Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Recommendation

Why this Lens Rocks!

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a sweet piece of “bright” glass. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why I love this lens…

If you’re interested in capturing a shallow depth of field (short area in focus), this lens will give it to you thanks to the super bright f/1.8 maximum aperture.

When shooting wide-open (using an aperture of f/1.8) you’ll be able to focus on a subject, while blurring everything else into oblivion.

In addition to the shallow depth of field capabilities, this lens performs beautifully in low light. The f/1.8 aperture allows you to obtain faster shutter speeds at lower ISO’s. This equals sharper subjects, less blur and reduced image noise.

The 50mm focal length is a bit long for indoor shooting or when trying to capture subjects in tight spaces. When mounted to a DX format DSLR, you’ll end up with a field of view equivalent to a 75mm lens on a film SLR or full frame DSLR.

If you need something a bit wider, then check out the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G.

On the flip-side, the longer focal length can actually be an advantage when shooting outdoors. People naturally feel more comfortable when shooting at a distance. The 50mm would allow you to capture portraits from a greater distance (than the 35mm), giving you more natural facial expressions and better looking candids.

This lens holds its value really well. If you were to buy this lens brand new and sell it a year later…you’re probably looking at a loss of $10 to $15 which is far less than renting this lens for a week.

If you’re interested in this lens, I highly recommend purchasing through Amazon (see here) or B&H Photo (see here). I buy new gear every week from these retailers for my photography business and for this website. They’re the best of the best when it comes to purchasing camera equipment online. As an added benefit, they can usually have your lens packaged and out the door by early afternoon if you order it in the morning.

Pros

  • Great image sharpness when aperture is set to f/2 or higher (f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc…)
  • Fantastic color and clarity
  • Fast, accurate and quiet autofocus thanks to the Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Ability to focus within a foot and a half of your subject
  • Beautiful, silky smooth bokeh (foreground/background blur)
  • Compact and light
  • Affordable

Cons

  • A bit soft when aperture is set to f/1.8
  • Chromatic aberration (fringes of color) can occur when shooting highly contrasted scenes (tree against bright sky) at apertures between f/1.8 to f/2.8

Use it to Capture

  • Portraits – Individual portraits, small groups of people, babies and children. Be mindful that it’ll be a little difficult to frame subjects indoors or in tight spaces due to the 50mm focal length.
  • Sports – Basketball (courtside), baseball (positions close to the fence), volleyball (courtside), tennis (courtside) and golf (within close proximity). It’s not really long enough for football, soccer, track, swimming or equestrian sports.
  • Parties – Party favors, cake, candles, food, presents and candids.
  • Recitals – As long as you can get right up to the stage and move around a bit.
  • Pets and wildlife – Pet portraits, paws, eyes, noses, birds at a nearby feeder, squirrels and other wildlife within 10 to 15 feet from where you’re standing.
  • Close-ups (macro) – Products, food, flowers, vegetation, coins and other small subjects.
  • Landscapes – You won’t be able to capture wide-vistas, but you can achieve interesting looks…like grapevines against blurred out vineyards.
  • Street Photography – Fashion, candids, close-up architecture, graffiti, monuments, etc…

Compatibility, Features & Specs

Compatible DSLR’s

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is compatible (will autofocus and meter) with Nikon “DX” format DSLR’s like the D5100, D5000, D3100, D3000, D60, D40X, and D40. It also works beautifully with full frame Nikon DSLR’s, like the D3S.

Filter size

Accepts 58mm filters.

Crop Factor

When mounted to a Nikon DX format DSLR, the focal length is equivalent to the same field of view produced by 75mm lens mounted to a full frame DSLR or film SLR. This is important to think about if you plan on using this lens indoors or in tight spaces. This is a prime lens, which means the focal length is fixed at 50mm. In order to compose a shot, you’ll need to get up and move around. Basically meaning, you won’t be able to “zoom” with this lens.

Focusing

The 50mm f/1.8G comes with a smooth and precise Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which is great for trying to capture moving subjects and scenes with low contrast.

Aperture range

Aperture range is between f/1.8 to f/22. This means that the lowest f/number you can use is f/1.8 and the highest f/number you can use is f/22.

Minimum focusing distance

The minimum focusing distance is 1.48ft. This is the closest distance that it can accurately lock focus on a subject.

Size and Dimensions

It weighs in at 6.6oz with a length of 2.1 inches and a width (diameter) of 2.8 inches.

Moose Approved Retailers & Rockin’ Deals

I buy new gear every week from Amazon and B&H for my photography business and for this website. They’re the best of the best when it comes to purchasing camera equipment online. As an added benefit, they can usually have your lens packaged and out the door by early afternoon if you order it in the morning.

If you have questions about the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens feel free to ask me inside the Nikon Lens Forum and I’ll get back to you lickety split. Check out the recommendations page for more tips and advice on my favorite gear. Happy shooting!