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  1. #1

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    How Good is the Nikkor Nippon Kogaku 50/1.4 S AI?

    I am considering buying the Nikkor NPK 50/1.4 S AI lens. Faster lenses tend to have more distortion. Is this the case for this lens (i.e. compared to the f/1.8 and f/2 versions...of whatever Nikkor variety)? I like the DOF scale markings on the S 1.4 (4, 8, 11, 16). The f/16 marking is rather useless, but I really like having both 4 and 8. Anyway, I do not want to be disappointed, as I do not like distortion. I welcome any comments on its performance.

  2. #2

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    Same design as the AI-S. Good at f/2 and up; I didn't like mine wide open.

  3. #3
    darkosaric's Avatar
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    I have old nikkor 50/1.4 S Non Ai. I like it, but technically speaking (sharpness, distortion...) - other that I have: f1.8 AI, f1.8 AF D and 55/f3.5 micro perform better.

  4. #4

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    Hmm...it does not sound that promising...

  5. #5

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    I made my decision: I went for the 50/2 AI. It has the DOF markings I prefer (same as the NPK 1.4 S), and it was slightly less expensive.

  6. #6

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    I like my 35mm f/2 Pre AI, my 50mm f/1.4 Pre AI, my 105mm Macro Pre AI. The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I also like my Nikon F and F2 and Nikkormat very much

  7. #7
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    The 50/1.4 Nikkor-S is a good lens. It's not exactly the same as the AI and AIS versions, since the lens elements are thicker in it. Same optical design, though. I like them enough that I'm about to build one good lens out of two marginal lenses.

    Note, the Nikkor-S lenses are not AI in the true sense of the name. They've been AI'd, but with a factory conversion ring, instead of milling the original ring. Even with the 50/2 AI, you may wind up getting an AI'd lens through KEH. It'll look the same externally, except for three things. Firstly, the rubber focusing grip will be shinier and with smaller ridges. Secondly, the serial number will be below 3,500,000. And, thirdly, the lens speed post that factory AI lenses have will not be on the baffle around the rear element. Because of that, if you attach the lens to an FA or an F4, there will be no matrix metering.

    Because of that, KEH's nomenclature is misleading. With certain lenses, like the 85/1.8 "AI", there were no true AI versions. Nikon did sell them with an AI aperture ring at the end of production, but they didn't install a modified baffle with the post. So, every single manual focus 85/1.8 Nikkor is AI'd, if a camera shop or seller refers to it as an AI lens.

    -J
    APUG: F4, F3P, F2ASx2, F
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    Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 24/2.8 AI, 35/2 O, 50/1.4 AI, 50/1.8 AF, 50/2 H, 85/1.8 K, 105/4 Micro AIS

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  8. #8

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    I thank you for your detailed discussion, J. Could you provide further comments on the performance of the 50/1.4 S? Is the 50/2 AI better?

  9. #9
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    F.O.,

    Obviously, the slower lens will usually have better bokeh. People have complained about the out-of-focus highlights with the 50/1.4 (all versions). I haven't been bothered by them, though. The only lens I didn't care for out of the 50/1.4 series was the SC version. It had low contrast, compared to the S, the AI, and AIS versions (as well as the AF/AF-D versions).

    Between the two, the 50/2 will have a little bit of an edge. But, if you need the extra stop of light, then go ahead and get the 50/1.4 Nikkor-S. The 50/2 late non-AI and AI lenses do focus a little closer than the 50/1.4 S and the 50/2 H. They are also a bit smaller and lighter. It is possible to slide an FM2n (or an FM) with a 50/2 mounted into one of the sections of a Domke F-2's standard 4-section divider insert, though. Whereas, with the 50/1.4, it'll be a tight squeeze.

    -John
    APUG: F4, F3P, F2ASx2, F
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    Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 24/2.8 AI, 35/2 O, 50/1.4 AI, 50/1.8 AF, 50/2 H, 85/1.8 K, 105/4 Micro AIS

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