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  • First Impressions of the New Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Nikon has been going through some of their most popular lenses and updating them with enhanced features like, but not limited to, SWM (silent wave motor, designated by the AF-S), the addition of an aspheric lens element (to help correct spherical and optical abberations), and full-time manual focus override (allowed by the SWM). The AF-S 85mm f/1.4 and AF-S 50mm f/1.4 are a couple of other lenses that I can quickly think of that have also gone through this type of updating. The latest to this updating is the very popular Nikon 50mm f/1.8. We recently received the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens, and were curious how it stacked up.

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

    The older version Nikon 50mm f/1.8 was considered a must-have lens, if for no other reason than the $134 price tag. The new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is over 60% more expensive, but still very reasonably priced at $219. There aren't many quality lenses out there in this price range. We've been seeing a lot of more modern, inexpensively priced lenses being made with plastic lens mounts. Although this will not hinder the image-making performance of the lens, we've seen a lot of broken lenses having to go out for repair due to the plastic mounts cracking, snapping, or wearing over time to a state of being loose from mounting and unmounting the lens to camera bodies. The new 50mm f/1.8 to our excitement has a shiny, all-metal mount:

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensWhile staying on the topic of build quality, the build quality of this updated lens is great. The focus ring is larger and more burly than the previous version, making for an easy grip for manual focusing, and the overall design and finish of the lens is clean. This lens even has a rubberized gasket around the metal mount to help keep out dust and moisture when mounted to a camera body.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensThis Father's Day weekend, I had my nephew's birthday party to attend, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the new 50mm f/1.8 for a stroll. I gave the lens a test drive with the Nikon D7000. I was extremely impressed with the results.

    The first thing I noticed with this lens is that it was still very sharp wide open, especially for a lens in its price range, and provided an excellent overall wide-open image quality with the D7000. This lens is compatible with FX cameras (full frame digital and film cameras), and it would be interesting to see how the corners look there. But, on a DX (crop) camera, I was impressed.

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

    Lens set at maximum aperture: f/1.8

     

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

    Same image with 100% crop on in-focus area

    The silent wave motor was fast and silent. I was able to pop off several shots of my 6 year old nephew (who, like any 6 year old, changes his expression every fraction of a moment), and I couldn't even hear the lens working. Although I did not test the video much, anyone shooting video with the autofocus engaged will appreciate the silence of this lens, instead of hearing the whir-clink-whir-clink-whir-clink of a more noisy, non-SWM lens.

    Stopping down the lens to f/5.6 made for some extremely sharp images. In a couple of cases (do I dare say it?), the images were so sharp I felt it detracted from the photograph. Sometimes seeing every nook and cranny is not the most aesthetically pleasing experience for a photograph.

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

    Lens set to f/5.6, 100% crop of portrait

    Overall I was very pleased with my experience over the weekend of using this lens. Compact, quick, silent, sharp, overall pleasing bokeh, with minimal aberrations for my lighting conditions, and good build quality...all at an affordable price.  Throughout the day I kept looking at my images and thinking, these look really good, which, to me, makes for a worthwhile lens. Please see some more examples below to get a better overall feel for the lens:

    For the money, I really don't see how you could go wrong with this lens. For full-frame users, it might be a different story, if the edges fall completely apart. All of the images shown in this article are unaltered, except for the 100% crops, which were cropped...of course. I didn't need to apply any unsharp mask, etc., although I was using the D7000 saving to JPG, so there was some sharpening going on there. In conclusion, I would recommend this lens to a friend.

    If you have any questions about the lens, please feel free to comment on this post. If you are interested in purchasing this lens, please visit our website by clicking on this text.

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