Photographers have long wanted to reach for f1.4 lenses while mocking f1.8 lenses. No, let me rephrase that. Photographic snobs have long wanted to reach for lenses f1.4. For many of them, they could easily and clearly distinguish between f1.8 and f1.4. They claim they could do it even while looking at the whole picture. This is the boomer point of view at the moment. If you want a fast aperture, lean in and select f1.2. But for most jobs, I think f1.8 lenses are more than enough. And here’s why I love them more.
For this post, I will focus on the Sony camera system. Sony has the most f1.8 lenses and I own a bunch of them. Nikon is pretty much behind Sony when it comes to choosing f1.8 lenses. Let your blood boil and check with your doctor about your blood pressure, but everything I’m saying here is a fact.
Let’s start this journey with the Sony 85mm f1.8. I mean, come on, how much can you really distinguish the images from this lens and the f1.4 G Master? Maybe if you look at a pixel and use a flash? But overall, the Sony 85mm f1.8 is smaller, lighter, focuses a lot faster and creates beautiful images. How can you complain? Even better, it has built-in weather resistance. Isn’t that crazy? How does a lens that is only a fraction of the price compared to the advanced version work so well?
Then we move on to the variants, which brings me to the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 lens. Did you know that it is still considered one of the sharpest lenses for Sony cameras? There are Sony 50mm f1.2 G Master and Sony Zeiss 50mm f1.4. But still, the small, lightweight 55mm f1.8 works incredibly well. It was one of Sony’s first lenses and still works great. Why choose 50mm f1.2 in that case? For now, f1.8 lenses look much more attractive.
Let’s move on, I also own a Sony 35mm f1.8 FE. It is small, light, weather resistant and focuses quickly. This is probably my favorite Sony lens. What is the purpose of choosing f1.4? More importantly, why would I bother to own the Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art again? I literally replaced that 35mm f1.8 lens because it was too heavy and made me not want to shoot Sony.
So here’s my bigger point: is the environment really that much better? Can you visibly see a better bokeh? Won’t you still think that an f1.8 lens can produce a beautiful photo?
My bigger thing here is that f1.8 lenses are not long lasting. They have evolved and become much better. So as the lower part has improved, so must the higher. This is obvious with more f1.2 lenses coming to market. But at the same time, the environment should also improve. Why aren’t there more f1.4 lenses that make something completely unique? And more importantly, why do I have to buy a lens for less than half a foot more light?