Excerpt: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is the latest update to the venerable Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D. The Nikon communality has been expecting this lens for quite some time now, considering that the previous version of the lens was introduced in 1995 and has not seen any updates since then. But unlike the previous D version of the lens which was fully backward compatible with pretty much all Nikon bodies dating back to 70s, Nikon decided to limit the compatibility in favor of...
Excerpt: The newest version of Nikon's storied 50mm f/1.4 boasts a redesigned optical formula for more effective flare prevention. A 75mm equivalent on Nikon smaller-sensor DX bodies, this $500 (street) full-framer also has a circular-bladed aperture for smoother defocusing.
Conclusion: The AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G was, at its introduction, hailed by Nikon as 'redefining the standard lens concept'. It turns out that in many ways that was no idle boast - in almost all respects the lens is clearly improved over its predecessor, the AF-Nikkor 50mm F1.4D . It's sharper wide open, and provides much more even performance across the frame (especially on FX), with notably better corner sharpness at large and intermediate apertures.
Pros: Extremely even image quality across the frame, even on FX, Improved image quality over 50mm F1.4D at large apertures, Exceptional image quality when stopped down, Essentially no lateral chromatic aberration, Near-silent AF-S focus with full-time manual override
Cons: Slightly soft at large apertures, Somewhat susceptible to flare, Longitudinal (bokeh) chromatic aberration, most visible at large apertures, Vignetting at large apertures on full frame (essentially disappears by F2.8), Slower autofocus than the screw-drive AF-Nikkor 50mm F1.4D
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Excerpt: The Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G was announced in September 2008 as the company’s flagship standard prime lens. It shares the same bright f1.4 aperture and standard focal length as the much older AF 50mm f/1.4D, but features an SWM focusing motor, which means it’ll autofocus quickly and quietly on all Nikon DSLRs, including the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100 and D5000.
Summary: After shooting hundreds of images, mostly pictures of people, we fell in love with it. It is more expensive than the zoom lenses that come as standard kit with DSLRs, which gives an idea of the relative quality of each lens type. A good prime beats a mediocre zoom any day. The Nikkor only fits Nikon cameras, and we found that the lens mounted on a Nikon D300 is a killer combination.
Pros: The sharpness, colour fidelity and contrast of this lens, and the complete absence of distortion, make it a perfect optic for portraits. The closest focus distance is 0.45m, so it is not a macro lens, but the brilliance of the images means they can be cropped and enlarged without loss of detail.
Cons: The auto focus seems, for want of a better word, languid. It is always accurate and the mechanism is indeed silent, but the lens cruises, rather than snaps, into sharp focus.
Summary: Having owned the older AF-D version for some time, I can say this update is a welcome one. The build and silent focusing are welcome refinements, even if the focusing speed does seem a little slow. Performance throughout the aperture range is very good to outstanding, which is what you would expect from a lens of this type, and as a result this lens should not disappoint even the most discerning photographers.
Pros: Excellent optical quality, Good build quality, Light weight, Good value
Cons: Focusing speed lower than previous version, 58mm filter size not common for Nikon prime lenses.