This new prime lens has a very affordable price. The WDC review of the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G discovers that its performance is impressive too

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Overall score:93%
Image Quality:95%


  • Fantastic full-frame performance


  • Some chromatic aberration on DX-format sensor


Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Review


Price as reviewed:

There was a time when almost every 35mm film camera came with a 50mm prime (fixed focal-length) lens because on a full-frame camera, the 50mm focal length captures roughly the same angle-of-view as is seen by the human eye. Today, 50mm primes have two further appeals; they provide a good focal-length for portraiture on APS-C digital cameras and they often have a very wide maximum aperture with which to exploit creative focusing techniques.  Nikon’s G-series 50mm f/1.8 lens is an excellent example of its type.

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens features the same deeply-recessed front element design that has been seen on Nikon’s standard primes for decades. The front half of the barrel is given over to a manual-focus ring, behind which sits a focused-distance window and focusing-mode switch. When AF operation is set, manual intervention can be applied at any time.

The feel of the manual-focusing ring is excellent, with a silky movement and just the right amount of resistance over an approximately 100° throw. The feel is the same regardless of which focusing mode is selected. There is a nod towards the provision of depth-of-field information but this is nothing more than a small and easily-missed pair of indices for the near and far in-focus regions at f/16.

The smallest aperture of f/16 may seem limiting given that apertures of f/22 and beyond are typically found on most lenses, but in fact this tactic helps to maintain top-notch image quality across the range.

Focusing is carried out quickly and quietly when the AF mode is set to M/A, and manual intervention works seamlessly. It’s also good to see a weather seal at the back of the lens. Image quality was either very good or excellent in every case.

Not only is a lens hood provided with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, which reverses over the lens for storage, but also there is a soft carrying pouch. Some users might worry about the prime’s low mass in case this indicates a prevalence of plastic rather than metal but there is nothing to warn of any problems in this respect.

MTF (Modular Transfer Function) testing returned excellent results for full-frame images and the Nikon 50mm lens would easily have taken maximum points here were it not for the spontaneous decision to reshoot the test targets on a DX format (APS-C) sensor. There were clear signs of chromatic aberration under these conditions though it is clear that this is due to the lens-body combination, not the lens itself. And this weakness was not seen in real-world images except as the very faintest trace.


  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Sample images
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