As our AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G review discovers, this flagship prime lens from Nikon delivers excellent results in a small and lightweight package.
The G-series lens, however, wins hands-down when it comes to AF speed and quietness, but very occasionally it recorded real-world images that were very slightly less sharp than the others on test here. This is not a serious problem but it was detected on isolated occasions.
Although there is a focused-distance window it is distinctly small and the depth-of-field markings, for f/11 and f/16, are absolutely tiny. Both these problems could be resolved if Nikon chose not to emblazon the lens name right across the middle of the barrel. As is often the case, the supplied lens hood can be reversed and stowed backwards on the lens but this would restrict access and degrade handling so many users will probably elect to store the two parts separately.
Technical testing produced some impressive resolution figures but with a slight lack of smoothness in the MTF curve. The latter may simply have been due to the fact that the curve is very flat and thus reveals irregularities more than would be seen with a greater variation in gradient. Still, the resolution figures were always above the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level, and chromatic aberrations were virtually non-existent.
The G-series f/1.4 lens performed just as well on the DX-format D80 body as it did on the full-frame D700, suggesting that it delivers consistent performance right across the image field.
The D-series lens might offer marginally better resolution but most buyers will probably prefer the G-series lens on account of its internal focusing and superior AF drive.