lens review: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
The 50mm lens in general is an interesting optic. Not necessarily for what it does, but how it seems to have fallen out and back in favor over the years. For example, in the 1970’southward pretty much all 35mm film cameras shipped with a 50mm lens. Zooms weren’t something that just came with the camera as a kit lens. Information technology was the 50mm lens that was the “kit lens”. So the showtime thing the serious amateur would do, is dump the 50mm lens and become a zoom lens to get some variety in their photographs.
And then over the years, more compact and slower discontinuity zooms became the norm. Fifty-fifty more so during the digital era.
Now, as more of the newer photographers are realizing that a 50mm lens is an inexpensive way of getting super-shallow depth-of-field, the 50mm lens is seeing something of a resurgence in popularity. That super-shallow DoF is a look that your f5.6 kit zoom lenses just can’t give yous.
With that, a 50mm lens deserves a identify in your camera bag. It takes upwards picayune infinite, and is (usually) cheap. (Well, until you step up to something like the Canon 50mm f1.2L … merely that’s another story.)
since this review, I have replaced my Nikon 50mm f/1.4G with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lens. Check my review of the Sigma 50mm f/one.4 ART lens to run into why.
Nikon released the
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
(Amazon) as an update to the pop Nikon 50mm f1.8D (Amazon), and as a more than affordable option than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G (Amazon) … so let’s wait at how it performs.
A quick summary, comparing the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G to the Nikon 50mm f/i.4G
- sharpness broad open up at f1.8 is very close the f1.4G optic. Stopped down to f5.6 both lenses are razor precipitous. Every bit you’d expect from a lens with a fairly unproblematic optical pattern like a 50mm lens. (Until you go to the Catechism 50mm f1.2L which shifts focus as y’all stop down. But, that’s some other story.)
- the bokeh of both lenses expect the same to my eye
- focusing of the f1.8G is noticeably faster than the f/1.4G which is kind of a slouch. This might be due to the longer focusing “throw” of the f/1,4G optic. Simply the f1.4G but seemed slow and has received sharp criticism for that. The newer f1.8G is a huge improvement.
- the f1.8G is more than $200 cheaper than the f1.4G
- the f1.4G has a 2/3rd cease faster maximum discontinuity than the f1.8G
And that sums it upwardly whether the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G (Amazon) or the Nikon 50mm f/ane.8G (Amazon) is more bonny.
(As an bated – I have tried three copies of the Sigma 50mm f1.4 lens at various times .. of which two exhibited back-focusing straight out of the box. That’southward less endearing.)
ane/500 @ f1.eight @ 200 ISO
This is typical of the look one can achieve with a 50mm lens, and using shallow depth-of-field.
In this case, the background is melting away not merely because of the shallow depth of field, but also because of the way I shot against vivid light, and allowed the background to over-expose. Just for interest sake, the groundwork here to a higher place Jessica is an art display of pieces of linen bravado in the wind. (It was likewise seen hither in this review of the Catechism viii-15mm f/4L fisheye zoom lens.)
observations on the optical sharpness of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
With fast primes, I exercise call up nosotros don’t frequently use the lens for how sharp they are to the very edges. We photograph iii-dimensional subjects. Not flat scenes. (Besides, if you wanted sharp images from edge-to-edge for a scene that is “flat”, yous’d merely utilize an appropriately smaller discontinuity.)
Fast primes tend to show distinct vignetting when used wide open. Simply this isn’t a negative in my opinion. It tin can in fact lend a specific “expect” to the images. (The Canon 85mm f1.2L is great for this … lending a noticeable vignette when used broad open with the 5D torso.) So the usual way of testing lenses would tell you about their optical quality .. merely information technology would about probable non have much bearing on how the lenses are used – bringing attention to your subject via the shallow depth of field.
With these two images (click through to larger versions), you tin can see the difference in depth of field between f1.8 and f5.6 … simply this shallow depth-of-field comes at a (slight) expenses of optical sharpness when used wide open.
Here are 100% crops (unsharpened) of her right centre of those two photos. The image at the left is for an f1.8 discontinuity, and the second image is for the lens used at f5.6 aperture.
The lens shows that typical slight haze (even though it looks precipitous-ish) that you get with these lenses. So for me, this lens is abrupt wide open, in that I would happily use information technology at wide apertures if I needed the shallow depth of field. If you want super-sharp though, then stop down. Those are your options.
bokeh: Nikon 50mm f/one.8G compared to a few other Nikon 50mm lenses
Before we look at the bokeh of this lens, keep in mind that shallow depth of field is not the same matter as bokeh. Bokeh is the evaluation of how pleasing the out-of-focus areas (usually) in the background appears. Also, we’re going to expect at a single scene hither. To
become an idea of the bokeh of a lens, we’d have to employ it in a variety of situations at dissimilar focus distances and different apertures.
Simply this single case will already give us a expert idea of whether the lens has pleasant bokeh or not.
Using a tripod, I took a serial of photographs of Jessica at a specific distance. The crop images are from the summit-right-hand corner.
The 50mm f/1.8G and f/i.4G show pretty much the same bokeh when used at f1.eight Note the manner the out of focus areas are oval and have a soft edge to them. The f/1.4G lens appears to have slightly more round shaped out of focus highlights than the f/i.8G …. but this is such a small divergence, that it wouldn’t factor in buying the one lens rather than the other.
Stopped downwards a piffling bit to f2.eight information technology however looks quite similar.
Comparison the newer f/ane.8G lens to the f/i.8D we see that the bokeh of the G lens is more than pleasing than the D optic. The out of focus highlights of the D lens has a harder edge to it, and would make the background less shine than for the Chiliad optic. So this means to me that the f/ane.8G lens has better bokeh than the f/1.8D
Stopped down to f2.8 it would announced the same and we fifty-fifty see that the D lens starts to exhibit a kind of hexagonal border to the circles. (Both lenses accept vii blades to the diaphragm though.)
Only every bit a comparing to how the bokeh would look when it is less pleasing, here is how the older manual focus Nikon 50mm AIS lens appears at f2.eight …. the hexagonal shapes are quite singled-out.
In summary … the bokeh of the Nikon 50mm f/ane.8G is an improvement over the f/1.8D
The f/1.4G improved in a like way over the older f1.4D lens in terms of its bokeh. Find hither how intrusive the bokeh of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D can exist when used wide open.
- review: Sigma 50mm f/1.four Fine art lens
- review: Nikon 58mm f/1.4G lens
- reviews of Nikon gear