Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Review

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This is an in-depth review of one of my favorite prime lenses – the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, which was announced back in September of 2008. For many years the focal length of 50mm lenses was considered a “standard” or “normal” focal length, because it closely resembles the perspective of the human eye. These lenses were widely popular on film cameras and the focal length was ideal for portraiture and everyday photography. As digital SLRs and zoom lenses started taking over the market, popularity of 50mm primes also decreased. The smaller size of APS-C sensors made the field of view of 50mm lenses narrower, while the flexibility of zoom lenses and their low price drove the demand towards convenience. Now that full frame digital cameras are getting more and more affordable, the once forgotten 50mm lenses are regaining their popularity among many photographers. In this review, I will provide a thorough analysis of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, along with image samples and comparisons against other 50mm lenses from Nikon and Sigma.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S

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.

Nikon 50mm f1.4G Sample (6)

NIKON D700 + 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, ISO 200, 1/200, f/3.5

1) Lens Specifications

Main Features:

  1. Fast f/1.4 prime Nikkor lens that is perfect for low-light conditions, general and travel photography.
  2. Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
  3. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image elements.
  4. M/A focus mode switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
  5. Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
  6. Close focusing to 1.5 feet for extended versatility.

Technical Specifications:

  1. Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  2. Focal Length: 50mm
  3. Maximum Aperture: f/1.4
  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): 46°
  8. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.15x
  9. Lens Elements: 8
  10. Lens Groups: 7
  11. Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
  12. Diaphragm Blades: 9
  13. Distance Information: Yes
  14. Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  15. Autofocus: Yes
  16. AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  17. Minimum Focus Distance: 1.5ft.(0.45m)
  18. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
  19. G-type: Yes
  20. Filter Size: 58mm
  21. Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  22. Dimensions: (Approx.) 2.9×2.1 in. (Diameter x Length), 73.5×54.2mm (Diameter x Length)
  23. Weight: (Approx.) 9.9 oz. (280g)
  24. Supplied Accessories: 58mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-58, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-47, Soft Case CL-1013

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.

Nikon 50mm f1.4G Sample (2)

NIKON D700 + 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, ISO 200, 1/1600, f/2.8

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