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Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon has announced a new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens with an aspheric element.

A small and light 50mm f/1.8 is ideal for walk-around shooting— comfortable to carry, and innocuous in use. The f/1.8 aperture is plenty fast for today’s DSLRs, and affords excellent low-light ability.

The key with this new lens is image quality, and there the 50/1.8G appears to have gotten some attention from Nikon’s lens designers. Given the outstanding 24/35/50/85 f/1.4 lenses, if the 50/1.8G falls into that pedigree, then it ought to be an inexpensive high performer. It is much easier to build an f/1.8 lens than an f/1.4 lens (and to reduce off-center aberrations), and it has an aspherical element as well.

When the 50/1.8G becomes available, I am planning on a comparison between it and the 50mm f/1.4G.

Weak points include a 7-blade aperture instead of 9 rounded blades, and a close-focusing distance of only 1:6.7. Photographers for whom f/2.8 is adequate might consider the Nikon 60mm f/2.8G instead or in addition for its close-focus abilities.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G specifications
Focal length 50mm (nominal)
Maximum aperture f/1.8
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 7 elements in 6 groups, super integrated coating, 1 aspherical element
Angle of view 47° (31°30' with Nikon DX format)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:6.7
No. of diaphragm blades 7
Filter/attachment size 58mm
Diameter x length (from lens-mount flange) Approximately 2.8 X 2.1 in (72.1 X 2.4mm)
Weight Approximately 185g g/6.6 oz
Supplied accessories 58mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap
LC-58 Rear Lens Cap
LF-4 Bayonet Hood
HB-47 Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1013

MTF (modulation transfer function, e.g. contrast at resolution)

Nikon’s MTF chart for the 50/1.8G at f/1.8 suggests a lens with very high contrast on coarse structures (overall contrast), along with very high central sharpness for fine details, falling off quickly but gracefully to the edges and a sharpness dip into the corners, possibly a field curvature effect, or possibly the result of aberrations. Regrettably, Nikon does not supply MTF for f/4 or f/5.6.

MTF chart for Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
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