Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4

Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4

Lens Summary

Brand: Nikon

Also Known As: NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4

Lens Type: Prime Lens

Format: Full Frame / FX

Focus: Manual Focus

Lens Mount: Nikon F

Release Date: 1962-01-01

MSRP Price: N/A

Made in: Japan

Production Status: Discontinued

Lens Description: Released in 1962, this lens became just as popular as Nikon had hoped it would and established its position as a standard normal lens for Nikon F cameras. It was produced in its original form for 14 years until multi-layer coatings were adopted in 1972 and its optical system was improved in 1976. The Nikkor-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 was the most popular NIKKOR lens during the Nikon F and F2 eras.

Photography Life Review Summary: The classic NIKKOR-S 50mm f/1.4 is an interesting lens with impressive performance characteristics when one gets to know how to properly use it. Since it suffers from spherical aberration, field curvature and a very noticeable focus shift, one must understand these limitations when using the lens on modern DSLRs. Still, when stopped down to f/4 and smaller, the lens is capable of producing excellent results, especially in the center of the frame. Read the full Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 Review by Photography Life.

Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 Specifications

Lens Specifications
Lens TypePrime Lens
Focal Length50mm
Mount TypeNikon F
FormatFull Frame / FX
Compatible Format(s)35mm Film, FX/DX Digital (AI Only)
Compatible with TeleconvertersNo
Maximum Reproduction Ratio1:9.8
Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)No
Aperture Information
Aperture RingYes
Maximim Aperturef/1.4
Minimum Aperturef/8
Maximum Angle of View (Full frame or larger format)46°
Optical Information
Lens Elements7
Lens Groups5
Diaphragm Blades7
Focus Information
FocusManual Focus
Built-in Focus MotorNo
Minimum Focus Distance0.6m
Filter Information
Filter Size52mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-in
Physical Characteristics
Weather / Dust SealingNo
Mount MaterialMetal
Dimensions67 x 48mm
Other Information
Available in ColorsBlack

Lens Construction

Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 Lens Construction

MTF Performance

Here is how the lens performed according to Imatest:

Due to very strong spherical aberration issues, The NIKKOR-S 50mm f/1.4 shows weak performance at the maximum aperture. On top of that, the lens suffers from field curvature, which results in blurry mid-frame and corners. And even worse, there is a very noticeable focus shift when going past f/2. In order to produce the above numbers, I had to reacquire focus at each aperture all the way to f/5.6.

Stopping down to f/2 improves sharpness in the center quite a bit, but the rest of the frame stays very weak until f/2.8. At f/4, the effect of spherical aberration and field curvature is significantly reduced, resulting in much better overall performance. Center sharpness is very impressive at f/4 and peaks at f/5.6, where the lens produces exceptionally sharp images across the frame. Best corner performance is reached at f/8.


There is a little bit of visible barrel distortion, but it is not too noticeable – better than on the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S. Imatest measured barrel distortion at -1.10. Unfortunately, since neither Lightroom nor Camera RAW have built-in lens profiles for this classic, all distortion corrections have to be carried out manually.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration levels are fairly low when compared to other classic 50mm lenses. Imatest measured CA at under 1 pixel on average, as shown below:


Vignetting is extremely strong wide open, reaching as many as 3 full stops of difference in the corners. As the lens is stopped down, vignetting is reduced considerably – by f/4, it is almost completely gone:

Here is an illustration of the worst case scenario, shot at f/1.4:

Nikon NIKKOR-S Auto 50mm f/1.4 Vignetting

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Airy Magnien

I have the SC version (multicoated). Colors are a bit muted compared to, say, Zeiss lenses, but that’s not necessarily bad. Wild bokeh wide open (something evoking some kind of liquefaction). At full aperture, badly suffers from spherical aberration, so the contrast is low and luminous elements seem to “glow”. Best aperture is at f/2.8, for portraits. If you need a sharp lens at f/2, rather go for the 50/1.2 or 50/1.4 AI. Very good all-metal construction.

Melissa Duck

I have this lens, nikkor-Q 135 mm lens, nikkor-H 28 mm, NikonF Photomic-Tfinder 35mm camera(vintage) and a GE Mardi Gras Movie Light (hand-held) model MG 650w 120v AC with older carry case w/long strap. Also the user manual for the camera. The photos in the illustrations look to be in the 1960s according to the hairstyles and wardrobe of the people in them. Am interested in selling but need to know the value.