Nikkor 50mm AF-S f/1.8G

Nikkor 50mm AF-S f/1.8G

The Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is an update of a classic standard lens designed for FX (full frame, 135 format) cameras, but it creates some confusion in the Nikon lineup between it and the 50mm f/1.4G which costs twice as much. Is the 50mm f/1.4G worth the premium? Is the 50mm f/1.8G worth twice as much as the “D” version?

Build and Handling

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens is Nikon’s new inexpensive standard lens. The build quality is good given the cost of the lens, and it feels about the same as the new Nikon 35mm f/1.8G for DX. It has a metal mount with plastic outer barrel. The included hood is nice and deep to prevent stray light from hitting the lens and it offers a lot of protection.

The lens uses an SWM focus motor, so it can be used on the handicapped bodies that don’t offer screw drive. The focus ring is twitchy for manual focus, making it very difficult to focus bracket. Small tweaks cause no change in focus then a sudden jump. It has a clear plastic cover over the distance scale like the more expensive Nikkors, and it has about 2:1 gear reduction so 1/2 turn of the focus ring would turn the focus mechanism 1/4 turn, but the issue is the focus throw is very short. Even with the reduction a 90 degree turn of the ring will go from end to end.

The aperture has 7 curved blades, so even stopped down out of focus specular highlights appear as near circles. Being a G lens it lacks an aperture ring.

The lens is unique for a standard lens with 1 aspheric in a 7 element, 6 group design. This should give similar correction as the 50mm f/1.4G, which has 1 additional element. With a minimum focus distance of 0.45m (1.5 ft) the magnifications is a so-so 0.15x. The filter threads are 58mm and the lens is fairly light at 185g (6.6 oz).

So how does this lens perform on a full frame camera vs the 50mm f/1.8D? How about the 50mm f/1.4G? Open the links in a new tab or window and read the next page to find out.

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  1. fajar says:

    So the $220 question, at f1.8, is it better than 50mm f/1.4G?

  2. Thx for this nice review and for the samples. 😉

  3. admin says:

    I am still trying to decide, they are close. I think I like the 1.4 better, but is it worth $220 US more? Let me get back to this after I shoot them side by side for a bit. -ET

  4. admin says:

    Bottom line? No, the 50mm f/1.4 G is not worth the extra money. I honestly can’t tell the difference in bokeh between the two, the f/1.8 focuses twice as fast (due to half the focus throw) and performs as well too. Even the colors/contrast look about the same. I will post some more bokeh shots in the forest with my son as those shots give a great indicator of bokeh in different environments.

  5. James Berry says:

    As always thank you for this awesome review! 😀