Nikon 50 1.4 G Lens Review

I recently acquired a couple Nikon 50mm f1.4 G lenses, I’ve never used a 1.4 lens before and so I decided to put it through it’s paces and see how it performed.  Since I primarily do nature photography, the examples shown will be of nature subjects.  If you shoot portraits or events, the problems I mention in this review may not be an issue for you.

That said, It’s time to get down to business.  I’m not a fan of the very technical reviews, my main concern is how it performs in the field and how it improves or degrades my final product – the photograph.

 

50 1.4 on Gripped D300s

Construction and build quality

This lens feels very solid and appears to be constructed very well.  I have not tried dropping it, but with all my testing of this lens I never had any major problems with the construction and build quality.  There is however, one minor flaw in this lens.  Right below the filter threads is this small strip of thin metal.  If you are in a hurry when putting your lens cap on, it is very easy to “nick” it with your lens cap.  I put quite a number of major nicks in it while I was using it.  If you ever plan on reselling one of these lenses, I HIGHLY recommend you use a protective filter.

 


Auto focus

Focus seems fairly fast and snappy, however, since this lens is 1.4, it is very easy to make mistakes.  If your focus is just slight bit off, your picture could be ruined.  Also I did encounter some focus accuracy errors, but this is understandable considering it’s small aperture and narrow depth of field.

One nice feature which may or may not be terribly useful, is the depth of field markers used for hyperfocal focusing when shooting landscapes. Since this lens is not a wide lens however, it probably is not overly useful in most cases.

 

Image quality

This is where the pictures come in!  I was quite surprised when I started using this lens, and somewhat disappointed in the image quality.  If you shoot nature, anything below f/2.8 is close to useless.  Sharpness falls off very quickly (especially when focused at closer distances), and color fringing I found to be about the worst I’ve seen so far.

Click on the pictures below to view larger versions.

Full Size - f1.4

f1.4 @ 100%

f1.8 @ 100%

f2.8 @ 100%

f4 @100%

f5.6 @100%

 

As you can see by the examples above, color fringing and sharpness is pretty bad wide open, but once stopped down, improves substantially.

f1.4

Here is the 100% crop of the image above.  (click to enlarge).

f1.4 @ 100%

Sample images

Below are some examples taken with this lens, some wide open, some stopped down. (click image to enlarge).

f1.4

f1.4

 

Summary

Pros:
Good build quality.
Focus distance scale with depth of field markings.
Sharp when stopped down.
Decent bokeh.
Good contrast/color rendition

Cons:
Very bad color fringing wide open.
Soft when wide open.
Focus is sometimes inaccurate.

What’s your experience with this lens?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!

 

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