Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Lens: The Video Lens
Fastest aperture: f/1.4
Slowest aperture: f/16
Size: 2.5x1.5 inches
Weight: 8.1 ounces
Number of elements: 7 in 6 groups
Number of Blades: 7
Made in: China
Released: 1995 (optical design dates back to 1977)
Stand-out Spec: Best overall SQF results of the three lenses tested.
Click for a more in depth breakdown of this lens.
Who Should buy it: Those who are passionate about shooting video, those with mid-level or Pro DSLR’s (anyone with a D7000/D90 series or higher).
Who should skip it: Those with entry-level DSLR’s and prosumers DSLR’s (D5000 series or lower).
While the optical design of this lens dates back to the late 70’s (this model came out in 1995 and is Nikon’s oldest lens still in production), there is a reason Nikon keeps this little guy in its lineup—it is truly a do-it-all lens. In fact, referring to it as “the Video Lens,” is somewhat unfair considering it does video and SO much more. However of the four, this is hands-down the one to go with if HDSLR is your thing.
Unlike the newer G-series of lenses, both of Nikon’s D lenses have a stopping point on either end up their focusing range, in which the focusing ring literally will not turn anymore (the focus ring on the G-series will continue to turn). Also, both of the D-series of lenses offer aperture rings, which comes in handy when you're switched over to video mode. Plus, the focus ring motion is as smooth as can be.
In terms of still photography, our subjective quality factor test reveals that the 50mm f/1.4D is actually sharper throughout every aperture compared to the 50mm f/1.4G lens, although both scored a rating of A+ at all apertures at a size of 8x10 or smaller. And while it has fewer elements, and a less advanced coating than the G-series lens, sharpness is king when it comes to glass.
It should also be noted that from our testing, Nikon 50 D-series lenses that use the camera’s motor to focus, consistently autofocus approximately .1 seconds faster than the G-series lenses that utilize a built-in Silent Wave Motor. Again, not a huge difference, but it is food for thought.