I am considering moving from zoom lenses to prime lenses and am interested in procuring the Nikon 50mm for my F80 in the near future as long as my bank balance holds up. However I'm still debating between the f2.8 (rated as "macro" if I'm not mistaken) and the f1.4D. I'm very tempted by the extra aperture because I dislike using flash and actually don't own any flash units apart from the built-in flash. Being able to use this lens indoors without flash would be a huge boon for me.
But how does this lens differ from the f2.8 otherwise? In terms of optical quality? It's much more expensive so I'd imagine it should be on par at least... Are its macro capabilities similar? And what are the filter ring sizes? (58mm would be a boon so I can just re-use all my 28-80's filters and then sell the zoom!)
Any input appreciated. shopping-mad, jin
PS - I often go to http://www.photographyreview.com for ratings from a vast number of people on lenses I am interested in, but they seem to have wiped their review database since "upgrading" the site!
The 55mm 2.8 AF (for your N80) is a true Micro lens. It goes 1:1 without any tubes. The 55mm 2.8 MF goes 1:2. They are totaly different from the 50mm 1.4. If 2.8 is fast enough for you, the 55mm is great and versitile. If you need a fast lens, the 50mm 1.4 is fantastic!
Hi Brian I will consider the 55mm -- aperture is rather important to me so I'll probably go with the 50mm though. However, Ken Rockwell has severely criticised the 50mm f1.4 in his site http://www.kenrockwell.com. Is it a different lens he is referring to?
Forget Ken Rockwell. I have a 50 1.4D and have had no problems with it. I get good enlargements up to 20x30 (my lab doesn't make anything bigger so I can't comment on anything beyond that). The lens is very sharp wide open and you can't beat the speed for available light photography. If you expect to need macro capability a lot the 55 2.8 is a good compromise. Go with what you need and forget what others say. They're both good lenses.
Ken Rockwell is just miffed because the lens barrel of the 50 1.4D is plastic and made in China. So what? I can recall when products made in Japan were thought to be inferior to those made in the USA or Europe. Manufacturing specifications and quality control are what count. Consumers nowdays are more interested in cameras that are lightweight and compact. Modern plastics are very strong and can absorb a lot of shock and return to their original shape. Metal parts absorb shock, too, but often are bent in the process. A metal bodied lens with even a moderate dent might not work because of interference with internal components. A dented metal camera back may not close properly and leak light. I've seen many older metal-bodied lenses with bent filter mounts. The filter threads were were not worn, but you sure couldn't get a filter on them either. Rockwell also trashes Canon products for having plastic parts (the new top-of-the-line EOS 1V has more plastic than the Nikon F5 which it competes with), but plastic is here to stay. Try to find a modern high-tech product without it. I doubt if you can.
Why did you skip over the 50mm f1.8? Just curious. You can get a 52/58 step-up ring to use your filters on a new lens. Don't forget a rubber lens hood. There are wide angle rubber hoods available, too.---scott
"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." Pablo Picasso
Hi, I've just not heard that much about the 50 f1.8, is that an older lens?
I was just going for the f1.4 for the large aperture as I want it for available-light photography and am concerned about the optics. PhotoZone appears to rate the f1.4 slightly better than the f2.8. If there isn't much difference between the 1.4 and 1.8 I might just go for the cheaper one....
Guy's Ken Rockwell is not criticizing the AF 50mm 1.4D just because it is plastic. What he was trying to get across to people is that the AF 50mm 1.8 is $99.00 and is actually sharper than the AF 50mm 1.4D, which is $300.00. He is trying to make you think, why spend $200.00 more than you need to for a 50mm Nikkor?
The AF 50mm 1.4D is a great lens, however I chose to get the AF 50mm 1.8 and take the $200.00 that I saved and put it towards the AF 24mm 2.8D. Now I have two fantastic lenses instead of one!!!!!!
There's nothing wrong with the 1.8. However, the 1.4 has the "D" microprocessor chip which takes full advantage of Nikon's 3D Matrix metering function, which in some situations is more accurate than standard matrix metering or TTL flash. To me, it was worth having that extra feature. As for sharpness, from what I have seen, the difference between the two is insignificant for most people, especially if one frequently uses zoom lenses. If cost is a major factor, then the 1.8 wins hands down.
Oops I have just edited my message. Actually if I am going to be using the 50mm as my "standard" lens, wouldn't it be better if I went with the f1.4D if it has that chip for 3D matrix metering than the f1.8?
I think the "D" chip is worth having. It is especially useful for candid photography where you don't always have good lighting conditions. The extra half stop aperature the 1.4 has comes in handy too in low light conditions.
Jin, seriously consider the 50/1.8 and like a previous poster said, the extra money you save can go towards another lens. Its main drawback is its build quality, which is inferior to the 50/1.4. But taken on its own, it's quite adequate. The 'D' info helps tweak your exposure in 3D matrix mode, but not enough for even the discerning user to see, especially if you shoot print film.
Regarding Ken Rockwell, he's a regular contributor to the Nikon Mailing List, and 3 weeks ago, the fact that many people refer to his site came up on topic. If memory serves, he said that he's not an equipment reviewer, that he's a photographer who just happens to have an opinion on some cameras and lenses, that it's quite unfortunate that his website happens to be one of the more informative ones out there on the Net, that if he ever needed a second opinion where would he have to go? Quite funny in a way, I thought. But just goes to show, everything on the Net are just opinions. Even this one you're reading.
I can't comment on either 50 mm lense (f/1.8 v f/1.4). But I can say that a "D" chip is not something to get all excited about. I have done some back to back tests (using F80, built in flash), and haven't seen a huge difference between my D and non-D lenses. Of all the photos taken, the main difference I could find was when the flash was the only light source, and the "subject" was close to the camera, taking up a small part of the frame. In this situation with a non-d lense, the flash would go full power and light up the wall in the back ground, leaving the foreground subject over exposed. The "D"istance information came into its own for this type of photo. So what do I do with a non-D lenes in this situation? I use my brain and set the flash compensation to go 1 or 2 stops less than the "normal" setting.
PS - my tip is that you buy the 50mm 1.8. With the money saved, you are almost 2/3rds of the way to owning the 85mm 1.8 - a fantastic bit of glass. And just to keep the Distance fans happy - it is a "D" lense!
Ed, what exactly is "build quality"? What advantages can Jin expect from the better "build quality" of the 50mm f1.4? What latent problems are lurking for my 50mm f1.8, due to its inferior "build quality"? Do you have any info on drop tests, or lens element alignment problems, sticking diaphrams, mechanical or electrical linkage failures, material or assembly defects, etc.? If a novice were holding the two lenses, what clues could he/she look for to the superior "build quality" of the f1.4? Is this one of those "heft and feel" things, that makes AI lenses supposedly built better than AIS lenses? I'm not suggesting this is a hackneyed term, but I think from now on, this term "build quality" should be explained or backed up with some first-hand experience or weblinks or published tests. ---scott
"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." Pablo Picasso
I agree that a better description of "build quality" is needed when critiquing equipment. Some people equate polycarbonate (plastic) parts with inferior quality. Personally, I don't unless plastic is used in parts that are subjected to high mechanical stress in the course of normal use, such as the lens mount. Some people do not like the looser focusing action of AF lenses, but stiffer focusing action slows focusing speed. I seriously doubt that many photographers (amateur or professionl) subject their equipment to abuse strong enough to cause material failure, though a guess it makes some feel better to have equipment built like a tank. And for those who do, all-metal lenses are available, albeit at a higher price. I think electronic reliability is a bigger concern with today's photographic equipment, since most everything runs on batteries and microchips.
scott wrote: > i think from now on, this term "build quality" should be > explained or backed up with some first-hand experience or > weblinks or published tests.
Okay, since you asked. I only have first-hand experience. My 50/1.8 AF is over 10 or 11 years old and have 3 areas needing repair:
1) there are 2 hairline cracks on the front plastic face surrounding the front element, roughly 5mm and 7mm in lengths. I don't know where these cracks came from and I never noticed them until late last year while I was cleaning the glass. I am watching their progress and can say they're getting longer.
2) there are huge cracks in the black plastic material housing the CPU contacts in the back of the lens. If you push down on it, it gives way. I'm just waiting for the day it pops off since repairing it professionally is more expensive than the cost of a brand new 50/1.8. (yes, I inquired with Nikon). I first noticed this damage 3 years ago and watched its progress from a tiny line to a huge gaping crack.
3) its aperture ring sticks so much that it's very hard to get an accurate fraction of a stop (between clicks) and I usually overshoot my intended f-stop due to undue force to move the ring. The aperture blades still work but the ring is very annoying.
That said, I still use my 50/1.8 AF. Its glass is perfect and I find it sharp and contrasty, it's one of my favorites. Some of my other lenses are much older but not a single one exhibits any of the above problems. Coincidence? Bad sample? Maybe. But guys like Ken Rockwell base their opinions on their own samples too, and look how many people quote his opinions.
Based on my experience, I definitely recommend the lens for its optical performance but I have to warn buyers about its "build quality". I think about it this way, I bought it for under $100 then, and so for the excellent performance this lens has provided me over the years, my money averaged under $10/year. If I can't use it anymore, it would still make a very good loupe! Definitely recommended.
Kerry wrote: > I seriously doubt that many photographers (amateur or > professionl) subject their equipment to abuse strong enough > to cause material failure...
It looks like I did. I bought my first standard zoom only last year. For many years before that, I used only primes and my frequent lens changes probably damaged the 50/1.8 AF. My other prime lenses fared better though, even though I used the 35/2 more often than the 50/1.8.
So if a buyer is looking to buy the 50/1.8 for its speed or because it is so cheap they just have to have it, they probably won't be changing lenses every day or every other shot (like I frequently did). Then the 50/1.8 would last a lifetime.
When I purchased my 50mm 1.8 I went into the store with the full intention of buying the 50mm 1.4D, after examining the two lenses I could not see any difference in the "build Quality". 1) Both are made in China. 2) Both are made of polycarbonate. 3) Both have polycarbonate "plastic" filter threads. 4) Both have metal lens mounts.
The 50mm 1.4D is heavier in weight due to the fact that it has 7 lenses in 6 groups=225 grams. The 50mm 1.8 has 6 lenses in 5 groups=156grams. If you believe more weight = better build quality, then I have some ocean front property in Nebraska that I will sell to you cheap!!!
> If you believe more weight = better build quality...
In all fairness, I re-read my posts and I never implied that, much less said anything that equates weight to build quality. You, Scott and Kerry are the only people on this thread to mention weight/heft/plastic vs. build quality. I simply described the current appearance of my 50/1.8 AF to back up my previous post. I used the word 'plastic' merely to refer to the material. I do highly recommend the 50/1.8 AF, if you didn't notice?
> I have some ocean front property in Nebraska that I > will sell to you cheap!!!
LOL! I'd buy it, but I already put a bid on one on eBay!
Ed, Maybe I jumped the gun on the anti-plastic (polycarbonate haters club) topic. It's just that most people complain about the "build quality" of the newer products, just because they are made with modern day resins. If my 50mm 1.8 makes it 10 years I would still consider it to be well made considering I only paid $99.00 for it. And my comment about the ocean front property in Nebraska was meant in fun Kevin
I've never seen a difinitive picture where the 'd' chip made a picture, or the lack of it broke one. The 'd' chip is worthwhile, obviously, but I don't know if it is worth the increase in price. Nikon has an amazing flash system, as evidenced by all the pics taken before the 'd' chip was released.
The big issue for me was cost $100 (f/1.8) vs. $300 (f/1.4d) new. The f/1.4 is two thirds of a stop faster great wide open in dim light, but the aperture stops at f/16. The f/1.8's minimum aperture is f/22. The f/1.8 hasn't left me wanting more...
I agree with slow-driver: get the 1.4 (if its fast enough for you) and with the money saved, look at a 20 f/2.8, 24 f/2.8 or 85 f/1.8.
My two cents, Anthony
BJ Nicholls in another topic promoted the the af 60 f/2.8 Micro as a double duty lense: quasi "normal" lens with a relatively fast max aperture of f/2.8 and a true macro lens.
Thanks to all your comments. I've decided on the 50mm f1.8 because of the huge price difference. Its made in China but its pretty light and although I'm not sure I am a fan of the 50mm length, I'm looking forward to seeing how my pics turn out with it.
Now to save up $$ for the 105mm micro.... Thanks all, again!