Nikon AF-S 50mm F/1.4 G

it's about time, this week it's Nikon's 'Nifty Fifty' the AF-S 50mm F/1.4 G!

It's the first lens purchase I recommend to pretty much anyone getting into the field of photography.  At F/1.4 it's wide, it's (relatively) cheap, and it's been heralded as the definitive photojournalistic focal length by many.  But despite all of that, is it honestly worth investing in?  Let's talk about it.

 
 

Single Sentence Summary

Professional results at a low price point.

Why I bought it

For those instances where I am not willing to risk my 35mm F/1.4.  To be frank I would ALWAYS use the 35mm over this lens, but for the fact that with the military I deploy to places where I'm not willing to risk bringing a $2,000 lens. 

What I Like

If you've read any of my other lens reviews you'll get that I love primes, so let's start by saying F/1.4.  It's one of my favourite apertures to shoot at, and the lens is pretty dang sharp at the F/4-F/5.6 points.  THE PRICE! That would probably be my second favourite thing about this, particularly given that it's an F/1.4!

I also like the freedom that I'm afforded by the lower price point.  I can take risks with this lens that I would never try with any of my other primes.  I don't mind it taking the odd bump here or there because I'm rushing for a shot, rather I'm more concerned with how the body's mounting ring will be affected. 

It's small, light, and yet still sturdier than I initially thought it would be given its relative price range, and the lens' distortion is hardly noticeable unless you do some really close portraits.  

What I Don't

Once you're accustomed to some of the higher-end primes like my favourites, the 35mm F/1.4 and the 85mm F/1.4, the 50mm F/1.4 starts to feel cheap.  Not only that, but you'll start to notice where the 50mm falls short of the others, such as in sharpness, and occasionally focus speeds.

F/1.4 is an amazing option, but be prepared to learn the chromatic aberration compensation tools in Lightroom because you're going to need them.  The chromatic aberrations are pretty brutal, and I honestly have considered selling the lens a few times and moving up to something like a Zeiss Otus 58mm (but I've yet to find a good trade or sale on it).

I don't like how I behave with it.  When I generally use this lens it's because I'm not willing to risk my others.  Situations like running and gunning between vehicles and obstacles, or in lesser developed countries where pick-pockets and thieves abound, those are generally the times where this one will come out.  Because I have that lens on I tend to take more risks than I should.  I'll literally leap towards action without a concern for possibly banging my lens, which is a bad way of operating.  Unfortunately a number of times that type of response has paid off, so it's hard for me to actually force myself to stop doing it.

It's certainly not the sharpest lens I own.  I know it's not going to be even close from the second I put it on, but that's not really the point of this lens.  This lens meets a risk/reward ratio that I feel is indispensable.  I'm just disappointed that in many instances I've taken sharper shots from even cheaper lenses like my Lensbaby Twist 60.

Bottom Line

It's the best recommendation I can make for beginners.  If you're a seasoned pro then it's a great lens to use when you're concerned about your environment, or potentially damaging your lens.  I'd say it's a must-have personally, as it's pretty much as close as I'll get to a dispensable lens.

Score

8/10

As always, I'm not sponsored.  That's not what these reviews are about, and I'm not going to feed you something that I don't stand by.

 
 

-Wes.