to use manual focusing and manual
    > exposure, applying the same shutter speed and aperture to both lenses.
    > Otherwise you are introducing variations in the autofocus and auto
    > exposure systems, which isn't what you are testing for.



    The tests were designed to show the differences in the lenses, and if
    one lens wanted to up the exposure a bit for the same lighting
    conditions, this is important. I wasn't just testing the glass which is
    what your suggestions would do. I was testing the lens systems and how
    they react to similar conditions.

    I found the G quite often but consistently exposed about 1/3 stop
    longer. You would never know this if I used manual exposure settings.

    As for manual focusing, I aimed the focus point at the exact same spot
    for each comparison shot- again this is a further test of a lens system
    and how it works. The two models use different focusing motors- how
    could I ignore this when comparing lenses?

    --
    m-m
    http://www.mhmyers.com
    M-M, Mar 19, 2009
    #6
  7. M-M wrote:
    > In article <>,
    > Bruce <> wrote:
    >
    >> The only way to ensure uniformity is to use manual focusing and manual
    >> exposure, applying the same shutter speed and aperture to both lenses.
    >> Otherwise you are introducing variations in the autofocus and auto
    >> exposure systems, which isn't what you are testing for.

    >
    >
    > The tests were designed to show the differences in the lenses, and if
    > one lens wanted to up the exposure a bit for the same lighting
    > conditions, this is important. I wasn't just testing the glass which is
    > what your suggestions would do. I was testing the lens systems and how
    > they react to similar conditions.
    >
    > I found the G quite often but consistently exposed about 1/3 stop
    > longer. You would never know this if I used manual exposure settings.


    But that part is the sensor and the camera's electronics reacting to the
    perceived light strength to whatever formula that was selected (spot,
    average, weighted ave, etc.) You'd expect differently internally
    configured lenses to give different amounts of light to the sensor.

    --
    john mcwilliams
    John McWilliams, Mar 19, 2009
    #7
  8. M-M

    Bruce Guest

    M-M <> wrote:

    >In article <>,
    > Bruce <> wrote:
    >
    >> The only way to ensure uniformity is to use manual focusing and manual
    >> exposure, applying the same shutter speed and aperture to both lenses.
    >> Otherwise you are introducing variations in the autofocus and auto
    >> exposure systems, which isn't what you are testing for.

    >
    >
    >The tests were designed to show the differences in the lenses, and if
    >one lens wanted to up the exposure a bit for the same lighting
    >conditions, this is important. I wasn't just testing the glass which is
    >what your suggestions would do. I was testing the lens systems and how
    >they react to similar conditions.
    >
    >I found the G quite often but consistently exposed about 1/3 stop
    >longer. You would never know this if I used manual exposure settings.
    >
    >As for manual focusing, I aimed the focus point at the exact same spot
    >for each comparison shot- again this is a further test of a lens system
    >and how it works. The two models use different focusing motors- how
    >could I ignore this when comparing lenses?



    That depends whether you are testing the optics, the autofocus
    mechanisms, or the auto exposure system. You have tried to test all
    three at the same time; consequently the results tell us almost nothing
    about the optics.

    Forgive me, but it is the optics that matter above all. If the AF or AE
    systems don't work properly, all you are doing is identifying faults in
    those systems. Yet the optics make the images.

    If you routinely use AF and/or AE, it is perfectly legitimate to test
    those. But don't try to test two or three things together. The
    objective of a properly controlled test is to isolate each factor as far
    as practicable and test for it on its own without confusing it with any
    other factors.

    So is the G lens sharper than the D lens? We don't know, because you
    used autofocus. Which has the higher saturation? We don't know,
    because you used auto exposure.

    Which lens should you send back? We don't know that either. You think
    you do, but you don't, because any conclusions that you draw from this
    uncontrolled test will be fundamentally unreliable.

    Personally, I wouldn't bother with either of them. But that's because I
    know that even the best autofocus systems cannot always be trusted, even
    in optimal conditions.
    Bruce, Mar 19, 2009
    #8
  9. M-M

    Pboud Guest

    Bruce wrote:
    >
    >
    > That depends whether you are testing the optics, the autofocus
    > mechanisms, or the auto exposure system. You have tried to test all
    > three at the same time; consequently the results tell us almost nothing
    > about the optics.
    >
    > Forgive me, but it is the optics that matter above all. If the AF or AE
    > systems don't work properly, all you are doing is identifying faults in
    > those systems. Yet the optics make the images.
    >
    > If you routinely use AF and/or AE, it is perfectly legitimate to test
    > those. But don't try to test two or three things together. The
    > objective of a properly controlled test is to isolate each factor as far
    > as practicable and test for it on its own without confusing it with any
    > other factors.
    >
    > So is the G lens sharper than the D lens? We don't know, because you
    > used autofocus. Which has the higher saturation? We don't know,
    > because you used auto exposure.
    >
    > Which lens should you send back? We don't know that either. You think
    > you do, but you don't, because any conclusions that you draw from this
    > uncontrolled test will be fundamentally unreliable.
    >
    > Personally, I wouldn't bother with either of them. But that's because I
    > know that even the best autofocus systems cannot always be trusted, even
    > in optimal conditions.
    >


    Better yet, he could create a hermetic room, with laser controlled
    environmental monitors and do a full disassemble of the lenses to
    independently test each element..

    It's the only way to be sure.

    P.
    Pboud, Mar 19, 2009
    #9
  10. M-M

    Bruce Guest

    Pboud <> wrote:
    >
    >Better yet, he could create a hermetic room, with laser controlled
    >environmental monitors and do a full disassemble of the lenses to
    >independently test each element..
    >
    >It's the only way to be sure.



    Now you're just being silly. I was merely pointing out that with so
    many variables, and no attempt to control them, the comparison was
    meaningless.

    I do admire the OP for trying, though. At least he was sufficiently
    interested to make the effort. Most people buy equipment and make no
    attempt to test it, and instead make claims for its performance based on
    some magazine review they read.
    Bruce, Mar 19, 2009
    #10
  11. M-M

    M-M Guest

    In article <>,
    Bruce <> wrote:

    > That depends whether you are testing the optics, the autofocus
    > mechanisms, or the auto exposure system. You have tried to test all
    > three at the same time; consequently the results tell us almost nothing
    > about the optics.



    The optics are about the same. I was not pixel-peeping but rather
    testing how well the lens takes pictures. There are plenty of
    pixel-peeping studies out there for these 2 lenses.

    I found that there is nothing improved in the G except for the iris
    diaphragm which only shows itself under certain conditions. I was hoping
    the lens coatings would fix the chromatic aberration of the D but it
    just swapped purple for red and there is more red in the G than purple
    in the D. (Of course if you have a Nikon without a focus motor, you have
    little choice).

    It is also quite a bit larger and heavier and that is big to me. I am
    used to BIG telephotos and I really like to shoot narrow DOF like this:

    http://www.mhmyers.com/d80//DSC_3456dt.jpg

    (talk about creamy bokeh!)

    so I wanted a large aperture normal lens to get the same effect I get
    with the longer lenses but able to fit in my pocket.

    I returned the G today and I am satisfied with my decision.

    --
    m-m
    http://www.mhmyers.com
    M-M, Mar 19, 2009
    #11
  12. M-M

    pboud Guest

    Bruce wrote:
    > Pboud <> wrote:
    >> Better yet, he could create a hermetic room, with laser controlled
    >> environmental monitors and do a full disassemble of the lenses to
    >> independently test each element..
    >>
    >> It's the only way to be sure.

    >
    >
    > Now you're just being silly. I was merely pointing out that with so
    > many variables, and no attempt to control them, the comparison was
    > meaningless.
    >
    > I do admire the OP for trying, though. At least he was sufficiently
    > interested to make the effort. Most people buy equipment and make no
    > attempt to test it, and instead make claims for its performance based on
    > some magazine review they read.
    >

    All right, you caught me :)

    While I agree that your test would have been more comprehensive, what he
    did was a fair low-end 'general lens' comparison. while it wouldn't
    isolate any one item, it's (as you said) tons more than most people do.

    P.
    pboud, Mar 20, 2009
    #12
  13. M-M

    Bruce Guest

    pboud <> wrote:
    >
    >All right, you caught me :)
    >
    >While I agree that your test would have been more comprehensive, what he
    >did was a fair low-end 'general lens' comparison. while it wouldn't
    >isolate any one item, it's (as you said) tons more than most people do.



    True - if it gave the OP peace of mind about his decision, it was worth
    doing. What did seem clear is that, optically, the AF-S G lens was not
    a significant advance on the AF-D lens. I already know that the AF-D
    lens, and its AF (non D) predecessor were not a significant advance on
    the AIS lens, so I am still happy with my AIS version.

    The lens I would really like to see revised is the 35mm f/1.4 Nikkor. I
    have the AI version, and it's a fine lens. The AIS version probably has
    slightly better coatings than my AI. But there has never been an AF or
    AF-D version, so the available AI and AIS versions are mostly well used.

    This is a lens that would probably benefit more from updated coatings
    than the 50mm f/1.4, so my wish would be for a 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor.
    I would buy one in an instant.
    Bruce, Mar 20, 2009
    #13
  14. M-M

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Thu, 19 Mar 2009 19:40:46 -0400, M-M <> wrote:
    : In article <>,
    : Bruce <> wrote:
    :
    : > That depends whether you are testing the optics, the autofocus
    : > mechanisms, or the auto exposure system. You have tried to test all
    : > three at the same time; consequently the results tell us almost nothing
    : > about the optics.
    :
    :
    : The optics are about the same. I was not pixel-peeping but rather
    : testing how well the lens takes pictures. There are plenty of
    : pixel-peeping studies out there for these 2 lenses.
    :
    : I found that there is nothing improved in the G except for the iris
    : diaphragm which only shows itself under certain conditions. I was hoping
    : the lens coatings would fix the chromatic aberration of the D but it
    : just swapped purple for red and there is more red in the G than purple
    : in the D. (Of course if you have a Nikon without a focus motor, you have
    : little choice).
    :
    : It is also quite a bit larger and heavier and that is big to me. I am
    : used to BIG telephotos and I really like to shoot narrow DOF like this:
    :
    : http://www.mhmyers.com/d80//DSC_3456dt.jpg
    :
    : (talk about creamy bokeh!)
    :
    : so I wanted a large aperture normal lens to get the same effect I get
    : with the longer lenses but able to fit in my pocket.
    :
    : I returned the G today and I am satisfied with my decision.

    I think there's only one sensible criterion for buying an f/1.4 lens: its
    performance at maximum aperture. If you don't need the wide aperture (because
    you don't shoot in low light and don't need critical control over DOF in
    bright light), there are cheaper options that will do a better job. I'm not
    sure you tested for low-light performance directly, but your tests do appear
    to show that under comparable conditions the D lens gave sharper results than
    the G lens at f/1.4. So given the limitations of the tests, I think you came
    to the correct conclusion, i.e. that the D lens does its job better than the
    G.

    Bob
    Robert Coe, Mar 22, 2009
    #14
  15. M-M

    M-M Guest

    In article <>,
    Robert Coe <> wrote:

    > I think there's only one sensible criterion for buying an f/1.4 lens: its
    > performance at maximum aperture. If you don't need the wide aperture (because
    > you don't shoot in low light and don't need critical control over DOF in
    > bright light), there are cheaper options that will do a better job.



    Very true, but as far as sharpness, vignetting and distortion I believe
    a 1.4 lens stopped down to 1.8 or 2.8 will give better results than a
    1.8 or 2.8 lens wide open- so even at less than maximum aperture, a 1.4
    lens can still shine. DOF is a different matter.
    --
    m-m
    http://www.mhmyers.com
    M-M, Mar 22, 2009
    #15
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