In Toronto, the end of summer is signalled with the huge Canadian National Exhibition coming to town, which happens to be the most amazing place for a carnival photo shoot. My long-time partner in crime, Ashley, was my willing subject, and the Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4 lens was my weapon of choice.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a sudden newfound appreciation for shooting with my Nikon 50mm FX ƒ/1.4G AF-S Lens almost wide open. The majority of these carnival photo shoot images were shot with the Nikon 50mm lens at ƒ/1.6 and they have amazed me with their sharpness. One challenge while shooting at night was the focus accuracy. Because I often used the reflection in Ashley’s glasses as my focusing target, some parts of Ashley’s face weren’t as in focus as I would have liked, notably the eyes and lips. That being said, when I nailed the focus, the sharpness of this lens at such a large aperture was nothing short of spectacular.
The Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4G was introduced nearly ten years ago to replace the old “D” version of the same lens. While this new model has garnered generally positive reviews, it didn’t set the world on fire nor get the glowing praise that the Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 DG HSM Art lens did. In fact, despite positive overall coverage, I’d still say the Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4G has been unfairly maligned in many places, when it is in fact an insanely good lens. While the Sigma 50mm Art might be the king of the nifty fifties, it costs over twice as much as the Nikon, weighs three times as much, and is twice as long. The Sigma is a beast of a lens and not one that’s fun to carry around all day.
Now, does the average photographer need a Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4G instead of the cheaper, more popular ƒ/1.8 version? That depends. For most purposes, you know what? The ƒ/1.8 version is going to be just fine. I used to have the Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.8D and it was fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who asks (as well as the newer Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.8G). The best part of the ƒ/1.4 version is its relatively compact size and weight — it’s very nearly the exact same physical dimensions of the ƒ/1.8, while weighing only 100g more. For me, having the ability to go into slightly wider apertures for a minor trade off in weight was worth it.
Processing the images in Adobe Lightroom, I was going for the trendy, dreamy, Instagram-friendly look that’s so popular lately (with the exception of the lead image, which I did in full eye-popping carnival colour). When making changes this extreme to a photo, the sliders in Lightroom get pushed around a lot. Here’s a quick before and after so you can see the difference:
Shop Amazon for the gear I used on this carnival photo shoot
- Nikon D750 FX DSLR Camera with Meike MK-DR750 Battery Grip
- Nikon 50mm FX ƒ/1.4G AF-S Lens
- Nikon 85mm FX ƒ/1.8G AF-S Lens (only used for one photo, can you guess which?)
- Lowepro Transit 350 AW Backpack (it holds everything and it’s super comfortable)
See all of Ashley’s carnival photo shoot below