The Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D Lens is one of the most widely used autofocus lenses in all of photography. It delivers distortion-free, high-contrast images with superb resolution and color rendition. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4 it is fast enough for shooting in just about any type of light. Weighing only 9.0 oz (255.1 g), it is easy to carry with you. This is an ideal first lens; perfect for full-length portraits, travel photography or any type of available-light shooting. It accepts 52mm filters.
For more accurate exposure control, the “D” lens subject distance information is transmitted from the lens to the camera body, providing 3D matrix metering and 3D multi-sensor balanced fill-flash with appropriate Nikon cameras and Speedlights.
- Fast enough for shooting in just about any type of light.
- Distortion-free images with superb resolution and color rendition.
- An ideal first lens; perfect for full-length portraits, travel photography or any type of available-light shooting.
- It accepts 52mm filters.
All of the above once again confirms that the lens is not a great performer in the f/1.4 – f/2.8 range. While vignetting and distortion become less of an issue on a digital camera with a 1.5X crop factor (these aberrations can also be dealt with in post processing), problems with sharpness are quite pressing even on a 6MP DSLR. In the final analysis, I decided that there is no point in having a very fast lens that does not perform well wide–open. Time for a major update, Nikon!
This is a great lens. It’s one of the sharpest and fastest lenses made by Nikon, and it’s reasonably priced. I shoot it all the time on my D3 for family and baby photos.
If you want an ultra-sharp, ultra-portable lens for use in daylight and are on a budget, the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D has the same image quality when stopped down an extra stop. Unlike the 85mm f/1.8 vs. f/1.4 question (where the f/1.4 costs three times as much and is made three times as solidly) I see no such difference in mechanical quality between these 50mm lenses.
If you want to shoot in available light on a $5,000 camera, of course get this f/1.4 version. If you’re on a budget, the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D is just about as good for one-third the price.
Conclusion – Pros
- Excellent image quality when stopped down
- Essentially no lateral chromatic aberration
Conclusion – Cons
- Distinctly soft at wider apertures
- Bokeh chromatic aberration, most visible at wide apertures
- Broad blue-coloured halation at wide apertures
- Vignetting at wide apertures on full frame (essentially disappears by F2.8)
Anyone reading this review shortly after that of the Canon EF 50mm F.4 USM will surely be experiencing an uncanny sense of deja vu; the two lenses’ characteristics and performance are remarkably similar, as we might expect from designs of similar vintage and optical formula from two of the leading camera manufacturers. Once again we see a lens which is outclassed at wider apertures by the brand new Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, but which rapidly draws level on stopping down, and in its sweet spot (particularly F5.6-F8) offers truly impeccable image quality. The results of our studio tests demonstrate that in this region it is wholly untroubled by the 12Mp sensor of the D3, and has plenty in reserve for the inevitable arrival of FX cameras with double the resolution; indeed it is sufficiently sharp in the centre to out-resolve the D300’s 12Mp DX sensor, which would be equivalent to 28Mp on FX. And all this comes in a lens which is small, light, unobtrusive, and distinctly affordable.
The Nikon 50/1.4 is a high quality, sharp and inexpensive lens with a fast aperture. It is a basic lens and an essential tool for any Nikon film photographer. It is a great portrait lens for a Nikon small-sensor digital SLR photographer.