Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 ‘Nifty Fifty’ lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 'Nifty Fifty' lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G

Price: £290
This Nikon is pretty much the same size, weight and price as the Canon 50mm f/1.4. The Nikon features ring-type ultrasonic autofocus instead of an ultrasonic motor, and has a nine-blade rather than eight-blade diaphragm.

Build quality feels a bit stronger, and the Nikon adds a weather-seal ring on its metal mounting plate, which is absent in the Canon design.

Other little luxuries include a lens hood and carrying pouch, which you’d have to pay extra for with the Canon.

The hood is a useful addition: while the front element is deeply recessed when shooting at its infinity focus setting, it moves forward toward the front of the lens barrel as you go through the focus range towards the minimum focus distance of 45cm.

The focus distance itself is clearly visible in a scale that’s positioned beneath a viewing window on the top of the barrel.

Typical of Nikon’s ring-type ultrasonic autofocus lenses, there are M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M focusing modes.

M/A gives regular autofocus with full-time manual override, while M is for purely manual focusing. In practice, the focus ring enables smooth and precise adjustments in both focusing modes.

Sharpness is particularly impressive at the widest available aperture of f/1.4 and improves steadily with diminishing apertures to around f/8 to f/11. The bokeh, or quality of defocused areas in images, is particularly smooth, helped by the nine-blade rounded diaphragm.

Features: 4/5
Build quality: 4/5
Image quality: 5/5
Value: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

PAGE 1 – What is a 50mm lens good for?
PAGE 2 – Features to look for in a Nifty Fifty lens
PAGE 3 – Best 50mm lens: 01 Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
PAGE 4 – Best 50mm lens: 02 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
PAGE 5 – Best 50mm lens: 03 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
PAGE 6 – Best 50mm lens: 04 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
PAGE 7 – Best 50mm lens: 05 Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8
PAGE 8 – Best 50mm lens: 06 Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
PAGE 9 – Best 50mm lens: 07 Sony 50mm f/1.4 A
PAGE 10 – Best 50mm lens: 08 Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
PAGE 11 – Image quality comparison
PAGE 12 – Best 50mm lens: Verdict


Digital camera modes explained: choose the best shooting mode for your subject
44 essential digital camera tips and tricks
Digital camera effects from A-Z
Breaking bad photo habits: 10 classic blunders and how to avoid them

  • Edgard

    The Nikkor 50mm AF-S f1.4 is, by far, the slowest autofocus lens I’ve ever used. This point should be enough to put in on the bottom of the list. The AF-S 1.8 is a little better (considering its cost) but I would never use it for an assignment. For Nikon cameras, right now the only acceptable 50mm lens is the two Sigmas (if you want to shoot wide open) or the old Nikkor stopped down.

  • mikhs1

    “Another helpful by-product of shooting with a 50mm lens on an APS-C format body is that, along with the increased, effective focal length, the depth of field is further reduced. ”

    This statement is 100% false… Crop sensors actually “rob” lenses of their shallow depth of field, because in order to fill the frame with a subject of the same size one needs to either move further back or use a wider lens.