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  1. #1

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

    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 :P

    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 Again - contrasty and sharp wide open.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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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. #3

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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. #4
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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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...
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  5. #5

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    Define ludicrously expensive 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. #6

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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. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
    Hi all,

    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 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.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  8. #8

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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. #9

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

  10. #10
    Jerevan's Avatar
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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.
    “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu

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