The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is a professional-grade lens for enthusiasts and pros that need a high quality lens for portraiture, food and everyday photography. Its large aperture of f/1.4 is great for low-light photography and the shallow depth of field helps isolate subjects from the background, beautifully rendering background highlights, also known as bokeh.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G replaces the older Nikon 50mm f/1.4D model (introduced in 1986). Compared to the AF-D version that has 7 optical elements in 6 groups, the new 50mm f/1.4G has a completely different optical design with 8 optical elements in 7 groups. Thanks to this new optical design, the front element of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G does not extend or rotate, making it easy to use circular filters. The lens autofocus motor has also been replaced with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM / AF-S), making it possible to use the lens on entry-level Nikon DSLRs like Nikon D3100, in addition to being able to manually override focus at any time. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm, which creates more circular bokeh shapes rather than the typical heptagon shape you see on the 7-blade 50mm f/1.4D version. Just like the older AF-D cousin, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G also features Super Integrated Coating, which helps reduce lens flare and ghosting. The lens is designed to work on both Nikon FX and DX sensors, although it is certainly better suited on FX sensors for everyday photography. On DX sensors, the lens is equivalent to a 75mm lens, which is perfect for portraiture, but a little too long for other types of photography.
1) Lens Specifications
- Fast f/1.4 prime Nikkor lens that is perfect for low-light conditions, general and travel photography.
- Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
- Rounded 9-blade diaphragm renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image elements.
- M/A focus mode switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
- Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
- Close focusing to 1.5 feet for extended versatility.
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length: 50mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.4
- Minimum Aperture: f/16
- Format: FX/35mm
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 31°30′
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 46°
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.15x
- Lens Elements: 8
- Lens Groups: 7
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Distance Information: Yes
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1.5ft.(0.45m)
- Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
- G-type: Yes
- Filter Size: 58mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Dimensions: (Approx.) 2.9×2.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 73.5×54.2mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight: (Approx.) 9.9 oz. (280g)
- Supplied Accessories: 58mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-58, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-47, Soft Case CL-1013
2) Lens Handling and Build
The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G has a solid build, with a plastic exterior and a metal mount. Size-wise, it is a little bigger than the newer Nikon 50mm f/1.8G (Left: Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, Right: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G):
Like the other prime AF-S cousins, the 50mm f/1.4G comes with a rubber gasket on the lens mount, which provides good sealing against dust making its way into the camera. The rubber gasket definitely helps not only in reducing sensor dust, but also in reducing the amount of dust that could potentially end up inside the lens. As I explained in my “what to do with dust inside lenses” article, it is quite normal for lenses to suck air in and out when focusing or zooming in/out. Although the front part of the lens does not move when focusing, the front lens element does move in and out inside the lens barrel. If you want to reduce the chances of dust and moisture making into the lens through the front of the lens, I would recommend to get a good 58mm clear/protective filter such as B+W 58mm MRC clear filter and leave it on the lens at all times. Not only will it help protect the front element of the lens and reduce dust, but it will also make it much easier to clean the lens when needed. It is definitely painful to clean the front element of the lens without a filter, because it is slightly recessed inside.
As for weight, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is 50 grams heavier than its predecessor and 95 grams heavier than the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. Filter size also increased from 52mm to 58mm, which is not good news if you already own the older 50mm f/1.4D and bought specialized filters – larger 58mm filters would have to be purchased separately.
I have received several inquiries from our readers about weather sealing on Nikon 35mm and 50mm lenses. The short answer is “No”, these lenses are not weather sealed. While I have been using my Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens in hot/cold/dry/wet weather conditions and never had any issues, Nikon lenses without gold rings are not designed to withstand tough weather as professional lenses. That’s why Nikon does not specifically mention weather sealing in their marketing materials on these lenses. If you take a good care of the lens and use a protective filter in front of the lens, you should have no problems with using it in various weather conditions. Just remember to take extra precaution when changing the lens in very dusty/windy conditions. Since the rear lens element moves in and out during focusing, get used to rotating the focus ring to the infinity mark before mounting or dismounting the lens.
As for the focus ring, it is conveniently located on the front of the barrel, making it easy to manually focus with a thumb and index fingers while shooting images or video. The lens comes with the same “HB-47″ lens hood as on the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G (both 50mm f/1.4D and 50mm f/1.8D are not shipped with lens hoods). The hood snaps on the front of the lens and sits tight without wobbling like some other Nikon lens hoods. The M/A and M switch on the side of the lens allows autofocus with manual focus override and full manual focus operation. The latest Nikon DSLRs like Nikon D5100 immediately recognize the focus position and provide notifications on the information (“I” button) screen.
3) Autofocus Performance and Accuracy
Despite having the new Silent Wave Motor, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G unfortunately autofocuses slower than both its predecessor the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. When going from infinity to close focus and back (with the lens cap on), I was surprised to see the 50mm f/1.8G perform almost twice faster than the 50mm f/1.4G:
This is a huge disadvantage to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, making it the slowest of the Nikon 50mm lenses. On the other hand, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is certainly the quietest of the group – the slower AF motor is literally near silent. AF is accurate and focus tracking works quite well in continuous focus mode (AF-C) once the subject is in focus. Under very dim lighting conditions, the lens has a hard time acquiring correct focus, which is normal. Turning the AF-assist lamp on in AF-S mode helps a lot and AF accuracy is good from that point on.
If you cannot consistently get accurate focus in daylight, your lens sample might have a front/back focusing issue.
4) Lens sharpness, contrast and color rendition
As I reveal in my sharpness tests in the subsequent pages of this review, the performance of the 50mm is generally good, but a little disappointing when compared to the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens. You can see many examples of lens sharpness taken in a controlled environment in the next page, along with comparisons against other lenses.
Bokeh is a very important characteristic of 50mm lenses. I would be ready to pay more for a lens that can yield better bokeh, even if it performed slightly worse than others at very large apertures.
Here is the full image from which I made the below bokeh crops:
You can see where I got the center and corner crops from. The corner crop is really not a corner, but rather an area taken from the left-center of the image. Let’s take a look at how the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G compares against the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and Sigma f/1.4 at f/1.4 away from the center:
The older Nikon 50mm f/1.4D looks the best, followed by the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. The Sigma definitely has the worst bokeh here; it looks as if the highlights were cut on their right side and the bokeh refractions, also known as “Onion Rings” or “Onion Bokeh” are too visible when compared to other lenses.
Now let’s take a look at the center:
Very similar results in the center as well, with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D taking the lead in terms of “cleanness” of the background highlights. It is worth noting that the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D looks much different when stopped down beyond f/2.0 – its bokeh shape takes a form of a heptagon, due to the straight 7-blade diaphragm of the lens. Here is a more comprehensive bokeh comparison with lenses stopped down to f/2.8:
The benefits of a 9-bladed diaphragm start to become obvious when lenses are stopped down. As you can see, lenses with straight 7-blade diaphragms have a defined heptagon shape. Here is the center area crop from all lenses at f/2.8:
Which bokeh rendering do you like the most? All lenses seem to now have pronounced edges that look more or less the same. The AF-D lenses have a somewhat smooth bokeh on the inside, while refractions on both AF-S lenses are visible. When it comes to bokeh shape, I do prefer the rounded bokeh of the AF-S lenses. The heptagon-shaped bokeh on AF-D lenses looks a little distracting to the eye. But that’s me – I know some photographers actually prefer heptagon-shaped bokeh. The Sigma, again, is the worst here.
Most prime lenses heavily vignette when shot wide open and the same is true for the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, so no surprises here. The good news is that as you stop down to f/2.0, vignetting decreases significantly. At f/2.8 vignetting is almost invisible and by f/4.0 onwards it is completely gone. Take a look at lens vignetting at different apertures shot on FX:
This type of behavior is expected from large aperture lenses, especially when they are mounted on full frame cameras. Other Nikon 50mm lenses and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 also show heavy amounts of vignetting at maximum aperture. Enabling lens correction in Lightroom will take care of vignetting issues.
When mounted on a DX camera, the amount of vignetting is much less pronounced, with only a slight darkening of the edges at maximum aperture.
7) Ghosting and Flare
Ghosting and flare are controlled well, but worse than on the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G – see the comparison below. I performed a couple of tests with the sun in the frame and both AF-D lenses show some nasty ghosting and flares, while the newer AF-S lenses almost have none. I specifically removed the lens hoods from the AF-S lenses during this test, to show how well they perform in comparison. Part of the reason why the AF-S lenses are so much better, is because the front element on the new 50mm lenses is recessed much deeper inside the lens barrel.
If you keep the lens hood on the lens, you will get even better results when shooting against a bright source of light. Please note that the above images were taken without any filters. Using UV and other filters can potentially introduce more flares and ghosting to your images.
Unfortunately, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G has a rather strong amount of barrel distortion, which is very noticeable in images with straight lines. The older Nikon 50mm f/1.4D has much less distortion in comparison. The good news is that Lightroom’s Lens Corrections module or Adobe Camera RAW can take care of the distortion issue with a single click. Here is how the image looks like without any distortion corrections applied:
Note the curved lines on the top and on the bottom of the image.
Is distortion a problem? No, not at all – it can be easily fixed in post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop (as explained above) without losing much of the original image.
9) Chromatic Aberration
Lateral chromatic aberration is controlled well, even in high-contrast situations. The amount of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA) is moderate (which is the effect of color fringing in front of and behind the focused area). Take another look at the LensAlign crop:
The above image was shot at f/1.4 and lit with 100 watt directional lamps. Stopping down the lens to f/2.8 and beyond dramatically reduces longitudinal CA.
When compared to other 50mm lenses, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is on par with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D in terms of LoCA and slightly worse wide open when compared to both 50mm f/1.8 primes. Sigma is again the worst performer here.
Let’s now move on to the good stuff – Sharpness tests. Select the next page below.
10) Sharpness Test
Some technical junk:
- White Balance: Auto, changed to “Custom”: 3200 Temp, +14 Tint in Lightroom
- ISO: 200
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Lens was mounted on Nikon D700 Camera and Gitzo tripod
- Focusing was performed through Live-View Contrast Detect
- Mirror Lock-Up mode with Exposure Delay set to “On” and remote cable release to completely eliminate camera shake
- Long exposure NR: Off
- Image Format: RAW
- Lightroom settings: Default settings
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
- Testing was performed at f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6 and f/8.0 apertures
- Nothing was moved during testing
11) Sharpness Test – Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Center Frame
The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G starts out a little soft wide open in the center, with some darkening of the center frame due to severe vignetting. Vignetting disappears in the center by f/2.0 and the image gets a tad sharper:
Stopping down the lens to f/2.8 further increases sharpness and the image stays sharp from there on:
The center sharpness does not change when the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 and f/8.0:
I am not including smaller apertures, because stopping down the lens beyond f/11 reduces image quality due to diffraction.
12) Sharpness Test – Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Corner Frame
Again, the performance of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G at largest apertures is a little soft in the corners:
Sharpness greatly improves when the lens is stopped down to f/2.8, and gets even better by f/4.0:
Peak performance is reached at f/5.6 and stopping down the lens further does not improve sharpness:
To make the comparison more usable, I had to adjust the exposure of the first and second corner images by 1+ in Lightroom (due to vignetting).
Overall, the sharpness results are very impressive for this lens, but the above crops are meaningless without a comparison against other lenses. Let’s move on to comparisons against other 50mm lenses.
Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.4D (AF-D)
I loved the classic Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and used it for years until the 50mm f/1.4G came out. It is a great little gem that many photographs still rely on for everyday photography and videography. Although it has the same 7-blade diaphragm as the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D, it has a good solid build, making it heavier and more rugged than both the new 50mm f/1.8G and the older 50mm f/1.8D, but not the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. Let’s take a look at how it compares to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.
13) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Center Frame
Let’s see how both lenses compare wide open. Before you even click on the below crops, you can see right away that the image on the left (Left: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, Right: Nikon 50mm f/1.4D) looks much better and clearer than the image on the right. This shows that the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D is very weak wide open and lacks contrast:
When stopped down to f/4.0, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D actually seems to perform better than the 50mm f/1.4G – the image looks a little sharper, because there is less chromatic aberration visible on the AF-D:
The same holds true for apertures of f/5.6 and smaller, although the difference at these apertures is negligible:
The perceived difference in sharpness at smallest apertures is primarily because of chromatic aberration/color fringing that the 50mm f/1.4G seems to have a little more than the 50mm f/1.4D.
14) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Corner Frame
Let’s take a look at what happens in the corners. The wide open corner performance of the 50mm f/1.4G is sharper and clearer, just like in the center (Left: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, Right: Nikon 50mm f/1.4D):
Overall, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is better than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D in both center and corner frames.
15) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Vignetting
Both lenses have about the same amount of vignetting, although the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G seems to be a tad worse at large apertures:
16) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Distortion
Distortion is clearly visible on both lenses, although it is more severe on the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G:
Again, just using Lightroom’s “Lens Corrections” sub-module will take care of the distortion and vignetting problems.
17) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Conclusion
In general, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G shows stronger performance than the older Nikon 50mm f/1.4D classic, especially at large apertures. Chromatic aberration at smaller apertures is a problem, but it is not bad. I always hesitated to shoot the 50mm f/1.4D wide open, because I knew that it produced images with much less contrast and sharpness when compared to smaller apertures – the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is much better in that regard. At f/2.8 and onward both lenses seem to perform about the same, but since these are portrait lenses, their performance at largest apertures is more critical than the stopped down performance. The whole point of getting a prime portrait lens is to be able to shoot at maximum apertures. Sharpness-wise, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D clearly falls behind the 50mm f/1.4G at large apertures. On the other hand, it has less distortion + vignetting and its bokeh also looks a little cleaner, despite its heptagon-shaped background highlights (I personally prefer the more circular nature of the rounded 9-blade aperture on the 50mm f/1.4G though). Overall, there is no reason to buy the AF-D model over the newer AF-S model in my opinion. If you are thinking about upgrading your 50mm AF-D to an AF-S model, you would be better off getting the newer Nikon 50mm f/1.8G instead, since it performs better than both of these.
Compared to Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 has been quite a popular lens among many photographers ever since it got introduced to the market. As you have seen from the first page of this review, the lens is the biggest of the 50mm bunch that I tested and has some impressive features that sets it apart from the competition. It is a large aperture f/1.4 lens with a quiet autofocus motor, a large front element with a 77mm filter thread (which is unusual for a 50mm lens – even the Canon 50mm f/1.2 has a 72mm filter thread) and is available for all major DLSR mounts including Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony and Four Thirds. I decided to do a thorough comparison of the Sigma against the new Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and other 50mm primes, so let’s see how it performs.
Before I go over the test results, I would like to point out that the Sigma 50mm has a wider field of view compared to Nikon 50mm primes – equivalent to approximately 45mm in focal length. I had to move my setup about 6 inches closer to the target in order to get a similar field of view.
18) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Sigma f/1.4 Center Frame
Overall, the center performance of both lenses is about the same, with Sigma lagging behind wide open and slightly sharper stopped down.
19) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Sigma f/1.4 Corner Frame
The Sigma looks much worse and muddy in the corners, which is disappointing and nothing changes at f/2.0:
The corner performance of the Sigma f/1.4 is clearly its weakest point – it performed worse than all other Nikon primes, including the older Nikon 50mm f/1.8D.
20) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Sigma f/1.4 Vignetting
As I have pointed out before, the Sigma’s strength is in the low amount of vignetting, due to the large front lens element and lens barrel. As you can see below, the vignetting levels wide open are like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G stopped down to f/2.0. Sigma leads all other 50mm lenses in terms of vignetting here:
It is also worth noting that vignetting is even less pronounced on DX sensors – all of the above tests were performed on an FX sensor.
21) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Sigma f/1.4 Distortion
Barrel distortion level on the Sigma is low in comparison to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G:
22) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Sigma f/1.4 Conclusion
While being the largest, heaviest and the priciest of all 50mm lenses I have tested, The Sigma f/1.4 EX DG HSM simply fails to deliver. Its high levels of purple fringing and low sharpness in the corner frame are disappointing. Longitudinal chromatic aberration levels are the highest as well, and as you have seen on the first page of this review, the bokeh just looks ugly in comparison to Nikkor primes. In addition, the Sigma f/1.4 I tested was the only lens in the group that was heavily front-focused, which shows just how bad the QA of third party manufacturers can be. I would personally send it back to Sigma for readjustment and calibration right away, but I did not bother, since it was loaned to me for a month anyway. Sure, its vignetting/distortion levels and AF performance (when properly calibrated) are impressive, but those are the only positives I can think of. Considering the size and weight, it almost feels like an 85mm prime rather than a 50. Its corner sharpness looks better on a DX camera, but not by a huge margin.
Don’t waste your money on this lens – it is simply not worth the $500 Sigma is asking for.
Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.8D (AF-D)
Let’s see how the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G compares against the older Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens, which is still in production as of today (11/15/2011).
23) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Center Frame
24) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Corner Frame
Let’s see how the lenses compare in the corners. Wide open, both lenses look somewhat similar, but the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lacks some contrast (Left: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, Right: Nikon 50mm f/1.8D):
Please note that I had to increase the exposure by up to a full stop for the first two corner shots. Otherwise, vignetting significantly darkens the images at largest apertures.
25) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Vignetting
As can be seen below, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vignettes slightly more than the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D at maximum aperture in the extreme corners:
Vignetting levels are about the same at f/2.0, disappearing at f/2.8-f/4.0 on both.
26) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Distortion
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is a champ among the 50mm lenses – it has no visible distortion:
27) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Conclusion
As you can see from the above comparisons, except maximum aperture, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is a very sharp lens when compared against the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. Lack of contrast is evident wide open, flares and ghosts are more problematic to deal with and heptagon-shaped bokeh is not as pleasant in comparison. Other than that, it beats the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G in distortion, vignetting levels and AF speed, which is pretty impressive, considering the 50mm f/1.8D is currently the cheapest Nikon lens available. Autofocus accuracy on both lenses is pretty good, but the AF-S is less noisy (as noted earlier). Construction-wise, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D obviously has a much cheaper feel to it, because it is mostly made of plastic (with a metal mount). The lens barrel comes out during focusing, but unlike the 50mm f/1.4D, does not rotate. Like all other AF-D lenses, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D will not autofocus on entry-level DSLRs.
Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
I have already pointed out earlier that the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is in many ways a better lens than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. Although I have been using the 50mm f/1.4G ever since it came out and I have been extremely happy with its performance, I was surprised to see the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G outperform it in sharpness, vignetting, distortion and flare/ghosting tests.
28) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Center Frame
I was a little shocked when I saw the above results. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is sharper than my favorite Nikon 50mm f/1.4G at large apertures.
29) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Corner Frame
Again, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G performs better at largest apertures, although the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G gets sharper between f/4.0 and f/8.0. Please note that I had to adjust the exposure on corner crops at largest apertures, since the effect of vignetting was too high, especially for the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G (I had to add +1.5 exposure to the f/1.4 crop).
30) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Vignetting
While the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G has a very heavy amount of vignetting at f/1.4, the effect of vignetting is less pronounced at f/1.8 when compared to the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. Similar to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D, vignetting is heavily reduced at f/2.0 and completely disappears by f/4.0:
31) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Distortion
Again, it is not a big deal – small amounts of distortion as above can be quickly fixed in post-processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop. Enabling lens correction in Lightroom or Camera RAW painlessly fixes distortion issues on both lenses.
32) Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Conclusion
Once again, it is shocking to see the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G outperform the supposedly better and more expensive 50mm lenses, including the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G that Lola and I have been heavily using for our photography. As you can see from the above crops, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is sharper than the 50mm f/1.4G at pretty much all apertures in the center and at largest apertures in the corners. The two thirds of a stop difference between the lenses is simply not worth the price difference. I do not know what Nikon was thinking when they released this lens – the sales of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G will be severely impacted by the 50mm f/1.8G once everyone figures out that the latter is a better buy. Although the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G has a 7-bladed diaphragm versus 9 on the 50mm f/1.4G, the bokeh it produces is very comparable to the bokeh on the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G (thanks to the rounded blades). So, it is not like the f/1.4G renders a much better background either. In addition, LoCA seems to look worse on the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.
Summary and Image Samples
Since 2008, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G has been a workhorse lens for both Lola and I. At the end of every year I go through image data in Lightroom and find out what lens was used the most. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G always tops the list, surpassing all other lenses by a huge margin. It is lightweight, compact and renders beautiful colors and sharp images. Lola loves it so much, that she often refuses to use anything else. When we come back from a wedding or an engagement session, it is typical to see more than 90% of her images shot with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. While I am out hurting myself with heavy gear like D3s and 70-200mm f/2.8G, she prefers to stay light with the D700 and 50mm combo. And she takes better pictures. Always. The 50mm focal length just seems to be perfect on a full-frame body. Before the 50mm f/1.4G AF-S came out, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D was our favorite lens for the same reasons. But the newer AF-S version made the AF-D obsolete and once I showed performance differences between the two to Lola, we made the switch. And this year Nikon gave us another pleasant surprise with the announcement of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, which as I have shown in this and other reviews, pretty much outperforms all other 50mm lenses, including the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. Am I going to switch to the 50mm f/1.8G? Lola and I have been thinking about it during the last couple of months, but we decided to keep our beloved 50mm f/1.4G and wait till Nikon releases a Nikon 50mm f/1.2G lens (hopefully soon). If I did not have a 50mm prime lens, I would have bought the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, without a doubt. So if you are looking for a 50mm portrait lens now, go for the newer 50mm f/1.8G lens instead.
34) Where to buy and availability
35) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.