Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D AF review

By Anthony Rampersad

I’m 28 and I live in Trinidad & Tobago. I’ve always been interested in photography but I guess its only recently that I’ve started taking my interest seriously. Somewhere in 2008 I shot my first “serious” picture and fell in love with both the process and results of the capture. I particularly enjoy nature and landscape photography and aspire to one day reach a pro-level skill even if its not accompanied by the pay.

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 overview

Where do I even begin with this lens? I bought it new with my Nikon D90 and have been using it for almost 7 months now. I bought is specifically to help develop my composition skills. Since it’s a fixed focal length (prime lens) you’re more or less forced to walk your way around your subject to get that frame just the way you want it. Of course it’s a 50mm lens but if you’re mounting this on a DX format camera (like the D90 for instance) it becomes a 75mm with the crop factor considered. I bought the 50mm as the first lens on my D90 this also being my first DSLR. At first I regretted my decision for not getting a zoom lens but realized afterwards that the 50mm was an excellent choice and combination with the D90. The lens is reviewed according to the below categories:

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 handling

It’s light, it’s really just light and easy to carry either on the camera body or as part of your gear package. The first time I attached the lens to the body of the camera I had a little difficulty, perhaps best attributed to unfamiliarity. But its a snap to snap on. The lens comes with an aperture ring but I don’t believe its functional or even necessary on DX cameras. In fact if you toggle it out of its widest aperture you can expect to get an error reading on your display. I absolutely love the smooth focusing action of the focus ring. It’s almost mercurial in both manual and auto focus modes. When switched on to AF, focusing is extremely quick. I was nothing short of impressed with the AF speed. My previous compact/bridge camera seemed Jurassic on a speed comparison and even my other lens the 55-200mm AF is a lot slower.

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 build quality

The 50mm certainly feels very compact for its price. For a $125 lens I’d almost expect to see rough flimsy plastic all the way around and the nauseating smell of cheap glue holding everything together. I was glad to see that it came with a metal attachment mount rather than the flimsy feeling plastic mount. It was mentioned in my D90 review that I dropped this camera with this lens attached. I guess I was thankful afterwards that I had the 50mm attached rather than my weightier zoom lens. No one likes to see a grown man cry.

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 image quality

Now it’s crunch time. How does the lens rank in terms of its image quality? At the risk of sounding like a converted Nikonite I cant resist saying that I love the image quality of the 50mm. The max aperture of f/1.8 is an excellent allowance for creatively blurred shots and quicker shutter speeds. At an amateur level I’ve shot my car, family, friends, flowers and everyday still life objects. It produces a crisp, clean super sharp shot with wonderful colour rendition and practically zero noticeable distortion. I’ve even managed to shoot some satisfactory close-ups with the addition of an Opteka closeup filter kit (52mm filter size). My very first shot with this lens was like bokeh love at first sight. I shot a blooming bougainvillea with the sunlight in the background at f/1.8 and the beautiful look of the bokeh produced by the peerings of sunlight through the leaves totally amazed me. It’s great for that and you wont be disappointed. I have to note though that on a few subsequent and similarly framed shots the bokeh appeared hexagonal (7 sides right?) in shape. One of the only shortfalls I guess with this lens is that the 7 diaphragm blades aren’t rounded so in some circumstances, expect the bokeh to look more mechanical than rounded and natural.

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 Pros

  • Superb image quality
  • Reliably built
  • Super-quick Autofocus
  • Fluid-smooth manual focusing
  • Excellent value pricing
  • No noticeable distortion
  • Wide maximum aperture. Allows for:
    • More creative shots from very shallow depth of field
    • Quicker shutter speeds

Nikkor 50mm F1.8 Cons

  • Diaphragm blades not rounded (sometimes jagged hexagonal bokeh)
  • No vibration reduction (although its necessity is debateable)



Check out the current Nikkor 50mm F1.8 best price

This entry was posted in Camera and lens reviews and tagged , , by Joe. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe

I've been an avid photographer for about 15 years now. It started out when I got my first decent digital camera, which was an Olympus C700 Ultra zoom, a great camera which allowed me experiment with a range of photography styles. After that I moved on to SLRs, mostly with Canon, and enjoy all forms of photography although I'd probably say I most enjoy wide-angle landscape photography. My day job is to run this website, so I hope you enjoy your visit!

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