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Nikon 50mm 1.4d review

Onfotolife lets you check sample photos from lenses and cameras

Nikon has four versions of 50mm f/1.4 autofocus lenses:

  1. Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 (the first version, MK I) – the lens was produced from 1986 to 1991 in Japan.
  2. Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 (the second version, MK II) – the lens was produced from 1991 to 1995. It differs from MK I by an aperture fixer, the color of the focus distance scale and rubberized focus ring. The lens is optically the same as the first model. MK II was produced only in Japan.
  3. Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – the lens is produced from 1995 to the present day. It was produced in Japan and China. It has the same optical system as MK I and MK II versions, but can transmit information about the focusing distance to the camera.
  4. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4G SWM – the lens is produced from 2008 to the present day. All lenses are made in China. The lens has an updated optical system and fast SWM focusing motor, which allows you to use a lens with any Nikon DSLR camera.

nikon 50mm 1.4d lens

Nikon 50mm 1.4D

Nikon 50mm 1.4d is a standard fast lensit is well suited for use at low light conditions. You can easily control the depth of field using that lens and people often use it as a portrait lens. Nikkor 50mm 1.4d is great lens for hand-held shots – you can work with shorter exposures due to its large aperture. People often say that the Nikkor 50 1.4d is a “must have” lens that should lie in every photographers bag.

Currently Nikon 50 mm 1.4 d is considered to be slightly out of date. Its 50mm brother – Nikon 50mm 1.4g is better practically in all aspects.

Nikkor 50 1.4d has a fast autofocus. The lens doesn’t have a focus mode switch. If you want to transfer the lens to manual focus mode you should use a camera switch, located near the lens mount. Nikon 50mm 1.4 has a quite convenient rubberized focusing ring, which rotates by 135 degrees. The front lens does not rotate during focusing, but the lens “trunk” moves forward. The focusing ring is rotated during auto focusing, and it can not be touched.

nikon 50mm 1.4d review_f1.4

 Nikon 50 1.4D F/1.4

Nikkor 50mm 1.4d has a window with the scale of the focusing distance in meters and feet. Minimum focusing distance is 45 cm and maximum magnification ratio is 1:6.8. The depth of field scale is specified for F/11 and F/16.

The lens uses small 52 mm filters. It is a very popular size, for example Nikon 18-55 mm kit lens and Nikon 50mm 1.8d use filters of the same size. Nikon 50mm 1.4d weigh is about 260 g and it felt as a very solidly made product in the hands. Nikon 50mm 1.4d has a black screw from the side of the mount that serves as a label to install the lens on a camera. Optionally you can buy a rubber lens hood Nikon HR-2, which is screwed into the thread of the front filter.

nikon 50mm 1.4d review_f1.4_2

 Nikon 50 1.4D F/1.4

Autofocus with Nikkor 50mm 1.4d is available only when you use it on cameras with a built-in focusing motor (Nikon D80/D90/D200/D300/D300S/D7xxx and all Nikon FX DSLR cameras). The lens is quite noisy during auto focusing.

Nikon 50mm 1.4d has a manual aperture control ring. To be able to control the value of the aperture from the camera or to automatically set the aperture on modern DSLRs, it is necessary to turn the aperture ring to the value of f/16 and secure it with a special lever. If this is not done, in a number of cameras, the display will show an error – “FEE”. The aperture control ring rotates with clicks, it has values of f/1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

nikon 50mm 1.4d aperture

Nikon 50 1.4D aperture

Nikon 50mm 1.4d aperture consists of 7 not rounded blades. It is easy to achieve “nuts” in bokeh zone using covered aperture values. You can easily get 14-pointed star from strong (hard) light sources with the lens help.

nikon 50mm 1.4d nuts in bokeh

 Nikon 50 1.4D F/2.8

Personal experience:
In fact, I don’t really feel the difference between F/1.4 and F/1.8 after long using of Nikon 50mm 1.8d AF Nikkor lens. Of course, F/1.4 is better than F/1.8, but I think that it is inexpedient to pay a triple price for a half stop advantage in luminosity. If you take pictures mainly in low light conditions and money is not a problem for you – Nikon 50mm 1.4d is the lens for you.

It produces a slightly “soft” images at F/1.4. Sharpness in the center of the frame becomes very good at F/2, and at the edges of the frame at F/4.

Nikon didn’t update the optical scheme of the lens, which consists of 7 elements in 6 groups for a very long period. For the first time, this scheme was implemented in Nikon Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 (AI) lens in 1977 and was replaced by a new one, consisting of 8 elements in 7 groups only in 2008 year in Nikkor 50 1.4g lens. I think that Nikon company had some serious reasons not to update the optical scheme of the lens for 30 years. As for me, one of them is a pretty good “image” of the lens.

nikon 50mm 1.4d review_f1.4_3

 Nikon 50 1.4D F/1.4

Also, Nikkor 50 1.4d is one of the most fastest Nikon autofocus lenses. Nikon does not produce anything for SLR cameras “stronger” than F/1.4. In addition, this kid is the cheapest autofocus lens with F/1.4.

An equivalent focal length for Nikon DX cameras is 75 mm. So Nikon 50mm 1.4d can be used as a fast portrait lens with them.


Nikon 50mm 1.4d is an excellent and very successful fast lens, it will help the novice photographer to understand and learn how to work with the depth of field and to get great photos ??

Here are photo examples  taken with the lens.

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