THE LEVEL UP LENS
Welcome to my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G lens review. 50mm is one of the more versatile focal length used in portrait, street, food, product and just about any kind of photography.
While many photographers probably started with a cheap and plastic fantastic 50mm f/1.8 lens, there are a few who wants more performance from the 50mm range.
This is where the very fast f/1.4 shines – if you are willing to pay a price for it. But is it really worth to pay the price for that f/0.4 difference? Is the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G any good? Let’s find out.
AN HONEST DISCLOSURE
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One solid lens that is hard to break.
Decently good optical quality.
Decently good, but slow auto-focus.
Not the best, but still one of the cheap good options.
Good for portrait, street, food, and products.
Above average, good value-for-money… but there are better 50mm lenses out there.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE SPECS AND CONTENDERS
The 50mm battlefield is hot. But since we are talking about Nikon, I shall compare the 50mm f/1.4 against “some other 50mm lenses” – The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and Zeiss 55mm f/1.4. Prices in USD, approximate as of May 2017.
|Filter Size (mm)||58||77||77|
|Elements||8 elements in 7 groups||13 elements in 8 groups||12 elements in 10 groups|
|Close Focus||45 cm||40 cm||50 cm|
|Angle of View||46° Diagonal (Full Frame)||46.8° Diagonal (Full Frame)||43.7° Diagonal (Full Frame)|
|Min/Max Aperture||1.4 / 16||1.4 / 16||1.4 / 16|
I know, the Zeiss is not exactly 50mm… but I just can’t resist putting it there. 😛 In any case, you can see that the Nikon is the lightest in the 50mm f/1.4 class, but how well does it perform?
CONSTRUCT & BUILD
Having seen the Sigma and Zeiss Otus before, the “budget” Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens feels like a tiny potato when compared to the other overweight beasts. There is really nothing fanciful about this lens. It’s small, light, affordable and… a f/1.4 lens without a gold ring.
Please don’t misunderstand the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 to be a bad lens when I say it is “small, light, and affordable”. Being a prime lens, the only moving part is the focus ring – Which means, there is nothing much you can break on this lens, and it is going to last very long.
Just like its ancestors, this lens seems to have the same solid construct that will last for a good 10 years and more. Small, compact, no gold ring? Never mind. It is still built like a tank.
The only thing I am not too sure is the weather sealing. But since it has survived a few shoots in light rain, I am going to assume it is at least weather resistant.
The auto-focus works decently well when it is bright. Maybe fast auto-focus has spoiled my senses, but the 50mm f/1.4 seems rather sluggish in homing on subjects. Also, this lens struggles in poor lighting conditions – Despite being a “low light fast lens”.
OPTICS & GALLERY
No review is complete without photos taken with the actual lens itself. Here are a few shots that I have taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, and judge for yourself. Feel free to click on any of the images below to visit my Flickr account – you can view it at full resolution over there.
At f/1.4, this lens does BOKEH. But how well does it please your eyes? You decide.
As it is closed down to f/2.8, it is still very bokeh but picks up slightly more details and sharpness.
It seems to hit the sweet spot at around f/5.6.
Let me put it this way – I am not a fan of this lens past f/10.
This lens is an all-round decent performer. Not a celebrity, but an above average Jane. It could have been better, but given the price, I am satisfied with it. For those who are looking at the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 as an upgrade from the 50mm f/1.8, please don’t.
Just stick with your existing f/1.8, and it’s not worth to pay for the small upgrade. Buy this only if you are on a budget for f/1.4 lenses. If you are looking for a truly good quality wide aperture 50mm lens, you should be looking at the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 art lens.
Sorry Nikon, your 50mm f/1.4 just didn’t shine bright like a diamond. If you have the budget to burn, try the Sigma art or Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens instead. Both of them perform way better than Nikon even though they cost much more.
- Built like a tank.
- Lightweight, affordable f/1.4.
- Decently good optics.
- Weather resistant.
- Slow auto-focus.
- Struggles in low light conditions.
- Don’t expect too much out of this above-average performer.