Nikkor 50mm AF-S f/1.4G

Nikkor 50mm AF-S f/1.4G

The Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is an update of a classic standard lens designed for FX (full frame, 135 format) cameras. The question is, with the 50mm f/1.8D costing only $125 US, is the 50mm f/1.4G worth a $325 US premium?

Build and Handling

The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens is a moderately priced prime. The build quality is acceptable, but not particularly great considering the cost of the lens. 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 acceptable for manual focus. 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. This helps with precision.

The aperture has 9 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 a 8 element, 7 group design, with a minimum focus distance of 0.45m (1.5 ft). The filter threads are 58mm and the lens is a moderate 280g (9.9 oz).

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

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4 Comments

  1. ryan says:

    Nice lens, but Nikon color doesn’t please me. The pink grass for instance
    http://erphotoreview.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/DSC_4171.jpg

  2. admin says:

    Not that the grass color really has anything to do with Nikon, but rather the white balance. I don’t recall if that one was changed at all. Camera’s usually pick wrong during golden hour due to strong color casts from the sun. In general I am very pleased with the colors from the lens and D700, maybe less so with how Adobe handles the RAW files.

  3. Mike says:

    Hello Ryan and Admin,

    Have a question for you. I’m going out to pick out a lens for my trip to Europe. I plan to bring with me my D700, 28-300mm VR2 lens from Nikon and can’t decide on my choice for a good travel, prime lens. I’ve looked at 100s of photos on here, plus PixelPeeper.com, as well as all the technical info and I think I’m geared more towards the 1.4G due to the nice depth of field I saw in images…has more realistic bokeh which is more suitable I think to the type of photography I plan to do while traveling there.

    I wonder if the slower focus speed will be intolerable for any movement or action shots on the 1.4G? I was also considering the 1.8G, for the price mainly as I live in Canada and I would have to drop 600 PLUS lol for the 1.4G and the 1.8G here costs about 300 bucks. I am approximating with tax included.

    I do a lot of landscape, architecture, people/action and some stills, but generally I’d just like to hear some advice from you folks.

    Thanks in advance.

    Mike

  4. admin says:

    Honestly, the bokeh between the 50mm f/1.8 G and 50mm f/1.4 G is virtually identical. The only advantage to the 50mm f/1.4 is the slightly shallower depth of field and extra half f/stop or so. Focus speed is a non-issue with the 50mm f/1.4 for the most part, but it won’t track as fast as the 1.8. It will be fast enough for slowly moving people, but higher speeds the 1.4 might be a bit slow. I would have a hard time paying twice as much for the 1.4 version of the lens unless you really need f/1.4. Honestly, I think Nikon out did themselves with the 1.8 G.

    Eric