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Review by Markus Stamm, published May 2011
If there is a lens that a full frame system is not complete without, it is the 50mm f/1.8 prime. These lenses usually feature a rather simple optical design, which makes them quite affordable, compact and light-weight, but at the same time bitingly sharp, at least stopped down.
The Nikkor AF 50mm/1.8 D is a typical representative of the species regarding price, size and weight. So let's find out if it meets the expectations in terms of sharpness, too. As usual, we'll use the Nikon D3x for this FX review.
The build quality of the lens is good, but a bit below most other moderately
priced short Nikkor primes. The outer barrel is made of polycarbonate combined with a
metal mount. The small rubberized focus ring is very smooth and only marginally damped, but rotates during AF operation.
Typical for lenses with a linear extension system the whole
inner tube moves during focusing thus extending the lens a little when focusing towards
closer focus distances.
A hood is not included with the lens and needs to be purchased seperately. Nikon offers the HR-2, a collapsible rubber hood, but in case you prefer a more stable or full metal solution the lens of course accepts all other hoods with a thread of the same dimension. The product images below show the lens with the HN-3 hood intended to be used on 35mm lenses like the AF-D 35/2.0.
However, the front lens is deeply recessed and already well protected without a hood.
The lens has no internal AF motor and relies on a slotted drive screw operated by the camera, so AF is not available on the motor-free entry level Nikon DSLRs. As a result of the screw drive, AF operation will generate a moderate degree of noise.
The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.
|Optical construction||6 elements in 5 groups|
|Number of aperture blades||7|
|min. focus distance||0.45 m (max. magnification ratio 1:6.6)|
|Dimensions||64 mm x 39 mm|
|Filter size||52 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HR-2, barrel-shaped rubber, screw mount (optional)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera|