Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nikon 50mm F1.8D Lens Review (On DX Camera)

Nikon 50mm F1.8D
The Nikon 50mm 1.8D is one of my favorite Nikon lenses so I thought I would post a quick review of this lens, and why I enjoy using it so much. The first thing that makes this lens easy to fall in love with is the price, $141 Cdn, at the time I wrote this review, makes it the cheapest lens in Nikon's current lens lineup. Don't let the low price of this lens fool you though, it maybe the cheapest price wise, but it is one of the sharpest lenses in the lineup. The second reason I like this lens is that it is very light weight, and compact. Sure it is not as compact as the Nikon 50mm Series E lens, but in terms of auto focus Nikon lenses it is among the smallest. Of course the first advantage of the slightly larger AF version of the 50mm F1.8 is the auto focus, but also that due to how deep the glass is set in the lens body, there is little need for a lens hood. The Series E lens really needs the hood though, and if you do not have one then you will find that it really lacks contrast. The other disadvantage of the Series E lens is that it does not meter on lower end cameras, and only meters on the D200/D300/D700/D1 series/D2 series/D3 series digital bodies. Keep in mind that this lens will not auto focus on the D40(x), D60, D3000, and D5000, and users of such cameras might be better off looking at the 35mm F1.8G, or if price isn't an issue the 50mm 1.4G.

Nikon 50mm F1.8 Series E
Of course for those who have a APS-C (DX) Nikon DSLR the 50mm 1.8D (approx 75mm equivalent to a 35mm frame) may seem like an impractical focal length, but that is a matter opinion, which you will find varies widely in the Nikon community. Personally I like to use this lens for head shots and portraits, as it has little to no distortion, which makes people, especially women, enjoy the results a lot more. When you open the lens up to F2.8 and shoot portraits results are nice and do not show harsh lines, one of the reasons women like pictures taken of them that come out of this lens. The other reason that I like this lens on a DX camera is the light weight and auto focus speed. Auto focus speed is extremely fast, although it is by no means quiet. If you need a lens that is quiet go for the 35mm F1.8G or 50mm 1.4G. In low light, when using a cross type AF sensor, it is still possible to get accurate focus, although it may hunt a few times.

Image quality, as I noted before is very good. It can be a little soft from F1.8-2.8, on my copy, but once you get to F4 through F8, it is one of the sharpest Nikon lenses on the market. In terms of build quality, it feels cheap. Yup, there is no way around the cheap feeling, and at first you might think it would fall apart if you looked at it the wrong way, but it still is a tough little lens. I have dropped my 50mm 1.8D a few times on a rocky path while walking, and it still works like the day I bought it, so don't let the cheap feel fool you! The manual focus ring, the only ring on this little prime lens, is not the smoothest I've used. Sometimes it can be a challenge to manual focus, so most of the time I prefer to auto focus this lens. That being said, I have used it very successfully on my Nikon FE film camera, where the split prism focus screen really helps. Compared to the 50mm 1.8 Series E lens though, manual focus is far more difficult.

Overall, you cannot go wrong buying the 50mm 1.8D, considering the price and the optical quality.