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/1.8G

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

This lens doesn’t feel like a poor relation to its f/1.4 counterpart. Design values include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, a weather-seal on its metal mounting plate and a focus distance scale positioned beneath a viewing window.

In all these respects, it’s like a similarly sized but lighter version of the Nikon f/1.4 lens. Autofocus is quick and near-silent, and the fact that the focus ring is equally large, smooth and precise is good news. It also offers full-time manual override in single autofocus mode.

Dig a little deeper and there are some notable differences between the two Nikon lenses. The f/1.8 optic has one fewer element in its construction, and only has seven diaphragm blades compared with the nine blades of the Nikon f/1.4.

Even so, that’s two more blades than the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, producing a more rounded aperture. Then again, the Nikon f/1.8 is nearly twice the price of the Canon f/1.8 lens.

Included accessories consist of a lens hood and carrying pouch. As with the Nikon f/1.4 lens, the front element stretches closer towards the front of the lens barrel at short focus distances but, this time, it’s still quite deeply recessed even at the minimum focus distance.

The lens hood is therefore often unnecessary.

The Nikon gives very good performance at the price, with impressive handling and all-round image quality. It’s a much more refined option than the competing Canon lens, and excellent value for money if you don’t need the extra two-thirds of a stop delivered by an f/1.4 lens.

Features: 5/5
Build quality: 4/5
Image quality: 3/5
Value: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

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


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  • 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.