Nikkor 50mm f1.2 -- Plusses and minusses?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Colin Corneau, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,878
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I recently came across this lens. It was quite a sight.

    Apart from being able to shoot in almost freakishly low light, are there any advantages to such a lens? And any drawbacks?

    I've never seen, much less shot, with this lens before...any voices of experience are (always) welcome!
     
  2. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

    Messages:
    231
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ukraine
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    You get to laugh long and loud at signs saying "Flash photography prohibited." I did fairly often when I owned one. I particularly liked using it with faster films in churches so that I could shoot what I wanted without creating much of a disturbance.

    IIRC, Braczko's books say that they're not that Nikon's sharpest offering even stopped down, but then nobody bought them to use at f/8.
     
  3. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can only use it to shoot in light 50% more freakishly low than that in which you can shoot with an f/1.4 lens. You can also get less depth of field if you want it. That's about it. It's not a big difference, but it helps. I love my FD 55mm f/1.2 and my EF 50mm f/1.2 L. They are not magic wands by any means, but they do help a little bit in low light.
     
  4. jmal

    jmal Member

    Messages:
    528
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2006
    Location:
    Kansas
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think the difference between that and the much better 1.8 is minimal. You don't get very useable photos at 1.2 IMHO. I currently own a 1.4 and a 1.8 and can't tell the difference in low light, though the 1.8 is noticably better under normal conditions.
     
  5. Lee J

    Lee J Member

    Messages:
    55
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The lens has obvious spherical aberration at f1.2, which can make using it wide open in some situations hit and miss. I tend to use it between f2 and f4, where it is sharper than any other Nikon 50mm, and reputed to be sharper than the Leica M Noctilux-M 50 f1. The 50mm f1.2 also has 9 aperture blades, so smoother out of focus highlights.
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interesting. I get completely acceptable 8x12s from my Canons shot wide open, and that is using fast color film pushed quite a lot (or digital with the EF, usually with a 10D at 1600). The Nikon must be just as good, if not better. My Canon is not even the "Aspherical" model, just plain S.S.C.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2008
  7. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,611
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I personally would only buy such a fast lens if I did a great deal of shooting in very low light conditions, because generally most pictures are taken at f3.5 or smaller and the 1.4, or 1.8 version aperture for aperture will most probably out perform it.
     
  8. RedTownCats

    RedTownCats Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Location:
    North West,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,878
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for the links and advice, all. I do love the low-light capability, but I must admit what first came into my mind was the very shallow depth-of-field for a lens like this.
     
  10. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Many of the pluses/minuses have already been addressed, but don't forget the benefit of a brighter viewfinder, too!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2008
  11. Miskuss

    Miskuss Member

    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Location:
    Ralston, Alb
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The Nikon 50mm f1.2 is big physically compared to the 1.4 but the 1.4 is sharper. Yes, you get an extra stop with the 1.2 but I wont use it unless I am really hurting for speed.
     
  12. kodachrome64

    kodachrome64 Member

    Messages:
    303
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry 8300: BlackBerry8300/4.5.0.55 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102)

    How about the 1.4 and 1.8 being AF and the 1.2 being MF? That makes a difference.

    I have the 1.8 FWIW and love it. So reasonably priced, too.
     
  13. oldlugs

    oldlugs Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What I like best about the Nikkor 50/1.2, is that it gives a brighter viewfinder than any other 50mm I have! That makes focusing in low light much easier. It also has a smoother, creamier looking bokeh than my 50/f1.4, 50/f1.8 (both Nikkor and Series E), or 50/f2 (yes, I have and use them all). BTW- the AI version of the 50/1.2 has a 7 blade diaphragm, and the AIS has the 9 blade. I see no difference in bokeh between the two.
    Of all the Nikon 50mm though, I'll have to say that my AIS Nikkor 50/f1.8 seems the sharpest of the lot. None of the Nikon/Nikkor 50mm lenses I've used were dogs, though.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,878
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I already have the AF 50mm 1.4 -- a nice lens to be sure.

    The 1.2 is AI, IIRC, and manual focus. After hand-toting 300 2.8's for years, even that lens seems pretty manageable.
     
  16. skahde

    skahde Member

    Messages:
    427
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, no. At equal stops the 1.2/50mm Nikkor is sharper from wide open to about 5,6. Look here: http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Ew8i

    At about f2 its outstanding but unfortunately, bokeh suffers.
     
  17. BruceOttawa

    BruceOttawa Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Nikon 50 mm f 1.2 MF

    The best thing about this lens is that it's maximum performance is at f 2.0, and that is not the case with the 1.8 and 1.4s. Used wide open, this lens is loaded with CA (purple). At 2.0 it's perfection and the fastest lens that Nikon currently makes - Yes it is still for sale for approximately $500 USD, and don't get sucked in on eBay as many have thinking they were buying a rare gem. Get a brand new copy and enjoy !!!
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...and in this same vein of thought, check out the 35mm f/1.4 as well.
     
  19. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Location:
    Orange Count
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Forgive me if I change the subject a tad, but 2F/2F, how do you like your copy of the 50L? Mine has been calibrated with and without my bodies, and it still has the dreaded focus drift issue when shooting close and fast, especially when using the center focus point. I've learned ways to mitigate it's issues over the last 12 months, and doing so means I get razor sharp images even wide open! But I regret having to give this lens special workflow, and the type of workflow I never need to perform with these: 24L, 35L, 85L, 125L and 200L...although I can get great shots with the 50L, I resent having to move my body back a tad to get it right...Caon's shame, if you ask me ;-)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2008
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My copy of the 50L is nice. I have actually used the 1.4 and the newest 1.8 as well, so I have a base for judgment. All of the lenses make acceptable pix, and in the end, as far as truly discernible results, what you are really paying for with the L is that half stop. (I also feel that the 1.4 is definitely worth the price over the 1.8.) I thought I was paying for L build quality as well, but as it turns out, I broke my lens fairly easily. I bumped the lens hood straight on with a car door, and the front retaining ring (on which the name of the lens is printed) snapped off. It is plastic, while all the other Ls I have seen are metal. Canon repair was extremely rude and evasive on the phone, and one angry fellow even hung up on me once after giving me attitude. I have never had such outright aggressive and rude behavior from a corporate someone on the other end of a phone. I was finally able to determine that they do not follow the practice of by-the-job sliding pricing. Instead, every item in the catalog has several repair price tiers, into which various types of service are organized. They would not tell me into which tier my repair fell, but they did tell me what the three prices were. The cheapest one was $300. The most expensive was about $650. They absolutely tooth and nail refused to give any real information, and appeared to have very little knowledge of anything camera related, even once I was transferred away from the call center to someone who supposedly knew something. All they did was state over and over that they need the item in hand before they will talk about anything. It felt like they were trying to trick and strongarm me out of my money rather than serve a customer. So, I ordered the part for $35, and had my local guy install it for $30. After this experience, I will not ever take my camera there for anything except free sensor cleaning...and that's only if my friend is headed down there with his cameras as well. I wouldn't actually drive for it. I don't even want to buy anything from Canon.

    Other than that horrible plastic front ring, the lens does have typical L build quality, though. The two things that have broken on the L are both plastic parts. I also have a crack in the focusing scale window...but that's OK, since EF focusing scales are 95% useless anyhow. HA! When someone uses the line "It's OK it broke because it was useless anyhow", it's time for a redesign on two fronts.

    I did not even know there was an AF problem with this lens. I do shoot wide open very often, but don't shoot *very* close objects that often. However, I can remember some specific shots in which I shot close, wide open, and AFd on one shot with the center point (always), and got a sharp picture. Have never used an EOS film camera, so I have nothing I can post here.

    Your name is not Dan, is it?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2008
  21. canuhead

    canuhead Member

    Messages:
    656
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Southern Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey Colin,

    I find in some circumstances it's not the sharpest kid on the block and needs a stop down or two. Don't use it enough to really be able to give you a detailed blow by blow. Handy lens to have but I don't think there's really much practical advantage over the 1.4. If you were to shoot tri x and soup it in Rodinal, it could be a good combo. ymmv of course :wink:
     
  22. Poohblah

    Poohblah Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    f/1.2 is not one stop faster than f/1.4.

    f/1.0 is one stop faster than f/1.4.

    one stop is a factor of the square root of two, or approximately 1.414. (1.4 for the purposes of aperture stops)
     
  23. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Location:
    Orange Count
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I had okay luck with the Irvine service people. I thought to replace my copy with another but while at Calumet in San Francisco, I found 3 copies there to also show the dreaded focus drift, to varying degrees. So I decided to just keep it and love with it. When not shooting close, I will say it is fantastic, contrasty, etc.

    Alfred.
     
  24. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    OH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My understanding of focus shift is that it's not an AF 'problem.' It's part of the design of the lens. On SLRs, since you focus wide open, it should pop up when you shoot stopped down. Wide open shots should be focussed where you thought they would be. If you could focus while stopped down with an SLR, you shouldn't have any focus shift.

    So... all 50/1.2L's will have focus shift since the design does not correct for it.
     
  25. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,878
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Have never used Rodinal, always thought it was a slightly grainier developer..? (Perhaps another discussion)

    I shot a wedding with this lens kept for a few portraits. It worked well, quite gorgeous to have so much of the image so pleasingly out-of-focus.
    I found my main trouble with it was..well, its narrow DOF. I had to REALLY work to make sure that *this* particular eyelash was in focus, and not the one several millimeters behind or in front of it.

    Other than that...
     
  26. canuhead

    canuhead Member

    Messages:
    656
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Southern Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    no, not the finest grain developer out there but I find it sharp. ymmv. have a pouch of xtol I really should mix up and try.

    and hey, email me your address, the box of tubes and roller base of hogging valuable camera storage space :wink: