Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8

A very cheap, very decent, and very...old lens. Is it worth it in 2013? Note that this review covers both the AF and the AF-D version (they're pretty much identical for all practical purposes)

+ a very cheap prime
+ superb image quality, greatly superior to zooms much more expensive than this
+ small and light, with no protruding parts - fits easily in the smallest bag or even your jacket pocket if needed

- old design means no autofocus override, and no autofocus at all if your camera doesn't have a motor.
- although bokeh is splendid where it's needed (wide-open), be careful in smaller apertures (tends to produce less-than-perfect shapes)
- although a cheap lens (the non-D version can be found for much less than 100$ used), its modern equivalent isn't very expensive either

The optical quality of this lens is on very high levels

Wide-open, the bokeh is very beautiful

Intended Users
Great for:
  • portraits - it's the natural habitat of this lens (at least in DX; in FX it's tad short)
  • low-light. f/1.8 is more than three stops faster than your Nikkor 18-55 (f/5.6 at the long end)
  • general purpose lens. Surely, it's bit long for small spaces or scenic wides, but if you must carry one lens that can hold its own in as many situations as possible, this might be it.

Not for:
  • sports. Too short and motor-based AF means you need an upper level body to turn the screw fast enough
  • small spaces or wide scenic views. In theory you can take several pics and stitch them, but it's too much of a hassle (and not always possible)
  • remember: not all cameras can autofocus this lens.

Final Verdict
A very cheap lens, and a very good lens. In fact, I still use mine! Haven't felt the need to upgrade, because it does the job fine where I need it (portraiture). Wide-open is quite sharp (even in the DX angles), and it has no discernible distortion (VERY important for portraits). Closed down a bit, it's super-sharp, one of Nikon's finest. Highly recommended!

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