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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nikon 50mm f1.8D vs Nikon 50mm f1.4G

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of the little Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF D.

Using the Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF D for Macro Photography

50mm Glory

It's just a fantastic little lens at an incredible price! The Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF D is awesome wide open at f1.8, and it's sharp as a razor. It's lightweight, super small, and focuses very fast.

The 50mm f1.8 AF D may not be an AF-S lens, but it beats the new Nikon 50mm f1.4G AF-S for focusing speed!

The Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF D is about 1.5 inches long and weighs about 5.6 ounces or 155 grams. It is a 52mm filter size, which makes it economical to add filters to it because 52mm filters are some of the least expensive.

The new Nikon 50mm f1.4G AF-S is a beautiful lens, no question about it. It's well-built and comes with its own Nikon HB-47 hood.

The Nikon 50mm f1.4G is relatively small and lightweight, being about 2 inches long and 9.9 ounces or 280g. Add the hood and it's almost double the length. Compared to the Nikon 50mm f1.8D though, it's almost twice the size and weight. The 50mm f1.4G is still light and small, just not as light and small as the 50mm f1.8D.

The Nikon 50mm f1.4G takes a 58mm filter, so it's a little more expensive to buy filters for it than the 50mm f1.8D. Of course, these days people seem to be using less and less filters than they used to before DSLR cameras and digital.

Both the Nikon 50mm f1.4G and the Nikon 50mm f1.8D have a minimum focussing distance of 1.5 feet.

There is a significant difference in minimum apertures between the two lenses. The Nikon 50mm f1.4G has a minimum aperture of f16, while the Nikon 50mm f1.8D has a minimum aperture of f22. This may or may not mean a lot to you depending on what you're shooting.

There is very little difference in maximum apertures between the two Nikon 50mm lenses. Some people will argue until they're blue in the face that they couldn't do without f1.4 and just couldn't live with the 50mm f1.8, but in reality these same people likely couldn't tell the difference between the same shot at f1.8 and f1.4.

Most people would expect a big difference between the 50mm f1.4G and the 50mm f1.8G in terms of bokeh or the out of focus area of an image, but this is where they'll get a not so welcome surprise. The bokeh on the 50mm f1.8 is great, and I can't really say the 50mm f1.4G is any better. They're both very good when it comes to bokeh and the out of focus area of an image at maxium aperture. You'd expect the 50mm f1.4G to be slightly better since it's newer, faster, and 4X the price, but in my opinion, it isn't.

Really, the big advantage of the new Nikon 50mm f1.4G over the Nikon 50mm f1.8D is that you can use it on all the new Nikon DSLR cameras that don't auto focus with non-AF-S lenses. The Nikon 50mm f1.8D won't auto focus on Nikon DSLR cameras like the Nikon D5000, Nikon D3000, Nikon D40, and Nikon D60. If you're like me and use auto focus pretty much all the time, this makes the 50mm f1.4G a no-brainer if you shoot with one of these DSLRs. Of course, my Nikon D300 DSLRs will auto focus just fine with the Nikon 50mm f1.8D, so that doesn't factor into the decision for me.

To sum things up, there really isn't much difference between the Nikon 50m f1.4G and the Nikon 50mm f1.8D other than the price. If you're shooting with a Nikon DSLR that can only auto focus with AF-S lenses, then the 50mm f1.4G is the way to go. If your Nikon DSLR can auto focus with D lenses like my Nikon D300 can (i.e. Nikon D3, D3X, D700, D700X, D90), then I'd think long and hard about whether you need the f0.4 difference in speed, especially considering the 4X difference in price.

For two excellent Nikon 50mm reviews, check out Bjorn Rorslett's Nikon 50mm Reviews and Thom Hogan's Nikon 50mm f1.4G Review.


Roger Martin said...

I've had both and prefer the cheaper f1.8 version.

Edward Neal said...

I have owned both and I like the new 50mm f/1.4G much better.

wide open the f/1.8 is sharper in the center but the edges really suck, the f/1.4G on the other hand is not as sharp in the center, but still very usable and on top of that it is also usable at the edges, stop down to f/2.8 or further and the f/1.4G is stunningly sharp from center to edge at every aperture. The 50mm f/1.8 on the other hand does not get even close at the edges until f/8

so if you only care about center sharpness wide open get the f/1.8, if you want the entire frame sharp get the f/1.4G

A.V.Ebrahimi said...

I just purchased 50mm f1.8 for my D3 and I am very interested in its accurate center resolution, though it gradually fades through corners. My father has an f1.4G, I can compare these two.
I guess bokeh of 1.4G is better, but not much.
Focus speed of f1.8D is much better.