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  1. #11

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    If OP wants manual focus lens, I'd exclude the current 50mm f/1.8D. I have one and focusing this thing manually is not pleasurable. It's focus ring is not dampened so it feels loose and somewhat twitchy. It doesn't have the oily smooth feel of the lens made for manual focusing. It works but not something I enjoy doing.

    We had a rush of what is the "best" <insert product here> threads. I really wish people define what they mean by best and the parameters associated with it. A lot of things in photography is subjective. Price and availability varies quite a bit, too. Without knowing what OP is looking for, it's rather difficult to make recommendations.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  2. #12
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    The plain vanilla 50/2 AI punches way above its weight on film(or<<gasp>>digital)bodies. For the money, probably at or near the top of the Nikon 50mm heap.
    A fine lens, to be sure. My issue with it is that it is several stops slower than the other offerings, which can make manual focusing a real challenge for some.

    ...particularly on the some of the dark- or small- viewfinder dslrs that we won't discuss here ....

    For ease of focus, I would argue for the 1.2, though I realize that it is beyond many budgets, and I will also admit that it is more of an available-light trick lens than an all 'round value.

    I frequently lament the lack of a normal pancake on my manual focus Nikons. A high quality pancake should be possible now with all the whizbang optical technology out there. There should be a good dslr market for a good pancake too. What's up, Nikon???!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #13
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    A fine lens, to be sure. My issue with it is that it is several stops slower than the other offerings, which can make manual focusing a real challenge for some.

    ...particularly on the some of the dark- or small- viewfinder dslrs that we won't discuss here ....

    For ease of focus, I would argue for the 1.2, though I realize that it is beyond many budgets, and I will also admit that it is more of an available-light trick lens than an all 'round value.

    I frequently lament the lack of a normal pancake on my manual focus Nikons. A high quality pancake should be possible now with all the whizbang optical technology out there. There should be a good dslr market for a good pancake too. What's up, Nikon???!
    My issue with it is that it is several stops slower than the other offerings.

    Er, the difference between f1.4/1.8 and f2 isn't "several" stops...Brightness really isn't an issue at that margin. Those poxy coalpit-dark penta-mirror finders wouldn't brighten much with faster lenses anyway--it's the mag factor that's just as nasty.

    Pancakes? There's always the chipped Nikon 45/2.8 Ai-P for film and FF. They're out there for micro 4/3s but not for Nikon.
    Last edited by CGW; 08-11-2011 at 08:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #14
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    I've had a 50/1.2 and thought it was tough to focus, but that was on a f4s with the standard non-split viewfinder. A split viewfinder center would make things a little easier. I mostly relied on the focus indicator LED which was sorta a slow way and not as accurate for close distances at 1.2

    I've also had the 55/3.5 micro, 50/1.4d-af, and 50/1.8d-af.

    The 1.4 and 1.8's that I have flare easily with internal reflections if there are very intense bright spots in the image (like car headlights or floodlights in night photos) Otherwise they are very nice and have smooth bokeh when widish open.

    The 55/3.5 micro is a nice to focus manual lens. It focuses quick and in a short distance as most of the focus scale is for macro use, not normal distance stuff. It doesn't flare as bad, but isn't bright for existing light night/indoor use like the others. It has a very impressionist bokeh (not buttery like a 105/2dc or portrait lens, and not all crazy cubist looking like the 60/2.8d macro) at modest stops like 5.6-11.

    Someone was asking about a pancake.... I have the voigtlander 40/2 sl2 and it's almost a pancake and is fantastic in construction and image quality.

  5. #15
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    Anyone tried the Voigtlander 58/1.4? I heard the optics are awesome.
    Akiva S.

    Nikkormat FTN, Nikon F, Nikon FE, Leica M3

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  6. #16
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    [snip] ...ah never mind

    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    Someone was asking about a pancake.... I have the voigtlander 40/2 sl2 and it's almost a pancake and is fantastic in construction and image quality.
    Someone thanks you for this nice tip
    Last edited by keithwms; 08-11-2011 at 09:52 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: no point in a silly debate
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  7. #17

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    I did a bit of reading up on the 50's awhile back and from what i remember the 50 1.4 Ai was the lens to have. It and the AIS go for the same money in the same condition at KEH which is $275 in Ex condition. The optical formula should be the same with a little investigation confirming any differences in case of changes.
    W.A. Crider

  8. #18

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    Best 50mm lens for my Nikons

    I have a number of standard Nikkors in the f/2 to f/1.4 range. Where coating is concerned anything from a C lens onward is very good. As the 50/1.4 manual focus Nikkor line advanced, image quality closer to f/1.4 improved. At f/8 or f/11 I would rather have a 50/1.4 SC or first K version than the later versions. High sharpness at or near wide open is a function of many factors. Is your mirror angle adjusted properly? Is your focusing screen sitting in exactly the right place? Is the infintiy focus of your lens set properly? How is your eyesight? Is your shutter speed high enough? You now have to also contend with sample variation and condition. I respect the 50/1.8 Nikkors and have three of them. Still, I prefer the 50/2 AI, the 50/2 K or even the 50/2 HC. The 55/3.5 Compensating lens is not know for high performance outside of the close-up range. All 55/3.5 Nikkors from the P to the AI perform well at distance and the 55/2.8 manual focus Nikkors are very sharp at all distances. Any of the later 50/2, 50/1.8 or 50/1.4 will give good results if it is in good condition and if it is used properly. When it comes to the 50/1.8 I prefer the first AI version to the later versions. Excellent results can also be obtained from the 45/2.8 GN Nikkors. My GN is a C model.

  9. #19
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    It's better not to obsess over the slight differences.
    They are all good.
    If you need 1.4 and have the chong, go for it.
    I have 2 -f/2 "H"s and they are damn good.
    I also have 3 versions of the 1.4

  10. #20

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    I settled on a 50/1.8 AIS (the nicer one, with the front element recessed rather deeply within the barrel). I had bought a 50/2 AI from Grey's of Westminster and immediately afterward my local shop (the deceptively named High Street Radio in Croydon) got in a mint 1.8, and the proprietor kindly loaned it to me for a comparison with the F2 version.

    I found the 1.8 slightly but definitely sharper than the F2. It might come down to sample variation--the F2 has a reputation for being quite sharp, and there is some opinion online that it has slightly better bokeh (not something that's terrifically important to me in a fast 50, really). So I swapped the F2 and a bit of cash for the 1.8.

    It's killer sharp, if that's what you're looking for.

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