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    © Glenn Hewitt

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50mm f/1.8 Nikkor (AI + AF-D versions)

Suitable For:

General photography

Camera Formats:

FX and DX


Focal length: 50mm
Maximum aperture: 1.8
Minimum aperture: 22
Angle of View: 46°
Focus Throw: 130-150° (depending on model)
Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:6.6
Lens Elements: 6
Lens Groups: 5
Diaphragm Blades: 7
ED Glass Elements: 0
Autofocus: screw motor type for AF versions
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.45m
Filter Size: 52mm
Filter Type: front screw in
Dimensions: 63mmØ by 39mm (MF versions are 27.5mm long)
Weight: 155g AF-D version (others between 145-160g)
Accessories: HR-2 hood for AF versions and HS-11 or HR-4 on MF

Bjørn's Rørslett's Overview:

A small, cheap and unobtrusive lens with an outstanding optical performance - can anyone wish for more? This petite Nikkor delivers the goods with a snap and clarity many lenses could - or better - should, envy. Wide open there is a trace of softness into the corners that disappears by stopping down to f/2.8. From f/4 to f/8 its performance hardly can be improved. I have obtained decent results even at f/22. The multi-coating layers on this lens gives it much better contrast and colour saturation than the E-series derivative.
According to my sources the AF and AF-D versions of the 50 mm f/1.8 are virtually identical to the MF lens, so can be safely recommended as well (if you stand the plasticky feeling of the newer versions, that is). However as more and more Nikon cameras become crippled when an older lens is mounted on them, we should at least be thankful that some of the best optical designs survive into the brave new world.

The earliest AIS version of the 50/1.8 delivers a truly stellar performance on the D2X. The field is admirably flat, too. There is nothing more to be said here. As perfect a lens as anyone could imagine. What a shining little star this lens proved itself to be.

The modern, plasticky and cheap-looking AF 50/1.8 ("Made in China") also gives excellent central image sharpness, but not so set wide open, you need to go to f/2.8. Field curvature is more prominent on this version and the corner performance a little less convincing than with the MF model, but when you factor its low price into the equation, you do get a lot more quality than you have bargained for.

IR performance: When used for IR photography on some DSLR bodies, the newer AF versions can show an occasional "hot-spot" in the image centre. The MF lens, or at least my sample, isn't troubled with this at all. I've downgraded this lens a little for IR to indicate the potential issue. So don't tell you haven't been warned.

Bjørn's Rating:

5 (AIS version: F4, D1, D1X)
5 (AF version: F4, D1, D1X)
5+ (AIS: D2X)
4.5 (AF: D2X)
5 (AIS version, FX: D3X)
IR: 4-4.5 (DX:D1, D70, S3Pro UVIR)

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