Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4

I used this lens for a while, but had to return it due to a mechanical flaw (brand new lens, its AF motor died after only a few weeks of indoor use). But I used it enough to draw some conclusions that I am now sharing with you, hoping to help you

+ very small and light normal lens (like most other)
+ AF-S means focus override and it works fine also on entry-level bodies
+ superb bokeh, no complaints

- build quality considerations (it's plastic and bit squeaky; my brand new copy died after only a few weeks of use)
- image quality very good but not excellent.
- Significantly more expensive than, say, a 35mm f/1.8 (which is DX only of course)

Intended Users
Great for:

  • portraits
  • night or low light shots
  • indoor sports if you can get close to the action (say, sidelines of a basketball court)

Not for:
  • sports other than those described above (too short focal length)
  • those owning a body with a focus motor - pick the AF 50mm f/1.8 instead
  • those not minding the bit extra money/size/weight of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 - it's a marginally better lens, in my opinion

Final Verdict
A very good, very simple, small, and light fast normal lens. It will be a lens to give excellent images to those who understand its limitations (related, for instance, to the very shallow depth of field an aperture of f/1.4 offers). Image quality is very good but not excellent. At least I wasn't entirely satsified with its wide-open performance. Although the sharpness is not bad (comparable with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4), the contrast is not great. With portraits this can often be a positive thing: You often get a very smooth, even skin tone, which paired with the great bokeh (although not better than the Sigma's) can produce some incredible portraits. But all-in-all, this Nikkor is not better than the Sigma. So, if you don't mind the latter's weight and size, I'd go for that one.

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