Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Lens.

Posted in photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on May 4, 2010

The “Nifty Fifty” is the best deal in optics for photographic application around. This all plastic gem enables you to shoot in near darkness; plus, it is extremely sharp, has very usable out-of-focus, for a 50mm, and features quick AF for a non-AFS lens. Without a doubt, this lens, at just a bit more than $100 a piece, should be in every Nikon photographer’s camera bag. Personally, I use it most when I am working a crowd. It’s size, and positivities outlined above, affords me with the ability to move around virtually undetected. And the focal length is pretty much perfect (if you are shooting groups, or want more of the venue in the shot, you will obviously need to go wider).

This little lens also rides around with me a lot when I am out snapping pictures while walking. Having the constant focal length is quite beneficial because it encourages me to focus even more so on composition.

So, if you’ve been wondering if the 50mm 1.8D is any good, the answer is a resounding “yes”. If you’ve only ever had kit lenses, this should be your first step up (in quality, but amazingly not price).

All pics Nikon D300 with Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G.

More shots and stats after the jump–>

Top view at closest focus:

Top view at infinity:

Full Name: Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor
Max/Min. Aperture: 1.8/22
Diaphragm Blades: 7
Lens Configuration: 6 Elements in 5 Groups
Filter Size: 52mm
Magnification Ratio: 1:6.6
Focuses Beyond: 18″

Aperture Ring and Lock:

Aperture Ring or no? Which is better? For me, I like having the ability to switch the aperture on the lens; plus, since I still use older film bodies, those types of lenses are best compatible. However, if I were shooting one Nikon less expensive digital bodies (D40/60/3000/5000) it would probably be worth it to me to buy a G lens over the D ones, for no other reason than AF. It is a complex decision though, and can involve whether or not you want to remain on crop-sensors, whether or not you plan on using older film bodies, and how much money you have at your disposal.

Some images that I have shot with this lens:


19 Responses

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  1. […] but it is definitely not obsolete optically. I’ve already gushed about how great a value the “Nifty Fifty” is, this because of its price versus performance ratio, but this little Nikon might be even better. […]

  2. […] typically on my cameras when I am out and about are: for older film, the Nikkor 35-135mm or the Nikkor 50mm; for newer film and digital, the Nikkor 50mm or the lens in this article. I […]

  3. […] EM Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G Lens Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro Lens Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Lens Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Lens Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G Lens Nikkor 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 AF Lens Nikon 50mm f/1.8E Lens Nikkor 28-80mm […]

  4. odeegulmatico said, on February 17, 2011 at 12:16 am

    hi! i am a new owner of a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.. my DSLR is an oldie but goodie Nikon D40. could you share me any tips on how to get great shots out of nifty fifty on a body that won’t AF? yours look stunning. tnx!

  5. jasongrayfineartist said, on February 19, 2011 at 1:10 am



    I think that it is great that you chose to replace your venerable 18-55mm zoom with this prime lens, despite the fact that you lose the ability to autofocus on the D40. Having the extra three (almost, at 50mm) stops of light over your previous lens will enable you to shoot in conditions that were off limits previously, but more importantly, you now have access to a very narrow depth of field that you didn’t have before. This will lead to more creative compositions, but you must practice to achieve them. Your pictures suggest that you are by far ready to start experimenting, and I suspect that you will see quick benefits of your decision in choosing this lens.

    As far as tips for shooting, feel is everything. After a while, you won’t miss AF terribly (especially with a 50). My suggestion is to pay attention to the scale printed on the lens, and to be mindful of your available light (this will give you hints as to your depth of field).

    If you have more specific questions or concerns, please let me know.


  6. odeegulmatico said, on February 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Jason! thanks for the reply! i’m getting good portraits with the 50mm and that’s where i really notice it’s power. But yes, i really have to practice because i have to walk around, step forward and step backward…

    Umm, what is “scale”? Manual focusing is one of the things i’m currently having difficulties getting used to… when i look at the viewfinder and focus, i thought the subject was already clear enough, only to see at the LCD that it wasn’t so i have to fire in a couple of shots again.

    And i can’t seem to get around the large aperture. I was trying to shoot some toy racing cars with an f/1.8, but the blurry area is too much! i guess i just have to shoot in different settings to see what works and what doesn’t…

    I’m really hoping to master this prime lens since this is the first gear i’ve bought aside from the ones that came with my D40. hope to do it soon:-(

  7. jasongrayfineartist said, on February 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm


    I am happy to hear that you are getting good portraits!

    What I mean by “scale” is the little depth of field scale printed on the lens adjacent to the distance scale. For reference, look at this picture. The two scales interact in a particular way. For instance, in the picture, the distance of sharpest focus is 0.45m, which correlates to the depth of field scale in that sharpness is preserved at f/22 to about half the distance to 0.5m, or 0.475m. Understanding that depth of field extends one third of the way in front of the point of sharpest focus and two thirds of the way beyond it, the depth of field of this lens at f/22, focused at 0.45m, is from 0.4374m to 0.475m (if my math is correct ;p). This sounds complicated, but really it’s quite easy. A better scenario would be if you were focusing on something 3′ or so away, which the depth of field scale would show you sharpness readings for in front of your subject and behind your subject, at either f/11 or f/22.

    Anyway, don’t try to overthink it; just realize that at f/1.8, you will have a very thin depth of field (so that if you focus on the tip of a person’s nose, then their eyes will not be sharp, and vice versa).

    By the way, if you haven’t already figured it out, the nifty fifty makes a decent macro lens if you position the lens backwards to the camera. Try it, you will be pleasantly surprised!


  8. jasongrayfineartist said, on February 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    If you decide to try reversing your 50mm lens to do macro shots, I should mention that you will want to be careful to protect the back and front elements (since you will be holding it in place rather than mounting it to the camera), and to keep your camera body cap on until you are ready to shoot, to eliminate upon excess dust reaching your sensor (for this reason, you want to be careful where you do this kind of shooting; avoid dusty areas). Finally, because your lens cpu contacts aren’t connected to the camera, you will lose metering and will have to shoot in Manual mode.

    Good luck!

  9. […] expensive when compared to their slower counterparts, exceptions exist.  For instance, Canon and Nikon’s 50mm f/1.8 lenses are among the best bargains in […]

  10. […] Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D […]

  11. […] 6+ 3. GoPro Hero Session with accessories 4. Nikon D7200 5. Nikon D300 6. Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G 7. Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D 8. Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX 9. Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AiS 10. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX (v1) 11. […]

  12. […] expensive when compared to their slower counterparts, exceptions exist.  For instance, Canon and Nikon’s 50mmf/1.8 lenses are among the best bargains in […]

  13. […] The Patch a year before, this was a cold day.  I chose the D300 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, which kept things simple and freed me to think about composition and subject (since that time, […]

  14. […] AIS and Nikon D200 with Nikon 50mm f/1.8E.  This set-up, an alternative to my 24mm f/2.8D and 50mm f/1.8D, is my favorite manual focus combo for urban landscape and street […]

  15. […] Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D […]

  16. […] Nikon D7200, Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D […]

  17. […] it is for many others. Its exact charm is difficult to quantify, but being only about as big as the “Nifty Fifty” is certainly a part.  In fact, if I were handed over the keys to Nikon today, my very first move […]

  18. […] 2. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D […]

  19. […] lens was the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G (doesn’t even appear on this graph for 2017!), and the Nikon 50mm 1.8D was perhaps a distant second. Over the last few years, I’ve been picking up a lot of […]

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