Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4 G - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Review by Markus Stamm, published January 2009


Long has the Nikon community been waiting for an upgrade of the fast, classic focal length primes, probably especially those owners of entry level DSLR bodies that no longer feature an internal AF motor and thus allowing manual focus only with older screw-driven lenses.

Given Nikon's recent dedication to the full frame FX format it's no surprise that the first lens to receive an update is the classic standard prime with a focal length of 50mm. However, full frame testing of Nikon lenses hasn't started yet here in Photozone, so as usual we'll take a look at how the lens performs on an APS-C DSLR. The field-of-view on such a DX camera is equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full frame body, so it behaves like a moderate tele lens within this scope.

The build quality of the lens is very decent thanks to an outer barrel made out of high quality plastics. The rubberized focus ring is slightly damped and operates reasonably smooth.

The physical length of the lens remains constant at all focus settings. It's not a true IF (internal focus) design though - the inner tube moves within the outer barrel (linear extension focusing system).

The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible. The filter thread has a diameter of 58 mm which is fairly uncommon for current Nikkor lenses but it's probably just the first lens to feature this filter size with more lenses to come in the near future. A dedicated hood with bayonet mount (no more screwing) is now part of the package.

As an AF-S lens the AF-S 50 is compatible with all current Nikon DSLRs (including the motor-free entry level cameras D40, D40x and D60) and features all the advantages of a silent wave (ultrasonic) drive. Well, almost all, there's manual override at any time and silent operation but the AF speed is not overly fast. It's okay for everyday use, however, the older screw-driven AF-D 50/1.4 feels faster on high end bodies.

Equiv. focal length75 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/2.1 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction8 elements in 7 groups
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.45 m
Dimensions73.5 x 54 mm
Weight280 g
Filter size58 mm (non-rotating)
HoodNikon HB-47, barrel shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresSilent-wave AF motor