Talk me out of a Nikon 55mm f/1.2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Shootar401, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    I was offered a near mint Nikon 55mm 1.2 lens. I already have a 1.4 on my F that is my standard go to lens for the handful of times a year I shoot 35mm (I'm a MF and LF guy). But I'm looking to shoot more 35mm this year, mostly museums and outdoors at night.

    Does anybody have any firsthand accounts of this lens? How does it perform wide open and at f/2-ish? Is it really worth the extra 1/3 of a stop?

    FYI, its an uncoated, non-AI version. I'll be shooting Tmax400 and FP5 90% of the time and Portra 400 and Provia the other 10%.
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    You don't need it.
     
  3. michr

    michr Member

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    If you want shallower depth of field, shoot a larger format. If you want photograph in lower light, push the film instead.
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Film cameras need these fast lenses more than cameras that use other technology. I'd get one and use it with film. At least that will spare us more blurry digital photographs posted on the internet.
     
  5. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Depends what it costs and where you shoot.

    Pushing film is not a substitute for a fast lens. For film in low light, you most often need both. Or just go to another technology which, no matter how much less fun it can be, just works better in very low light.
     
  6. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Sorry I'm a photographer, not a psychiatrist , but I can tell you that to expect a 1.2 lens to have a good performance at full aperture is contrary to the laws of physics.
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    +1, and you'll rarely get the focus point right wide open...
     
  8. nwilkins

    nwilkins Member

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    yeah 1.2 is very hard to focus and has barely useable depth of field unless your subject is far away. I suppose it would be slightly useful for aerial shots at infinity. and if you pushed the film a third of a stop you would probably be better off since that is barely a push.

    for what it's worth this is what Bjorn says about the 55/1.2:

    This lens is impressive to behold, but image quality is modest when it is used wide open. There is a veiling flare from internal reflections that softens the image and coma is apparent at f/1.2. Residual optical aberrations lend a softness to the corners until the lens is stopped down to f/4-f/5.6, at which point it becomes a capable performer in terms of sharpness. Image contrast picks up beyond f/2.8 and is very good at f/8 to decline when the lens is stopped more down than this. Note that the 55/1.2 is susceptible to knocks from the side, such abuse can misalign the optical elements.
     
  9. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I.2 lenses rarely throughout the whole their aperture range perform as well as 1.4 lenses because the design has been stretched, I have a Canon FD 1.2 lens that I rarely use ,because aperture for aperture the f1.4 is a better performer.
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    buy it but ,don't use it;give it to me.I'll test it for you and let you know what you've missed.oh,I can be so cruel.
     
  11. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    There you go. I wish I had a 1.4. (Or really, while I'm wishing, the 80/1.9 for my Mamiya 645!)
     
  12. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    Buy one. If you don't like it . . . sell it.
     
  13. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    inferior

    A lot of folks have been conned into believing an inferior lens (the 1.2) is the better lens. If you want to believe this nonsense, buy the lens. Throw away your 1.4.
     
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  15. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Talk you out of it?? You're an experienced shooter. For only a few hundred dollars buy it to satisfy your curiosity, shoot, then keep or sell it. No reason for hand-wringing.:wink:
     
  16. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have a mint 50mm 1.2 nikkor, I don't even use it that often. I even got my f3s set up with the h2 and g2 focusing screens just to take advantage of the low light boost from those screens. I prefer my om 50mm 1.4 when I do shoot in that focal length. Also I usually used the nikkor stopped down anyway.
     
  17. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Don't trust lenses that go up to 11. 12 is even worse :wink:

    Most manufacturers 1.4 lenses beat their 1.2s, even at 1.4. Bigger, heavier, more optically complex and exponentially more expensive. Buy film instead.
     
  18. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    Thanks for the info. looks like it's not worth the trouble and $ for a 1.2 lens.

    Sticking with the 1.4
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Shootar, I had the 50/1.2, the 50/1.4 x2, and the 50/2 x2. All pre AI, all in excellent unhazed condition. I now have just the two f:2 Nikkor Hs, a lens that can stand comparison with a Summicron-R. At f:2, they're better than the faster lenses at the same aperture.

    Back when the only easy option for very low light was pushing Tri-X these ultrafast lenses were useful, they still are if that's the look you want - I also had the LTM f:1.2 Canon and had fun using it this way. That was 20+ years ago when these lenses were considerably cheaper, now I use T-Max 3200 and the aformentioned lenses and get better results. Fast color films have improved considerably as well.
     
  20. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    hmmm... lemmeesee... mebbe this guy could talk you out of the 55/1.2: http://www.nicovandijk.net/website55.htm :D

    while i also call my H.C a "cron killer," there's nothing wrong with the 50/1.2 AI-S between 2 and 2.8, depending on the distance-- :cool:


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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2014
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    You want it; otherwise you wouldn't have asked. Get it.
     
  22. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    You have one and you don't need an another.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
     
  23. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Amazing, people in APUG talking somebody out of buying a lens.
     
  24. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Nope. Dumb thing to want to squander your money on. Save it for when the water heater or well pump goes out. Or take your wife out and tell here you're thankful for her. What in tarnation do you need such a frivolous lens for?
     
  25. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I've used both lenses in low light situations. In my opinion the 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor (any version) is a much better lens wide open, but they're both fine when closed down a few stops. Of course, you would think you'd buy the faster lens for the wide-open performance but that's not the case here.
     
  26. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I just wanted to add onto my previous comment, If you do plan on shooting a lot at night, then something of this sort is useful. Focusing is easier as it lets in more light, you dont have to push your film as high, and you can use a faster shutter speeds to get the same exposure. The lens maintains its price fairly well, and I know the 50mm version is used by digital film makers too. The 50mm is one of the few AIS lenses still produced new by Nikon.