As promised in my Nikon D800 for Wedding Photography article that I wrote a couple of days ago, I am continuing the series and this time with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens. As I noted in my Nikon 50mm f/1.8G review, Lola and I really love this lens for everyday and commercial photography. Because I was so impressed with the lens, I ended up replacing the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G with the f/1.8G version last year. While we still own the 50mm f/1.4G, we made it a backup lens, which is now pretty much permanently attached to the Nikon D700 (also used as a backup camera).
For all the technical souls out there that want to see the data behind my measurements, please take a look at my Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs f/1.8G article from last year, where I explained in detail why the f/1.8G is better wide open optically. Bokeh on the f/1.8G is slightly smaller and worse when compared to its bigger brother, but it is not a huge concern for me, since I personally don’t like the sharpness and chromatic aberration issues that are visible on the 50mm f/1.4G at f/1.4, which means that I don’t shoot the f/1.4 version wide open anyway. Plus, a 50mm lens is not really a portrait lens, especially if you put the subject very close to the camera.
For true portrait shots, my favorite is still the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G (see my Nikon 85mm f/1.8G review), which I also like a bit more than the f/1.4G version, due to much smaller price and excellent optics at maximum aperture. But the strength of the 50mm comes with its focal length – 50mm is just perfect for any kind of shots on a full-frame body. So if you have a full-frame camera like Nikon D600, D700, D800/D800E, D4/D3s/D4, the 50mm f/1.8G is pretty much a no-brainer, especially given its $220 price tag.
A number of our readers asked if I would recommend the 50mm f/1.8G for DX cameras like Nikon D7100 as well. As I have pointed out above, the versatility of the 50mm f/1.8G lens on full-frame comes from its focal length that is great for all kinds of photography. Because of the 1.5x crop factor on DX cameras, the 50mm f/1.8G would certainly feel “longer”, so I personally would recommend the excellent Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens for DX instead.
Lola uses the 50mm f/1.8G to capture individual portraits, group portraits, details and even some macro (ring shots, etc) – pretty much everything during weddings. She only switches to a wider lens when photographing large groups and interior.
The autofocus on the 50mm f/1.8G is excellent and as you can see from a number of shots in this article (as usual, EXIF data is provided on each file), the lens is excellent wide open and shines even more when you stop it down a little.
And when the light conditions are poor, set the lens to f/1.8 and you can get a shot like this:
And more image samples for your viewing pleasure.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a real winner, just like other f/1.8 primes that Nikon has introduced recently. Despite what the pros might tell you about f/1.4 lenses, these are far from being “consumer” lenses and all very capable in making beautiful images.