Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G (CX) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon CX

Review by Markus Stamm, published January 2013

Introduction

Obviously Nikon is serious about the CX eco system. Several cameras and additional lenses have been announced since the Nikon 1 system launch. However, the whole line-up is still in its early stage and thus lacks key options needed by any serious system.

On the other hand, there is the FT-1 adapter that allows you to mount existing F-mount lenses onto Nikon 1 cameras. Even though this adapter comes with a few limitations itself (AF-S lenses required for AF functionality, AF limited to central AF field and no servo mode), it adds lots of already existing lens options to the rather young system.

One certainly attractive lens is the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G. Designed as a normal prime for FX cameras, it completely changes its scope when mounted on a Nikon 1 camera. Combined with the rather small CX sensor, it behaves like a tele prime with an effective focal length of 135mm instead. A classic focal length for portraiture.

So, let's have a look at how the lens performs on our current CX test camera, the Nikon V1.

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

Unfortunately the focus ring shows a behaviour that we have seen in other recent Nikon lenses, too: there's a little play, not in the focus ring itself, but the coupling with the actual focus unit. When changing the focus direction, it takes a few millimeters of movement until the focus unit actually follows the focus ring. This can be annoying when trying to nail critical focus, for example in magnified Live View.

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).

A protective pouch as well as a dedicated hood with bayonet mount are included with the lens. However, the front lens is deeply recessed except for close focus distances and already well protected without a hood.

The front element does not rotate, so using a polarizer remains easily possible.

Thanks to an AF-S drive the lens is compatible with the FT-1 adapter and features AF functionality on the Nikon 1 cameras (limited to the center AF field, though, but as already mentioned that's a limitation of the adapter and/or camera, not the lens). In addition, the Silent Wave ultrasonic drive allows for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at all times. The AF speed is ok, but not blazingly fast..

Specifications
Equiv. focal length135 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction7 elements in 6 groups, incl. 1 aspherical element
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.45 m (max. magnification ratio 1:6.7)
Dimensions72 mm x 52.5 mm
Weight185 g
Filter size58 mm (non-rotating)
HoodNikon HB-47, barrel-shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresLens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor




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