Five reasons to consider f/1.8 over f/1.4 lenses

Apr 23, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Apr 23, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Sometimes there are justifiable reasons for choosing the fastest lens there is. But, is it always the case? Darren Miles believes that sometimes a cheaper f/1.8 lens is a better option. In this video, he gives you five reasons to pick the f/1.8 instead the faster (and pricier) f/1.4.

YouTube video

#5: the weight

If we talk about the lenses between 20mm and 85mm, the size and weight of f/1.8 and f/1.4 can differ quite a lot. For example, Nikon 85mm f/1.4 weighs 1.3 pounds, while Nikon 85mm f/1.4 weighs 0.77 pounds. If you’re, say, a wedding photographer, every bit amount of weight you reduce can be significant.

#4: image quality

There are some differences in image quality between f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses. But, as Darren puts it, it will mostly be you and other photographers who care about them. In other words, your clients are not so likely to notice the subtle differences between the photos taken with an f/1.8 lens and those taken with an f/1.4 lens.

#3: camera sensors have improved

The low-light capability of modern cameras is increasing. So, in some cases the extra 2/3 stop of light that you get with an f/1.4 lens might not be that important. Of course, in some situations it might come in handy, but you should ask yourself if these situations happen often enough to justify the difference in price.

#2: getting the shot in focus

Darren points out that this is probably not so important for many photographers, especially if they use a back-button continuous AF. However, if you use single-shot AF, it’s more difficult to get the perfect focus when the depth of field is “razor thin as it is at f/1.4.”

#1: the cost

The reason why probably many photographers go for an f/1.8 instead of an f/1.4 lens is certainly the price. Sure, you lose some of the low-light capability, but you save quite a lot of money. Here are some examples:

The differences in prices are quite significant between f/1.4 lenses and their f/1.8 counterparts of the same focal length. If nothing else, these differences might make you look past the downsides of f/1.8 lenses. And while we’re at it, what are the downsides? Darren mentions them in his video, too.

Disadvantages of f/1.8 lenses

In many cases, the cheaper f/1.8 lenses aren’t built as well as their f/1.4 counterparts, and they are made from cheaper materials.

Next, the AF motor is sometimes not as quick nor as quiet in f/1.8 lenses as it is in their faster versions. However, this difference isn’t that significant, as Darren points out.

Then, most of the f/1.8 lenses aren’t weather-sealed.

Another consideration is third-party lenses with f/1.4 and f/1.8 apertures. But, you have to consider the size and weight of these lenses. Sometimes even the prices aren’t that lower, either.

So, these were Darren Miles’ five reasons to consider cheaper f/1.8 lenses over their f/1.4 counterparts. Personally, I always go with cheaper options because I’m not a pro and the budget plays a big role for me. But of course, as I mentioned, there certainly are reasons to pick the faster and more expensive variants.

How important is this to you? Do you rather get f/1.4 (or faster) lenses, of f/1.8 is just fine for you?

[5 Reasons Why You Should CONSIDER f/1.8 Lenses OVER f/1.4 Lenses via FStoppers]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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6 responses to “Five reasons to consider f/1.8 over f/1.4 lenses”

  1. Stewart Norton Avatar
    Stewart Norton

    F 1.8 all the way…cheaper, lighter and more than enough shallow depth of field for me.

  2. Stephen Masiello Avatar
    Stephen Masiello

    Lol. I’ve got both and they’re my least used lenses.

  3. Viggo Næss Avatar
    Viggo Næss

    f1.4 because quality, and that excludes the Canon 50 f1.4?

  4. Paul H Avatar
    Paul H

    A really great article written by a non pro photographer.
    On your disadvantages of using the cheaper F1.8 lenses, I use the canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens.
    1) Not built as well – agreed but I am not a pro either, so for me and my limited use it’s great.
    2) AF motor not as quick – the STM version is very fast, faster than ultra sonic, and also almost silent.
    3) Is not weather sealed. I have never taken photos while standing out in the rain, and probably won’t
    4) Third Party lenses – the canon nifty fifty is a very nice and sharp lens, and compared to the sigma art is significantly cheaper. I have never used the 50mm Art, and I believe it is the best 50mm lens currently available, but it is about 5 times the price of the nifty fifty where I live, so would only buy it f I won the Lottery.

    Over all I am very happy with the 1.8 nifty fifty. IS would be the only improvement I would seek, as long as it doesn’t affect the sharpness.

  5. jason bourne Avatar
    jason bourne

    You give cost examples using 85mm lenses, but not the 50mm ones even though the posted images are of 50mm lenses… Makes no sense at all.

  6. Paddy Avatar
    Paddy

    I use old manual lenses and the 1.4 are pretty good, but my 1.7 is terrific.