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.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a great lens for portrait and everyday photography and is designed to render beautiful bokeh (background blur).
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length: 50mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/16
- Format: FX/35mm
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 31°30′
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 47°
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.15x
- Lens Elements: 7
- Lens Groups: 6
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode
- Diaphragm Blades: 7
- Distance Information: Yes
- Aspherical Elements: 1
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus :Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance 1.48ft.(0.45m)
- Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
- G-type Yes
- Filter Size 58mm
- Accepts Filter Type Screw-on
- Dimensions (Approx.): 2.8×2.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 72.1×52.4mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight (Approx.): 6.6 oz. (185g)
- 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:
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:
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.