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Nikon 50mm 1.4g review

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There is a category of people who always take only the best and the most expensive from the whole range of similar devices. Nikon 50mm 1.4g lens is for such people. It is the most expensive ($ 400) and the “fastest” autofocus lens with a focal length of 50mm in the Nikkor line, and it can be used with full-frame (FX) and cropped (DX) Nikon cameras.

nikon 50mm 1.4g review

Nikon 50mm 1.4G

Nikon 50mm 1.4g has approximately equal price with its elder brother without built in auto focusing motor Nikon 50mm 1.4d. The new version has a built in focusing motor, so autofocus will work well with all Nikon cameras even with Nikon D3xxx/ D5xxx.

Nikkor 50 1.4g is a universal lens for FX cameras – you can easily shot most popular photo scenes with it. The lens becomes less universal for DX cameras – its 50mm on DX are equivalent to 75mm on FX. This means that you will have problems if you want to take photo of something more general than a close portrait indoors. On the other hand, you will have more freedom outdoors than with the typical 30 – 35mm lens – there is no need to come close to a model to get a facial portrait, and it is easier to blur the background using 50mm lens. On Nikon DX cameras 50mm can replace a portrait lens, and for a wide-angle shots you can use a cheap 18-55 kit lens.

nikon 50mm 1.4g review lens 2

Nikon 50mm 1.4G

Build quality of Nikon 50 mm 1.4g is similar with its younger brother – Nikon 50mm 1.8g. Nikkor 50mm 1.4g was released relatively recently, that is why its appearance and materials have nothing in common with the “film” time. The lens is perfectly assembled, it uses a practical matte plastic from the outside. As for controls – Nikkor 50 1.4g has only a manual/auto switch for focusing. Focusing ring is wide enough, it has a smooth rotation, which is especially important for video. Weight and size are very small by the standards for high-aperture lenses, but Nikon 50mm 1.4d is a little smaller.

Autofocus works correctly even in low light conditions. Thanks to a modern fast auto focusing motor and a large aperture of the lens. Nevertheless, the younger version Nikkor 50 1.8g has a little bit faster auto focusing speed. Perhaps, f/1.4 version has a larger mass of lenses, but the focusing motor is used the same.

nikon 50mm 1.4g review f1.4

                           Nikon 50 1.4G F/1.4

Nikon 50mm 1.4g showed excellent sharpness results with both FX and DX cameras. The main difference is that the results at the edges of the frame on FX cameras are slightly worse than the results on DX cameras.

At maximum aperture f/1.4 the lens produces a sharp image at the center and quite soft at the edges. I advise you to use f/1.4 only when you want to achieve a maximum blurred background, or in difficult low light conditions.

The resolution improves both at the center and at the edges of the frame at f/2 – f/2.8. Peak resolution of Nikkor 50mm 1.4g falls to f/5.6, but at f/4 the lens shows a gorgeous picture, almost the same as at f/5.6. Use always f/5.6, when you want to take a picture in maximum resolution without blurring a background – landscape, architecture, macro (if you have enough depth of field), or f/4 – if you want to use lower ISO values or faster shutter speeds.

nikon 50mm 1.4g review f2.2

 Nikon 50 1.4G F/2.2

F/2 – 2.8 – are your “best friends” for portraits, indoor shooting and any other low light situations where you can’t use f/4 – f/5.6. From f/8 resolution begins to fall due to effect of diffraction.

As for vignetting (darkening corners of image), there is quite noticeable vignetting at f/1.4, but from f/2.0 it disappears at DX cameras, and from f/2.8 at FX. You can use Adobe Camera Raw or Adobe Lightroom profiles for automatic vignetting correction.

Chromatic aberrations are slightly increased at f/2- f/2.8, but you will never notice them. More over Adobe Camera Raw has profile of the lens to completely remove them.

Nikkor 50 1.4g has 9 – bladed “rounded” diaphragm. So there is no reason to worry about “nuts” in bokeh zone.

nikon 50mm 1.4g review f1.4_2

Nikon 50 1.4G F/1.4

Alternative

Nikkor 50mm 1.8G AF-S costs 2 times less – about $ 200. Its luminosity only 2/3 stop less and it gives the same resolution as Nikkor 50 1.4g at f/1.8. Nikon 50mm 1.8g has a little faster autofocus speed, smaller size and weight. Should I overpay for the more expensive version? – a question that you should answer yourself.

Since we are talking about an alternative, we can mention Sigma AF 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, the lens, which costs about 2.5 times more than Nikkor 50mm 1.8g and $ 150 more than Nikon 50mm 1.4g. What differences does Sigma have for such a high price ($ 500)? Firstly, it is huge and looks very solid.

 Sigma AF 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

Sigma AF 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

For many commercial photographers it is an important feature, because they want to make an impression on their clients. Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens is a modern lens, and it does not look like it came from the 80s. The lens is perfectly assembled – metal basis, high-quality plastic, rubber elements, a huge front lens (thread for 77mm filters), very smooth and comfortable focus ring, fast autofocus – these are the main advantages of Sigma AF 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM. It has a specific bokeh – some people like it, some do not, but this is more a matter of taste.

Nikon 50mm 1.8D and Nikon AF 50mm 1.4D came to us since the film time.  They have a good build quality – a lot of metal, a sense of reliability (more concerned with f/1.4D version). Absence of built-in focus motor makes them unsuitable for younger Nikon DSLRs such as  Nikon D3xxx/D5xxx/D40, because autofocus will not work with them. Nikkor AF 50mm 1.8D and Nikkor AF 50mm 1.4D are slightly cheaper than their brothers with the “G” letter in the end of the name, but have a little worse sharpness at wide opened apertures.

 

Conclusion

Nikon 50mm 1.4G AF-S – is the best 50mm autofocus lens of Nikkor family. Is it better to pay 2 times more for advantage in 2/3 stop against the “younger brother” Nikkor 50mm 1.8G AF-S or to pay even more for a “monster” Sigma AF 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM? – you must resolve that issue by yourself.

Here are photo examples  taken with the lens.

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