Earlier this week Nikon announced the addition of a fourth Nikkor 50mm lens to their lineup in the form of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Nikon’s other three 50’s include the 50mm f/1.4G, the 50mm f/1.8D and the 50mm f/1.4D—prices for each range from $135-$550. So between all the D’s and G’s, how do you know which one is right for you, or better yet, why buy a 50mm lens in the first place?
The 50mm prime lens is considered by many photographers to be an absolute staple in any camera bag. Why? They're usually small, light-weight, and fairly inexpensive despite offering fast apertures. On a full-frame sensor, they offer a field of view that's true to what your eye sees. Even HDSLR video shooters usually carry one as part of their core kit.
Below we have weighed the pros and cons of each 50, so that you know which one belongs in your bag.
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G: The perfectionists’ Lens
Fastest aperture: f/1.4
Slowest aperture: f/16
Size: 2.9x2.1 inches
Weight: 9.9 oz
Number of elements: 8 in 7 groups
Number of Blades: 9
Made in: China
Released: December 2009
Stand-out Spec:the only lens of the four to feature a 9-blade aperture.
Click for a more in depth breakdown of this lens.
Who Should buy it: Entry-level, Mid-level, prosumer and pro DSLR shooters (D3000-D3), those who want to take full advantage of Nikon’s newest lens technology.
Who should skip it: budget-minded individuals, Those who want to use the lens to shoot video.
Nikon’s most expensive is also its largest and heaviest, primarily because it has more glass elements than its competition. It is also the only lens of the four to offer a 9-blade aperture—which likely means the most pleasing bokeh.
One of the biggest differences between the D- and G-series is that the G-series lenses have built-in Silent Wave Motors. Because the D-series is lacking in that department, it has to rely on the body to drive the AF leaving those with lower-end DSLRs stuck on manual focus indefinitely.
If you are shooting with a D3000, D3100, D5000 or D5100 and crave low-light shooting, than this may be the lens for you (if low-light isn’t as important, we recommend taking a look at the cheaper 50mm f/1.8G lens).
While both the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D did very similarly in terms of our subjective quality factor test, the Nikon 50 f/1.4D consistently beat out the G lens by just a hair in overall quality at all apertures and sizes.