Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Mini Review - Nikkor 50/1.8 Family

Purple Rain 
 NEX-7, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI 'Longnose'

This will be a little different, as I'm basically covering all 3 lenses of this spec Nikon's made. I've owned a bunch of them over the years.

The family starts off with the 50mm f1.8 AI. This was introduced in the late 70's to replace the legendary but ancient 50mm f2. About the same size as the f2 version (and comparable to today's 50mm f1.8D in size), this was an excellent performer that would last to the beginning AF era as an AI-S lens in non-US markets. It's often referred to as the longnose 50/1.8.

Shortly after Nikon designed a small and simple 50mm f1.8 near-pancake for the Series E lens line for their new and simple EM SLR. This was a single-coated optic in a small package. It would get multicoating to become the standard AI-S 50/1.8 for the US and Canadian markets, then get re-used in the first three AF 50mm f1.8 variants (AF, AF-N and AF-D) and remains on sale today as the 50mm f1.8 AF-D. The only optical difference is coating, but there's about 8 different barrel variations from minor (the various AI-S versions differing mostly in MFD) to major (the original AF barrel, the AF-N barrel).

Finally Nikon brought out an all-new optical design as the first entry in their new line of f1.8 AF-S G primes. This one is comparatively huge and the most expensive of the lot, although it just might be the sharpest of the lot, rivaled only by the original Longnose design.

I've owned one of the longnose AI's, uncounted numbers of the Series E and derivatives including both original AF and AF-D and one AF-S. I prefer the former and latter, although even the least of these is a pretty darn good lens and you can't go wrong. Right now there's a borrowed 50/1.8D in my bag, as I sold off my last Series E on an FG. I find the small Series E and AI lenses don't handle well on larger AF bodies like my D300's or D800. The later AF-N and AF-D versions handle alright (avoid the original AF version, as the manual focus ring is almost useless).

The 50/1.8 is to FX as the 35/1.8 is to DX. You should own one. Given how useful 50mm is on DX, that really applies to DX shooters as well (although I do prefer a 55-60mm on DX to a 50mm, a pity Nikon doesn't do a 58/1.8 DX).

No comments:

Post a Comment