Is the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens worth extra $155 over 50mm f/1.4D lens?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by montana, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. I'm currently deciding between the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens and the 50mm f/1.4D lens. The new AF-S version will be selling for $440 and the old version sells for $285. (prices via B&H).
    Bottom line, is the new version worth the extra $155? I'll be using the new lens on D300 and I currently have an AF-S lens and I use the focusing switch on the lens frequently. My budget is a consideration, so opinions on the value of the new lens and its usefulness are appreciated.
    It's already been discussed a bit at this post from 9/27/08.
    I guess we won't really know til about January '09 how good the new AF-S version really is (ref. the lens on B&H)
  2. From the little know so far, the answer is yes for optical quality at 1.4 and 2.0. If you don`t use it there, why buy 1.4? You should get a 1.8 which is very cheap and just as good at 2.0 .

    Secondly it is time to start transitioning away from screw drive AF lenses. The low cost of 1.8 negates the transition factor.

    The downside is these lenses seem to be getting large with more and more plastic construction. I did a few pics with a loaner 100 2.8 VR and they were nice, but the lens construction did not impress me.
  3. I think the buyer is the only person who can decide if it is worth or not. For instance i really love how fast and smooth my
    AF-S 17-55 is and I wish my AF 35 was the same. A lens you keep it for years not like a camera body so if I was to
    expend money on a 50 right now I would go for the AF-S model. If you use the lens 10 years the difference becomes 15
    bucks per year. Uhmm! I expend close to 60 bucks a month in cigarets... Just my own opinion! Good luck!
  4. i would say yes. AF-S lens will definitely be faster to focus and better in low-light situations. the IQ might also be improved, as with the 70-300 ED and 70-300 VR.
  5. I have the D version and just ordered the AF-S. Why? Only because I never liked the loose lens barrels on the D. I know it has to be that way to allow the screw driver to work. But I did not like it.
  6. I don't think so myself. But then I don't think it's worth the price over the f1.8 lens either.

    Of course nobody has actually tested the new AF-S lens, either, so we should probably wait and see how it goes.
  7. The Nikon AFS lens I learned from one of the board members is a G lens, Sigma makes an HSM lens that I believe is AFS and still has aperture ring. The Sigma 50mm f/1/4 has gotten excellent reviews you should check it out as an alternative. I have film Nikon cameras and may even get a body of a different brand and lenses with aperture rings can be used with all older Nikons and with adapters on other brands. If you ever see yourself using the lens in those circumstances then its a considerable advantage.
  8. Personally I would pay the extra $$$ just to get af-s, with the same optics. It just makes a lens nicer to use. If the optics are better as well, I think it's an easy decision.
  9. I believe a few people have gotten their hands on samples of the new lens and done some preliminary testing. In
    fact Bjorn has already added his review of the AF-S 50mm to his lens review: I own the non-version of the lens and and am reasonably happy with it.
    While I find Bjorn's review encouraging, I figure to wait and see what others in the community say after it has
    been vetted a bit more before deciding whether to keep what I have or 'upgrade'.
  10. Duh, I meant to say that I own the D-version -- the AF 50mm f/1.4D. I guess my fingers engaged before my brain did...
  11. What no one has mentioned is the new lens will have the latest coatings. Could make a big diiference depending on what you shoot. It does for me.

    Kent in SD
  12. Good point, Kent, and one I had not thought of.

    I do quite a bit of low light / night work and often have light sources in the frame or just outside it so coating is a big factor.
  13. Kent/Joe -- check out Bjorn's review. He states that it does _not_ have the latest nanocoating (it is not an 'N' lens).
  14. "Kent/Joe -- check out Bjorn's review. He states that it does _not_ have the latest nanocoating (it is not an 'N' lens)."

    And he still rates it a 5/5. Perhaps Nikon's engineers really do know what they're doing. Or maybe Nikon should let marketing folks set the design criteria. Then they can trumpet the latest nano coatings and ED glass - even though they are not needed for this particular lens.
  15. Hey Harvey.

    HSM for sure but no aperture ring.
  16. After everyone's feedback I think I'll spend the extra money and get the AF-S version:
    - I'll have the lens for years, so the extra money is worth the investment
    - Faster focusing
    - Easier to operate (I use the focusing switch on my other AF-S lens frequently)
    - No aperture ring (my other 'D' lens doesn't fit onto the camera body as tightly)
    - It's a newer lens, likely with sharper elements
    Thank you everyone!
  17. The AF-S 50 f/1.4 has a different optical formula than the AF-D version. It has one extra element, and should probably perform better wide open. The AF-S' AF speed and accuracy should be better, and this sould be Nikon's 1st 50mm lens that features full time MF w/ SWM. It should have a better build. Since there's no aperture ring, the otherwise rarely used feature (if you use modern cameras) doesn't exist and won't act up (my 50 f/1.8 AF-D sometimes make the camera think its aperture ring is not stopped down at f/22 when it is). The back of the lens is probably sealed w/ a rubber gasket, and that's a good thing.
  18. I just tested the 50mm AF-S in a store today. Very smooth overall.
  19. I ran a series of tests with the 50/1.4G AF, the 50/1.8D AF, and the 50/1.4 ZF with the D3 used as the camera body.

    With a subject at approximately 3m distance away, I took test shots at f/1.4 (on two of the lenses), f/2, f/2.8, ..., f/11. The vignetting on the new 1.4G wide open appeared to be greater than with the Zeiss. However, definition of detail with the new 1.4G was superior to the other two lenses essentially at all apertures, when live view assisted careful manual focusing was used.

    The autofocus performance is disappointing. It didn't seem to react to distance changes smaller than several cm in continuous focusing mode even at relatively short distances. The AF tracking didn't appear any better than with the 50/1.8 AF-D, in fact my initial testing suggests that in the case of static subjects it appeared that the new lens produced inferior focus accuracy compared to the 1.8D. This is similar to what I observed with my old D70 and the 1.4D and the 1.8D - the 1.8D was focused more accurately, and when AF of a static planar subject was used, it was sufficient to more than compensate for the inferior optical performance of the 1.8D at f/2. However, manual focusing with live view with the 1.4G was easy and confident and yielded superior results to both other 50mm lenses tested.

    I think it's a remarkable achievement from Nikon to create such a 50mm lens, and a fast one at that. But really it seems the autofocus system isn't able to cope with the wide apertures of this lens. I will do real-world testing to see how much this affects practical shooting.

    Since the differences in image definition with the large pixels of the D3 are subtle, I will need to do some further testing with a small-pixel DX body since I can't just get my hands on a D3X, alas. But appears that Nikon is able to redefine top-of-the-line optical performance and it's promising if Nikon continues this with new AF-S wide angle prime lenses, which I think are dearly needed.

    I don't plan to sell my other 50's yet - I didn't buy the lens to shoot my textured wall with ... ;-) But I definitely look forward to this and future primes.

    I have used the 50/1.4D also, but not on the D3, so I don't want to comment on that difference. Also, I think smaller-pixel sensors should be also used for testing before conclusions are made on the relative merits of the various lenses. I am just so excited I had to post this after my first tests. ;-)
  20. Just took it home. It's everything it's meant to be, plust its quiet as!
    Bokeh is alot smoother and reminiscent of my 85mm 1.4 which is only the silkiest prime by Nikon. So you can believe nikon on that! Btw, i still think the 50mm is too long on DX formats(my opinion)
    The AF-D is now going on sale at ebay today!
    Call me crazy but i like the 'look and feel' of the older lenses. The manual aperture ring is cool on them, like the 35mm 2/D(Tops!).
    I think Nikon is going to "G" up all the lenses soon next year to generate income, which only makes sense. I'll be getting rid of my D lenses one by one.
  21. I just picked mine up today from my dealer in Newmarket, ON. I recently sold my old D version online for $250. The new AFS was $550 CDN. I'm not sure if it's worth the extra scratch but it's very nice and my first impression is that it will be wonderful and fast with the few shots I've just taken with it. Hey it looks great on the D300 and has a bayonet hood which makes it almost worth it for the looks. I was a little disappointed that it's made in China and not Japan, and it is considerably lighter and not as robust as the 1.4D, albeit apparently well made. I have no regrets for the extra money and if you can offset with the sale of your old version you're away to the races. Just go and buy it because you know you want it like I did, and I don't feel guilty. When the 85 1.4 or 1.8 gets an update I'll buy that too.
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Once again, this is an unfair comparison between a brand new product (the AF-S version) that has some initial shortage and therefore the price is still high vs. one that is for all practical purposes discontinued and replaced. If you are willing to wait 3, 6, to 9 months so that the initial demand for the new AF-S version has subsided, you should find a much narrower price gap.
    In other words, unless you are in a hurry to buy the new version (not only limited to this particular lens, but just about any new DSLR body or new lens), it pays to wait a bit.
  23. I know this is an old thread, but I just did a micro adjustment for the 50 1.4D at -15 on my D800...unbelievably good now...this lens still works just, none of my more "modern" G lenses needed any adjustment at all...

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