Nikon 50 mm f1.2 - opinions?
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!
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....
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.
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:
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.
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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.
Those who don't think Photographers have the skills of REAL artists such as painters obviously have not had to spot my prints.
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.
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.
"Double Stress test"- strong backlight from sunlight through a window, and focus is on my daughter's hand in the lower left.
I use a Nikon "J" screen for this combination.
I thought [img]...[/img] worked here.... but it did not this time.
Last edited by lens_hacker; 01-07-2008 at 06:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Nice couple of shots - the image quality here is certainly what I am looking for.
Originally Posted by lens_hacker
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.
Gordon Moat Photography