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Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D
© 2010-2012 KenRockwell.com

Intro   Specifications    Performance    Recommendations

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Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D AF

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D. (52mm filters, 5.5 oz./157g, about $125.) enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this one directly to it at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.

 

September 2012, June 2011, 2008   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

NEW: Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G. Weighs more, costs more, and does the same thing, but with instant manual-focus override, much more distortion and the ability to autofocus on Nikon's cheapest DSLRs.

How This Lens is Great for Low Light

Sample Images from California's Central Coast June 2010

 

Introduction     top

Intro   Specifications    Performance    Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

This is Nikon's latest 50mm lens which replaces the 50mm f/1.8 AF (non D). It sells for only about $125 and is super sharp. See it compared to lenses costing 15 times as much at my Nikon Pro Normal Zoom Comparison. It is as sharp or sharper!

This unassuming lens is the best budget choice for a D3 or D700, much better than any zoom, to get you the fast autofocus, great low-light performance and the sharpness for which you bought a D3 or D700 in the first place. If you do buy one of those expensive cameras, consider as well the 50mm f/1.4 version.

 

Compatibility

As a traditional AF lens (not gelded as a G), it works with every Nikon ever made, digital and film, auto and manual focus.

It's a full-coverage FX lens, so it works great on FX digital, DX digital and film. It works especially well on the Nikon D3 and D300.

It won't autofocus on the cheapest digital like the D40 or D40x, but it won't autofocus on an F3 either! For autofocus on the cheapest digitals, get the 50mm f/1.8 G.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details for older cameras. See the "AF, AF-D" column.

 

Production History

This AF 50mm f/1.8 D was introduced in 2002 to replace the non-D version. It is still in production as of 2007.

Nikon has made over 400,000 of these through 2007.

 

Specifications    top

Intro   Specifications    Performance    Recommendations

Name

Nikon calls this the Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D.

 

Optics

Diagram, Nikon 50mm f/1.8

6 elements in 5 groups, a classic design.

Multicoated; the non-D version wasn't.

 

Diaphragm

7 straight blades. Stops down to f/22.

 

Close Focus

1.5 feet (0.45 meters).

 

Focus Scale

Yes.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

Yes.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index

Yes.

 

Filter Thread

52mm.

Plastic.

Does not rotate.

 

Size

1.541" extension from flange by 2.505" diameter (39.14 x 63.62mm), measured.

Nikon specifies 1.5" (38mm) long by 2.5" (64mm) around.

 

Weight

5.543 oz. (157.1g), measured, naked.

Nikon specifies 5.5 oz. (155g).

 

Hood

HR-2 rubber hood, sold separately for about $15.

 

Nikon Product Number

2137.

 

Price

2012 September: $125.

2011: $140.

2010: $125.

2008: $115

 

Performance    top

Intro   Specifications    Performance    Recommendations

 

Sharpness

It is among Nikon's sharpest lenses ever. See my Nikon Pro Normal Zoom Comparison in which I show examples. It's sharper than any $1,800 zoom.

Christmas

Christmas, California Desert. D7000, f/8 at 1/250, ISO 100. original © BASIC JPG.

 

Cactus, Palm Desert Sun City

Cactus, California Desert. D7000, f/8 at 1/250, ISO 100. original © BASIC JPG.

On a D3 it is sharp and contrasty in the center at every aperture.

In the corners on a D3, spherical aberration makes it a bit less contrasty (but still well defined) at f/1.8, and it's just about perfect by f/4.

The only difference between this and the 50mm f/1.4 D and 50mm f/1.2 AI-s is that the faster lenses become sharper at f/2, but all are the same by f/4. The faster lenses also cost two to four times as much and have more distortion.

 

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D MTF Curve

MTF Curve, specified, f/1.8.

 

Compared

The manual-focus Voigtländer 40mm f/2 is better-made and sharper than any of the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D, 45mm f/2.8 AI-P or 50mm f/1.8 AF-D.

To show this, here are crops from the top right corner of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images:

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D Voigtlander 40mm f/2
Nikon 45mm f/2.8 P Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D

Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors.

You'll never see this much difference in actual photos among these all-excellent lenses; in this case, I shot them in a way that would exaggerate the differences as much as possible.

 

Focus

AF is very fast on every camera. One full turn of the AF screw focuses the lens from infinity to 6 feet (1.8m).

It will not autofocus on the D40 or D40x; turn the focus ring and look for the electronic focus confirmation dot in the lower left of the finder.

 

Distortion

Like all of Nikon's 50mm f/1.8 lenses, this has almost no distortion. Its distortion is so low that it was never visible in film days, and I only can see it today in digital by blowing up images to the equivalent of 6 feet (2m) wide on a computer screen and dropping an electronic straight edge on them, and then only if I deliberately shot a test.

Plug these figures into Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter to correct the distortion. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires me to climb a bluff on a very clear day and shoot the ocean's horizon.

 
FX and film
at infinity
+0.2
+0.1

© 2007 KenRockwell.com

 

Mechanics and Construction

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D

Made in China!

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

External Barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Aperture Ring

Plastic.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Lens Mount

Metal.

 

Internals

Seem like metal.

 

Noises when Shaken

Minor clicking (diaphragm blades).

 

Serial Number

Printed on a label which is glued into a recess on the bottom of the barrel.

 

Made in

China. The 50mm f/1.8 D has always been made in China. Its optical performance is as good or better than Japanese-made zooms costing fifteen times as much, so there.

 

Recommendations    top

Intro   Specifications    Performance    Recommendations

Just buy one if you think you want it. Everyone who does is amazed at the quality.

I keep a 52mm Nikon NC filter and Nikon HR-2 rubber hood on it for protection.

This lens makes no compromises in image quality. It is inexpensive because it is a very simple lens to make. It uses a classic, proven optical design. A $110 zoom lens has to cut many corners in image quality that this 50mm doesn't.

None of the pros I know use exotic normal zooms. They all own these lenses which they throw in a pocket for the few times they need a lens for low light or to cover the range between their pro wide zoom and pro tele zoom.

If you intend to use this often in low light, then by all means spring another $160 for the 50mm f/1.4 D. I shoot my 50mm f/1.4 with my D3 in available light and I really like being able to shoot at f/1.4. For use in daylight, this f/1.8 lens has less distortion and is just as sharp.

In case you are new to photography, let me emphasize that this inexpensive lens is as sharp and over twice as sensitive to dim light as the $1,700 24-70mm f/2.8AF-S lens. The reason to spend sixteen times as much is simply to get a lens that can zoom. With this fixed 50mm you have to move forward and back to compose your photo. No big deal.

If you need super sharpness and a fast aperture than choose this over a zoom at the same price.

 

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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