Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm F/1.8D is a consumer fast standard prime lens designed for Nikon full-frame SLR cameras. It was announced back in 2002 and is still in production to the date of this review. The lens was designed for amateur shooting of wide range of subjects incuding landscapes, interiors, architecture and even portraits. With Nikon APS-C digital SLR cameras the field of view of the lens decreases due to the crop-factor and the lens «turns» almost into portrait lens.
If we will trace the history of design and development of Nikon standard primes of 50/1.8 class, we’ll find that Nikon created lots of variants of this model (both manual and AF). There’s no point to list all those variants in this review so please refer to the corresponding page which shows the position of the lens in the Nikon lineup.
The lens is made in China. The build quality, however, is very good — the housing is robust, made of polycarbonate and the mount is even metallic. At the same time the lens is lightweight (155 g only) and compact (maximum diameter of 63.5 mm and overall length of 39 mm) which is impressive in comparison with any Nikon plastic 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit lens.
The manual focusing ring is narrow, located at the frontmost part of the housing, almost not damped and rotates very smoothly. The angle of rotation of the ring is 120 degrees. There is a distance and DoF scale (for F/11 and F/22 only which is pretty strange). The focusing does not have internal focusing and does not support Full-Time Manual focusing (M/A or A/M by the Nikon’s terminology). Moreover there’s no A — M focusing mode switch on the housing of the lens.
The diameter of the front filter thread is 52 mm — it’s a standard size for most Nikon lenses including those designed for analogue cameras. The filter thread does not rotate during focusing which makes it convenient to use polariziing or gradient filters.
Since this is a D type lens, it transmits distance information to the camera and has the aperture ring, so the aperture control can be performed both from the lens (with precision of 1 stop) or from the camera. In order to obtain the automatic aperture control, you have to use the corresponding switch on the housing of the lens to lock the minimum aperture value which is colored in orange on the aperture scale on the housing of the lens. The aperture has 7 blades, its minumum value is F/22.
Optically the lens is simple, based on the Planar design which is famous for its great correction of various optical aberrations and consists of 6 elements in 5 groups. There are no any special elements in the optical scheme.
The minimum focusing distance of the lens is 0.45. m — it’s a typical value for a fast prime lens with focal length of 50-55 mm.
The buyer gets both caps only. The round screw-in type rubber lens hood HR-2 should be purchased separately.
The lens has no built-in motor like all Nikon AF series lenses, therefore the AF won’t be available with Nikon D3xxx-D5xxx series APS-C digital SLR cameras. The AF is moderately noisy, but fast enough and precise with Nikon D80.
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