Nikon's 50mm f1.8D lens is the baby of the manufacturer's 50mm range. It's also extremely inexpensive, and it represents a good value for the money. Does it provide enough quality to make it a viable alternative to its big brothers, though?
- Very reasonably priced
- Quick autofocus
- Very soft at wide-open apertures
- Lack of contrast in images
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8D Lens Review
This lens version has been around since 2002, and it is extremely popular with those on a tight budget. It retails at around $125. It's a great first prime lens for people starting out in photography, and it will offer a marked improvement from the kit zoom lenses that come with crop frame cameras.
The lens is made of plastic, although it does have a metal lens mount. It doesn't feel quite as insubstantial as the Canon equivalent -- the EF 50mm f1.8 II -- but it's not the most solid lens in the world, either. If you shake the Nikon 50mm f1.8D lens gently, you can hear the internal blades rattling a bit.
Overall, though, this is a lens that will last for years as long as it is treated well.
The 50mm f1.8D does struggle to focus in situations where there is a lot of blank space or one color. In addition, autofocus won't even work with some of the older Nikon cameras (such as the D40 or D40X). There's no VR (Vibration Reduction) facility either, but you wouldn't really choose to use a 50mm lens for action shots anyway!
For most situations, the focusing is very accurate and pretty fast for such an inexpensive lens. The motor is a bit noisy and clunky, but it gets the job done.
In the middle of its aperture range, this lens is extremely sharp. It can easily compete with lenses that are worth five times the price, and its optics are spectacular. If you shoot in a studio at f8 the whole time, you won't find a better lens.
However, like many cheaper lenses, it really struggles at wide-open apertures. At f1.8, it's extremely soft, and the contrast is highly reduced. In fact, contrast is reduced and a little flat throughout the aperture range. It's only really at f4 that you'll start to get useable images.
Despite its softness at wide-open apertures, the Nikon 50mm f1.8D still scores four stars because of its exceptional optics in its mid-ranges. For those wanting to take the next step in photography, this is an extremely cheap lens to start experimenting with. It's worth buying just to have in your kit bag!