In addition to backwards compatibility with AI models of the past, what else does this fast yet affordable prime offer? Find out in the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 D review
The Nikon 50mm f/1.4 D is an entry-level prime lens that offers backwards compatibility with AI cameras of yesteryear. It even features Nikon’s once-standard 52mm filter thread. Yet despite all this, its D-series specification indicates that it will transfer distance information to a suitably interfaced camera body in order to assist accurate flash exposure.
In keeping with its retro-compatibility, there is a generous focused-distance window located in the middle of the lens, with depth-of-field markings for f/11 and f/16 together with a dot-marker for infrared focusing. There is also an aperture ring, which makes the lens a rarity among its peers, with tiny repeated digits that can be read in the viewfinder via a miniature window located under the pentaprism housing on Nikon’s film cameras.
The focusing ring is rather small and sits at the very front of the barrel: this is inconvenient for manual focusing but a godsend in AF mode when the lack of internal focusing makes it imperative to keep fingers clear so as not to hamper the ring’s rotation.
Swapping between AF and MF has to be done on the camera body as there is no such switch on the lens itself. Manual focusing has an excellent feel and offers the same high degree of feedback that was provided by late non-AF Nikkors. Automatic focusing is brisk, quiet and confidently executed on the D700 but noisier and occasionally less certain on the D80.
With so much talk about this lens’s compatibility with former technologies, coupled with its very low price, it would be easy to expect to see a fairly modest set of resolution figures. In reality, there is little to fault in the MTF curve other than a slight weakness wide-open. There is very slight chromatic aberration but nothing to cause concern.
Despite the feeling that Nikon’s D-series lens has been built to an affordable price and uses previous-generation technology, it performs very well. The fact that it is so compact may also give it additional appeal for some potential buyers.
See sample images
No lens hood supplied
AF and MF (non-IF)
65 x 43mm