My nikkor 50mm 1.8 is not sharp as it should be!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by hique, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. Sometime ago I had the opportunity to buy the lengendary Nikkor 50mm
    1.8. The AF-D version.

    The problem is that I don't think it's super sharp. Knowing that all
    the rest of the world disagrees with me, I started to think that my
    lens is defective.

    I own the 28mm AI-S which is VERY sharp close-up and the Tamron SP
    90mm, which is also very sharp. My Nikkor 50mm is not in the same
    level of these two, though.

    I compare the 50mm 1.8 with a slow 28-80mm in the 50mm position: Ok
    sharpness, but not extremely sharp.

    What is wrong here? My lens is defective? I bought it a long time ago
    in B&H, would they still return it?

    I would like to ask our fellow users to post some 100% crops from
    scans or from digital pictures taken with the nikkor 50mm 1.8.

    I hope somebody can help.

    Cheers.
     
  2. Why would you expect a $100 lens to 'perform' just like a $280 lens?




    (A macro lens is designed for close-up work; a 50mm lens is not going to match up in close-focus work, unless you have a 55mm Micro-Nikkor lens....but a new one is not going to be found for $100.)
     
  3. I also purchased that lens having seen the unanimous opinion about this lens' legendary sharpness. However scanning negs and slides at 3200 dpi with a dedicated film scanner I cannot see much difference between the 50 f/1.8 and the cheap plastic 28-80 @ 50, which seems to be pretty sharp in the 35-60 region.

    On the other hand the possibilty that this lens opens up for indoor/low light photography is invaluable.
     
  4. Gerald, I am not using the 50mm 1.8 for macro.

    I am just saying that it does not give me as good results as the Tamron SP90 or the Ai-s 28, which are other primes that I own.

    Interesting to hear Vlad's experience with this lens. That would make me think that the lens is super-evaluated, but I still believe I got a bad sample

    I hope somebody can post some pictures taken with it.
     
  5. my 50mm 1.8 is by far the sharpest lens nikon lens i have used, it sounds as if you are comparing the lens shooting close-up images, not sure what the problem is as a nikon 50mm 1.8 will out preform any zoom lens nikon makes in the 50mm position.
     
  6. "Why would you expect a $100 lens to 'perform' just like a $280 lens?" --Gerald W. Litynski

    Because generally they do. The 50/1.8 Nikkors are about as sharp a lens as you can buy for a Nikon cameras.

    "I also purchased that lens having seen the unanimous opinion about this lens' legendary sharpness. However scanning negs and slides at 3200 dpi with a dedicated film scanner I cannot see much difference between the 50 f/1.8 and the cheap plastic 28-80 @ 50, which seems to be pretty sharp in the 35-60 region." --Vlad L

    A lot depends on the scanner and also on the user. The original negative or slide my not be sharp for reasons having nothing to do with the 50/1.8 lens.

    Try shooting at f/4.0 to f/5.6 with shutter speeds around 1/1,000th second or on a firm tripod. Don’t believe that 1/focal length results in optimum results. Don’t expect much if you stop down past f/11. The peak or sweet spot for 50/1.8 Nikkors will come between f4.0 and f/5.6. Aberrations reduce image quality especially at the edges when wide open and diffraction cuts image quality when the lens is stopped down to far. The sweet spot occurs when aberrations are well controlled and diffraction is still mild. There is no point at which all aberrations are completely controlled and none where there is no diffraction.

    Before you decide the lens is a dog consider the film you are using and your technique. Consider the processing if you are shooting film. A poor quality enlarging lens or poor processing by a lab can make a big difference. 4x6 prints are too small to judge much by. Observe the film directly with a high quality, high power loupe.

    Regards,

    Dave Hartman.
     
  7. marcio, get a roll of provia slide film, put your camera on a tripod, set aperature at 5.6, have a good looking woman pose for a head shot for you, focus carefully, use a shutter release, develop film, examine slide with good loupe on lightbox, if the image isnt the sharpest photo you have seen in your life in 35mm your lens is bad.
     
  8. Strangely enough, I was just about going to ask a similar question. I use a Nikkor 50/1.8 AF (non D) mainly on my D1X as a 75 mm equivalent for portrait in the studio. I've always felt a bit uncomfoprtable with the results, thinking the AF was not absolutely dead on. I had my D1X CLA'ed recently and the auto focus has been given special care. They also checked the lens and said nothing was wrong with it. Yet, I still feel the pics are not as sharp as they should be. Now, I don't know it it's the inherent sharpness of the lens or the AF that's at fault.. or my eyes. Here is a 100% crop of a picture I took just this afternoon with my D1X. Studio strobes, 125th at 5.6. What do you think?
    00A2Ii-20346984.jpg
     
  9. I second David's point about film scanners. I can't capture 1/4 of the fine detail in my K25 slides with my Coolscan III and it is NOT as sharp as my D70 images. Consumer film scanners are convenient, but they do have limits.

    As for the "problem" 50mm f1.8, it's a 100 dollar lens. There will be very good samples and somewhat less than perfect samples. I have the 50mm f1.4 and it's a pretty soft lens compared to my 18-70mm Kit zoom for my D70. It can only match the Kit lens at apertures of f8 and smaller. Why do I keep it? Simple, even though it's not the sharpest lens that I own, it's still sharp enough to make a very good 11x17 inch print. My only criteria for keeping a lens is whether it is good enough to give me a sharp print at my largest size.

    I would suggest that you try making some prints using this lens and let that guide your decision. If it's sharp enough to make a good image at your largest print size, it's a keeper. If it isn't, then just buy another. I don't think B&H can be expected to refund on a long past purchase, I know I wouldn't expect them to.
     
  10. oliver, this is not the results of the 50mm 1.8 i know and love. something is amiss here. the lens i own, is brutally sharp.
     
  11. you should be able to easily count each individual eyelash with no problem, hardly the lens i would use for a head shot, too scarey for the client.
     
  12. The right eye (her left) looks sharper than the left. I doubt it's a DOF problem. IMO, it's always better to be taking pictures, but maybe it's time for the old newspaper on the wall test. See if the corners are equally sharp/unsharp. Maybe it's got a centering problem or is defective in some other way.
     
  13. Marcio

    I have similar experience. I had two 50/1.8 AF before, one non-D and one D version. Both reasonably sharp but definitely not the sharpest lenses I have used. Since it is a sub $100 lens, I think it could be a QC problem.

    By way of comparison, my 35/1.4 AIS, 35/2 AF and the 45/2.8 P are all sharper.
     
  14. Hey, wait a minute... did I get a GREAT 50mm f/1.4D lens as a fluke? I mean, I get tack sharp images every single time I use it... did I simply luck out? I've used it at the largest aperture and middle apertures and have had nothing but great images... hmmmmmm... I wonder...
     
  15. Not answering your question, but maybe I got something.

    The SHARPEST lens I have ever used was the 105mm 2.8D AF Micro Nikon. My 28mm 2.8D AF and 50mm 1.8D AF are SHARP but doesn?t come close to the micro (maybe I am wrong but it is my opinion in this moment). I got sharp and non-sharp images with all these 3 lenses, so may be photographer error sometimes.

    The major problem I see is finding the "sweet spot" for each lens, the micro is exception because it is sharp all the time! :)

    Here it is a folder I created to you all. It shows some of the SHARPEST parts of scanned images I have with each. All the pictures were handheld.

    28mm image was Velvia 50, f-stop between 5.6 and 11, crop has USM 100% 0,6 radius
    50mm image is Provia 100, f-stop between 5.6 and 11, crop has USM 100% 0,6 radius
    105mm image is Provia 100, f2.8 or f4.0 and is 70% of the original, downsized to 800x750, USM 100% and 0,3 radius (SEE LARGER this one)
    All are Frontier scan at 4500x3000

    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder.tcl?folder_id=446102

    (Sorry, I don?t know how to make this hyperlink)

    If I had to choose these lenses for sharpness/contrast I would pick first the 105mm, then (I am 80% sure about this) 28mm and then 50mm.

    Hope it can help, my English is not very good.
     
  16. This part came all wrong! If some moderator can correct this... please!

    - 28mm image was Velvia 50, f-stop between 5.6 and 11, crop has USM 100% 0,6 radius

    - 50mm image is Provia 100, f-stop between 5.6 and 11, crop has USM 100% 0,6 radius

    - 105mm image is Provia 100, f2.8 or f4.0 and is 70% of the original, downsized to 800x750, USM 100% and 0,3 radius (SEE LARGER this one)

    All are Frontier scan at 4500x3000
     
  17. Please use mid-apertures like f/5.6 or f/8, focus carefully, and use a good tripod. Make sure your subject doesn't move. If your 50 is anything like the 3 50/1.8s I've used, it should give such results that you'll never want to use the zoom again, except for flash/event work.
     
  18. Actually I believe my technique is good. I tried high-sync flash pictures mounted on tripod with mirror lock-up, but couldn't make that extremely sharp picture. Even with provia, even at f:5.6.

    I want to be able to count eyelashes!! :)

    Would B&H return it, maybe?
     
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Return period is usually 1 or 2 weeks for B&H, depending on the item. (Some products such as software cannot be returned once opened.) If you bought your 50mm "a long time ago," most likely it is not returnable unless it is defective; in that case you may be able to get it fixed under warranty if there is any. Why did it take you so long to find this out?

    Since you seem to have tested your lens under proper conditions, perhaps have you a defective unit or it is out of tolerance. I would try another sample.
     
  20. Why not send to Nikon to be checked out. The D version is fairly new so it must be under warranty.

    I hate to add to post on lens testing methods but. To check out new lenses I shoot newspapers pasted to a wall at different fstops and distances with a slow slide film (tripod of course). (I like the NY Times given its large size.) The different prints sizes on the paper give various resolution levels with some very fine detail. You need a good lupe or a microscope. With a cheap lupe the film is sharper than the lupe. I admit I do this for medium format which is much easier to see given the large size.
     
  21. part to part variation even for reputable lens manufacuter. replace and see.
     
  22. I can not speak to your lens, but my 50 f1.8 is as sharp as any in my bag - all the best that money can buy. It is very possible you have a bad lens. Sometimes the elements can get skewed in assemply and produce fuzzy areas. Try this. Paste your garage door with newspapers and stand back 10' and shoot it in sunlight on a tripod at various f stops. It should be tack sharp from f5.6 to f11. If you have a good one, f4 and f16 will also look great.

    Of course you never mentioned THREE vital areas. 1- Digital or film camera and what model, 2- What ISO?, 3- What film if used?
     
  23. Film.

    Provia, Velvia, many

    Well, I guess I will try to send it to be serviced.

    Thanks for all the replys

    Cheers
     

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