September 15, 2009
50mm lenses are labeled as normal or standard lenses. What this means is that the 50mm lens is closest to a humans eye's perception of distance and depth. This does not apply to DX sized digital sensors. It only applies to FX size sensors and 35mm film cameras. On a DX sized Dslr's the lens is more of a portrait lens as the equivalent focal length is 75mm, the big plus on a DX sized camera is that you have a really cheap alternative to the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 that you have on the FX or full frame 35mm cameras. The Nikon AF-S 50 1.4 is a upgrade of the AF 50mm f/1.4D. The lens has grown a bit in size from the AF-D version, and it now takes 58mm filters. It is also supplied with a bayonet type lens hood. Other upgrades are the SWM (Silent Wave Motor) and the MA/M switch. The optical construction has also been upgraded to 8 elements in 7 groups up from 7 elements in 6 groups on the AF-D version.
The big question about this lens is: is it worth it to upgrade from the AF version, or: is this version worth $130 USD more then the AF version?
||8 elements in 7 groups
|Minimum focus distance:
||0.45m / 1.5ft
||58mm front lens cap LC-58
Rear lens cap LF-1
Bayonet hood HB-47
Flexible lens pouch CL-1013
Dia: 73.5 × length 54mm / 2.9 x 2.1in
||280g / 9.9oz
||9 rounded blades
- Contrast / Sharpness. wide open it outperforms the old AF 50 mm f/1.4 easily and to f/4 where it gets hard if not impossible to tell the lenses apart from each other.
- Build quality, it feels more solid then the AF 50mm f/1.4D (I've yet to bang this lens around very much, so there will be an update on this as times passes by)
- DOF. Depth Of Field markings are provided for f/11 and f/16, which is better then not having it at all.
- AF-S, this lens will auto focus on all the Nikon Dslr's on the market.
- 58mm filter thread, not really a big problem in the digital age we live in, but if you are a heavy filter user, you are forced to either get a step down ring or invest in more filters.
- AF speed is slower then the AF D version.
- No infrared compensation marking, again not a huge problem as the IR performance is quite crap.
Wide open the new Nikon AF-S 50mm 1.4 outperforms the AF version without a doubt. Both sharpness and contrast is way better. The auto focus is a tad slower though, not that the lens is slow on autofocus, but it is slower than the Nikon 50 f/1.4D. There is without a doubt light fall-off / vignetting wide open, and to f/2.8 (f/4 if you are really looking for it). This is really hard to avoid on a lens with a wide 1.4 aperture. The new 9 rounded aperture(upgraded from 7 straight blades on the AF version) provides you with a nicer out of focus rendition (Bokeh) then the older AF version. The AF-S version is also less troubled when it comes to CA(Chromatic Aberrations) compared to both the old Nikon 50mm AF f/1.4D and the f/1.8D versions. What is most noticeable is the longitudinal CA, what this means is that the focal planes of the various colors do not coincide(this is a quite common phenomena in fast lenses and, so it's not specific to the AF-S Nikkor). This is usually most noticeable as reddish fringes to the foreground of focus, and greenish fringes towards the back of the focused plane.
Infrared performance is worse then the AF 50 1.4, the AF-S Nikkor has a really nasty hot-spot. The lens can be used for infrared to f/8'ish, so it gives you two f stop's less usability then the AF version for infrared photography.
So is it a worthy upgrade? If you own the AF version it can be hard to justify the upgrade. If you use the lens mostly wide open, then the Nikon AF-S 50mm is definitely better. Same when it comes to CA. So in my opinion it is a worthy upgrade, it really does outperform the AF version. I've never been a fan of "G" type lenses, so this one is actually the first one for me, In the end I decided it was worth it to upgrade my Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D.
to the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Price from: $429.95 USD*
Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days(including the lenses used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.
Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D Price From: $124.95 USD
Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D Price From: $319.95 USD
Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S Price From: $419.95 USD
Nikkor MF 50mm f/1.2 AI-S Price From $679.95 USD
Or if you want a equivalent 50mm on a DX DSLR
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens Price From: $194.95 USD
Nikon AF 28mm f/2.8D Price From: $254.95 USD
Nikon AF 35mm f/2.0D Price From: $329.95 USD
Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Price: $439.00 USD
*Prices and rebates are subject to change. Listed price is from March 7, 2010
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