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The extra 2 stops of Nikon 24mm f/1.4 – f/2.8 vs f/1.4

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Wellington Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Kent Photography | Kent Photography Blog: The extra 2 stops of Nikon 24mm f/1.4 – f/2.8 vs f/1.4

January 20, 2011

The extra 2 stops of Nikon 24mm f/1.4 – f/2.8 vs f/1.4

Nikon introduced the 24mm f/2.8D back in 1993, 17 years later, Nikon finally mastered the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G. Apart from incorporating the latest technology, such as Silent Wave Motor (SWM), Nano Crystal Coating to reduce ghost and flare, as well as including two ED and two asphercial lens elements in its construction, the major difference is having a maximum aperture of f/1.4, giving an extra 2 stops.

The Nikon 24mm f/1.4 has a price tag of  $1999 USD  which is over five times more than the Nikon 28mm f/2.8D at $360 USD.

The question is does the extra 2 stops,  Silent Wave Motor (SWM), Nano Crystal Coating and other nice additional features worth the premium price tag?

We know Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Nano Crystal Coating are welcoming features to the lens, but how useful is the extra 2 stops, is it necessary?

The extra 2 stops pretty much give you a shallower Depth of Field (DoF), the flexibility to use lower ISO or higher shutter speed for the same exposure.

For example, when shooting indoor, typically ISO needs to be at least 1600+, sometimes 3200 even when you are using aperture f/2.8 (refer here). With the extra 2 stops, imagine you have the ability to

  • use ISO  400-800 (e.g. 3200—>1600—>800) which is much less susceptible to noise or
  • stop motion and camera shake using  a shutter speed of hundredth of a second (e.g. 1/25s—>1/50s—>1/100s) even when you are indoor

These are beneficial mostly to low light shooters such as those whom shoot concerts and indoor sports.

For landscape shooters and those who shoot mostly under day light, the extra two stops might not be so crucial, unless you want the f/1.4 shallow DoF.

So how does the DoF differ between f/2.8 and f/1.4? Note that we are not comparing the bokeh which is the quality of the blur in the out-of-focus areas of an image. It is important not to get mixed up between DoF and bokeh, one associates with aperture setting, subject distance and focal length, the other by lens design and construction.

The images below show the DoF created by f/2.8 and f/1.4 using the Nikon 24mm f/1.4.


Nikon 24mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

Nikon 24mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Which image do you prefer? The extra creamy bokeh of f/1.4? The extra 2 stops of aperture at f/1.4 does create a strong isolation of the subject to the background which is normally hard to achieve at wide angle like 24mm.


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