f/1.4 vs f/1.8: Can You Actually Tell the Difference?

Given how much more it costs to buy an f/1.4 prime compared to an f/1.8, beginners in particular often ask if the upgrade is worth it. Build quality and optical quality being equal, is the difference in light gathering capability and depth of field noticeable? Can you really tell?

Photographer and YouTuber Pierre Lambert decided to do a blind “taste test” so to speak and find out if his viewers could actually tell the difference between photos shot at multiple locations at both f/1.4 and f/1.8, with a few shots taken at f/2.8, f/4 and f/5.6 thrown in just for fun.

From wide shots to street photos to tighter compositions with plenty of bokeh to analyze, he captured a total of 7 locations. Here’s just one of those comparisons. Can you tell which is which?

Of course, this conversation is about more than depth of field. Most f/1.4 lenses are built for professional use, with better build quality and higher quality optics. Plus, the additional 2/3 of a stop of light makes more of a difference when you’re shooting something like astrophotography.

But for many use cases, and when the majority of the general public will see your images compressed through social media and/or on a smartphone screen, Pierre argues that the results are just too similar to justify the price difference. He suggests saving the money and re-investing it into improving your skills. Do you agree with him?

Let us know in the comments. And if you want to see more from Lambert, head over to his website, give him a follow on Instagram, or subscribe to his channel on YouTube.