Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras – Product Description:

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens The AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4 G is Nikon’s latest take on the classic ‘standard lens’ concept, and was introduced in September 2008. It’s a replacement for the older AF-Nikkor 50mm F1.4D which we reviewed last year, with revised optics to better meet the demands of modern high-resolution full frame sensors. The optical formula is an updated version of the classic ‘double Gauss’ design, with an additional element placed towards the rear to give an 8 element, 7 group configuration. According to Nikon, this improves correction of off-axis aberrations, which promises better performance towards the edges of the frame particularly when using large apertures.

Product Features :

  • Normal angle of view on FX-format cameras – Classic, normal angle of view when used on a Nikon FX-format digital SLR or 35mm film camera
  • An ideal portrait lens when used on a Nikon DX-format digital SLR, approximating the angle of view similar to that of a 75mm lens
  • Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare
  • Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus
  • Close focusing to 1.5 feet

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens – Review:

EXCELLENT ALL-PURPOSE LENS!

This lens is very well-made and takes wonderful pictures. To address the most common questions people ask before they take the plunge:

Price: No, it’s not usually this expensive. I paid around $400 for mine, but I got it a couple of months ago. Apparently Nikon is having a hard time making enough of these. Rather than rewarding the greedy opportunists who are now charging exorbitant prices for this lens, I suggest calling local and smaller camera shops – they are much more likely to have one sitting on the shelves. It’s absolutely worth about $500, but I wouldn’t pay more than that. The Sigma (very similar, see below) is a better value at that point.

Image quality: Great. Slightly soft and glowy at 1.4, but that’s to be expected. Gets quite sharp at 2.8. The Sigma is even softer at 1.4 than this lens, so if wide-open sharpness is important to you, this is your lens.

Bokeh: Nice, but a little jittery at 1.4 on specular highlights. This means that if you have any light sources or sharp point reflections in the out-of-focus area behind your subject, you will see little light rings around the round blob. These disappear at f2, and they don’t really bother me. They are a side effect of correcting spherical aberration in the image – lens manufacturers have to make tough choices sometimes, and Nikon apparently chose wide-open image correction over the absolute best bokeh possible in this circumstance. Compared to other lenses: not quite as nice as the Sigma 50/1.4 wide open, but you get a sharper in-focus area, so it’s a trade-off. Not really able to compete with the 85/1.4 or the 105/2 DC, but that’s not surprising – those lenses have a much longer focal length.

Focusing: Fast and precise. To be sure, at 1.4, the depth of field (especially at closer focusing distances) is RAZOR thin, so focusing just isn’t possibly going to be spot-on every time. I frequently use manual focus, and even a TINY, TINY nudge on the focus ring moves the plane of sharp focus about one-half inch at those distances, so it’s extremely hard to get perfect focus exactly where you want it to be. Be prepared to have some patience, or use live view, if you plan to take close-up shots at 1.4 and you want perfect focus. Most amateurs won’t notice if things are slightly out of focus, so not generally a problem unless you’re a perfectionist. If you’re a constant autofocus user you will not even be aware of this issue. Speaking of up-close focus, I will mention that I feel this lens has a fairly short focusing distance, which is nice – you can really get in nice and tight on subjects and come up with some really attention-getting compositions with neat depth-of-field effects. It’s no macro, but I’m constantly amazed at just how close I can get to things.

Low-light performance: Stellar. That’s really why I bought this lens, as I already have several amazing lenses for portraiture/bokeh. I love this lens for events where I have room to move around (it’s a little long in focal length for tightly-packed spaces) because I hate using flash if it’s not necessary. This lens and a slight ISO boost is all you need to take flash-free pictures in many settings.

Build quality: Good. Not like Nikon’s professional-grade lenses, but very sturdy – I can’t foresee any possible problems. The plastic hood is a twist-on bayonet type, and it works well but can be slightly annoying at times.

Lack of VR: Not a big deal – you shouldn’t need VR for a 50mm lens at this aperture; it is easily possible to get to a reasonable shutter speed so that shake isn’t a problem. On an APS-C sensor, I’d aim for at least 1/60 second if you want blur-free images. At 1/125 second, you’d have to be going through an earthquake to see any shake with this lens, because it just doesn’t have enough focal length to make that a problem. Besides, would you really want to pay $200 more for a 50mm prime? Nikon would have to make this a 1.2 for that to make sense to most people. I think the decision to leave VR off this lens was a good one.

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