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Nikon 50mm Lens Comparison
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This is called color fringing by laypeople. It has nothing to do with color rendition or saturation. See my section on chromatic aberration for more information.

Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration

Great news! I didn't see any on my D200, so I'll save myself the Photoshop work of formatting all the tests.

This means the center of your images will not have any colored fringes with any of the lenses.

Lateral Chromatic Aberration

Lateral Chromatic Aberration can cause tangential fringes of color at the sides and corners of your images.

Some lenses had it, some didn't. This aberration is caused by slight differences in image magnification with color.

I enlarged the images below to 200%. if you experiment yourself, be forewarned that focus changes this drastically. I made a dozen shots or so with each lens at very slightly different focus settings and used the best one. When looking at this magnification you will usually see these aberrations if not in perfect focus.

The target was two white targets in full sunlight with a shadow behind them. It was not a printed target. The whites were not overexposed, which is a common mistake made by laypeople. Overexposure will exaggerate the issue, and make even an almost perfect lens look bad, since if you overexpose enough something will flare out to fill the shadow.

These targets were at the far right of the image. The donor image were shot on my D200, Fine Large JPG, Optimize Quality compression. I see no difference with NEF, so didn't bother with it. I had to make a lot of shots to be able to select the precise focus.

I shot at f/5.6 to get the clearest view of Lateral Chromatic Aberration. Smaller apertures hide it in diffraction, and larger apertures hide it with other aberrations.


Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZF Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AI Nikon 18-200mm VR Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 AI-s
1.4 ZF at f/5.6
1.4 AF-D at f/5.6
1.8 AF at f/5.6
1.4 AI at f/5.6
18-200 VR at f/5.6
55 AI-s at f/5.6



The Zeiss is dead last. It's the worst and has obvious (at this magnification) first-order (red-blue) problems. Obviously Nikon knows something Zeiss doesn't about making it's digital cameras work well with it's own lenses, even crummy old ones.

The f/1.4 AI is the next worst, but much better than Zeiss. It also has mostly first-order effects.

The VR doesn't look too hot either, but give it a break since it's a zoom and working almost wide open. To its credit, the VR has first-order well corrected and shows mostly second order (green - magenta).

The AF-D is almost perfect. Way to go, Communist China!

The much less expensive f/1.8 AF and the 55 Micro are perfect. I can't see anything.


I spent almost two months shooting and writing this comparison of 50mm lenses. No one pays me for this. If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me write more with a donation.

Thanks for reading!


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