Tangent Photo - Fine Art Photography
What's New   Nikon Lens Reviews Used Lens Price Guide Camera Straps  Photography Tips More Stuff
                                                                                                                         Support this site Twitter Facebook    

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Lens Review

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G  


June 2011 (updated October 2011)
(tested with Nikon D7000)

The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G was announced in April this year and made available for sale as of June 7th in the US. There have been numerous versions of the 50mm f/1.8 over the years, but this is the first version with a built in silent wave motor (SWM). This is good news for owners of Nikon's lower end DSLRs, as the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G can autofocus on any Nikon digital camera. This is a full frame (FX) lens, which will work fine on both FX and DX cameras.

The lens is made mostly of plastic. The focus ring is rubber coated and turns smoothly. The lens mount is metal and includes a rubber gasket. On the side of the lens is a standard Nikon manual focus switch. Autofocus can also be overidden just by turning the focus ring. Autofocus is fast, but not as fast as other AF-S lenses. Under very low light conditions the focus tended to hunt a little. The front element doesn't rotate, so the use of a polarizer is no problem. The filter size is 58mm, larger than the size on the previous version, the AF 50mm f/1.8D. The new lens itself is also slightly larger. One interesting aspect of the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens is the inclusion of an aspherical lens element. Aspherical lenses reduce optical aberrations while producing superior resolution. For more info on aspherical lenses you can read Nikon's technology page here.

Sharpness in the center of the lens at f/1.8 is excellent, and gets even better by f/5.6. The corners and borders are very good wide open. A few stops down from the maximum aperture and they are also excellent. I imagine that they will be somewhat softer when using an FX camera.

There is some barrel distortion, but not enough to cause concern. It's most noticable if you shoot straight lines along the edge of the frame. It's easy to correct with post processing, but in most cases not necessary. Vignetting on a DX sensor is only slightly visible at f/1.8. One stop down and it's all but eliminated. Chromatic aberration is barely visible wide open. Stopping down it's more apparent, but still not really an issue. It's easily corrected with post processing or in camera (if available). Flare isn't a problem whatsoever. I found the bokeh to be very good wide open, better at f/2.8 (see below for sample images).

I did a comparison of the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens with my AF 50mm f/1.8 lens. This is an earlier version which was made in Japan. Shots were taken at f/1.8, f/2.8, and f/4. These aren't the best examples. The shots were taken in direct sunlight with no in camera sharpening and no post processing. Here's the original photo resized:

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G full

You can see the full size original here.

This first set of shots is taken from the center of the image:

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8 Center

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8 Center

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8 Center

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/2.8 Center

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/4 Center

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/4 Center

Based on these samples the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is sharper wide open, but stopped down to f/4 the AF 50mm f/1.8 is sharper.

This next set is taken from the upper right corner of the image:

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8 Corner

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1,8G @ f/1.8 Corner

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8 Corner

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8g @ f/2.8 Corner

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/4 Corner

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/4 Corner

Based on these samples the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G has better corner sharpness than my AF 50mm f/1.8.

The next set of images compares the bokeh of the two lenses. Again, shots were taken at f/1.8, f/2.8, and f/4. One note, there is slight camera shake in the first image of the AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8. It probably makes the bokeh look a little worse than it actually is.

Nikon Af 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8 Bokeh

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8 Bokeh

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8 Bokeh

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/2.8 Bokeh

Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/4 Bokeh

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G @ f/4 Bokeh

Based on these samples the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G appears to have the better bokeh. But that's against my copy of the 50mm f/1.8. I would guess the results would be similar when compared to the AF 50mm f/1.8D.

For me the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a worthy upgrade to my AF 50mm lens. If you're looking to get a 50mm lens and don't already have one I'd recommend getting this latest version. If however you currently have an older version an upgrade may not be worth it. Sharpness and bokeh of the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G are both better than my AF version. But that might not be the case for every lens due to sample variation. If you're thinking of an upgrade for faster autofocus speed then I would skip the AF-S version. It's faster than my AF version, but not by much. One advantage of the AF-S is that it's silent, so if you're into candid stealth shots then the AF-S version will be a welcomed choice.

Update: I decided to sell the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G. I prefer the focal length of the 35mm f/1.8 DX. The 50mm didn't get much use.



Focal length 50mm
Maximum aperture f/1.8
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens Construction 7 elements in 6 groups
Angle of view 47o (31o30' with DX format)
Closest focusing distance .45m (1.48 ft)
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.15x
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Auto focus type AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
Filter diameter 58 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 72.1 mm (2.8 in) x 52.4 mm (2.1 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 185g (6.6 oz)

Copyright Tangent Photo
© 2007-2016 Tangent Photo
Privacy Policy