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Review: Nikon 50mm f1.8 G

by Gevon Servo on 08/06/2012

So here it is: the latest Nikon 50mm lens. These lenses have always been the old faithfuls of Nikon’s lens line because they  reproduce a similar field of view to a human eye. In April 2011, Nikon announced this updated version of its classic 50mm f1.8 D. It recently came into my possession. I have been using it a great deal. At first, I avoided this lens, the Nikon 50 f1.8D worked fine. Frustratingly I have to admit, I should have tried this lens earlier. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 G is a pleasant surprise to users of the older lens. While I adore the feel, the noise and overall use of the Nikon 50mm f1.8 D, the G is a satisfying change and well thought out; let’s see why.

Gear Used

Tech Specs

From B&H’s listing of the lens.

Performance
Focal Length 50 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.8
Minimum: f/16
Camera Mount Type Nikon F
Format Compatibility Nikon FX/35mm Film
Nikon DX
Angle of View 47°
DX Picture Angle: 31°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.48′ (45 cm)
Magnification 0.15x
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:6.6
Groups/Elements 6/7
Diaphragm Blades 7
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus Yes
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread 58 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.8 x 2.1″ (7.11 x 5.33 cm)
Weight 6.6 oz (187 g)

Ergonomics

The Nikon 50mm f1.8g is light but well built. It feels solid when held. The finish is similar to the Nikon 40mm f2.8 G. It has a plastic feel, but a tough plastic, while it’s mount is metal. The surface and texture feels like you can get a good grip, when needed. Nikon has a good track record here. Their lower cost prime lenses always feel decent. The focus thread is big enough and easy to use. The buttons are just right.

When you hold the Nikon 50mm f1.8G you get the impression that an engineer at Nikon, or a user with big hands did not like the size of the 50mm f1.8 D. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 G is pleasingly bigger. With the edition of the silent wave motor, the Nikon 50mm f1.8 G lens feels more refined.

The  lens has a 58mm thread compared to the Nikon 50mm 1.8D’s 52mm thread. The lens hood which comes with this lens is a NICE addition. My new Nikon 50mm f1.8 D new did not come with a lens hood.

It now has an M/MA , which is well placed. There no longer aperture ring. To be honest, this lens is not meant for older film cameras.

The autofocus ring can focus to infinity very effortlessly. Focusing distance on this lens is 1.5 feet. The speed of the autofocus is decent, but not as good as some of Nikon’s other lenses. In setting my Nikon D700 to use its ‘autofocus area’, the autofocus would lag a little slow at times. Overall, however, the autofocus was quick. Manually focusing was also nice, with the focus ring moving very smoothly. When the camera is set to MA it’s easy to just grab the ring and manually focus also .The lens does not have a hard infinity focus stop, but it does focus to infinity. There is a basic focus scale on the lens if you need it.

 Sharpness and Image Quality

The images this lens helps to create are great. They come out sharp, and clear. With the Nikon 50mm f1.8 G, on the D700 I like to underexpose slightly. It brings out even more contrast in the images.

The colors are nice and are balanced nicely through the image. Skin tones come out nicely. This lens will handle portraits well.

 Depth of Field

The Bokeh in images are nice, like whipped bacon butter from beyond the moon. The subject pop and this lens provides great depth of field control.

This lens is not that great with the Bokeh Masters Kit. There is vignetting. This lens is not meant to be used with it.

On a DX camera

This lenses effectively becomes a 75mm lens .this makes the Nikon 50mm f1.8g brilliant for portrait photography. It’s an ideal photo walking lens on an FX or DX body. The images in the sharpness and image quality section were taken with the Nikon D90.

For…

This lens is for the elder states man photographer or the newbies. It can tackle pretty much every situation on any Nikon digital camera, especially the newer camera like the Nikon D3200. It does very well with iced coffee (with lemon)!

Good for quick product shots because the lens has that classic focal length that just works…

.Street shooting is nice with this lens because you can get close, but not to close due to the field of view. The lens is fast enough to get the shots that you need no matter what your location is.

When shooting cityscapes and landscapes, most people like to go wide, but there is nothing wrong with going with the normal field of view.

Recommendation

Shooting Nikon auto focus film cameras? You may want to think about using the Nikon 50mm F1.8 D. Get a good quality UV filter to protect the lens as well as a lens cap holder, it helps keeps the lens protected, and you never worry about losing the lens cap. If you’re like me, then this lens will always be in your bag. Having protection for it is important.

 Have a Nikon 50mm f1.8 D?

If you are deciding whether to upgrade from a Nikon 50mm f1.8 D, you have a hard decision to make. If you need things to be slightly quieter, the 50mm G is for you. Want to use the lens with Cameras like the D3200 the G is also for you, minus that it’s hard to justify the upgrade. The 50mm f1.8G only stops down to f16 while the D stops down to f22, if this is important to you, take note. Comparing the images from both lenses, using the exact same settings,they are not too far off from each other.

Taken with Nikon 50mm 1.8G

vs

Taken with Nikon 50mm 1.8D

I find myself torn between the lenses. I like them both for various reasons.

 In the end

Easy to use, overall ,this lens is very nice. Feature wise the Nikon 50mm 1.8G does not need much. Thankfully, the changes in this lens were also  not just cosmetic. This lens has been given more utility for DSLRs than its predecessor. It can be used on all FX and DX Nikon cameras.  While its slightly more expensive than its predecessor, it is worth the cost. It’s such a nice lens. It’s a lens that will never let you down.

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