Suggestion for sharp+contrasty (wide open) 50mm for Nikon

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by dugrant153, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Hi all,

    I have some pretty good tele and wide lenses for Nikon. And I love my 50mm (I think it's an Ai?). However, the copy I got is mechanically starting to fall apart and do some weird things. Like an old clunker, it still gets the job done but barely :tongue:

    That being said, I'm looking to replace it with a really good (But not ludriciously expensive) 50mm. I've looked at maybe the current 1.8D and it's a gooder cheap but look to be not very contrasty or sharp wide open. I heard the 1.4D is not much better? (Let me know if I'm wrong! Maybe I'm looking at bad samples).

    I've also considered getting an older Zeiss T* 50mm F2 and then using an adaptor but I think the Nikon to Zeiss adaptor needs the "magnifying lens", which (on the ebay ones anyway) I heard kills some of the resolution.

    Also considering getting a Leica R 50mm F2 and getting Nikon to Leica adaptor. Not sure if I can use at infinity though?

    Anyways, I'm considering options but would like some guidance :smile: Again - contrasty and sharp wide open.

    Thanks!
     
  2. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    If autofocus is not important, I would also recommend Voightlander 40mm f/2. Absolutely the sharpest lens I've seen in F mount.
     
  3. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Already have a really good Nikon 35mm F2 that's pretty sharp... Although I will say that lens has been on my radar for a while!
     
  4. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    To use the Leica R 50mm on a Nikon at infinity, you need to buy a kit which allows you to actually change the mount (reversible). But a simple adapter won't work.
    Keep in mind that the 50mm R Summicron was made in two, optically different, versions/generations. One of which, judging by many online galleries, has pretty harsh bokeh - contrary to Leica's usual performace in that respect.

    If you want a Nikkor which is *very* sharp and contrasty and "wide open" can be f/2.8, then the 55mm 2.8 Micro-Nikkor is a winner.
    In general photographic use, it seems to flatten planes a little (almost the opposite of the Zeiss 3d effect), but still fine & lovely imagery...
     
  5. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Define ludicrously expensive :smile: Also, do you need auto focus? It sounds like no. If it's not too much, the Zeiss ZF 50/1.4 might be the thing to go with.
     
  6. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Appreciate the info on the Leica conversion and also the Contax lens.

    My upper limit is about $300 to $500.
    Even considering another 50mm f1.4 Ai! Lol
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I can help you out with this.

    I have the current 50mm f/1.8D. Purchased a fresh box from a retailer. Actually, I went through 4 or 5 of them and kept the best. Yet, when focusing a close object wide open, it was not contrasty and not sharp at all. It was to a point where it would be usable as a soft focus lens. I sent it in for a "repair" to Nikon service center under warranty. To my surprise, the tech replaced the front element and recalibrated autofocus. (did I tell you I bought a brand new lens and kept the best of many?)

    Now, I have a contrasty and sharp lens - even wide open.

    One thing I do not recommend you do is try to manually focus this thing. The lens is made for auto-focus. The focus ring is rather lose and not damped. It can be manually focused but the "experience" isn't the same as using older lens and it's rather touchy.
     
  8. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    I actually tried the Nikon 50 f1.8d and would describe manual focus as "grindy" and tough to use. Thus i returned it. Thanks for the heads up on the quality. Will keep it in mind.
     
  9. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    So is this Voightlander 40mm f/2 something special?
     
  10. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Unless you are one of the bokeh sniffers, I think another Nikkor 50 AI/AIS (like the 50/2 or the macro 55/2.8) would be fine for not much money. And they are so plentiful that you still can find them in like new condition for almost no money, compared to the Zeiss or Leica lenses. I have an older Nikkor-H 50/2 (the single-coated version) that I really love, both the haptics and the lens look.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    +1 for thr Nikkor-H 50/2. I have two, one for each body. They're both great lenses.
     
  12. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Well, my copy is the sharpest lens I've used. Wide open. I do have Nikon's 50, and it is very sharp, but the Voight is head and shoulders better. With that lens, you don't need to stop down to improve sharpness. It obviously outresolves the sensors and any film I used it with. It's got a perfect touch of the focusing ring. It has this special contrast between sharp and out-of focus areas that it makes it easy to snap into focus. I'm sorry, I'm not a good writer so I can't describe it well, but I highly recommend to try this lens. I just wish I had the money to buy the other Voightlander lenses for my Nikons :sad:
     
  13. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I had the Nikon 45/2.8 once and loved its small size. The Voigtlander is also a little faster and a little wider.
     
  14. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Any manual 50 Nikkor will work great, and they are obscenely cheap.
    However, here's something new though it's again a Voigtlander, but not the 40/2 (which I would love to have). I own a Voigtlander Nokton 58/1.4 and it's fabulous - sharp, sharp, sharp and absolutely wonderful when stopped down just a bit. I love my old Nikkors but this lens is built so well no Nikkor of mine can touch it when it comes to focusing feel. Colors are amazing, it draws beautifully. On top of that, the way it renders OOF areas is much better than what you will see in any lens in that focal and price range. I got mine used but in like-new condition, together with the hood and boxes for $325. It's the later, chipped, SLII version.