Test Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G is one of the most affordable fast lenses that thousands of photographers have come to love over the years of its existence. For many, it has become an everyday lens that you can shoot everything you need. Due to the availability and quality of the picture, the NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G is in the fleet of equipment for most Nikon fans. Unlike other participants in our test, this model does not belong to the class of top-end lenses, although it has a maximum aperture for “fifty dollars”. And this is very important for portraiture. And so he participates in our test.
It is suitable for someone who is not ready to spend a lot of money on optics, but wants a beautiful bokeh and high aperture. And with DX NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G cameras, it becomes a full-fledged portrait lens: taking into account the crop factor, its viewing angle approaches ideal “portrait” values. Let’s see what he is capable of.
Construction and design
The lens has a small weight, about 280g, and a very compact size, which allows the photographer to put it in the pocket of his windbreaker. He is the smallest of our entire test suite. The classic appearance does not distinguish it from the rest of the Nikon line of lenses. On the side there is a focus switch, which has two modes: M / A (autofocus with manual focus priority) and M (manual focus).
During focusing, the lens does not change its size, but the front group of lenses moves in the dimensions of the body frame. The filter is wound on a fixed outer part of the lens, so the protective filter on this model will protect not only from scratches, but also from dust.
The ultrasonic motor SWM (Silent Wave Motor) is responsible for focusing in this lens.
The lens uses an optical circuit consisting of 8 elements in 7 groups. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G aperture consists of 9 rounded lobes. The minimum focusing distance of this lens is 45 cm – not so small, but you should not count on shooting close-ups of small objects.
Due to the small size and almost constant diameter of the case in the hand, it fits like a glove with any camera. This lens is universal, you can take it with you, regardless of the size of your backpack. It is ideal for both shooting in the studio and for a walk around the city, while it will not let you down anywhere. At full frame, the focal length is truly universal, proven for decades.
But keep in mind that the autofocus drive is somewhat slow, so you won’t be able to take a shot instantly. Against the background of the previous lens, the “fifty” on this parameter clearly loses. During a reporting shoot, I had misses in focus, possibly related to a lower focusing speed. Therefore, with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G, I switched to serial shooting for the first time in a long time. The series is guaranteed to have sharp shots, even in the case of relatively complex plots. Focusing, despite the use of the SWM motor, is not completely silent.
Bokeh Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G is traditional for the 50 mm models and is somewhat different from true portretnik bokeh. So, a single flare in the blur zone is not softened along the edge, it has a pronounced border.
This provides an overall stiffness of the blur and the risk of the appearance of a scale effect in the bokeh when the intersecting glare does not merge together, but overlap each other.
In some cases, ghosting of straight lines may occur due to the softened border of the flare. But this is not a minus of a specific model, but a feature of the absolute majority of classic “fifty dollars”. You just need to remember this: in individual stories, she can play into the hands of the photographer. But the fact remains: the bokeh of this lens is not neutral.
Sharpness and vignetting
Let’s start with the sharpness metrics. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G showed excellent results for a model that does not belong to the group of professional lenses. With the f / 1.4 aperture as wide as possible, the sharpness in the center of the frame is within the normal range, you can work with it. But in my opinion, you need to use f / 1.4 only in very poor lighting conditions.
With aperture up to f / 2 – f2.8, sharpness improves, this is noticeable even with the naked eye. At f / 5.6 – f / 6.3, the picture begins to ring with sharpness even at the edges of the frame, so in any situation where you need maximum detail, you can safely set the aperture to f / 6.3.
With vignetting, NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G is standard. As with all fast aperture lenses, with the maximum open aperture, the angles are noticeably dark. But when f / 2.8 is reached, the situation with vignetting improves noticeably, the blackout is almost not noticeable. Also, to correct this situation, you can use the graphics editor or enable the function of suppressing vignetting in the camera itself.
At this “fifty dollars” chromatic aberration is quite well compensated (for its value level, of course). Yes, they are present in the open aperture both in the sharpness zone and in the blur zone, but they are almost invisible at f / 1.6 aperture, and after f / 2.0 they almost disappear.
For its low cost, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f / 1.4G provides excellent aperture and focal length for all occasions. As for shooting portraits, he behaves quite confidently. Yes, his bokeh has a certain rigidity and the risk of the appearance of “scales”, but this is a peculiar handwriting of this lens. I would not unambiguously relate these two facts to positive or negative qualities, this is simply his feature. Sharpness with the maximum open aperture is lame, but when f / 2.0 is reached, the picture improves noticeably. The big minus for me was the speed of autofocus, it is really slow. But in general, for such a small amount and a large aperture ratio, this nuance can be easily forgiven. In terms of price and quality, this is a very successful lens.
- relatively low cost;
- high aperture;
- low chromatic aberration after f / 2;
- high sharpness after f / 2;
- Relatively low autofocus speed
- not very sharp at an open aperture.
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