Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G, special edition styled for the Nikon Df. (58mm filters, 6.7 oz./190g, 1.5'/0.45m close focus, about $275). The biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links, especially this direct link to this lens at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
Not for: Rich people who just don't feel right unless they pay a lot of money for something, or people who need no distortion, for whom the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D has less distortion for half the price. Otherwise, everyone needs some sort of 50mm f/1.8 and not much more.
This is Nikon's latest iteration of their classic 50mm f/1.8 lens, first introduced in 1978. This new lens allows instant manual-focus override simply by grabbing the focus ring at any time.
The 50mm f/1.8 G is one of Nikon's best lenses at any price, and for the Df, I don't mind paying more for one that looks better; it's still a bargain.
Everything works perfectly on every digital Nikon ever made, both FX and DX, from the best Df, D4, D800, D800E, D610 and D600 to Nikon's cheapest digitals like the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100 and D5200 and D5300.
It's also perfect on decent or recent AF film cameras like the F6, F100, F5, N80 and N75. I tried it on my Nikon F4, and it works great, although there's no way to set a manual aperture as explained below.
The incompatibilities for older or cheaper film cameras are that:
1.) It won't autofocus with the cheapest new AF 35mm cameras like the N55, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. Even if you lose autofocus, these cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.
2.) Late 1980s ~ early 1990s AF cameras like the N90s, N70 and F4 will focus just fine and you'll have Program and Shutter-priority modes, but lose Manual and Aperture-priority since you have no way to set the aperture on the camera or on the lens.
3.) You're really pushing it with the oldest AF cameras like the N2020, N6006 and N8008. You'll have no AF and very confused exposure modes. Manual focus is fine, along with electronic focus indications.
4.) Since it has no aperture ring, it's just about useless with manual focus film cameras. It will shoot every shot at its minimum aperture.
See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera. Read down the "AF-S, AF-I" and "G" columns for this lens. You'll get the least of all the features displayed in all columns, since "G" (gelding) is a deliberate handicap which removes features.
These all use the same glass as each other, but in different mounts. This G lens is the first new optical design since 1978.
The popular 50mm f/1.8 AF-D remains in production, as it works fine on 35mm manual-focus Nikons, while this new G lens does not.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-S G (standard version, 2011-)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D (2002-)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF (1986-2001)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E (1979-1985)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AI (1978-1982)
Nikon calls this the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G.
NIKKOR: Nikon's brand name for their lenses.
AF-S and SWM: Silent Wave Autofocus Motor.
G: Gelded for cost-reduction and removing compatibility with older cameras.
∅58: 58mm filter thread.
Aspherical: Specially shaped glass to give even sharper pictures, especially at f/1.8.
7 elements in 6 groups.
One aspherical element, shown in yellow.
It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Integrated Coating.
Front, Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G at f/16. enlarge.
7 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/16 (not f/22 as does every other Nikon 50mm f/1.8).
Focal Length top
Angle of View top
47° on FX and 35mm.
(31.5° on small-format DX.)
Close Focus top
1.5 feet (0.45m).
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
Filter Thread top
Does not move or rotate.
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.
Focus Scale top
Not really; two tits at f/16 don't count.
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Not really, two little tits for f/16.
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Aperture Ring top
Bayonet Mount top
Rear Weather Seal top
Nikon specifies 2.1" (52.5mm) extension from flange by 2.8" (73mm) diameter.
Nikon specifies 6.7 oz. (190g).
The HB-47 plastic bayonet hood is included.
CL-1013 bag, included.
A used sock protects better and is easier to use.
LC-58 snap-on front lens cap.
LF-4 rear cap.
Announced on 05 November 2013 with the Nikon Df.
Promised for top
Late November 2013.
Nikon Product Number top
Price, USA top
$275, November 2013.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G Special Edition is solid, inexpensive and a great performer. If you don't already have something similar, everyone deserves one of these.
Autofocus is fast, easy and accurate. I wish everything worked this well.
AF is as fast as every other Nikon AF-S lens.
On my D800E, AF is always right-on, especially at f/1.8 where it matters.
Manual focus works great; just grab the ring at any time.
The rubber ring is grippy so it can be moved with a single fingertip, although the mechanics are stiffer than real Nikon Manual-Focus lenses.
M/A - M Switch
Nikon goofed. This switch is supposed to be labeled "A - M."
The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because you also can focus manually simply by grabbing the focus ring in this position.
The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because back in the old days, when Nikon had almost caught up to Canon who had been doing this for ten years before, Nikon was trying to show off that you could focus manually while in the AF position.
Paint over the extra M if you're easily confused.
Bokeh, the character of out of focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is great. Out-of-focus backgrounds are always soft and never distract.
At f/1.8, it's also smooth.
I can't see any difference from any of my other modern NIKKOR lenses.
Any coma is minimal at worst, better than the earlier 50mm f/1.8 lenses. I expected this from the aspherical design.
Coma (saggital coma flare) often causes weird smeared blobs to appear around bright points of light in the corners of fast or wide lenses at large apertures. In lenses that have it, coma goes away as stopped down.
This new 50/1.8 G has moderate barrel distortion, while all the other the 50mm f/1.8 lenses, especially the 50/1.8 AF-D which sells today for half the price, has none. You'll never notice it, unless you like to shoot brick walls.
If brick walls are your thing, this Nikon 50mm f/1.8 sadly has far more distortion than any other Nikon 50mm f/1.8 or f/2 lens, ever. Even Nikon's very first 50mm f/2 lens of 1946 has less distortion than this new lens!
The 50/1.8 G's distortion can be largely corrected by plugging these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter, however the distortion is slightly complex on FX, so it never corrects completely with simple tools like Photoshop. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G Special Edition.
Ergonomics are just about perfect. They are the primary reason to pay twice as much as the perfectly good 50mm f/1.8 AF-D.
This is a tough lens, and all one needs to do to focus manually is grab the ring. With a filter on the front, it's reasonably well sealed against physical damage and dust, unlike zooms or the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D.
I can't detect any air coming out of my viewfinder as focused. The internal optics move as a unit inside the outer barrel.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.
There is no problem with vignetting, even with combinations of thick filters.
58mm is a generous filter size, so it never gets in the way.
The filter ring does not move; the glass moves around inside the barrel.
I couldn't get any ghosts or flare, even looking straight into the sun, even in the shadows:
Even without a hood, the front glass is deeply recessed in the barrel, so I doubt there will ever be any problem with flare or ghosts.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G grows as focused more closely.
This is as expected from a unit-focusing lens: the entire optical cell moves in and out as one unit as focused.
The plastic hood is included. It works fine, but I never use it.
There is a bit of spherochromatism, which is a different aberration.
Close-focus reproduction ratio is the same as most fixed Nikon lenses.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G Special Edition is typical of Nikon's current amateur lenses: metal mount, glass glass, and plastic everything else.
Plastic; rubber covered.
Feel like plastic.
None, unless you consider two little tits right next to each other for f/16 as something useful.
Mounting Index Dot
White plastic ball.
Painted inside front filter threads and on outside of barrel.
Rain seal at mount
Noises When Shaken
With these caveats, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G is among Nikon's sharpest lenses.
As expected for the latest aspherical designs at any price, the 50/1/8 G is sharp at every aperture.
At f/1.8, it's only slightly less sharp in the corners of FX or DX, and sharpens right up as soon as stopped down a couple of stops.
As shown above under Bokeh, it can be too sharp sometimes.
Here are Nikon's claimed MTF curves:
Nikon's MTF Curve, 50/1.8 G.
For comparison, here's the same for the 50/1.8 AF-D at f/1.8:
Nikon's MTF Curve, 50/1.8 AF-D.
The 50mm f/1.8 G has a slight bit of spherochromatism. Out-of-focus foreground highlights can sometimes have a bit of a magenta fringe around them, and out-of-focus background highlights can sometimes have a bit of green around them. This helps bokeh most of the time.
Spherochromatism is sometimes mistakenly called "color bokeh" by laymen, and is common in fast lenses.
With its rounded 7-bladed diaphragm, the 50/1.8 G tends to make soft, subtle 14-pointed sunstars on bright points of light, if any at all.
The conventional 7-bladed diaphragm of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D gives much sharper sunstars.
The Nikon 50/1.8 G is pretty tough because all its optics and delicate parts are protected within the outer barrel.
Use a filter, and nothing moves externally. The filter protects against airborne threats, and the delicate internals are completely protected inside the outer barrel.
The older 50mm lenses have fronts that move in and out; this lens and the newest 50/1.4 G don't.
Leave the M/A — M switch in M/A. In M/A, you get autofocus, and if you want manual focus, just grab the ring at any time.
The M position disables autofocus; giving manual-only focus. I only use the M position as a hard focus lock; I grab the ring for instant manual focus.
If I was working in nasty, dirty areas, I'd forget the cap, and use an uncoated 58mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.
The 50mm f/1.8 G is the same thing, styled differently.
Distortion is much worse than any other Nikon 50mm f/2 or f/1.8 lens.
I prefer the conventional straight-bladed diaphragms of older lenses that make much better sunstars than this new lens. This lens makes wimpy sunstars, if any at all.
The earlier Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D costs about half as much, has none of the distortion, focuses just as close and fast, is just as super-sharp at normal apertures, stops down to f/22 instead of being limited to f/16, and weighs much less. Although the older 50/1.8 isn't quite as sharp in the corners at f/1.8 (who cares), it is just as sharp in the center. The biggest difference is on which cameras each autofocuses — or not (see Nikon Lens Compatibility), and the huge ergonomic advantage to instant manual-focus override on this new G lens. This new G lens is also tougher when hit from the front, with or without its hood.
This is the 50mm f/1.8 G, with different styling. Either are excellent lenses, unbeaten in sharpness by any other Nikon lens.
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