NIKON AF-S 50MM F1.4G
Something of an old-timer compared with the latest crop of Nikon lenses, the 50mm f1.4G still has something to offer
Like the competing Canon lens on test, this Nikon has a very traditional design based on relatively few optical elements. Unlike many Nikkors, it has no aspherical or eD (extralow Dispersion) elements, nor Nano Crystal Coat. Nikon does make a more sophisticated 58mm prime, but that’s a bit long for a ‘standard’ optic and vastly more expensive at around £1,700/$1,600. This is definitely the most appropriately priced Nikon standard prime for enthusiast photographers.
Build quality feels marginally better than in the competing Canon lens and benefits from a weather-seal ring on the mounting plate. Unlike in the Canon lens, the physical length remains fixed but the inner barrel extends towards the forward end of the outer barrel at shorter focus settings. This makes the front element less well recessed at short focus distances but, again unlike the Canon lens, this one comes complete with a hood. The aperture is also more well-rounded than in the Canon lens, based on nine rather than eight diaphragm blades, but defocused lights can still be a bit problematic when stopping down a little.
Despite having a ring-type rather than motor-based ultrasonic system, autofocus speed is quite sluggish, and clearly audible. on the plus side, autofocus accuracy proved much more consistent in our tests, compared with the Canon lens.
sharpness is very impressive across the whole frame at apertures of f2.8 and narrower, and it doesn’t drop off as much as with the Canon lens between f1.4 and f2. However, vignetting is a little severe and bokeh fringing at wide apertures is similarly disappointing as from the Canon lens. overall, the Nikon is a better performer but its higher asking price makes it similarly average value for money.
RightHood included The inner barrel extends at shorter focus settings but the overall physical length remains fixed. A hood is supplied with the lensBelow Solid performance A little sharper at f1.4 than the Canon lens, bokeh is similar in terms of goodsmoothness and unwanted fringingBottom Nikon vs CanonThe lack of roundness for defocused lights towards the edges and corners of the frame is uncannily similar to that of the Canon lens