Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G: review of the famous 50mm 1.8D successor

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lens Review
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G: review of the famous 50mm 1.8D successor

For the replacement of its famous entry-level 50mm lens, Nikon added an AF-S motor to it. But, let's see how it compares  in terms of image quality, with its predecessor and competitors.

With an AF-S motor, the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G will be capable to auto-focus on any camera even the entry level ones which don't offer an AF motor, like the Nikon D3100. It should also make the focusing movements of the lens quieter and faster on all cameras.

Image Quality Measurements

Let's first have a look at the DxOMark results to see how this lens compares with its acclaimed predecessor and if there is more than the AF-S motor to justify a price twice as high as the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, especially if your camera has an AF motor.

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G vs AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

Here are the results for an high end (D3x) and a mid-range camera (D7000):

The most noticeable fact is that the new version does not achieve the same score than the previous version:

For example, on the Nikon D3x:

  • the Nikon AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D achieves a good 26
  • the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G only gets 19

This overall score difference mainly comes from a less good resolution for the new 50mm f/1.8G. The homogeneity of the lens is also less well controlled on the revamped version.

All other image quality results are pretty well controlled, especially the chromatic aberration and vignetting. It is worth noting that the distortion increases slightly in comparison the previous model: 0.4% vs 0.1%.

When is the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G worth considering?

If you own a Nikon D5x00 or a Nikon D3x00 camera, the new version is definitely interesting to consider for its integrated AF motorization.

But, for any other Nikon camera, you'll have to make the trade-off between image quality, AF speed and silence. But, except if you really need an extremely silent camera, this new Nikkor 50mm lens is not worth the money.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G vs its high end Nikon alternative

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G vs Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

As it could be expected, the new 50mm f1.8G doesn't hold the comparison with the high-end 50mm 1.4G in term of resolution. The image quality difference is here pretty important and both lenses feature an Auto-focus motor. So, if you can afford an additional $200, you should seriously consider the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G.