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Thread: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    28 1.4 vs 1.8

    A local shop had both on hand.

    The 1.8 won in sharpness out of the box, but the colors on 1.4 were great.

    I've read that a lot of the 1.4's need a bit of fine tune, then they are awesome.

    Anyone have experience in both?

    Thanks!
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    Nikon FX, Leica M8, Mamiya 645, Canon F-1

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    Super Duper
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Hi Jason,

    I can't speak directly for the newer 28mm f1.8, since I've only shot that briefly on two occasions. With regards the the 28mm f1.4, I tested more samples of that lens then I care to remember (over the years) both on film, DX and full frame digital. Wide open, the variability in performance is near stagering with the 28mm f1.4 on full frame DSLR's but a good sample renders quite nicely at f1.4 and f2 and exceptionally well at f2.8 and beyond. I too liked the colors from that lens.

    As for absolute sharpess at f1.4, both the current Nikon 24mm f1.4 and 35mm f1.4 easily outperform this fast 28mm...but there is both a look and overall level of performance that I find appealing in the 28mm f1.4. Some feel either they like the 28mm f1.4 or the current crop of fast single focal length wide angle lenses from Nikon. They are simply quite different.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 26th December 2012 at 11:50.

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Like Dave I've had several 28/1.4D's over the years and they tend to vary quite a lot in their wide open performance ranging from having an almost old Leica 'glow' through to really very sharp with high acuity. I'm not overly surprised that the 28/1.8 was sharper actually because essentially you have to hand select the old lens if that's your benchmark.

    These days the 28/1.4 is more of a collectable to be honest and is typically priced as such.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Thanks guys.

    I really had no idea that there was such a copy variance in the 1.4.

    The price is hard to ignore at under 1,500. The 1.8's seem to be an easy find, so I'm thinking I might give it a go and if it ends up not fitting my needs, I know I could sell it at a break even.
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    From what I remember of mine there was also the issue of focus shift too. If you get a lens that's bang on wide open you may find that it focus shifts as you stop down and/or vice versa. Decide what matters most to you - versatility or wide open performance because you may need to tune your lens appropriately.

    The 28/1.4D is a very special lens that you'll just have to see if it fits you. I would take care to examine the plastic AF/MF ring for cracks as these commonly break and can be difficult to get repaired. It isn't a deal breaker but just be aware ...
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Thanks, Graham.

    I could definitely know in short order if its for me. Just need to give it a go.
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
    Nikon FX, Leica M8, Mamiya 645, Canon F-1

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    Super Duper
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    From what I remember of mine there was also the issue of focus shift too. If you get a lens that's bang on wide open you may find that it focus shifts as you stop down and/or vice versa. Decide what matters most to you - versatility or wide open performance because you may need to tune your lens appropriately.

    The 28/1.4D is a very special lens that you'll just have to see if it fits you. I would take care to examine the plastic AF/MF ring for cracks as these commonly break and can be difficult to get repaired. It isn't a deal breaker but just be aware ...
    I forgot about that Graham....on a large # of samples, where one of the little screws is screwed into the aperture ring, there is often times micro cracks radiating out from this hole. Its easy to see and some are barely visable, while on some, the cracks area close to causing separation of the plastic ring. Nikon charges a pretty penny to replace and from what I hear, the cracks often return in time. It may be caused by an abundence of these aperture rings made where the hole was drilled slightly "off" or the plastic ring manufactured to a slightly different size (or tolerance) than the barrel it's fitted over. I guess they simply grab a replacement ring from the one of the past manufacturing runs for this lens when fixing it.

    Interesting about the focus shift Graham. On two of my samples it was apparent, but slight and didn't think to correlate it with performance wide open. If that was the case, were different samples then optomized for either f1.4 or something like f2.8 (possibly simply by chance)...which is sort of like the situation of the Zeiss 50 sonnar f1.5...whereby either the lens is p urposelyoptomized for f1.5 or f2.8 (depending on customer preference) and thus performance and focus shift will be different between the two.

    Jason, keep us posted on what you observe. Thanks!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Had another look.

    It has a near old school soft focus at 1.4, is as sharp as the 1.8 at 1.8, and razor sharp by f2.2.

    There's a couple nicks in the rear element and a good sized chunk of dust as well. This might be why it's priced what it is.

    I'm at my in laws and when I get home I will run the files and have a look at processed images.
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    I bought the 28 1.8 and find it to be a lovely very usable lens. It is far more travel friendly than the 35 1.4 and for me a bit more to my liking for street.
    -bob

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Muelver View Post
    Had another look.

    It has a near old school soft focus at 1.4, is as sharp as the 1.8 at 1.8, and razor sharp by f2.2.

    There's a couple nicks in the rear element and a good sized chunk of dust as well. This might be why it's priced what it is.

    I'm at my in laws and when I get home I will run the files and have a look at processed images.
    That sounds about right regarding performance. Remember that when these were made they were pretty much the pinnacle of Nikon's lens building capabilities with the special hand-ground aspherical elements. Over the years I've had three examples and I wouldn't think twice about picking up another for the right price/condition. Dust can be cleaned up and probably isn't visible anyway. Ditto the rear element.

    The lens hood is tough to find (it has a friction screw mount) but I preferred Heavystar's short metal hood anyway. I may even still even have one of the original hoods here somewhere thinking about it ... hmmm. Time to go sort through the misc pile of bits with no home I think.

    The last one I sold was picked up by Boeing. I'm not sure what they were doing but they had some test programme that used these specific lenses and so whenever my dealer got one he had an instant resale. At one point they were going for stupid, and I mean stupid, prices on the used market. I think that the 24/1.4 and 35/1.4 created some sanity there.

    Enjoy the lens.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    That sounds about right regarding performance. Remember that when these were made they were pretty much the pinnacle of Nikon's lens building capabilities with the special hand-ground aspherical elements. Over the years I've had three examples and I wouldn't think twice about picking up another for the right price/condition. Dust can be cleaned up and probably isn't visible anyway. Ditto the rear element.

    The lens hood is tough to find (it has a friction screw mount) but I preferred Heavystar's short metal hood anyway. I may even still even have one of the original hoods here somewhere thinking about it ... hmmm. Time to go sort through the misc pile of bits with no home I think.

    The last one I sold was picked up by Boeing. I'm not sure what they were doing but they had some test programme that used these specific lenses and so whenever my dealer got one he had an instant resale. At one point they were going for stupid, and I mean stupid, prices on the used market. I think that the 24/1.4 and 35/1.4 created some sanity there.

    Enjoy the lens.
    +1! Jason, from your description, as Graham aptly pointed out, sounds about average to above average performance for a sample of this lens based on the many I got to test out in-depth due to both personal "like" for this lens and a local group that purchased a bunch when Nikon released the last batch in a closeout approx 3 years ago (give or take). The variability as pointed out is probably due to the hand ground aspherical used and who that day was hand grinding/polishing

    I had a couple of standouts that were head and shoulders wide open compared to the rest and maintained their edge till just past approx f2.5...then things evened out. You can tell the mediocre ones by their having an abundance of spherical aberation wide open, especially seen when shooting say a lighted storefront at dusk and with regards to specular highlights. Of course this sort of look (glow) can work in ones favor with certain subjects. Sounds like you got an exceptionally good price so if you plan on keeping it, enjoy. It has a look that as you say, a bit old school but often missed with some of the current f1.4 Nikon asphericals.

    Dave (D&A)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jason Muelver's Avatar
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    It is actually still sitting in the store.

    The nicks on the rear element gave me some pause.

    Again, I was impressed by the plastic 1.8.

    This lens would be used as my wide for weddings and portrait work.
    http://jasonedwardphoto.com http://jasonmuelver.tumblr.com
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    Re: 28 1.4 vs 1.8

    Hi Jason,

    It's a bit hard to say what if any effect the nick(s) on the rear element will have on an image taken with the lens either wide open or well stopped down although for possible resale value later on, I can understand the concern. Since it's the rear element, and if the nick is near or on the very edge of the this element, it might not actually be part of the image forming area thats projected onto the sensor. If the nick is elsewhere, then hard to say what its impact would be. Testing at various apertures under different conditions might be prudent.

    I think there is a legthy thread here on Getdpi regarding the 28mm f1.8 and it appears to be a very sharp lens with some caveats mentioned by some regarding field curvature and a few other optical concerns or anomolies, which may be important in landscape work but not so much in weddings shoots except for edge to edge group shots. Those who own and have shot with that lens could tell you much more than I can (since I only shot with it very briefly.

    Dave (D&A)

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