Nikon 50 mm f1.2 - opinions?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David H. Bebbington, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    At present I have 50 mm f2 and f1.4 manual focus Nikkor lenses and am pretty happy with them - I previously had an new f1.8, manual focus like the others, but got rid of it because it seemed to flare too readily. What do people think of the f1.2? Is it usable as a general lens or is it one of those designs where quality has gone out of the window in order to squeeze out the extra half-stop over f1.4? All opinions gratefully received!

    Regards,

    David
     
  2. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    First, I'm surprised that you found the 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor flare prone. I have three. Of the three, the only one that is flare prone is the "E" series lens and with that one flare is easily controlled with a lens hood. The other two, one manual focus AI and one autofocus AF/D model, are particularly good. Both have deeply recessed front elements and are multicoated. I also have a 50mm. f/1.4 AI lens that I don't use nearly as much as the f/1.8 models.

    My take on the f/1.2 lens is that I'd leave it be unless I really wanted or needed the speed. They just cost too much for very little return on the investment. Now if you really must have it....
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    If you dislike the flare from the f/1.8, you'll absolutely hate the flare of the f/1.2.

    Then there is the weight factor. It's a big chunk of glass.
     
  4. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    I use an older 55mm F1.2 AI series lens on an F2AS. Over the central 2/3rds of the image, it is as good as the 50/1.4 of the same period. Wide-open, the edges fall off rapidly. The lens was under $200 in mint condition from Penn Photo, much less than a 50/1.2. I use it mainly for low-light, but stopped down to F4~F5.6 it is sharper even at the edges than is the 50/1.4 AI lens.

    I've posted a scan of the 1976 Pop Photo lens tests here:

    http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52126
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I use the 50/1.2. Honestly I bought it for my digital- the extra light really helps with the puny viewfinder! 1.2 gives a lot more viewfinder brightness than 1.4.

    As a full frame (film), wide-open, available light lens it is soso. It's okay. Stopped down it is quite good.

    If you're in an available light situation and you really need that extra stop and critical sharpness edge to edge doesn't matter, then it is very useful. You get the most advantage from this lens if you're focusing TTL with the lens wide open, but shooting with it stopped down.

    Bokeh- not so great. But fine if certain things are avoided.
     
  6. rexp

    rexp Member

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    Hello David;

    I recently purchased a 50mm f1.2 for the single purpose of being able to capture some photos of my mother (she just turned 88). Being that she is always inside the house and somewhat disinterested in having her photo taken, I must rely on available light (I suppose I could set up some studio flash, but why piss her off?) I have used it both on my FE2 and D70s with good results. When shooting at f1.2 the shallow depth of field requires precise focusing, but it allows me to get prints with her eyes sharp. With my f1.8 AF-D, my shutter speeds were just enough slower to cause some soft images.

    I have not done any "critical" evaluation of this lens against some of my others, but it is doing exactly what I bought it for, and doing it well.

    Maybe you could find someone to loan you the lens to try? On the other hand, you should be able to get your money back if after using it for a while you find that it isn't what you wanted. They often seem to go for way too much on e-pay.

    good luck
    rex
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks for responses, it looks as if this lens is well within the category which I call "interesting". Thanks to lens_hacker for mentioning the 55 mm f1.2, this is the model I am thinking of buying. If it has reasonable central sharpness and freedom from flare spots, it should do the job. If I win the auction for this lens, I will probably use it at big apertures, if necessary with an ND filter, but would automatically stop down to 5.6 or 8 if edge sharpness were important.

    Re the 50 mm f1.8: I found this a generally good lens, with good contrast and freedom from flare EXCEPT with a light source included within the picture area (something I often do), in which case of course no lens hood could help. I have found the older 50 mm f2 lens better here - I also have a 50 mm f1.8 AF lens which seems OK in this respect, although I have only looked through this lens on a camera but not taken any pictures with it.

    Regards,

    David
     
  8. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    On the SLR's, I end up using this lens more than the 50/1.4's.

    The look that I get when Donut's scream "Ouch". Should give an idea of the DOF wide-open.

    http://flickr.com/photos/oldcamerapictures/2175931119/in/photostream/

    "Double Stress test"- strong backlight from sunlight through a window, and focus is on my daughter's hand in the lower left.

    http://flickr.com/photos/oldcamerapictures/2175931125/

    I use a Nikon "J" screen for this combination.


    I thought [​IMG] worked here.... but it did not this time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2008
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Nice couple of shots - the image quality here is certainly what I am looking for.

    Regards,

    David
     
  10. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    I had a 50mm f1.2 AIS briefly, but never really liked the results wide open. It appeared that the f1.4 AIS was much more even on illumination, without the fall-off of the f1.2 at the edges of the frame.

    The cool one to get, and probably one of the best Nikon lenses ever, is the 58mm f1.2 NOCT. Unfortunately it is somewhat rare, and very expensive.

    The 50mm f2.0 AI long barrel version is my favorite of all Nikon 50mm lenses. This is one of my first choices for people shots on 35mm.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography
     
  11. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    I have no knowledge of Nikon lenses but faced the same questions when offered a Pentax 50mm f1.2 by a local camera dealer. Yes, it has its shortcomings, but life's a compromise and if I really have to have the extra half stop over my usual f1.4, then out with the f1.2. Likewise if I want next to no d.o.f.. Although I don't use it every five minutes, it has its definite applications and although it's 50mm I certainly don't think of it as a "standard" lens. (Apologies for using that adjective.) The money it cost has long since been forgotten.

    IMHO, you should go for it and, as has already been said, if it doesn't sit well with you I'm sure you'd have no trouble moving it on.

    Steve
     
  12. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    In the event, the item in question
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI....m=160194186008&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=006
    went for £222, which was (just) more than I was willing to pay - as I have an f1.4 50 mm and an f2 already, the third lens might have been an attack of GAS! (And its price was too close to a new Zeiss Planar in Nikon fitting).

    Regards,

    David
     
  13. Samuel Hotton

    Samuel Hotton Member

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    Good afternoon David,
    I have two of the 55mm f1.2 Nikkor-S Lenses, both are in the 97xxxx serial number range. One is non-AI and the other is AId. I LOVE THEM!

    The Non AI lens was used by me on 30 August 1983 to document the first night landing of the Space shuttle Challenger at Edwards Air Force Base. I was using the Kodak 1000 ASA color negative film. It was the only lens and film combination that would give enough shutter speed to get a usable image as the craft came past me. All the spotlights were pointing at the rear of the craft and none on the sides or nose of the craft.

    My second lens I used this summer for a musical "Sing it again Sam" about Sam Cook the singer. I used Kodak 400 ASA chromagenic B&W film from behind the curtains and in the wings. Lighting was many times only a dramatic single spot. Images were perfect. I also used my 50mm f2 Leitz Summicron with a M-6 and for fun tried some shots with my old Contax rangefinder and Sonnar f1.5 All images looked good, BUT I had more usable images from the Nikkor 55mm f1.2

    Yes, wide open they have a distinctive look and shallow depth of field, BUT by gosh when you are in need of every bit of shutter speed to stop the subject movement or quell camera shake or get the quality from a slower ASA emulsion, these lenses WILL come through. I love mine for photographing friends at home or parties or at the pub, mounted on either a FM or Nikkormat with a soft release on the shutter button.

    David, I would like to try the newer 50mm f1.2 Noct lens, I understand that they will produce a better? image, but the opportunity to use one has never presented itself, So I don't know. I have used the Leitz F1.0 and it looked very good, but I only could use it for a few shots which was not much of a test, again I don't know. I've used the Leitz Summarit f1.5 extensively for 30+ years and the Nikkor 55 f1.2 is superior with the examples I own.

    I agree that 200+ GBP is too much to pay. I'd keep my eye on them and not give up on getting one. A very useful piece of glass when you need the speed. I wish you were geographically closer as I'd let you have a play with it, I'm sure you would be impressed. Its no better than anything else when stopped down, but when you need the speed its there.
    Hope this helps,
    Sam
     
  14. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    That lens went for 2x what mine cost at a camera store! Crazy Ebay!

    I'm thinking some patience, and checking the camera shows and stores might help!

    Also, the multi-coated non-AI version should go for less. They can be AI'd fairly easily.
     
  15. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Just seen a Pentax f1.2 on ePay up to £320 - sheer madness unless there's something about this particular lens that I'm missing (perhaps it has a solid gold barrel and diamonds for the f-stop indices!)

    Steve
     
  16. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Just a postscript - as I wanted another standard lens, I rang the nice people at Gray's Of Westminster to ask about a 50 mm f2, mint - for £69. It had been sold but they sold me a mint 50 mm f1.8 AIS for the same price. This just shows that a dealer with a reputation for being good but expensive may not be so dear after all!
     
  17. DanielOB

    DanielOB Member

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    Overall: Nikkor 1.2/50 AIS is the "best" standard Nikkor (not counting macro 2.8/55 AIS).

    DAniel OB