Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D Lens Review

6/24/2013 9:02:45 AM

This unique 50 mm lens is bought after being popularly used, but it is still newly available with a reasonable discount for the newest version 50mm f/1.4G from Nikon. The brand new product can be priced at $360 or $228 or even less if you bought a used.

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D


At the peaked aperture, an excellent status has been recorded for the sharpness of the center of the frame, but that of the frame edges falls a little bit behind to reach the good level. Stopping down would help improving the performance of the frame with the exceptional sharpness achieved in the center from f/2.8 or more, and the sharpness of the frame peaks between the range of f/5.6 and f/8.

Chromatic aberration evaluation

Chromatic aberration evaluation

How to read our chart

The figures from the center of the frame at different aperture are represented by the blue column and readings from the edges are represented by the green column. Take the average of these two figures we will come up with the red weighted column.

The scale on the left indicates the actual image resolution. The higher the column is, the better the lens performs.

In this review, the lens has been tested on a Nikon D700 which uses Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations levels are just a little higher for edges of the frame at fast aperture, but when the lens stops down under 0.5 pixel widths, the fringing decreases. The levels at wide aperture can be seen in the image with high-contrast edges lying near the edges of the frame.

Image’s sharpness evaluation

Image’s sharpness evaluation

How to read our chart

Chromatic aberration shows the inability to focus on the sensor or blur all of the visible color of light at the same point of the lens. Severe chromatic aberration indicates a noticeable fringing or a halo effect surrounding the sharp edges within the picture. However, it can be processed by software.

The Apochromatic lens has a unique glass (aspheric, super-low dispersion,...) to minimize those problem above, so they tends to have much higher price.

In this review, the lens was tested on the Nikon D700 using Imatest

Because the lens is a typical product with larger lens design, the falloff illumination levels towards corners of the frames are very clear at fast aperture.

The powerfulness of the effect makes it necessary for the images that captured by the stopped down lens to have exposure compensated as the camera believes that the brightness is lower than that in reality when metering wide open. At the aperture of f/4 or further, the visually uniform illumination is achieved.

A typical characteristic of this old unique lens is that at the maximum aperture, they tend to create a clearly visible barrel distortion. This lens is not an exception, with Imatest detecting 1.95% barreling. This level together straight lines towards the frame’s edges will be easily noticeable in the picture. Fortunately, the pattern is distorted uniformly across the frame, so the adjusting process would become easier to apply to the photo editor software afterwards.

There is no sophisticating nano-crystal coating that covers the lens, which leads to the reduction of the contrast when shooting under the light with wide aperture and the flare would become a big problem under the intense light condition.

Features and handling

The old lens version’s design from Nikon is relatively more compact than their latter ones and this lens is not an exception. Its diameter is 64.5mm and its length is 42.5mm. It is also just 230g in weight, which creates a compact and light combination with the Nikon D700 which is chosen to conduct the test. Generally speaking, this lens looks very good with the solid black plastics for the lens barrel and metal for the lens mount. However, the brittle plastic made aperture ring and the small lug show that the lens would be broken off easily if it is set to its smallest aperture for auto operation and is abused.

The lens’s front side

The lens’s front side

Because the lens belongs to the old ‘D’ version, the autofocus process is improved by the camera via a screw which locates on the lens mount. This means the Nikon body will not automatically focus when using with this lens if there is no motor inside the camera body. The autofocus speed is quite fast, especially when compared to the ‘G’ version of this lens. Unfortunately, sometimes is it not really precise, which leads to the result of the disable to focus fully when shooting at wide apertures because the lens zips moves quickly across the focus point. The focusing motor must be removed from the lens in order for the manual control to be applied. The narrow rubber focus ring does not always break in time, so it may cause the focus process to be more complicated. Another positive noticeable point is that because this lens has an aperture adjusting ring, it can be combined with the old SLR camera which is compatible with the manual focus lenses.

The focus ring

The focus ring

The closest focus distance is 45cm, and is conducted by moving every glass backward and forward in the lens. This does not happen to the 52mm filter ring as it does not rotate, which makes this lens an ideal lens to use with polarized and graduated filters. There is not hood or case coming with this lens. The accessories are also similarly solid as the lens’s design with the front and back caps accompanied.

Sample pictures

Sample pictures

Sample pictures


This old unique lens costs $360 for a brand new one and %225 or less for a used one. Although this lens is not very stylish and elegant for the design of a contemporary camera, it is still capable of creating magnificent pictures and it is still wonderful to buy a used one.

Nikon’s latest AF-S 50mm f/1.4G has the price of $405 or so, and features the silent focusing and allows applying the focus adjustments any time.

Sigma also manufactures a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which also features the silent focus with full-time override instruction. However, their 50 mm model offers a very high price which is about $525.

If the maximum aperture of f/1.4 is not necessary, Nikon’s 50mm f/1.8G model features the silent focusing with the full time manual override but its price is just about $225. The old ‘D’ version of Nikon’s f/1.8 50mm can also a good selection as it just costs about $150 or the used one just costs $112.5.


Despite having a design that dates back a couple of decades, this lens is still more than capable of delivering excellent quality images. However it will pay dividends to take the quirks of this optic into account to get the best results.

If you want to have a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture and still want to save your budget, when both of these things are important, the old f/1.4D 50mm is still an attractive selection for buying used. For the purpose of saving about $45, if you decide to buy a new one then an updated version lens would make more sense.

Although its design is just like a couple of decades ago, this lens is more than just creating magnificent pictures. However, it will pay dividends to compensate for the disable of this optic lens to achieve the best results.

Although its design is just like a couple of decades ago, this lens is more than just creating magnificent pictures.

Although its design is just like a couple of decades ago, this lens is more than just creating magnificent pictures.


·         Good sharpness at the center of the frame

·         Outstanding sharpness when stopping down

·         Still have good value if buying used

·         The build-quality is solid enough


·         Focusing by screw

·         The view angle is not favorable at f/1.4

·         Inelegant design compared to more contemporary lens

·         Specification

Technical specs


·         Lens mounts: Nikon AF-S G


·         Focal Length: 50mm

·         Angle of View: 0-46°

·         Max aperture: f/1.4

·         Min Aperture: f/16

·         Filter Size: 58mm


·         Min Focus: 45cm

·         Stabilized: no


·         Blades: 9

·         Elements: 8

·         Groups: 7


·         Weight: 280g

·         Height: 54.2mm



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