Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Lens Announcement

NOTE: A full review of this lens can be found in my Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Review article.

Nikon has recently released the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S lens, an upgrade to the existing Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens. This long overdue upgrade is great news for all current and future owners of entry-level DSLRs without focus motors. Finally, there is now an affordable 50mm portrait lens that will autofocus on Nikon D3000, D3100, D5000, D5100 and older cameras like Nikon D40/D40x and D60. In addition, unlike DX lenses that are designed to work only on crop-factor sensors, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G works great on both DX and FX sensors.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a great lens for portrait and everyday photography and is designed to render beautiful bokeh (background blur).

Specifications

  1. Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  2. Focal Length: 50mm
  3. Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  4. Minimum Aperture: f/16
  5. Format: FX/35mm
  6. Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 31°30′
  7. Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 47°
  8. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.15x
  9. Lens Elements: 7
  10. Lens Groups: 6
  11. Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode
  12. Diaphragm Blades: 7
  13. Distance Information: Yes
  14. Aspherical Elements: 1
  15. Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  16. Autofocus :Yes
  17. AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  18. Minimum Focus Distance 1.48ft.(0.45m)
  19. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
  20. G-type Yes
  21. Filter Size 58mm
  22. Accepts Filter Type Screw-on
  23. Dimensions (Approx.): 2.8×2.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 72.1×52.4mm (Diameter x Length)
  24. Weight (Approx.): 6.6 oz. (185g)
  25. Supplied Accessories: 58mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-58, Rear Lens Cap LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-47, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1013

Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.8D

As expected, the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is sharper than the old Nikon 50mm f/1.8D – see the MTF charts below. The lens is very sharp in the center and only gets softer towards the edges of the frame:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D MTF

The stopped down performance of the lens should be even better. The new optics should render a more pleasing bokeh than the old Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, but it is hard to say for sure at the moment. Silent Wave Motor (AF-S) will result in the same smooth and silent autofocus performance as in most current Nikon lenses and the new M/A switch will allow manual focus override without having to change anything else on camera or on the lens. One key difference to note, is that the barrel size of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G stays fixed, while the front element of the older Nikon 50mm f/1.8D extends (but does not rotate) while focusing.

Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

What about the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens? As you can see below, the MTF charts show that the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is sharper wide open at f/1.8 than the 50mm f/1.4G at f/1.4:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G MTF

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G MTF

It would be interesting to see how both compare at f/1.8 and smaller apertures. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G should have a better corner performance when stopped down. What about bokeh? The lens samples provided on the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G page show pleasing bokeh, but I am not sure what aperture and camera to subject distance values are, so it is hard to judge. When I receive the lens, I will make sure to conduct a thorough test between the two and compare bokeh rendering.

Price and Availability

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G will be available at an MSRP price of $219.95. You can currently pre-order the lens at retailers like B&H and Adorama and the estimated shipping date is currently set to June 16, 2011.

Comments

  1. May 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I am so happy to hear about this lens and it works with D 5000.

    • May 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Oh yes, this lens will work perfectly fine on any modern Nikon DSLR.

  2. May 6, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Would be very interesting to see a direct comparison with Nikon’s 50mm f/1.4

    • May 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Martins, I will definitely do that once I receive the lens :)

      • May 9, 2011 at 2:16 am

        I’m looking forward to that! ;)

      • 9
        ) louie
        May 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

        ..and Nikon’s 35mm f/1.8g too :)

  3. 3
    ) Rahul
    May 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

    hi Nasim,

    the image caption and the image name both say it’s a 50mm f/1.4G , the image is of the 1.8G ;)
    Effect of using the 1.4G a lot , eh ? :p

    I’m still wondering why even the old AF-D lenses in the WA , such as 24mm f/2 cost so much ; and why there aren’t any 20mm f/1.4 or 28mm f/1.4. Primes being f/2 or f/2.8 pushes potential buyers toward 3rd party fast zooms like Tamron’s 17-50, and the prices don’t help either.

    • May 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Rahul, oops, you are right! That’s what happens when the 50mm f/1.4G is overused, LOL :)

      As for prices, it is hard to say why some old glass costs so much. The Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AIS is over $1K in price and while it is considered to be a “classic”, I personally would not buy it at half the current price. The same goes for other old overpriced lenses… As for 28mm f/1.4 AF-D – it was made in limited quantities and is now discontinued. You can find one on eBay for over $3K, which is ridiculous. Anything wider than 24mm in f/1.4 is tough to make…the cost probably won’t justify it. And third party zooms cannot optically beat the Nikon primes, not when it comes to large aperture and shallow depth of field.

  4. 7
    ) Peter
    May 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    It would be interesting to see this 50 compared to the best Nikon zoom that contains 50 in its range.

    There is still so much controvery about primes being better than zooms, it would be interesting to see what the real story is.

  5. 10
    ) Adam
    May 26, 2011 at 6:51 am

    For a first lens to use with the D7000, would you recommend the 35mm 1.4, this, or the 50mm 1.4? Also, I am moving to South Africa and was hoping to get a lens for wildlife, but am not sure if i should get a 300mm prime, or a zoom in that range?

    • June 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Adam, for portraits, I would go with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. As for wildlife, let me know if you are still looking.

  6. 11
    ) Peter
    June 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

    My Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is scheduled to arrive today. I am anxious to compare it to the 50mm on my Nikon 35-70 and 24-120 lenses, both 2.8’s and both great, sharp lenses.

    I gave in to my “lens lust” weakness* and bought it. It’s only $200+, and if I didn’t spent the money my wife would eat that amount up on QVC in 3.67 seconds.

    * Note:
    Firstly, I reasonsed that I do not own any 1.8 lenses and that this was enough of an excuse for me to buy it.
    Secondly, I’m age 70, and who knows when I’ll “hit the deck.”
    Lastly, it’s fun to experiment with new stuff…and I don’t need to justify my actions to anyone!

    • June 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Peter, I will be receiving the 50mm f/1.8G tomorrow as well :) I am planning to write a full review very soon.

      • 14
        ) Peter
        June 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

        I took about 15 images with the lens, some at f/1.8.
        Very sharp, nice bokeh and color. The focusing is so fast and quiet I had to adjust my ear to it.

        I did not do any comparisons with my zooms that have f/50. Will wait for your review.

  7. July 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    This might be a real silly question as I really want to buy a 50 mm lens so was just looking on the net is AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50mm f/1.8G same lens.

  8. 16
    ) Amadeu Magalhães
    July 8, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Dear Nasim,

    Are you preparing the review of this lens?

    • 17
      ) Amadeu Magalhães
      July 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Better question:

      Do you recommend it for a D90 and some newb wedding shooter!?!??!

      • 19
        ) Amadeu Magalhães
        July 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

        dear Nasim,

        you didn’t answer my question… :(
        Would you recommend this over the 50mm 1.4, for a D90 body (I’d like to buy a prime, I started shooting some weddings and sports lately and all i have is my 18-105 that came in the D90 kit…)???

        Thanks

        AMADEU

        • August 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

          Yes, I would recommend this lens over the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.

      • August 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

        Absolutely! It is a beautiful lens that will perform very well on any DX camera.

    • August 3, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Amadeu, I apologize for not being able to respond. The full review is posted today here.

  9. 18
    ) Mukamo
    July 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Dear Nasim,

    I have D7000 camera and im planning to buy prime lens, which one is better because i have red a lot of comparison and still i have doubt which one is better, 50mm f/1.8G or 35mm f/1.8?
    Thanks in advance.

  10. 24
    ) Jon Taylor
    February 10, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Dear Nasim,

    Perhaps this should be for a separate article, but maybe you could explain why the MTF charts for both of these 50mm prime lenses on the Nikon USA website show a theoretically poorer performance than for say the 18-105mm lens when I’m sure that cannot really be the case. The same would equally apply to the 18-200mm, which I know is not one of your favourite lenses!

    Jon

    • February 10, 2012 at 2:34 am

      Jon, that’s because MTF is always measured at wide open aperture! So you are essentially comparing f/1.4 to f/3.5, which the latter will lead most of the time. That’s why you see crappy zoom lenses show good performance compared to many prime lenses.

      • 26
        ) Jon Taylor
        February 10, 2012 at 4:51 am

        Hi Nasim,

        Thanks for the explanation. Then surely without charts taken at similar f stops for comparison their presence is of limited use and may actually lead to the wrong conclusion, or is there something I’m missing here?

        Jon

  11. 27
    ) Suresh
    October 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Hi,
    I have Nikond60 and I take pictures from nature and you can say part-time hobby types. I have kit lens 18-55 and 55-300 vr lenses. Now I want to add one more fix focal length, as I am equally impressed and confused with the two lenses that are 35mm 1.8g vs 55mm 1.8g, which one you would recommend to have first. I am interested in taking pictures of nature and my beautiful little girls, at times with nice bokeh.

    Suresh.

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