The three legendary 58mm f/1.2 SLR lenses:
- Nikon 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NIKKOR
- Minolta MC ROKKOR-X 1:1.2 f=58mm
- Canon FL 58mm 1:1.2
The 58mm f/1.2 spec was something of a flagship focal length for SLR lens makers. There are a couple of similar variants or sequential models of each to be found, these represent one from each brand that made them.
Each is a challenge to focus shooting head and shoulder portraits wide open and up close, making the selection of body and finder critical.
I’ve included three images to illustrate my personal observations below. All three were shot wide open and from similar distances. The first image was shot on Bluefire Police 50, the second (probably Tri-X) and the third was a digital capture with a Sony A7R. Furthermore, lighting conditions varied, and so did the subjects, so take my comments with a pinch of salt. Also note that the value of each lens varies considerably.
The NOCT is by far the most classically beautiful and best imager at large apertures, being sharp and contrasty, with little distortion, manageable falloff, negligible coma, and delivering buttery bokeh.
The Rokkor is dominated by swirly bokeh and is markedly softer; more of an art lens.
The Canon FL lens is somewhere in the middle.
All three lenses are interesting and render with their own character. I recommend combining lens choice with film selection or sensor/post production to create the look that you feel portrays the subject the way you wish.
Text and images (C) All rights reserved. Dan K 2014