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.