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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G Lens Review

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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G Lens

Nikon's AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G Lens


The Nikon 50mm f1.4G is a newish lens for the manufacturer, introduced in late 2008. The lens features a built-in "Silent Wave Motor," which gives extremely quiet autofocusing and allows for compatibility with all Nikon DSLR bodies. However, it is significantly more expensive than many of its rivals, so is it worth the extra cost?


  • Almost silent autofocus with full manual override
  • Excellent image quality when stopped down


  • Prone to flare
  • Slightly soft at large apertures

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G Lens Review

A 50mm fixed prime lens is the one that most pros would buy first, as it's extremely versatile. Even on a crop frame camera, it's still a useful 75mm lens which is ideal for portraiture.

This lens review looks at the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G lens, helping you determine whether it is of a good enough quality to justify its higher price tag.


Featuring the "Silent Wave Motor," the Nikon 50mm f1.4G truly is almost silent in operation. The trade-off for this silence, however, is that the autofocus isn't quick. It's slower than its cheaper cousin -- the Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.4D -- which has a screw-drive autofocus. However, the Nikon 50mm f1.4G lens does allow for full manual override, allowing the user to grab the lens in mid-autofocus and tweak it without damaging the gears. And for those with older Nikon DSLRs (such as the D40 or D60), this is the first 50mm lens that will autofocus for them at all!

Build Quality

This is a much bigger lens than the 1.4D, and it is of good build quality. It's still a small lens, but it feels substantial and solid in the hand. It's undoubtedly at the top of the 50mm class, feeling more solid than Canon's equivalent EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens. At infinity focus, the front element is recessed into the barrel by 18mm, which provides great protection from flare and strong lights. The lens also comes as standard with a lens hood.


On full frame FX cameras, the 50mm f1.4G provides extremely even performance across its range, although it is prone to slight vignetting at very large apertures. This disappears as soon as you reach f2.8, though, and is so slight that it would take a very keen eye to notice it! It's very good on DX cameras as well, working superbly as a portrait lens.

Again, corner sharpness is improved on reaching f2.8, and I would recommend shooting at this or smaller apertures. Between f5.6 and f8, this lens is simply the best in its class, producing clear, sharp, and detailed images. 

In Conclusion

If you have the money -- or if you have an older Nikon DSLR and want autofocus -- then this is the 50mm to purchase. It's quiet, it's sharp, and the build quality is excellent. If you're looking to progress beyond your kit zoom lens, and you aren't sure where to start, I would recommend a 50mm lens. This lens will cover a variety of photographic situations, and the image quality is fantastic.

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