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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
|Price:||$429.95 & FREE Shipping|
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- 50mm focal length, 75mm equivalent focal length on DX cameras
- F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum
- Ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing, 58mm filters
- Minimum focus Distance : 0.45m/17.72 Inches
- Nikon F mount for FX and DX DSLRs. Unparalleled autofocus performance
- Lens not zoomable
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|Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Compatible Camera Mount||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F (DX)||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F (FX)|
|Focus Type||Ring-type ultrasonic||Ring-type ultrasonic||Ultrasonic||Screw drive from camera||Screw drive from camera||Ultrasonic|
|Item Dimensions||2.91 x 2.13 x 2.91 in||2.76 x 2.09 x 2.76 in||3.15 x 2.87 x 3.15 in||2.5 x 2.5 x 1.54 in||2.56 x 1.69 x 2.56 in||3.43 x 3.31 x 3.43 in|
|Item Weight||0.64 lb||7.05 ounces||0.77 lb||5.47 ounces||0.51 lb||1.31 lbs|
|Lens Type||Prime lens||standard-prime||Prime lens||Prime lens||Prime lens||Prime lens|
|Maximum Focal Length||50 millimeters||35 millimeters||85 millimeters||50 millimeters||50 millimeters||85 millimeters|
|Minimum Focal Length||50 millimeters||35 millimeters||85 millimeters||50 millimeters||50 millimeters||85 millimeters|
|Photo Filter Thread Size||58 millimeters||52 millimeters||67 millimeters||52 millimeters||52 millimeters||77 millimeters|
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
From the Manufacturer
Ideal for travel, event, environmental and general photography in a wide variety of conditions, with superb optical formula and an ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture.
Fast f/1.4 prime NIKKOR lens
Perfect for low-light conditions, general and travel photography.
Normal angle of view on FX-format cameras
Classic, normal angle of view when used on a Nikon FX-format digital SLR or 35mm film camera.
Ideal portrait lens on DX-format cameras
An ideal portrait lens when used on a Nikon DX-format digital SLR, approximating the angle of view similar to that of a 75mm lens on a Nikon FX-format digital SLR or a 35mm film camera.
Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
Enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
Enables fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus.
Close focusing to 1.5 feet
For extended versatility.
Rounded 9-blade diaphragm
Renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image elements.
Top customer reviews
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I was wrong. While the f/1.4D is a speed demon that almost never fails to lock focus, this thing is atrociously slow. And when I say it's slow I don't mean it in comparison to my pro f/2.8 glass, I mean in comparison to any, any glass I've ever owned or had a chance to use (including cheap kit lenses). This is literally the slowest focusing lens I've ever seen!
Shooting quickly moving subjects was an impossible task with this lens without prefocusing.
Just to be sure that it wasn't a bad copy I checked the professional online reviews for similar experiences and looks like it's the norm. If you plan on using it mainly as a portrait lens and a walk around lens then go for it. Otherwise I would suggest the older f/1.4D as long as your camera has a built-in autofocus motor.
I was eagerly expecting this upgrade from Nikon since I have not been very pleased by the old AF-D version. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens was a performant lens with careful handling and focusing of static or relatively static subjects. However, for action shooting AF with the D version was lacking the kind of snap needed for those "razor sharp" details. Moreover, very prone to flare and coma and with somewhat low contrast rendition of images, the 50mm f/1.4 AF-D was never my lens of choice even for portraiture. During 2007 I got a Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO Lanthar (in Nikon mount), manual focus, that gave me the pleasure of portraiture as I wanted to be (really, for the money that lens is awesome).
However, having a better focusing less flare-prone, high contrast 50mm prime was tempting and, as rumours about an AF-S version started to appear, I decided to sell my old f/1.4 and get the new AF-S version.
However, even this upgrade did not entirely match my expectations. I try to detail below some of my findings.
Subject isolation, sharpness, DOF and bokeh
One of the reasons of getting a large aperture lens is isolation of subjects. Subject sharpness, smooth transitions on D0F interval and pleasant bokeh (see below) is the triad that, usually, influence purchase of such lenses. I have another one: ease of use and reduced weight. The third: getting a prime that has usable AF on D40/D40x/D60 (yes this can be used). Moreover, I am more and more tempted to use fixed focals for general photography and walkaround, thus I lack a performant 35mm prime that will act as a normal focal for my D300 to use most of the time (like back in the old days of film when I was less lazy and spoiled by zooms).
The new 50mm f/1.4 does an excellent job at isolating the subject and sometimes you have to take a lot of care about focusing exactly on those portions of the image that you want to be sharp since even slight deviations might defocus quite severely. The custom stop difference for DOF blurring between a DX and FX is about one stop, which means that a f/1.4 on DX achieves the kind of DOF that you will get with a f/2.0 lens on a FX. However, those of you who wish to get that "magic, almost 3D look of images" should keep in mind that this subjective perception of the image is a combination of subject isolation and peripheral perception of the eye of the blurred background - thus, the higher the quality of the bokeh, the better the "3D" look of the image.
Unfortunately, the extreme sharpness of this lens - even wide open, at f/1.4 - comes at a price, a bokeh which, in my opinion, is not so pleasant. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM produces a better looking (smoother, with no harsh artifacts due to diffraction on aperture rim) bokeh, but with lower sharpness overall. In the end, all comes to your personal preference: sharpness or excellent bokeh ? You cannot have both as a consequence of optical constraints. Nikon tried to launch a rasor-sharp wide opened prime (which it is), with good DOF capabilities, within an optical formula and glass specs that do not generate a tremendous amount of smooth blurring of the background (bokeh). Please remember that depth of field only gives an estimate of blurring of a subject which is in the focus interval, i.e. how blurred the image will be just outside the DOF interval. DOF does not correlate with the DEGREE of blurring of objects placed at SIGNIFICANT distance behind the subject in focus. If the background is far enough (which translates: outside the depth of field) and the subject if close (inside the hyperfocal distance) the DEGREE of blurring is related to the absolute physical size of the lens aperture. That's why the bokeh is better with large diameter glass and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 has "better" bokeh (smoother)than the 50mm AF-S. A basic rule of thumb (that you might consider in your "bokeh-oriented" purchases) when comparing lenses of same focal distance is that the quality of bokeh is directly proportional with the result of: (glass frontal element diameter)/(aperture value F). For example, for a 50mm f/1.4 with a 25mm frontal element that proportion will yield apx. 18; for a 50mm f/1.4 lens with a 50mm frontal element, the result would be apx. 35. You would expect a doubling of of the blur with such large glass.
However, large frontal element and better blur comes at the price of heavy optics and more aberration-prone lens which translate in lower sharpness and reduced microcontrast. The 50mm f/1.4 AF-S Nikkor excels at sharpness and microcontrast (which is not the case of Sigma), thus you will have to choose based on your personal shooting preferences, which lens to pick in the end. Maybe a Zeiss ?
The lens is on the cool side and this means that colors will be perceived by your eyes as more natural. Remember that what our brain interpretes as pure white (and make you think "this is white") is something that has quite a lot of blue in it. This is why, in bygone days, they were adding blueish bleaching stuff when doing laundry: the sensation of perfect white.
However, this slight tendency to the cold side has a consequence when shooting with flash: try to compensate a bit the color temp and make it a bit warmer, otherwise soome magenta casts will appear especially in shadows.
Under natural light the color and contrast are almost perfect with well defined hues and very good to excellent separation of colors (something which the old 50mm AF-D did not display) and a wonderful, absolutely wonderful microcontrast.
Used under overcast, the lens will retrieve images that have a slightly dramatic, "journalism-like" look, with deep blues and blacks (excellent as density for printing) and well defined details.
The color rendition does not change with aperture values, just your perception of better contrast will increase as the aperture narrows (due to increased sharpness per field).
Due to the relative small glass element diameters, the lens behaves like a planar, thus very low distorsion (close to absent) at the minimum shooting distance can be observed making it ideal for closeups. This is more obvious on DX format.
No vignetting observed by me, both on DX and FX.
The lens uses plastic, but a very good quality one. Is bigger and heavier than the old AF-D (weight: 8.1 oz (230g) AF-D vs. 10.2 oz (290g) AF-S; length: 2.0 inch (50mm) AF-D vs. 2.1 inch (54.2mm) AF-S; diameter: 2.6 inch (66mm) AF-D vs. 2.9 inch (73.5mm) AF-S), but not as heavy as the Sigma (18.3oz (520g); 3.33in x 2.69in (84.5 mm × 68.2 mm) );
The focusing ring is acceptable damped but not for precision MF, in my opinion.
Overall rating and conclusions
Yes, I recommend buying this lens due to its exceptional sharpness wide open, color rendition contrast and compactness. Moreover, owners of D40/D40x/D60 finally have a cool prime they can use on their AF crippled cameras (no internal motor) which - I believe - is the primary reason this lens was launched on the market.
However, bokeh lovers should look elsewhere, in my opinion, or carefully select scenes and compositions if they are looking for the ultimate blurring of the background. If I'd had enough to invest I would take both: the Sigma for the bokeh and more poetry in my images, the AF-S for studio shooting, sharpness and subject isolation.
The choice is yours.
Dec 22, 2008 (I made myself a birthday present)
Update: February 2nd, 2010
Some updates on image quality. Actually not true one of the comments to my review in what concerns the bokeh on a full-frame. I have a D700 now and the bokeh of this lens at F/1.4 is far less pleasing even than the DX 35mm f/1.8 in DX mode on D700. By the way, the 35 DX is one of the best lenses (image-wise in what concerns sharpness AND color rendition) I ever bought. Not to mention the stellar APO LANTHAR 90mm at 3.5 (a 90mm lens, though) - unfortunately an extinct bird, such a pity !
The issue is that physics cannot be cheated: large glass diameter = better bokeh. That's it. But this AF-S G 50mm has some other advantages, especially on a FF. For example, better focusing under incandescent light. Not dim, incandescent (focus accuracy is heavily dependent on wavelength). Or as a perfect companion for going out "light" - reminds you of good old days of fixed focals. Or the very good correction of curvature (reacts almost as a PLANAR and recommend it for portraits), at the expense of CA, of course - but this is easily correctable in pp. For example, the sigma 50mm f/1,4 is very sharp but with a curvature that reminds of a 35 mm FF lens. Overall, the most pleasant bokeh (IMO) on any Nikon lens is on the 200mmf/2. But that's another league. I am a lucky person: I have access to a wide array of lenses and I can test them. I hope I will have enough time to spend to post these opinions on my website. Finally, would I buy this lens again knowing what I know now ? Of course. It is a very welcomed update in the aging nikon lens lineup.
The first surprise was that just having a f-1.4 aperture doesn't make it great. The photos come out with a very, very shallow depth of field and, even where there is focus, it isn't sharp focus. This makes it flattering for head-on portraits of older people but almost too soft for portraits of babies and toddlers who have smooth skin anyway. I say "head on" because if the face is at an angle the front eye will be in focus, the back eye not. I knew this, intellectually, but was unprepared for just how annoying it can be.
The photos that come out sharp and beautiful are the ones you take in the neighborhood of f-5.6 and the more you stop down, the better. As you might imagine, this is a disappointment because I have other lenses I could have used at f-5.6 to take those photographs.
I had assumed that getting used to having to move back and forth was going to be a greater problem than it turned out to be. It's trying to figure out the aperture that is turning out to be the serious learning curve.
Having a prime lens forces you to learn photography instead of being dependent on program modes that make the important decisions for you. Since it doesn't zoom, there are limits built in as far as framing goes. Aperture decisions have really noticeable consequences. So it keeps you on your toes.
These are my observations after almost two months of use:
* Random photos taken outdoors and which use f-5-6 to around f-11, are better (but not by that much) than those taken with other lenses. Ditto for macro shots. The bokeh, if it happens, does elevate the photo to another level. I think that the non-bokeh blurring is also a little bit smoother.
* I am using this lens on a DX format camera (D-80), so 50mm is actually 75 mm, and this might make a difference versus using it on a full-frame sensor (FX) camera, especially in terms of flexibility and framing. Of course, when using it as a portrait lens, it is probably an advantage.
* It focuses fast. The actual focus point will be sharp. Anywhere else depends on the aperture.
* The colors are a little bit cool, but the blacks are very rich, so the overall color is very pleasing.
* I don't notice anything unusual in terms of edge distortion, barrel or pincushion distortion, vignetting, or color fringing. There is some where you would expect to find it, but it is no worse (and possibly better) than other lenses.
* I had assumed that I wouldn't need flash in a reasonably well-lit indoor situation. But, at f-3.3 on Aperture Priority Mode and in a well-lit church, I did need it.
* Photos taken with f-stops wider than f-4.8 are hit and miss, with more miss than hit. Most can be fixed in post-processing, but I'm trying to get it right in the camera and I'm not getting that.
* The wide f-stops are alright for getting shots you can't possibly get any other way, but it's a situation where something is better than nothing---acceptable but not great shots.
* There is curious kind of "noise" in the background midtones that isn't bokeh nor does it look like the typical (dot-dot-dot) luminous or color noise, more like a mild stain that is a more noticeable onscreen than in print.
* I find that "noise" thing I mentioned above a little confusing. Normally, in post processing, when you open up the exposure you reveal noise in the shadow areas. But this is in the whole range of midtones and it's there even without increasing the exposure post capture.
* Upon checking my metadata, that midtone noise is very visible at ISO 200, f-3.3 @1/60. With a wider aperture, it is intolerable, with a smaller aperture it begins to improve. By f-5.6, it is almost gone.
* Anti-noise plug ins take care of it by blurring, but that is not the idea.
* I usually shoot at 100 ISO, but with this lens, I'm going to have to rethink that.
* The sweet spot, aperture-wise, seems to be between f-5.6 and f-8. Focus and sharpness are best; midtone noise is not an issue, shadow noise is normal. But, again, every other lens I own handles this range almost as well.
* Some of these problems can be blamed on my lack of experience with wide apertures, but not all.
* On the whole, I regret paying this much for a lens that is so difficult to get along with and gives such mixed results. I will get very little use of any aperture wider than f-5.6, and those were the very apertures I paid such a premium price for.
* Ask yourself, realistically, how often you will really need to shoot in low light. I overestimated.
* If you really want a fast prime lens, I would recommend looking into the lower priced Nikon 50 mm primes also available at Amazon. I purchased this lens, the NIKON 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens ($460.00). Alternate 1: The Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 AF Nikkor lens costs $329.00, and alternate 2, the Nikon 50 mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens, costs $126.00.
* It may be generally true that you have to get "good glass," I decided that (for once) I would get what seemed like the best "glass" from the 50-mm prime choices. I don't think it was wise in this case.
* Qualification: Unless you have a D-40 or a D-60 which depend on the focusing motor in a the lens. The two lower-priced alternatives would have to be manually focused on those cameras.