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The Nifty Fifty - Every photographer should have one.
Nikon 50mm F1.8D AF Nikkor Lens
Member Name: Hurdenish
Nikon 50mm F1.8D AF Nikkor Lens
Advantages: Small, fast, light and super sharp. Very accurate AF and really cheap.
Disadvantages: Small form factor is not that impressive, takes non pro 52mm filters.
Lenses can be broadly split into two catagories - Zoom and Prime lenses. A zoom lens gives you the most flexibility of composition in one lens by comprimising quality across the range and giving you the best it can at all focal lengths. A prime lens is fixed at one focal length (in this case 50mm), this does mean that to compose your shot you must move. Using your actual feet! This also means that each piece of glass is designed specifically for that 50mm and the result is quite frankly staggering.
Aperture is selectable between f1.8 - works in dim light, small depth of field, soft images and f22 - needs bright light, huge depth of field, super super sharp.
For those new to aperture and depth of field I wont go into too much detail but suffice it to say this lens will let you shoot in very dim light and/or throw the background of a portrait right out of focus offering a really pleasing proffesional effect.
On a full frame (FX) camera this lens will be roughly the same perspective as the human eye making it an ideal walkaround lens. On a DSLR (DX) it will be the equivelent of a 75mm or short telephoto lens. Perfect for portrait photography.
The lens itself is incredibly compact, my only complaint with it is that it can look a bit uninspiring when at a job, clients like to see a huge stacked lens with an 82mm filter or similar because that means you're a pro. Shame as this lens far outperforms many others 3 or 4 times the price. Nikkor has got it right here.
The front element does not rotate during focusing allowing the easy use of 52mm polarising filters. I use a 52-72mm step up ring so I only have to buy one set of 72mm pro filters to fit all my lenses.
As stated the lens is fixed length with an aperture ring near the mount to manually select the f number. There is a small lock button to fix it at f22, this must be selected when mounting a Digital SLR with aperture control for it to work. If you dont lock it at f22 you'll get a 'FEE' error until you remember to push the switch.
The 'AF' designation shows that this is an auto focus lens. AF is fast, near silent and very accurate, amazing performance for this price. The 'D' shows that with modern nikon digital cameras it will relay accurate distance to subject information for use with the metering and flash modes. A must if you want to use your camera on any P or auto modes.
Don't be put off by the small size of this lens, it really is a winner. I own £4/500 lenses and this is still my choice if I can only carry one, its light, accurate and fast at all light levels.
As an alternative, consider the Nikkor 50mm 1.8G lens. This is a larger digital only designated lens that has no focus ring. I looks more the part but is twice the price for no real gain.
If you are thinking about buying one of these, stop thinking, buy one immediately. You wont regret it.
Summary: Everyone should have one of these.
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