This lens is my buddy. If you ever see me out and about with my A7, I probably have this lens on it. This lens has been with me through five different countries and two different continents. Soon it will also be accompanying me to Japan when I visit this coming october. So after having using it almost everyday for almost half a year, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on it with Yall. (All pics shown were from my recent trip to New Orleans.)
This thing is the epitome of build quality. It’s metal and glass. No plastic. Everything on it is a pleasure to use. The focus is buttery smooth and can be moved with one finger. The aperture ring clicks satisfyingly into place and is very rewarding to use. While it is a small lens (being only 2.5 inches long) it is a very dense lens weighing in at 8.8 Ounces (250 grams for everyone who uses the measurement system I wish we used). When you hold a Nikon Ai-s lens you can tell that it’s a quality product. I would not be surprised if this lens outlived me! It’s also not a case of “They don’t build ‘em like they used to.” because you can still buy a brand new one today! That being said, I did buy mine used from KEH in EX+ condition (It looked like it had just came out of the box) for $210.
Let me preface this section by saying this lens was used for something it was never designed for. This lens was designed to work with film, not a 24MP full frame sensor! This lens design is also 34 years old! I’m willing to cut it some slack.
My philosophy with this lens is that it’s an excellent f/2 lens that can go to f/1.4. When shot wide open this lens is not good, contrast is steeply reduced, there’s coma everywhere, and there’s a good amount of chromatic aberration all over the place. There’s also the fact that everything is quite soft at f/1.4 too. f/1.4 should only be used if you are reaching the limit of useable ISO (on my A7, around 6400). A demo of what I am talking about below.
At f/2 the lens is much better, the chromatic aberration is almost gone and the contrast has improved significantly along with coma! At f/2.8 it’s sharp and with almost no sign of chromatic aberration! Another note, be careful when in bright sunlight. This lens does not respond well to flare and will drain your images of any contrast should it rear it’s ugly head.
Also, since this is a 1.4 lens, everyone probably wants to know what the bokeh looks like. Well here’s a some ketchup, some mustard, and some bokeh balls.
Overall I’ve been very impressed with this lens. Yes it has it’s set backs but it’s been a good lens for me and if I were to buy it again I would.