I just purchased the new Nikon "G" series F1.4 lesnes and although in the past I've done very extensive reviews, since I do not currently have my Red One or a new Epic in my possession I'm just going to post a little mini review based on my impressions using a humble Nikon D3 and D7000.
At one point or another I've owned pretty much every fast Nikon prime made from the 58mm f1.2 NOCT to the 28mm f1.4 Aspheric and every version of the 50mm 1.4 in both AF and MF. I've also shot with the Canon 24mm f1.4, 50mm and 85mm f1.2, Zeiss 85mm 1.4 ZF, Superspeed and Master Prime lenses so I'm pretty familiar with the strengths and tradeoffs of highspeed designs. In general it's been folly to expect stellar performance from any F/T1.4 of faster lens wide open, the Master Primes were some of the first lenses to really seem to accomplish this, on the still side Nikon's 28mm 1.4 Aspheric did acceptably well at 1.4 but improved dramatically by F2. The only still lenses that seemed truly comfortable wide open were the very expensive Leica M Aspherical 35mm and 50mm 1.4, followed recently by the 21 and 24mm 1.4s and the Ultra Prime priced 50mm .95 Noctilux.
All this leads me to the new "G" series Nikon 1.4 primes, they have been announced for a while and tricking out of Japan so I decided to pick them up before the shortages from the earthquake caught up with the limited supply here in the US. I had sold all my previous generation f1.4 Nikkors last year so this was a planned purchase and was mostly motivated by the faster AF-S motors that will also facilitate there use on Epic. What I had not anticipated was the improvements that Nikon had made in redesigning the 35, 50 & 85mm and the brand new 24mm.
There is minimal edge enhancement sharpening added in Adobe camera RAW, this is just to negate the effects of the in camera low pass filter. The files do show a smidge of Jpeg compression artifacts so be gentle.
I'll start wide with the 24mm...
Resolution is great, especially for f1.4 but the really impressive aspect is the complete lack of veiling flare. Look at the blown out window in the upper right corner of the frame and then check out how crisp and contrasty the left side is and 100% grab.
The 35mm is a dead on match for the 24mm in terms of resolution and contrast, all of the new 1.4s have a 9 blade rounded iris for pleasing Bokeh, they also focus considerably closer than previous versions with the two wides focusing under 1 foot!
The 50mm is the sole lens without the new Nano crystal coat, it's also the only one that's under $1000, however it still performs admirably and appreciably better than it's predecessor wide open. Although it's the least whizbang of the bunch it should have no problem intercutting.
The 85mm is the biggest surprise though, the last generation of 85mm 1.4 Nikkor was a real favorite of mine and I had expected great things of it's successor but I had not imagined that in addition to improving the performance wide open they would be able to make the king of smooth even butterier. The Bokeh of this lens is just mouth watering, backgrounds just dissolve into a puddle of color and tone leaving just a fine razor thin line of impeccable sharpness.
Ok, enough gushing, I can't wait to get my Epic and a Nikon G mount to try these out.