Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras – Product Description:

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor LensFast enough for shooting in just about any type of light, this is an ideal first lens; perfect for full-length portraits, travel photography or any type of available-light shooting. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor lens delivers distortion-free images with superb resolution and color rendition. Accepts 52mm filters.

Product Features :

  • 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon DSLRs
  • Lens construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
  • Closest focusing: 0.45m/1.5 ft.
  • Accepts 52mm filters
  • Includes 52mm lens cap, rear cap

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras – Review:


Background you can skip
I realize a lot has been written everywhere about this lens. Just look at KenRockwell or DPReview and the sheer detailed reviews from fellow photographers around the internet. One thing is special about photo-ists: they are hardly fan-boys: if something is a-miss with a product then that get splattered out in gory detail, often with photo evidence… Why am I saying this? Because I think you can therefore trust the overall rating of this lens on the web. This one is often referred to as the model 1902, as well, by the way.
I wanted to add my 2 cents since I have bought several lenses in the last year that are all very similar. This review focuses on the 1.8 and 1.4 50mm lenses. The other 2 lenses are reviewed on their individual product pages. I thought some others might be trying to choose between these 2 lenses, but having a hard time determining the relatively steep price difference between the 1.4 and 1.8. I will not go into the technical differences between the 2 either as others that are more adept than me have done that and I am predominantly a person that focuses on the results and not the specs.

The primes I own:
85mm 1.8
35mm 1.8
50mm 1.8 ( )
50mm 1.4 (this one)

About this lens
I bought this lens especially for portraiture. I am a hobbyist but my camera is glued to me (a D90) and I tend to shoot lots of shots indoors, capturing casual moments of my kids, pets and so on. Probably very similar to any other proud dad and hubby.
Initially I did not want to shell out for the 50mm 1.4 and decided to get the well respected 50mm 1.8. I loved the 1.8 from the start. It was great indoors and even at the 1.8 f-stop it was sharp (with the softness that one can expect). The color rendering is beautiful and I love what it does to skin tones combined with the softness wide open. Since the 1.8 became my most beloved portrait lens I decided that it would be worth looking at upgrading to the 1.4. So I took the leap.

Of course the extra light is great but do the photos come out magically better? No, not for the pro-mateur like myself. The AF is a little faster it seems and perhaps, but I am not sure, the colors come out a little more vibrant. Softness wise at wide open I think they are equally soft but the 1.4 gets tack sharp at f2 whereas the 1.8 needs to get closer to f4. I happen to shoot mostly in the f2 to f4 range so this is acceptable for both.

The bokeh (the out of focus texture of the background that can make the subject look like it was placed in front of a wonderful milky pastel) is impressive on both lenses. I cannot say that there is a visibly distinguishable edge for either.

Ofcourse the depth of field with the 1.4 is more pronouced than with the 1.8 at wide open.

My simple conclusion
I am not trying to compare a 100 dollar lens to a 300 dollar lens because the 300 dollar one is the better lens when you read all the reviews and I *think* I agree. However, when you are looking for value for money, the 1.8 wins hands down. You get so close to the 1.4 results and if you’re a photoholic amateur like myself you will be deliriously happy with the 1.8. Once you have exhausted its capabilities (which will take most of us 20 years of learning) or you become enamored with sports photography (or your kids play ice hockey and you do not want to flash) then the 1.4 becomes more realistic.
I recommend that if you are on a budget then you start with the 1.8. Once you are ready to upgrade you simply sell it, you will always get 80% of value back if well treated, and substitute with the much more expensive 1.4.
Al the serious pros would simply jump straight to the 1.4 but that is not the audience this review is meant for. Hope this helps.

A humble non-technical amateur photographer



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