Nikkor 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 ?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by raymondkerr, May 19, 2011.

  1. raymondkerr macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    I want to get a 50mm prime for my D80. Still new to photography and wondering if it is worth paying the extra (almost double) the price for an f1.4 lens as appose to the cheaper f1.8? It will be used as my every day lens for mostly indoor object pics and occasional outdoor street pics and for my holiday to Florida later this year.

    I already have a standard kit 18-55 and a 70-300 telephoto zoom for sports/action shots.
  2. nobunaga209 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 13, 2009
  3. pna macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2005
    I was recently confronted with this same choice, and was extremely tempted by the 1.4 because it would have allowed me to autofocus with my d5000 as well as my d7000. I particularly like shooting in very low light, so I was tempted by the slightly bigger aperture.

    In the end, a few things steered me to get the 50/1.8.

    1) It was $300 less. For that $300 I could basically pick up a used 85/1.8 as well, allowing me to walk around with my 35mm/1.8 and 85mm 1.8 as a small light combo that's more useful than a 35 plus a 50.

    2) You definitely get slightly better low light capability, but along with that comes a seriously razor thin depth of field. I rarely want a DOF that's quite as narrow as the 1.4 would give you at typical shooting distances.

    3) Reading the comparison reviews that Thom Hogan has up at, the 1.4 didn't necessarily even improve that much on the 1.8, even in terms of bokeh.

    It definitely struck me -- I'm finally in a position where I have a job that would allow me to not make lens purchases solely on basis of cost (I can just save up longer for them), and I view them all as long term investments. Even given that, though, I really didn't end up thinking the 1.4 was worth it. The 85 mm / 1.4 might be another matter...

    As a sidenote, I took a bunch of portrait shots of my grandmother with the 50/1.8 last weekend, and couldn't be happier with how they turned out. It's a great lens.
  4. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    You know if you need f/1.4. If you don't, it's not worth the cost increase.

    That having been said, these lenses were popular and old enough that they can be found used pretty regularly. I picked up my f/1.4 used via eBay, for barely more than a used f/1.8 would have been.

    One oft-overlooked advantage of Nikon and Canon is that their lens systems have an extremely healthy used market. And since lenses are only useful in top condition, that's how most of them are sold.
  5. Chimera-se macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Let me put in a second suggestion for the 35mm 1.8. With your cropped sensor camera, the "effective" focal length will be about 52mm, which is what it sounds like you want. A true 50mm would put you at 75mm (which is a good portrait lens), which may or may not be what you are after. A 50mm prime is an amazing street lens to walk around with, as I'm sure you know. I use the 35mm 1.8 on my d40 and I really love it. Just thought I'd throw that out there. :)

  6. Piarco macrumors 68030


    Jun 24, 2004
    You're the second to suggest that Chimera-se (see nobunaga209's comment above) and I agree with the pair of you.

    I had a 50m f1.4 (the older AF-D) which I sold alongside my D70s about 4 years ago. I picked up a 35mm f1.8 last year when I got my D7000 and I've been thoroughly impressed with it, the effective length is more useful than the 50mm.
    Sadly, like most lenses at the moment, it's gone up in value since the disaster(s) in Japan, but it's still a bargain in terms of performance.
  7. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Shoot a lot with the 18-55 at both 35mm and 50mm before you make up your mind for certain that you don't want the 35mm f/1.8.

  8. raymondkerr thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. I will do more research but I think I may sway towards a 1.8 50mm nikkor, being a beginnner and still have loads to learn, I don't think spending the extra on a 1.4 at this point would benefit me much.

    its all just one big learning curve and I'm loving it so far. :D:apple:
  9. telecomm macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    Bear in mind that a new 50mm f/1.8 was just announced (is that the one you had in mind?), and should be available this month.
  10. Dan-- macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2008
    If you don't have a flash, I would highly recommend getting one of the f/1.8 lenses and one of the mid-line flashes, i.e. an SB-600 (now discontinued) or the SB-700, and then learn how to control light to your advantage.

    BTW, all 3 of the lenses you're considering are great lenses. I love my 50mm f/1.8.

  11. Vudoo macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2008
    Dallas Metroplex
    On a crop sensor, I would recommend the 35mm as well. The 50mm is too long.

    Between f/1.4 or f/1.8, I always go with f/1.4.
  12. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    Same, I find that a 35mm on a DX (equivalent 52mm) is more useful than a 50mm FX (equivalent 75mm).

    I've got the AF-S DX 35mm 1.8 on my D5000 and I only shoot with that one now, I'm thrilled with it.

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